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The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is a United Nations agency that was established in 1997 as the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention by combining the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division in the United Nations Office at Viennamarker, then renamed in 2002.

Aims of UNODC

UNODC was established to assist the UN in better addressing a coordinated, comprehensive response to the interrelated issues of illicit trafficking in and abuse of drugs, crime prevention and criminal justice, international terrorism, and corruption. These goals are pursued through three primary functions: research, guidance and support to governments in the adoption and implementation of various crime-, drug-, terrorism-, and corruption-related conventions, treaties and protocols, as well as technical/financial assistance to said governments to face their respective situations and challenges in these fields.

Organizational structure

The agency, employing about 500 staff members worldwide, is headquartered in Viennamarker, with 21 field offices and a New York Citymarker liaison office. The agency is led by an Executive Director appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General. Presently, that position is filled by Antonio Maria Costa, an Italian native who also holds the position of Director-General of the United Nations Office at Viennamarker. The long-term aims of the office are to better equip governments to handle drug-, crime-, terrorism-, and corruption-related issues, maximise knowledge on these issues among governmental institution and agencies, and also to maximise awareness of said matters in public opinion, globally, nationally and at community level. Approximately 90% of the Office's funding comes from voluntary contributions, mainly from governments.

Since its inception, the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), as well as the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ). UNODC also incorporates the secretariat of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

United Nations Convention against Corruption

In 2003, the United Nations adopted the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). This entered into force in December 2005. As of 23 July 2009, 140 countries had signed and 136 countries (States Parties) had ratified the UNCACThe UNODC serves as the Secretariat for the Conference of the States Parties (CoSP) to the UNCAC. The Secretariat’s mandate is in Article 64 of the UNCAC, and the activities of the CoSP are in Article 63. The Secretariat is to assist the CoSP in carrying out its activities and provide the necessary services for its sessions. The Secretariat is also to assist States Parties in providing the necessary information to the CoSP. This includes, inter alia, the designing and monitoring of the self-assessment checklist that requires States Parties to evaluate their own compliance with the UNCAC. Furthermore, the Secretariat is also to ensure the necessary coordination with the secretariats of relevant international and regional organizations. . To mark the occasion of signing of the treaty, 9 December was declared by the UN General Assembly as the International Anti-Corruption Day. In 2008, UNODC ROSA organized a series of Street Play Performances directed by Arvind Gaur for the International Anti-Corruption Day. The plays have been conceptualised to raise public awareness on issues of corruption.


The biggest contributors to UNODC's budget are proponents of a zero tolerance drug policy like Swedenmarker and the United Statesmarker. According to the Transnational Institute this explains the fact that – unlike other United Nations bodies like WHO and UNAIDS – UNODC does not promote evidence-based harm reduction policies (e.g. needle exchange and Heroin-assisted treatment).

Furthermore, UNODC has been accused of trying to rewrite history in its reports in order to conceal the failure of its prohibitionist policies.

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