Real lives touched by drug trade in ‘Golden Triangle’ featured in UN photo stories

7 January 2009
Drug trafficking in the Golden Triangle

The lives of real people affected by the illicit drug trade in the area known as the Golden Triangle – Thailand, Laos and Myanmar – are showcased in a new set of photo stories published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The second volume of the photojournalism book “De Narcoticis” is produced by award-winning photographer, journalist and UNODC Goodwill Ambassador, Alessandro Scotti.

The project “gives a face” to a problem that is often depicted through data and numbers, and focuses on a range of actors, including law enforcement officers, traffickers, plantation workers and addicts, notes Mr. Scotti.

“It’s an underworld which has been examined closely enough to give us plenty of figures and statistics, but which is less known for its personal stories,” he says.

“The people involved in trafficking have only a very partial perception of the overall phenomenon, and yet their lives are powerfully affected by it. They are simple people with a limited perception of the impact of their actions.

“Most are in any case tied to the ‘job’ for their very survival; desperate people with otherwise limited life chances or opportunities,” he says.

This is why UNODC’s work is so important, Mr. Scotti adds. “UNODC offers a holistic approach including development strategies which allow alternative businesses to grow and become sustainable. A stronger economic and social framework leads to a different balance.”

The first volume of “De Narcoticis” focused on Colombia, which now produces only 5 per cent of the world’s opiates – down from over 70 per cent some 30 years ago – and where UNODC has been partnering with local authorities in combating the drug trade.


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