World Drug Report 2020 by UNODC: All you need to know
On December 7, 1987, the General Assembly decided to observe June 26 as International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking or World Drug Day to achieve an international society which is free of drug abuse. The theme for International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2020 was 'Better Knowledge for Better Care'.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its report has outlined the possible consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on Illegal Drug Production, Supply and Consumption. The World Drug Report 2020 was released on the occasion of World Drug Day and is presented in six separate booklets, providing information and analysis to support the international community. These booklets are as follows:
Booklet 1: This booklet provides a summary of the rest of the booklets by reviewing their key findings and highlighting their policy implications.
Booklet 2: This booklet focuses on drug demand and contains a global overview of the extent of and trends in drug use.
Booklet 3: This booklet deals with drug supply and presents the latest estimates and trends regarding the production of and trafficking in opiates, cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants and cannabis.
Booklet 4: This booklet addresses a number of cross-cutting issues.
Booklet 5: This booklet looks at the association between socioeconomic characteristics and drug use disorders.
Booklet 6: This booklet addresses a number of other drug policy issues that all form part of the international debate on the drug problem but on which in-depth evidence is scarce.
As per the report, amid the pandemic and economic hardship, people may resort to illicit activities related to drugs to earn money.
Key points mentioned in the Report:
1- Economic Crisis: Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the governments may reduce the drug-related budgets, the overall increase in drug usage-- cheaper and more harmful drugs may be used.
2- Diverted Focus: Several countries like Italy, the Niger and countries in Central Asia have reported a sharp decline in drug seizures. This is because the drug traffickers have shifted their focus to other illegal activities such as cybercrime and dealing in falsified medicines. However, countries such as Morocco and Iran have reported an increase in drug seizures.
3- COVID-19 and its impact on supplies: COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown have emerged as an obstacle in the production and sale of opiates among the major producers in the world. Also, as most of the parts in the world are shut down, the disruption in the international trade has led to the shortage in the supply of acetic anhydride-- used in the manufacture of heroin. There is an increased demand for cannabis during the lockdown. Due to air travel restrictions, drug trafficking through the air route is also disrupted.
4- Maritime Routes: Recently, heroin has been seized in the Indian Ocean which indicates that the maritime routes have been used for trafficking heroin to Europe along the 'southern route'. The large shipments of cocaine are being trafficked by sea routes while the opiates couldn't be trafficked.
Report on India
As per the report published by the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), India is one of the major hubs of illicit drug trade ranging from age-old cannabis to newer drugs like tramadol and designer drugs like methamphetamine. The report also states that India lies in the middle of the two major illicit opium production regions in the world, the Golden Crescent (Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan) in the west and the Golden Triangle (South-East Asia) in the east.
Challenges mentioned in the report
1- Borders: In the lower Mekong region, the borders are porus and hence are difficult to control. Thus, the lockdown due to COVID-19 has not created hindrance in many parts of the world.
2- Different methods of trafficking: The traffickers have started using different methods of trafficking.
3- Limited Control: The Government has limited control in the Golden Triangle area and thus there's increased trafficking via that route.
What is the Golden Triangle?
The Golden Triangle coincides with the mountains of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. It is one of the oldest routes used by traffickers to supply narcotics to Europe and North America. Also, it is Southeast Asia’s main opium-producing region. The Golden Triangle is on the eastern side of India.
What is the Golden Crescent?
The Golden Crescent comprises Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. It is one of the principal global sites for the production of opium and its distribution. The Golden Crescent is on the west of India.