Remarks at the Launch of UNODC’s Synthetic Drugs Strategy

UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly delivers remarks at the launch of the UNODC Synthetic Drug Strategy, Vienna, Austria, November 19, 2021. (USUNVIE/Colin Peters)

Remarks at the Launch of UNODC’s Synthetic Drugs Strategy

As prepared for delivery by Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Louis L. Bono
Vienna, Austria, November 19, 2021

Good afternoon. I’m pleased to be here today for the launch of the UNODC’s new Synthetic Drugs Strategy.

I would like to thank UNODC for continuing to call attention to the rapidly evolving threat posed by illicit synthetic drugs and helping member states improve their response.

Combatting the global proliferation of synthetic drugs remains a top priority for the United States. In my country, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already dire drug overdose crisis. We now estimate that over 100,000 people died of drug overdoses from April 2020 to April 2021, a tragic increase of 30% from the same period a year earlier. Synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl, continue to be the primary driver of overdose deaths, but we are increasingly seeing deaths that involve fentanyl in combination with other drugs, such as methamphetamine and cocaine.

While the threat posed by synthetic drugs is very apparent in my country, this is a global challenge. Synthetic drugs can be manufactured virtually anywhere, in facilities ranging from sophisticated laboratories to remote hideouts. Production costs are low, and criminals tailor the psychoactive effects of new drug formulas to meet evolving consumer demand and evade control measures. The dangers of synthetic drugs are unlike threats from traditional drugs and require a new approach.

That is why the United States is proud to have provided nearly $8.5 million for this new Strategy’s implementation. These investments are essential in ensuring member states can exchange information on emerging trends, share best practices, and develop an improved and coordinated global response to this rapidly evolving threat. We further encourage other member states to contribute funding to advance the implementation of this strategy.

Thank you.