This, the sixth booklet of the World Drug Report 2020, addresses a number of drug policy issues that all form part of the international debate on the drug problem and how to address it. Although comprehensive data and analysis may not be available for some of these issues, the following chapters represent a first attempt to consolidate available evidence aimed at supporting the international community in implementing several operational recommendations, including those contained in the outcome document of the special session of the General Assembly, held in 2016.

The booklet starts by considering the issue of ensuring the availability of and access to controlled substances exclusively for medical and scientific purposes while preventing their diversion. It thus reviews the latest data on and trends in the availability of controlled medicines, specifically opioids, for medical consumption at the global level and across regions. An overview is also provided of the latest survey findings on barriers to access to controlled medicines for medical purposes in Member States.

Continuing with the strengthening of international cooperation based on the principle of common and shared responsibility, the booklet presents selected data on international cooperation. The focus of this chapter is rather limited considering the potentially wide scope of the topic. It starts with an analysis of trends with respect to a selected number of interventions in the area of drug supply reduction, on which Member States are explicitly asked to report annually to UNODC through the annual report questionnaire. The chapter subsequently reviews the financial means made available by donor countries for international cooperation on drug issues, before concluding with an analysis of interceptions trends, a possible indicator of the success of international cooperation. 

The booklet then provides evidence to support the implementation of operational recommendations on alternative development and other development and socioeconomic issues. This chapter presents the findings of ongoing research aimed at assessing the impact of alternative development projects in a number of countries across different regions affected by the illicit cultivation of opium poppy or coca bush. It also provides an overview of the socioeconomic drivers of illicit crop cultivation while highlighting the specific vulnerabilities of the affected communities and providing a first-ever estimate of their potential size.

The booklet continues with a discussion of the nexus between drugs and violence, starting from a conceptual standpoint, and presenting research findings that illustrate the different mechanisms at play. The booklet then concludes with a short focus on drugs and the criminal justice system, including estimates of people arrested, convicted and held in prison for drug offences, and a brief overview of the long-lasting consequences of imprisonment for women incarcerated for drug law offences.