Russian Diplomat Takes Over at UN Drug Agency

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."

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McD's picture

The Russians Have Come

There are some intelligent and perceptive people making policy decisions in the US and at the UN (which is really the same thing). They know they have been defeated in their War on Drugs and must find the fact acutely embarrassing. As a rule, people don’t like losing fights or wars and, having done so, saving face becomes highest priority. Defeat has been indirectly admitted by the Obama administration: ‘We no longer call it the War on Drugs.’


The Russians don’t seem to have got the message, though. I’m sure there are plenty of intelligent and perceptive people in the Kremlin, as well as the White House, but they don’t have the same experience of defeat as the Americans do. (They have their own, which is no less valuable.) They’ve gone into ‘moron mode’ in their approach to drugs, just like their counterparts in the West did some thirty-odd years ago. This is something the Russians are extraordinarily good at… And human rights.


The appointment of Yuri Fedotov to the UNODC Boss job is a cause for great celebration for those who are eager to change current international drug policies. Not only does it underline the Americans’ admission of defeat in one of their most ridiculous holy crusades (The War on Drugs) but it has finally set the stage for the repeal of the (US/)UN(/UK) (Axis) ‘Narcotics’ Conventions of 1961 and ’88, which in turn should lead to a number of other equally important and similarly obstructed measures.


Look around outside the box - you don't even really need to think, just open you eyes - and consider an internal dialogue: ‘We’ve lost. What can we do?’


‘Blame it on the Russians.’


‘No-one’s going to buy it.’


‘Make ‘em beg for it.’


‘How so?’


‘Flood the country with heroin so that they have no choice but to demand responsibility for stopping it. That way we kill a whole bunch of birds with one stone:


1) we save face by distancing ourselves from defeat without even ever actually openly admitting defeat;


2) they take over, assuming the same position that caused our defeat, making the same mistakes until they’re forced - just as we have been - to come to terms with defeat; that way they take the blame and get called fools for repeating the mistakes which we can claim to have innocently made and they’re seen as idiots for repeating our mistakes; and the really, really good part is that we can then say, ‘Ah, yes, but you see, we’d already understood what we'd done wrong and started to embrace harm reduction before those idiots took over and made a mess of the good work we’d started to do, and we only let them because we’re such good, kind and trusting souls - always willing to give them enough rope to hang themselves - and they pressured us so hard to do so.';


3) when they’ve made such a mess of it that they’re crawling away on their knees, just like they did from Afghanistan twenty years ago, then we can waltz back in as heros, repealing the Conventions, replacing them with new ones to our liking, minimizing damage to our good selves, maximizing damage to them, thereby strengthening our position at the centre of the Axis. How’s that for a strategy?’


‘Let’s do it!’


Personally,  I don’t believe the Americans are as stupid as one might be led to believe by a simple analysis of their holy crusades, particularly the War on Drugs. Once they’ve managed to pull off something like the plan outlined above, I’m sure they’ll take a more intelligent approach to the new and improved Axis ‘Narcotics’ Conventions. Having lived and worked in Russia and the ex-Soviet Union for several years, however, I’m afraid I can’t find the same confidence in the Russians’ capabilities. I don’t think I’m revealing anything other than the obvious here. It won’t be long before the Russians have dug a hole for themselves so deep that their infractions of human rights become intolerable and they’re forced to retire from their fantasy role as ‘savior of traditional values’. As far as I can see, this is the only way the Axis is able to deal with the defeat it’s suffered. And it’s not a bad plan.


So take heart those of you who await intelligence from our masters. I see light at the end of the long, long, dark and decaying tunnel which has caused such horrific pain and suffering.

McD's picture

Mark My Words

Just wait and see.

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