Magazine article UNESCO Courier

UNESCO and Drugs

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

UNESCO and Drugs

Article excerpt

Unesco and drugs

Unesco subscribes to the definition of a drug formulated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "any substance that when taken into the living organism may modify one or more of its functions.' This definition does not designate those who are dependent on drugs as either "abnormal' or "criminal', and has the advantage of being equally applicable to "legal' substances (tobacco, medicines, alcoholic beverages) and to those such as heroin or LSD which are proscribed by law.

Unesco turned its attention to the problems of drug abuse in 1970, in response to an appeal from the General Assembly of the United Nations. It was decided that the most valuable contribution Unesco could make would be in the areas of education, the social and human sciences and communication. The financing, directed primarily towards operational projects, was entrusted to the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control (UNFDAC).

Unesco's programmes relating to drugs were drawn up in the early 1970s for the industrialized countries. Fifteen years later, at the request of the developing countries, which had begun to be affected by the growing market in legal and illegal drugs, these programmes were expanded and strengthened in order to intensify the "struggle against trafficking and the illicit use of drugs', and to promote "education for the prevention of drug abuse'.

The principles governing Unesco action on drugs were defined in 1972:

concern was to be directed towards both illicit drugs and those which are socially acceptable (such as tobacco and commonly used medicines);

drug problems were not to be looked on as problems specific to youth, if only because it is mainly adults who tend to abuse "legal' drugs and tend to be the producers of both "legal' and "illegal' drugs;

a distinction would be made between action within educational systems and public information in a wider context. …

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