UN's anti-drugs efforts "in chaos"

According to a mid-January report in the United Kingdom's Guardian newspaper, the United Nations office responsible for fighting drugs and organized crime has been reduced to chaos during the last three years, the report's evidence being a leaked memo from its Vienna headquarters. The memorandum accuses Pino Arlacchi, the head of the UN 'drug office', of a tendency to announce multimillion-pound projects aimed at combating drug production worldwide. Yet, it claims, the money seldom appears, and many projects are quietly abandoned.

The Guardian's diplomatic editor, Ewen MacAskill, reports that "Mr Arlacchi, a sociologist who established his reputation by fighting the Mafia in Italy, became head of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention in September 1997."

Arlacchi replied to the criticism by saying that in every organization where there is reform, there are people who are unhappy with change. "These are disgruntled people, and some of them are spreading false accusations, rumors and garbage," he said.

The confidential memo, sent on December 6th by Michael Schulenburg, director of the operations and analysis division, is scathing, according to the Guardian account. He wrote: "Despite my personal disappointment, I still feel that you (Arlacchi) are a man with exceptional energies and political qualities. But you are also the worst manager I have come across." Schulenburg left the organization two days after sending the memo. Mr Arlacchi's spokesman, Sandro Tucci, said Mr Schulenberg's contract had not been renewed because of his performance.

In the 11-page memo, which has reportedly been sent anonymously to selected newspapers in Europe, Mr Schulenburg listed certain promises allegedly made by Mr Arlacchi. According to this memo, in 1997 Mr Arlacchi promised Afghanistan's Taliban government a $250m project for alternative development and job creation to replace drug cultivation, but none of the funds have been raised. Mr Arlacchi denies making any such promise.

Arlacchi has also disputed Mr Schulenberg's claims that efforts to raise $80m for a project in Laos had raised only $1.8m, saying that in fact the project was a success and that the US and European countries had put up $5m. Laos in the first year had cut poppy production by 30%, he said.
Razor Wire editors will certainly be following further developments in this story of apparent collapse in fundamental features of international drug policy.

For source details go to http://www.newsunlimited.co.uk/guardian/ and