Ambassadors Antonio Castellanos (in substitution for Amb. Arthayudh Srisamoot) and Khaled Shamaa chaired the session, which continued discussions on the preparatory process towards the UNGASS 2016 and, in particular the Outcomes Document.
In this regard, Amb. Castellanos recalled the dates for key upcoming CND meetings:
- CND Intersessional Meeting (8 December): 10am-1pm; 3-6pm.
- Special segment on the UNGASS (9 December): 10am-1pm;3-6pm.
- CND 58th Session – Reconvened (10-11 December): 10am-1pm;3-6pm/10am-1pm.
Furthermore, he reminded that the process of nominations for the composition of the Board of the 59th CND Session was open and ongoing, and would follow the following regional order:
- Chair: Eastern European States.
- First Vice-Chair: Western European & Others (nominated Bente Angell-Hansen – Norway)
- Second Vice-Chair: Latin America & Caribbean states
- Third Vice-Chair: African states
- Rapporteur: Asia & Pacific states
Preparations for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016)
Prolific work has been undertaken throughout the world from the last Intersessional (15 October) in preparation for the UNGASS 2016: On 11 November, the INCB provided an information briefing for Member States. The Board continues to receive contributions on the UNGASS from a broad range of stakeholders. Regular interaction continues with the Office of the General Assembly. The PGE is likely to visit Vienna on 1 December, and a special event is planned by the CND for the occasion. Civil society and all key stakeholders are carrying out intensive work to contribute, together with Member States, with proposals for the UNGASS. Particularly noteworthy is the event organised on 21 October by the CSTF
Let’s first consider Resolution 58/8 (Outcome Document).The Board has prepared a first version of an Elements Paper, circulated to Member states. After the Intersessional meeting of 15 October, having considering valuable feedback, a revised version was shared on a special message on 5 November. A discussion on the Paper took place during yesterday’s informal. Today, we will concentrate on the operational recommendations that Members states would like to see reflected on the Outcomes Document.
Grateful to see our suggestions duly reflected. In particular, we highlight that: the UN Drug Conventions are reaffirmed as the cornerstones of global drug control policy; the importance of capacity building (especially through regional work); and the links between drug trafficking, terrorism and other forms of organised crimes, as well as the challenge of ATS.
However, we also notice that the Elements paper has increased in volume. Resolution 58/8 provides that the document should be short, substantive and action-oriented. Hence, we suggest two recommendations: we must add precision to recommendations as the document is currently too generic. For instance, it is not enough to discuss access to essential medicines, the document should also discuss how. Also, some points dropped in the revision should be reinstated. For example, on the utilisation of the established reporting systems, such as the global warning system and SMART.
In terms of the Preamble, we suggest gender-neutral language; substituting mankind with humanity or humankind.
In terms of the recommendations, they should be more practical. In terms of demand reduction, we wish to see the integration of prevention and treatment with law enforcement activities. The reinforcement of international cooperation to reduce demand and supply, to facilitate access to essential medicines and to tackle ATS. The dimensions of health and cooperation on the section on NPS/ATS strengthened, for instance, developing and sharing information on treatment models with regards to problems associated to NPS/ATS. Moreover, we would encourage the establishment of a voluntary code of practice for the chemical industry in this regard.
Our concern about the expansion of methamphetamine trafficking and prevalence also urges us to tackle this new trade from all fronts. ATS should be linked to operational recommendations on development and treatment, monitoring, research analysis and information sharing and the use of precursors. Furthermore, a distinction should be made between NPS and ATS, namely because of their different scheduling.
We note the untenable situation with essential medicines, and exhort the Board to produce practical measures; for instance, establishing a legislative and regulatory framework to ensure access, rather than adequate access. Moreover, cooperation and assistance should be encouraged with regards to facilitating the availability of narcotic drugs for medical and scientific purposes. The WHO has an important role in providing expertise for decision-making, which should be reflected in the document.
