The UNODC itself states that “A comparative advantage for the Office is its very DNA as a mul¬tilateral entity, namely as an honest broker representing the interest of no single Member State.” However, in reality, funding and diplomatic considerations have an enormous impact upon the implementation of this “guiding principle,” the type of projects that become operational, and ultimately the overall functioning of the UNODC. The Office’s consolidated Budget, consisting of the budgets of the drug and the crime programmes, generally relies upon voluntary contributions from donors for around 90% of its funding. The remaining 10% comes from the regular UN budget: that is to say, funds given to the UN as a whole to pay for staff, basic infrastructure and some activities. Recent years have seen a growing trend by donors to earmark their volun¬tary contributions to specific projects and activities. For instance, in the period 2006-2007 between 70-80% of voluntary contributions were earmarked. Therefore, at any point in time, the UNODC is operating with an incomplete ‘jigsaw’ of funding, with a high proportion of planned activities waiting for funds to be raised, and a wide range of donors demanding that the office pursue their own, often conflicting, policy and programme priorities. Such a fiscal reality leads to an unhelpful politicization of Office activities and weakens its role within the system. The UNODC performs at its strongest when it is providing objective analysis and expertise to member states, and facilitating policy debate between conflicting positions. However, all too often, the Of¬fice has operated as a political actor in its own right, siding with particular member states, or simply defending the effectiveness of existing policies and programmes.
The UNODC, consistent with its mandate, has a primary focus on the control aspects of the global drug problem, which sometimes inhibits its ability to achieve a balance between this responsibility – to minimise the scale of the illegal market – and the related health, development and human rights considerations. The mecha¬nisms for the UN agencies that are concerned with these issues to be involved in drug policy and strategy development are currently weak, making effective policy co-ordination between competing priorities (that is increasingly implemented at national level) impossible.
While there is a considerable degree of substantive agreement on drug policy between UN agencies, signifi¬cant inconsistencies do remain. These exist within both the immediate confines of drug control framework, and between this framework and the wider activities and goals of the UN. The degree of inconsistency is fluid as both the politics and science surrounding drug policy issues alter over time. Nonetheless, it is possible for example to identify ongoing differences in approach between, on the one hand, the law enforcement orienta¬tion of the UNODC and the INCB’s rigidly zero-tolerance interpretation of the conventions and, on the other hand, the health and development orientation and wider interpretation of the conventions of other bodies such as UNAIDS, the United Nations Development Programme, WHO, World Bank and the United Nations Population Fund. Furthermore, law enforcement dominated strategies demonstrate a lack of cohesion between some sections of the international drug control system and broader UN principles on Human Rights, as laid out in instruments like the UN Charter and more recently the UN Millennium Goals. IDPC members and partners will maintain respectful working relationships with the most relevant sections and officials with the UNODC, supporting positive pieces of work, and pointing out gaps or areas of weakness.