Antonio Maria Costa
|Antonio Maria Costa|
|Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations|
|Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Director-General of the United Nations Office in Vienna (UNOV)|
May 2002 – July 2010
|Secretary-General of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)|
16 June 1941 |
|Alma mater||University of Turin
Moscow State University
University of California at Berkeley
Antonio Maria Costa was an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, appointed, from May 2002 until August 2010, to the positions of Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Director-General of the United Nations Office in Vienna (UNOV).
An Italian native, Costa was born on June 16, 1941. He holds a:
- Degree in political science from the University of Turin (1963);
- Degree in mathematical economics from the Moscow State University (1967); and
- Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley (1971).
His career history is as follows:
- 1969 to 1983: Senior economist in the United Nations Department of International Economics and Social Affairs.
- 1983 to 1987: Under-Secretary-General at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
- 1987 to 1992: Director-General for Economics and Finance at the European Commission.
- 1992 to 2002: Secretary-General of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
- 2002 to 2010: Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV).
Tenure at UNODC
In June 2006, Costa made implied criticism of Britain's decision to downgrade cannabis from a Class B drug to Class C, stating that countries "got the drug problem they deserved" if they maintained inadequate policies. He went further and seemed even to question the democratic right of nation states to determine their own drug policy, stating "it is fundamentally wrong for countries to make cannabis control dependent on which party is in government." Citing more potent strains and increased "cannabis-related health damage", Mr. Costa proclaimed that "the harmful characteristics of cannabis are no longer that different from those of other plant-based drugs such as cocaine and heroin."
Costa was reported to repeatedly avoid to answer the question of Dutch psychiatrist Frederick Polak why cannabis use in the Netherlands seems to be lower than in neighboring countries. Although the debate regarding the science of psychoactive substances continues, Costa continues to support the banning of the use of marijuana, which is now the world's most widely used illicit drug, stating:"Cannabis is the most vulnerable point of the whole multilateral edifice."
The United Nations' anti-drugs chief denounced March 9, 2008 celebrities such as pop star Amy Winehouse and supermodel Kate Moss, saying that their alleged drug use was helping devastate West Africa. Towards the end of 2008, Costa and the UNODC have increased their rhetoric against piracy off of Somalia, urging that pirates be brought to justice and that they not be paid ransom by shippers.
On 12 July 2010, Costa's tenure at the UNODC ended when Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed Yuri Fedotov Executive Director of UNODC. 
In 2007 the five biggest donors to UNODC's budget were, in descending order: European Union, Canada, United States, UN and Sweden. The United States have repeatedly threatened to withdraw funding unless Costa assured that the UNODC would abstain from any expression of support for harm reduction measures in general. According to the Transnational Institute this explains the fact that - unlike other United Nations bodies like WHO and UNAIDS - UNODC does not promote harm reduction policies (e.g. needle exchange and Heroin-assisted treatment).
Costa has also been criticized for having reports published that seem to be designed to please donor countries and to support their prohibitionist policies, such as the 2006 UNODC report Sweden's Successful Drug Policy: A Review of the Evidence.(Sweden's financed in 2005-2006 about 4% of UNODC's budget)
His latest controversial statement has been to state that only drug money saved the world financial system from a complete collapse, effectively identifying major banks as money-launderers for about $325 billion in proceeds.
- Johnston, Philip (2006-06-27). "UK 'too soft on cannabis dangers'". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
- McSmith, Andy (2006-06-27). "Britain 'deserves its drugs problem', says UN". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
- "Silenced NGO Partner". Hungarian Civil Liberties Union. 2008-03-15. Archived from the original on 21 January 2009. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
- Coghlan, Andy (2008-12-30). "Radical alternatives proposed for cannabis controls". New Scientist. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
- "Anti-drugs chief hits out at Winehouse, Moss". CNN.com. 2008-03-09. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
- "Pirates seize two more ships". Journal of Commerce. 2008-12-16. Retrieved 2008-12-31.[dead link]
- "Secretary-General appoints Yury Fedotov of Russian Federation Executive Director of UNODC". United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 2010-09-12. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
- FN:s organ mot brott och narkotika, page 2. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sweden.
- Syal, Rajeev (2009-12-13). "Drug money saved banks in global crisis, claims UN advisor". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 20 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-25.