The Preamble should reflect that the global debate on drugs should focus on a radical change on the discourse, with human rights at its core. In this process, we must reconsider an integral, new institutional structure for the analysis of the impact of global drug control. We should reaffirm the principle of common and shared responsibility, prioritising human rights; as well as the crucial role of reducing demand by enacting policies guaranteeing the protection of human rights and social care, based on scientific evidence and enacting alternatives that are based on health and human rights.
In terms of the operational recommendations, they should link to the five thematic areas that were agreed to structure discussions at the UNGASS, as defined by Resolution 58/8.
We must end the paradigm of criminalisation and give way to a new paradigm based on development and human rights. The principles of proportionality and alternatives to imprisonment should be stressed. Finally, we believe national particularities should be respected, which is why we welcome the mention to the flexibility of the Conventions.
It would be important for statements to focus on operational recommendations and not on general recommendations, please.
Luxembourg (on behalf of the EU and a group of MS, namely Turkey, FYROM, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Iceland, Norway, Ukraine, Moldova, Andorra, San Marino)
Before discussing operational recommendations, we must be in clear agreement on the structure and major elements of this document. We welcome the revised document for its coverage of all five themes, including human rights. However, the treatment of the intersections between drug policy and human rights needs to be strengthened; human rights is not only about criminal justice. Drug policy must be aligned with the other objectives of the UN system, which is why we welcome the addition of a mention to the SDGs.
In terms of internal UN cooperation, the recommendations should be more practical and go beyond mentioning only the WHO, INCB an the CND. The role of the WHO in the public health dimensions should be strengthened.
The inclusion of the role of scientific research and the importance of an evidence-based approach is welcomed, but clearer references need to be made on this point, which should be an overarching core principle of drug policy. In this sense, the document should acknowledge that objective and reliable monitoring systems are a precondition to develop evidence-based policies.
The language of the document must explicitly mention risk and harm reduction measures, and the need to improve coverage. This applies not only to treatment, but also recovery and social reintegration.
The revised document stresses the role of civil society, academia and the scientific community, but this should be stressed as key in the Preamble. Not only in the formulation and implementation of policy but also in monitoring and evaluating.
We regret the lack of mentions to the abolition of the death penalty, whose implementation we strongly oppose for drug related offences. The text should invite countries to consider abolition.
The document is not concise, but we are still at the early stages of this process, so this is not necessarily a negative issue.
We welcome mentions to the principles of human rights and an individual-centred approach, but would like to explore how to instil this into the operational recommendations. The Preamble should also be more careful on attributing responsibilities; the civil society ought not be charged with implementation, which is an obligation of public health authorities.
In terms of the operational recommendations, we are glad to see each subsection becoming more concrete, but there are still too many generic and sweeping affirmations that should be avoided. The document often feels as a selection of regurgitations of previous discussions. In the pursuit of concision, for instance, we consider it would be possible to merge the mention of educational tools (in terms of demand reduction) and child-friendly communications. Similarly, the difference between treatment and post-treatment seems unnecessary and confusing. Also, in terms of agreeing to international standards for treatment, we must rethink if this is within the mandate of the UNGASS; and if we could do without it.
More emphasis is needed on availability of controlled substances, especially in developing countries; and a more integral approach should be highlighted in terms of cross-regional responses to drug-related crime.
Finally, we are concerned with the section on alternative development discussing ideas that refer to economy and trade (economic growth, sustainability of economic development, market access). These are issues that belong to the WTO. This is not a place to talk about market access, it is a place to talk about drugs.
Welcomes the dedicated section on human rights, but would like to see greater integration with health; it is currently too focused on law enforcement and criminal justice. Other points to be reconsidered: the burden on the WHO’s workload; the importance of highlighting the links between international drug trade organisations, terrorism and money laundering, utilising existing international mechanisms; the need to further strengthen the participation of civil society; the lack of distinction between controlled substances and NPS, as well as the lack of mentions to regulated markets; the excessive focus on policing when it comes to enforcement, instead of health officials; the exclusive focus on harm when discussing evidence, and omission of low risk; the lack of mentions to the death penalty, which should be opposed anytime, anywhere, for any crime.
