The World Drug Report for 2016, the flagship publication of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), is framed by the recent United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs, and draws on key themes developing from the Special Session. It shows the influence of the Outcome Document, and of the Sustainable Development Agenda (SDA).

In his Preface, Executive Director Yury Fedotov mainly spurns any explicitly political agenda to the Report and the ‘world drug problem’. The overblown rhetoric that formerly framed the World Drug Report has been abandoned. Underlying narratives, of course, remain within the text: those of stability, fluidity, and uncertainty, with the latter placing its limits on the former two. Uncertainty derives from poor, incomplete or entirely absent data. Nonetheless, these themes interact, and the Report is all the richer for its acknowledgement of them.

In addition, the Report contains some new departures for the UNODC, and Mr. Fedotov’s Preface highlights some of them, along with the challenges and questions that they pose. How can drug control be made more sensitive to environmental impacts such as pollution and deforestation? How does the ‘dark net’ function as a vehicle for drug transactions? The Preface also draws attention to the symbiotic relationships of drug control and development, a topic that is further explored in the thematic chapter of the Report.

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