Following pressure from the US government, Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna has written a fax in which he assures that UNODC will continue to be opposed to the concept of harm reduction.
On 10 November, Costa met with Mr. Robert Charles, of the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Department of State of the US Government. Apparently, Mr. Charles expressed his concern about the fact that the term ‘harm reduction’ had been mentioned in official documents and declarations of the United Nations. For the US Government, this is apparently unacceptable, and the purpose of the meeting was to “encourage” the UNODC not to let this happen again.
From the fax that Costa wrote to Charles the next day, it becomes clear that UNODC is merely serving US interests. Costa writes that ‘under the guise of harm reduction, people are disingenuously working to alter the world’s opposition to drugs.’ Furthermore he promises to delete the use of the term harm reduction and ensures Charles that “we are reviewing all our statements, both printed and electronic, and will even be more vigilant in the future”.
According to Costa, harm reduction consists of two concepts: needle exchange and controlled distribution of heroin in consumer rooms. The first one is ‘controversial’ in Costa’s eyes, the second totally unacceptable. However, harm reduction does in fact include a broad range of measures, many of which have been installed in many nations around the world since many years. The simple reason for this is that they save and improve lives, of drug users and their surroundings.
Again, UNODC has shown the organisation is not capable of defending the interests of citizens. Not only does it posess extremely poor knowledge of facts, it also operates as an agency that is more faithful to financial and political pressure than to scientific evidence.