We appreciate the clean reference to the Conventions but would like clarity and precision on the idea of aligning drug policy with the broader UN agenda. On demand reduction, data collection on use and epidemiology should be added. On access to controlled medicines, the mention to affordability might go beyond the remit of the Conventions. Language on international cooperation on transnational crime organisations and corruption networks is needed. Rehabilitation, reintegration and recovery should be defined. Reducing prison overcrowding should be added. The issues of NPS/ATS should be separated and the issue of precursor control highlighted. A specific reference to SMART should be added.
Operational recommendations should be supported by strong analysis of all aspects of the problem, including new trends and emerging issues. Operational recommendations should be based on scientific evidence, which implies input from experts and scientific reviews. This is not the nature of the CND, which is a policy-making body characterised by political bargaining and considerations. Hence, we must consider existing expert guidance on these matters, not try to reinvent the wheel: Guidance for availability and accessibility of controlled medicines (2011), WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS guidance on universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for injecting drug users (2012), FATF guidance on money laundering and terrorist financing (2012), UNODC International Standards on Drug Use Prevention (2013), United Nations Guiding Principles on Alternative Development (2013). We might want to refer to these instead of drafting new recommendations. If we find existing gaps, of course, we might want to commission research. For instance, on human rights, we could collaborate with the Human Rights Council. The CND should do what it is good at doing, lending political legitimacy to the work of experts.
Also, we need a comprehensive list of the recommendations suggested by Member States before starting work on the zero draft. They should all be on the table. The current revised paper is a selection of some of these elements. Others have been left out. A pre-selection of this sort is not useful for negotiations.
We would like to contribute language developed with Pakistan on comprehensive assistance to developing countries. It focuses on capacity building; strengthening law enforcement; information exchange and sharing of good practices at the national and international levels; cooperation on equipment, technology and training for border control and effective monitoring. All in all, we need more mechanisms of assistance.
We must find a sensible way to establish indicators to better monitor and follow up on the implementation of the recommendations that will derive from the Outcomes Document. Several UN agencies and programmes with particular expertise should be engaged to collaborate with quantitative and qualitative markets to carry out evaluation. A report of this sort should be produced after three years of the mandate of the text.
We propose the following: changing the Preamble into an opening paragraph, instead of a series of statements; consolidating the structure around the five themes of the roundtables agreed through Resolution 58/8; increasing the focus on UN system-wide coherence; concrete wording on access to medical substances, including sharing of best practices; more concrete wording on prevention; development-oriented drug policy recommendations; mentioning the abolition of the death penalty; strong wording on the proportionality of sentencing.
We will submit suggestions for the operational recommendations in the coming days, particularly on the issues of NPS and international DTOs, terrorism and money laundering. In the meantime, we encourage countries to participate in the existing cooperation networks: ION, I2ES, SMART.
The revised document reflects the key elements of current global drug control policy. We need to strengthen scientific cooperation and cooperation on new methodologies in treatment and prevention for drug addicts, address new challenges, and frame drugs production and trafficking in the context of international security. Further considerations will be submitted in the next days.
The Outcomes Document should be structured by the five themes agreed for the UNGASS 2016 roundtable discussions. The document should be forwards looking and link to ongoing parallel work: SDGs, public health and human rights, for instance. It must allow for greater system-wide cohesion within the UN system.
In terms of the Preamble, persistent and new challenges should be mentioned, as well as remaining gaps; this is the starting point for our work. The document should also prioritise interventions that have proven to work, while further strengthening those evidence-based measures that we know are effective.
In terms of the operational guidelines, we must build on those that are developed already. For example, the WHO guidance for availability and accessibility of controlled medicines (2011). Where new gaps were identified, new guidelines could be commissioned. The document must include mentions to harm reduction measures, such as those involved in HIV prevention, treatment and care; to the need to increase the availability of controlled substances for medical purposes; and also overdose prevention.
The human rights aspect is welcome, but needs to be developed. It is too focused on criminal justice and lacks linkages to the right to health. We expect further work on the role of women in the drugs trade, as we believe women with care responsibilities who are first-time nonviolent drug offenders should not be imprisoned; on the need to abolish the death penalty; on the crucial matter of proportionality and better targeting of drug control.
