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Narcotics supply and demand reduction strategies must work together, report at UN says

Narcotics supply and demand reduction strategies must work together, report at UN says

Amb. Melvyn Levitsky briefs correspondents
The supply of and demand for narcotics are inter-related and they must be rolled back together if reduction strategies are to be successful, according to the annual report of an independent drug control body released at the United Nations today.

The 2004 report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), introduced at UN Headquarters by Board member Melvin Levitsky, says, "Illicit drug supply and demand are, in fact, inextricably linked components of a single phenomenon. The demand for drugs stimulates the supply; the availability of drugs, in turn, creates demand as more people become dependent on drugs."

Government action to reduce drug use all too often focuses on supply, it says.

"While that may produce results, even dramatic results in the short term, including large seizures of illicit drugs, it does not and cannot have a long-term effect because new sources soon emerge to meet continuing demand," the report says.

On the other hand, only sustained intervention can reduce demand. "It is therefore essential to develop comprehensive strategies, combining action to reduce both supply and demand," the INCB report says.

Afghanistan has become the supplier of three-quarters of the world's heroin and a major source of cannabis resin, as well as a destination for smuggled psychotropic substances.

To fulfil its responsibilities under the international drug control treaties, the Afghan Government has adopted a 10-year strategy to reduce illicit crop cultivation and illicit production and smuggling of illegal drugs, it says. While the international agencies can help the Government work towards that goal, the Government must protect its people from the drug scourge.

The effort to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS should not promote or facilitate drug abuse, "which is, after all, the root of the problem," the INCB says.

"The primary and overriding focus of all interventions must be to prevent drug abuse because it is a dangerous and damaging practice in its own right and has the potential to create even more havoc by contributing to the spread of HUIV/AIDS and other serious infectious diseases."

Meanwhile, the illicit Internet sales of controlled substances contravene the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances in three ways. Internet pharmacies are not licensed to deal in internationally controlled substances, they should not advertise to the general public and they ignore the requirements for import and export authorization.

If laws are strengthened and enforced in one country, the Internet pharmacy is readily relocated to another country. "Investigators cannot obtain information on subscribers from Internet service providers" or prevent the drug traffickers from purging customer information, the INCB report says.

The Board's 13 members may be nominated by their countries, but serve in their personal or expert capacity, providing information to the general public and experts around the world on matters of drug control, both from the standpoint of illegal drugs as well as the standpoint of ensuring the availability of drugs that are controlled, but also legal and medically useful.

Although an independent body, the Board was established by the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Convention against the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.