The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime, and the United Nations lead programme on terrorism. Established in 1997, UNODC has approximately 500 staff members worldwide. Its headquarters are in Vienna and it operates 20 field offices as well as a liaison office in New York and a permanent presence in Brussels.
UNODC works to educate the world about the dangers of drug abuse and to strengthen international action against drug production, trafficking and drug-related crime. In order to achieve this,
UNODC carries out a broad range of initiatives, including alternative development projects, illicit crop monitoring and anti-money laundering programmes.
Working directly with governments and non-governmental organizations, field staff develop and implement drug control and crime prevention programmes that are tailored to the needs of assisted countries.
The three pillars of the UNODC work programme are:
Field-based technical cooperation projects to enhance the capacity of Member States to counteract illicit drugs, crime and terrorism
Research and analytical work to increase knowledge and understanding of drugs and crime issues and expand the evidence base for policy and operational decisions
Normative work to assist States in the ratification and implementation of the relevant international treaties, the development of domestic legislation on drugs, crime and terrorism, and the provision of secretariat and substantive services to the treaty-based and governing bodies
UNODC relies on voluntary contributions, mainly from governments, for 90 per cent of its budget.
The international community confronts a host of menaces, including illicit drugs, threats to security and health and new and emerging crimes. As Governments and other development partners increasingly look to UNODC for specialized assistance and expertise, the Office has expanded it scope and volume of work to provide comprehensive and coherent responses to these challenges.
UNODC can help in the following areas:
Organized crime and trafficking: UNODC helps Governments react to the instability and insecurity caused by crimes like the smuggling of illicit drugs, weapons, natural resources, counterfeit goods and human beings between countries and continents. It is also addressing emerging forms of crime, such as cybercrime, trafficking in cultural artefacts and environmental crime.
Corruption: Corruption is a major impediment to economic and social development, UNODC partners with the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, to loosen the grip that corrupt individuals have on government, national borders and trading channels. In recent years, the Office has stepped up its efforts to help States recover assets stolen by corrupt officials.
Crime prevention and criminal justice reform: UNODC promotes the use of training manuals and the adoption of codes of conduct and standards and norms that aim to guarantee that the accused, the guilty and the victims can all rely on a criminal justice system that is fair and grounded on human rights values. A strong rule of law will also instill confidence among citizens in the effectiveness of the courts and the humanness of the prisons.
Drug abuse prevention and health: Through educational campaigns and by basing its approach on scientific findings, UNODC tries to convince youth not to use illicit drugs, drug-dependent people to seek treatment and Governments to see drug use as a health problem, not a crime.
Terrorism prevention: On this issue, UNODC is moving towards a more programmatic approach that involves developing long-term, customized assistance to entities involved in investigating and adjudicating cases linked to terrorism.
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