The document should also provide for more coordinated action against corruption, crime and impunity; and on the link between drugs and terrorism. But we need to think outside the box, while bearing in mind regional, subregional and national contexts. The West African Commission on Drugs has proposed one of these outside-of-the-box proposals, the establishment of panels or special regional courts to target high-level offenders; state authorities complicit in or facilitating drug trafficking. All in all, our prisons are full of offenders on the very bottom of the drug pyramid while we to a large extent fail to deal with key actors.
Finally, it should be acknowledged that there is a need for more involvement from civil society, academic institutions and other interested stakeholders, including people who use drugs.
We expect the WHO to show leadership and present a long-term comprehensive strategy towards a health approach to drug control. Our colleagues in Geneva are stepping up efforts towards UNGASS, which is very welcome.
On the question of the involvement of civil society, the scientific community and academia contributing to formulating and implementing of policies, Argentina contested the current formulation but we would reaffirm it. Governments set the framework for policies, but civil societies are optimal partners to implement policy; in fact, the UNODC has a grants programme for prevention and care that awards financial support to civil society organisations
We support involvement of other UN agencies and bodies, but we reaffirm the principal role of the CND in these matters.
We welcome the chapter on human rights, but would like to see it higher up in the text. A way to do so is reverting to the five roundtable themes included in Resolution 58/8. Human rights was the third element, not the fifth. Also on this point, we except broader references to human rights, like the right to health.
We welcome the references to the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and the UN Convention Against Corruption, but we expect references also when discussing organised crime. Still on the same point, the document should include a reference to the smuggling of migrants as a form of organised crime. Also, clearer language is needed about the online sale of drugs, more related to NPS but a problem related to all drugs.
On alternative development, we expect more coordination with specialised bodies, like the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
We highlight the need for the document to be action-oriented, which is why we agree on the references to the guidelines (as mentioned Switzerland), but this should not downplay the prime role of the CND on drug-related matters, which makes it a legitimate body to produce apt recommendations.
In terms of the Preamble, we believe the mention of ‘regional’ drug policies is inappropriate, and that the importance of civil society should include the development and monitoring of policies.
The document should explicitly state that drug users should not be treated as criminals, as well as denounce compulsory treatment and support harm reduction measures, while respecting national policies.
On access to medicines, clarification is needed on the meaning of ‘country assessments’, as well as a reference to better coordination regarding the scheduling of substances and the model list of essential medicines of the WHO
Other elements that should be included are: references to INCB tools, such as the I2ES, and their use among state parties; further cooperation on the timeliness of freezing and recovering assets; mentions to the importance of mechanisms to improve coordination on money laundering and links to terrorism; references on the need for special attention to vulnerable groups; a call for discussion on the definition of quantitative thresholds to differentiate users from traffickers; mentions to the special vulnerability of women in drug related crimes; and a call for member states to consider a moratorium on the death penalty, whilst respecting national sovereignty.
Specific comments will be provided after due work by the capital. In the meantime, we agree that perhaps it is more important to start by agreeing on the structure. Also, recommendations should be concrete and focused. Member states are putting a huge amount of resources into this process, so the UNGASS 2016 should be a milestone addressing new challenges and realities. The quality and nature of the Outcomes Document will be a key element to judge this. Finally, while the document should be in line with the Political Declaration of 2009, this does not mean member states must use the same language.
We consider that the structure should be agreed first, and it should follow the five themes agreed for the UNGASS roundtables.
In terms of the Preamble, it should make explicit the legal framework on the UNGASS 2016; the recognition that global drug control efforts have not produced satisfying results; the fact that the drug problem is growing, as demonstrated by the threat of NPS; the struggle to fight international drug crimes; and the need to abolish the death penalty.
In terms of the operational recommendations: on drugs and health, including the availability of controlled substances: adopt measures to prioritise a public health approach to drug policies, strengthen the capacity of health authorities to carry out work on drug dependence, promote research and evidence-gathering on the substances under international control (using relevant scientific evaluation criteria), encourage a regular review of the list of essential medicines.
