The head of the United Nations Development Programme, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, says news reports that she criticised the United States' policy in the so-called war on drugs have been misrepresented.
Miss Clark is quoted by the Reuters news agency saying Latin American leaders in particular should be encouraged to develop different drug policies, by treating the issue as a health one rather than a criminal one.
She said there is increasing evidence that the war on drugs has failed, with criminalisation often creating more problems than it solves.
However, a spokesperson for Miss Clark has released a statement saying she did not criticise US drug policy.
The spokesperson says the development programme believes existing drug control treaties are among the best available tools for addressing the world's drug problem.
In recent years, many Latin American governments have begun to openly challenge the 40-year orthodoxy of the US-led "war on drugs" that seeks to stamp out the cultivation and distribution of drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.