Back in 2008, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime reported to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs how one of the main “unintended negative consequences” of international drug control was the creation of a massive criminal criminal market of macro-economic proportions. That market in turn fuels security destabilisation and corruption.
In 2011, in a report that will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the International Narcotics Control Board will address the same issue. The thematic chapter to its 2010 annual report will focus on ‘illicit drug markets and corruption’ according to a recent media release.
According to the Board’s President Hamid Ghodse “Corruption undermines global efforts in the fight against the illicit drug problem. Powerful and wealthy organized crime groups corrupt and intimidate public officials, who facilitate the illicit drug trade. We see many examples where violence and corruption are deeply entrenched in illicit drug markets. Without addressing this vicious circle of corruption and the illicit drug trade, international drug control efforts will never be fully successful.”
Of course, the INCB is in a tough spot. It oversees the very treaties that form the backbone of the international system UNODC identified as the root of the black market driving the very corruption the Board is now looking to address. It will be very interesting to see whether the Board has the “independence” and “impartiality” to be able to recognise this.