On drugs and human rights, young woman and children: adopt measures to decriminalise drug consumption and possession, implement policies to minimise stigma and criminalisation of drug consumers, create regional workgroups to harmonise commitments and the application of international instruments of human rights, recognise indigenous traditions involving use of controlled substances, produce legislative guidelines on proportionality of sentencing, promote legislative guidelines for alternatives to imprisonment for minor drug offences.
On drugs and justice, including money laundering: Strengthen capacity building, assess social impact of drug trafficking and organised crime, including an analysis of causes and consequences.
On alternative development: promote regional, interregional and international cooperation addressing socio-economic issues, strengthen the principle of common responsibility addressing the need for more technical assistance, encourage coordination within the UN system through the harmonisation of criteria related to drug policy, strengthen financial cooperation to maintain programmes of AD and preventive AD including the establishment of an international fund to support and finance those programmes, strengthen cooperation to reduce vulnerabilities of populations affected by illicit cultivations.
On emerging issues and challenges: respect the autonomy of the state to design innovative evidence-based policies, assist in the revision of national policies taking into account local realities, set up a mechanism to establish new indicators to better measure results of drug control, provide more financial assistance to tackle the world drug problem.
On structure, we have full trust on the able leadership of the Board and will support their proposal.
In terms of the operational recommendations: increased international and regional cooperation, stress the importance of technical assistance. We support, in this sense, the operational recommendations made by China.
On the development agenda, we must underscore that this is not about drugs and corruption, but the eradication of poverty and removing inequality among the states, promoting sustainable development. SDGs should be mentioned concretely.
The Preamble should include a reference to transit countries.
A mechanism should be established for the monitoring of the recommendations of the Outcomes Document with the purpose of producing a report for the CND in the run-up to 2019.
In terms of the Preamble, we would include the principle of common and shared responsibility.
In terms of operational recommendations, we would add: a recommendation on technical assistance and capacity building on rehabilitation and recovery; the production of generic medicines to make access to controlled medicines more affordable; encouraging farmers involved in illicit cultivation of drugs to find mutually agreed solutions; with regards to money laundering, a reference on synergies between law enforcement, intelligence and other authorities to fight increasing links between drug trafficking and other forms of crime; on human rights, highlight the importance of preventative actions targeting students, in cooperation with communities, concerned authorities and relevant UN agencies; increase the capacity of law enforcement authorities to monitor the dark web; on alternative development, encourage the implementation of large scale plans to avoid return to illicit cultivation; give new impetus to shared responsibility and translate it into action.
We believe the issue of proportionality should not be discussed further. It is unnecessary to continue trying to discuss controversial issues for which positions are already clear.
The structure of the Outcomes Document should follow the order established in the Political Declaration of 2009.
With regards to the document, we would include: language condemning the legalisation of drugs in any way, which is totally unacceptable; clarity on the role of the state in implementing international law; the deletion of the concept of flexibility of the UN Conventions; a definition of ‘culture of lawfulness’ in the context of the world drug problem; a reference to the two human rights covenants, to avoid cherry picking and politicisation.
We also add that we do not treat drug users as criminals. Drug abuse is a crime, which is why they are criminals. We expect clear language on this.
Finally, we wonder what the next steps are going to be. Progressively more general comments are made and we do not know until when we will keep revising the document.
We would include language on the role of the media on the impact of drug use and abuse; on the international cooperation to build treatment facilities; stronger language on access to controlled substances, including affordability; on more international cooperation to counter organised crime; on the return of assets to their countries of origin; regarding human rights, on the need to balance them with the right of societies to a drug-free environment; on strengthening the principle of common and shared responsibility.
The CND and the UNGASS process were mandated to produce substantive operational recommendations, not just quote existing documents and guidelines.
We should distinguish national and international action on NPS as a key emerging challenge. Internationally, we would add strengthening cross-border control. Nationally, the establishment of early warning systems. Also on the issue, we think a clear distinction from ATS should be made explicit as well as a mention to the SMART programme.
