RUSSIAN TAKES POST AS UN DRUG BOSS
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Russian Diplomat Takes Over at UN Drug Agency
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by Phillip Smith, September 15, 2010, 01:53pm, (Issue #649)
Posted in: Addiction Addiction Treatment Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C Human Rights News Brief Public Health United Nations
As of Monday, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is under new management. Russian diplomat Yury Fedotov , who was nominated for the post earlier this year by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, has now taken over the organization that makes up a key part of the global drug prohibition regime. He replaces outgoing UNODC head Antonio Maria Costa.
Yuri Fedotov (courtesy Voice of Russia, ruvr.ru)
The Vienna-based agency, established in 1997, is charged with fighting the illegal drug trade, as well as other international crime, such as corruption and human trafficking. It also publishes annual reports on the global drug scene, as well as regional reports, including annual surveys of Afghan opium poppy production.
“Public health and human rights must be central” to his agency’s work, Fedotov said in a statement Monday. “Whether we talk of the victims of human trafficking, communities oppressed by corrupt leaders, unfair criminal justice systems or drug users marginalized by society, we are committed to making a positive difference,” he said.
“Drug dependence is a health disorder, and drug users need humane and effective treatment — not punishment,” he added. “Drug treatment should also promote the prevention of HIV.”
Harm reductionists and AIDS activists had earlier urged Ki-moon not to appoint Fedotov, pointing to Russia’s abysmal record on human rights, the treatment of drug users, and HIV/AIDS prevention. But on Monday, the International Harm Reduction Association told the Associated Press it was willing to give Fedotov a chance based on his early remarks.
“We certainly hope this sets the benchmark for the path he’ll be taking,” said the association’s executive director Rick Lines. “For any public official, they’re going to be judged by what they do with the responsibility they’re given.”