European Year for Development

European Year for Development


United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) contributes to making the world safer from drugs, crime and terrorism.

About us

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) assists UN Member States in their fight against illicit drugs, transnational orgnanised crime, corruption and terrorism. It is the guardian of most of the related global conventions, including 3 drug control conventions, the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC).

Through an extensive network of field offices and its Headquarters in Vienna, UNODC operates in all regions of the world, offering its expertise in 3 connected strands of work: 

  • normative work to assist States in the ratification of the international conventions, transposing their provisions into national legislation, and providing secretariat and substantive services to the Conference of States Parties and other related meetings
  • research and analysis to increase knowledge and understanding of drugs and crime issues and expand the evidence base for global policy setting in these areas
  • field-based technical cooperation projects to assist States to implement the provisions of the conventions

UNODC works in the following areas:

Organized crime and trafficking - UNODC helps Governments to react to the instability and insecurity caused by crimes like the smuggling of illicit drugs, weapons, natural resources, counterfeit goods, fraudulent medicines, and human beings between countries and continents. It is also addressing emerging forms of crime, such as cybercrime, trafficking in cultural artefacts and environmental crime. Trafficking of human beings and smuggling of migrants is a particularly important area of work as it affects all countries around the world, as source, transit or country of destination. UNODC also addresses wildlife and forest crime which today has transformed into one of the largest transnational organized criminal activities generating enormous profits for criminal groups.

Corruption - Corruption is a major impediment to economic and social development, UNODC partners with the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, to loosen the grip that corrupt individuals have on government, national borders and trading channels. In recent years, the Office has stepped up its efforts to help States recover assets stolen by corrupt officials.

Crime prevention and criminal justice reform - UNODC promotes the adoption of codes of conduct and standards and norms that aim to guarantee that the accused, the guilty and the victims can all rely on a criminal justice system that is fair and grounded on human rights values. A strong rule of law will also instill confidence among citizens in the effectiveness of the courts and the humanness of the prisons. Recognizing the multiple causes of crime, UNODC promotes strategies, plans, and programmes, which are multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary, and which favour civil society participation for crime prevention.

Drug abuse prevention and health - UNODC supports Member States in addressing drug use and drug addiction as any other health disorder: i.e. by implementing drug use prevention interventions and providing drug dependence treatment and care services, which are based on scientific evidence and on ethical standards. Another area of work is ensuring access to controlled drugs for medical purposes, whilst preventing diversion and abuse. Through educational campaigns UNODC aims to prevent drug use, HIV/AIDS and crime among young people by offering family skills training programmes in low- and middle-income countries worldwide.

HIV and AIDS - In partnership with national and international partners, including civil society organisations and other UNAIDS cosponsors, UNODC assists countries to achieve universal access to comprehensive, evidence-informed, public health-oriented and human rights-centred HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services for people who use drugs and for people who live and work in prison settings.

Terrorism prevention - UNODC is the key United Nations entity providing legal counter-terrorism technical assistance to Member States.  As mandated by the United Nations General Assembly, it works to assist Member States, upon request, with the ratification, legislative incorporation and implementation of the universal legal framework against terrorism.

Maritime crime and piracy - The UNODC Maritime Crime Programme (MCP) assists states to strengthen their capacity to combat maritime crime, by providing a criminal justice response to piracy, enable the prosecution of pirates, the transfers of consenting sentenced detainees from prosecuting States back to their home country, and building up national maritime law enforcement institutions. UNODC also helps victims of maritime crime by providing medical care to hostages while still in captivity, and help to secure their safe release an transfer.

UNODC mobilizes and promotes regional and transnational cooperation to confront the growing threat to security posed by the convergence of organized crime, drug trafficking, corruption and terrorism. UNODC strengthens the rule of law and institutions of justice in order to improve crime prevention and build safer, more secure societies in which people can live without fear and work towards a more prosperous future for themselves and their families.

The European Union is one of UNODC's strongest partners in addressing the areas in UNODC's mandate, in terms of  policy setting and through joint programmes throughout the world.

  • UNODC global awareness-raising campaign on the impact of organized crime
  • Make Health your Fashion - drug prevention campaign
  • UNODC campaign "Wildlife Crime: Don't be part of it!"

Our vision on development aid in 3 questions

Why should we care about development aid?

The rule of law, secure and stable societies, justice systems based on human rights, effective anti-corruption measures and public health systems addressing drug addiction as a health problem are important elements of development, to which UNODC makes important contributions. In the words of UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov: "Working together to take action against drugs, crime, corruption and terrorism, we can increase security and improve the lives of individuals, families and communities all over the world."

What is the added value of the EU as a global player?

The EU stands for important values, such as human rights, the rule of law, good governance and sustainable development, and is one of UNODC's most important partners in promoting these values, shaping global policies around the topics within UNODC's mandate and which are of joint interest, and in supporting States in implementing important reforms towards healthier and safer societies, based on the rule of law and human rights.

How can each of us make a difference?

Every citizen around the world can voice support for development, promote the strive to strengthen their societies' rule of law, the respect for human rights, and say no to drugs, corruption, and crime. UNODC's public campaigns invite everyone to participate and engage, for example by supporting awareness-raising campaigns such as the Blue Heart Campaign, by taking part in public activities around the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (26 June), the World Anti-Corruption Day (9 Dec), or by donating to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for victims of Human Trafficking.

Wagramer Strasse 5 Wagramer Strasse 5, A 1400, Vienna, Austria
Wagramer Strasse 5
A 1400 Vienna

Press contact

Valerie De Vuyst
Team Assistant

Twitter - @UNODC