Human rights should be an overarching concern throughout the document too, not just restricted to youth, women and criminal justice. Furthermore, the document must include that the death penalty should be abolished.
Finally, we should add mentions to proportionality and to strengthening the link between communities, health authorities and law enforcement authorities.
We expect more specific language on the expansion of access to evidence-based drug-dependence treatment, such as OST; risk and harm reduction measures; and treatment services in prison settings. We expect the document to ensure the right of drug users to give consent to treatment. Furthermore, a differentiated and gendered perspective should be instilled into drug policies, both in demand and supply. Finally, the document should include a reference to the abolition of the death penalty.
The preambular and five sections are a good structure. We insist on promoting legislation that enables judges to find alternatives to incarceration for minor offenses in light of the principle of proportionality. Finally, the abolition of death penalty in all circumstances should be included and the subject of an event at the UNGASS.
The principle of common and shared responsibility should be strengthened. And regional mechanisms to tackle the drug scourge need to be enhanced. Regional platforms can foster more cooperation. ASEAN meets regularly at senior officials level and recently institutionalised an annual meeting overseeing the issue of drugs at the regional level.
The document should also highlight the link between transnational organised crime and drugs, as well as its harms to societies.
There should not be a revisionist approach on drug control.The document should be concise and action oriented, instead of repetitions and duplications of existing documents, including the Political Declaration of 2009. It should also include specific ways to implement goals. Member States, the UN and the CND must come up with ways to implement these measures concretely and organised. For instance, through the creation of an international mechanism to monitor production and distribution of illicit substances. Finally, rehabilitation should be a priority above punishment
On human rights, the document should highlight particular linkages. We also support cooperation between UN bodies and agencies; better coordination, better results.
In terms of the operational recommendations, we endorse Portugal’s mention of clearer language around a people-centred approach in the document.
We would also respond to the statement that there should be no ‘flexibility’ in the implementation of the Conventions. Flexibility is a vital element of law. Law is a social science, not a mathematical one. The idea of a mechanical court was left aside in the 16th century. Laws need to be flexible, it is why courts of appeal exist, because law is prone to interpretation. Laws are there to support people and safety.
The structure of the document should be based on the five themes agreed for the roundtables, not a series of bullet points.
In terms of human rights, the document needs rewording as human rights cannot be limited by age, gender or other social construction. This should be an underlying principle informing all recommended actions.
Trusts the leadership of Amb. Shamaa and calls for the abolition of the death penalty.
Confused about general comments. Expected to hear more on the operational aspect of the document, which should develop the Political Declaration of 2009, nothing more.
Switzerland mentioned key causes and consequences, but the wording has effaced them. It should be made clear that we need to pursue eradication and a society free from drugs. If we did not have drug production, we would not have anyone hanged up on the abolition of the death penalty. Most interventions are only focusing on the side effects.
The principle of shared responsibility implies developed countries must pay the costs of policy, not only technical assistance, which often leads to no concrete support.
National legislation should be the responsibility of national experts based on national realities.
Katherine Pettus (CSTF – VNGOC)
Statement available here.
On the UNGASS roundtables
Amb. Shamaa discussed the timeframes but the logistics are still to be decided, in particular on matters of access and representation. For instance, decisions need to be made on the chairing of roundtables, which will be done by one board member and one delegate from the regional group (but it is unknown if Vienna or New York will lead on this).
UNGASS accreditation process for NGOs
Following previous UNGASSs, the Secretariat to draft a list of representatives of civil society, scientific community and academia. An online questionnaire will be filled by prospective attendees. The Secretariat will then review and check against recommendation for accreditation.
Side events at the reconvened session
The Secretariat has received requests for side events, but it is clear that it would not be possible to support side events as much as in March.
The Reconvened session will be held on the C building. the M building will not be available, which limits the space for side events. The Secretariat has received 10 event requests and will close requests by the end of the week.
For March, the application process will take place in January.
Preliminary information that we have received from colleagues in NY has been posted on the UNGASS website. Application period for side events at the UNGASS will take place in February.