UNGASS Roundtable 2: Supply reduction and related measures

Delegates wait for the roundtable to begin.
Delegates wait for the round table to begin.

Chair: Opens session. We seek to put through a number of questions on how to enhance cooperation, and we seek to look at the obstacles that apply to this. How can we improve the capacity of different entities to face new challenges, including the use of the internet in trafficking drugs? A new question that can also be put forward, is what policies can be used to stem the tide of NPS? How is it possible to improve the exchange of information between the financial intelligence units, and facilitate joint investigations into money laundering and the proceeds of crime? This is with a view to face the phenomenon of tax havens. They are used to launder the proceeds of crime, particularly the crime of trafficking in drugs by international networks. All these questions and challenges will be apart of our discussions. The salient points of the the discussion will be presented at the closing meeting of the Plenary, Thursday 21st of April 2016. We encourage an interactive discussion. Participation in the round table will be conducted without a static list of speakers. Speakers will be given the floor in the order which they signify their desire to speak, by pressing the button on the console in front of them. All participants are invited to speak from their seats. To allow maximum participation by all, I encourage you to be brief, and limit interventions to 3 minutes. Please make the statements at normal speed, to aid in interpretation.

Panel: Hanna Serwahh Tetteh, Ghana: Thank you. Drug policies as a whole have not had the desired effect. Prevalence in Ghana has increased by 50%. We need smart responses. Law enforcement needs to work with communities. We need a culture of lawfulness. Administration of criminal justice must be encouraged, those apart of drug gangs must be dealt with stringently. We plan to improve on enforcement activities. Cooperation is essential in this effort, and we are taking efforts to improve this. The tendency of organized groups to influence officials means that supply reduction must be done in synergy with anti-corruption operations. Trafficking operations across regions, and this needs to be met with bilateral cooperation. We should have workshops to help in this. We need to stay focused on the exchange of money at our borders, fighting it with techniques such as straight based operations. We are aware that the abuse of NPS has increased because there is a lack of international control. We want to stem their rapid proliferation, if future supply reduction strategies are to be successful.

Panel: Seju Kihara, Japan: Good morning. It is my honor to be a panelist of this round table. I would like to introduce our effort to counter organized crime. I would like to speak in three parts 1) our understanding 2) domestic issues 3) international cooperation. 1) Drug trafficking creates a lot of illicit  profit and inhibits national growth. We are particularity concerned about terrorism links. We even here of cases where terrorist use drugs to drive suicide bombers to commit suicide. Straightening efforts is an arduous task. We promote strict law enforcement, even for end users. Such strict measures and prevention activities are important, to suppress new drug users. We  have low consumption rates, which we believe is evidence of the success of our policy approach. With this understanding, Japan has been actively contributing to these various measures. We support Afghanistan in suppressing the illicit cultivation of opium poppy. The link between terrorism and Afghanistan is becoming stronger, with increase of activity from ISIS and the Taliban. We implore the international community to aid Afghanistan. We have encouraged alternative development, including the production of roses etc. Next is the middle east and Africa – we are further strengthening our support for this region. Finally central asia, we have been newly engaged to counter NPS problem in the region. We hosted the first regional seminar on NPS and Synthetic drugs. at our seminar our expert from our ministry of health and welfare spoke. Japan has consistently been a member of the CND since 1961, we reaffirm their important role.

Panel: William Brownfield, USA: Global drug policy is an area ripe for reform. In the specific area of supply reduction, we are not interested in business as usual. Violent gangs are not going away, we must target brutal traffickers. Law enforcement response must distinguish between micro trafficking and users. We know this is not the solution. The response must be encouragement on the path to recovery. Allowing law enforcement to stay focused on violent traffickers. Youth with dim future prospects might be encouraged and tempted to join such gangs, but I am proud of USA efforts in Latin America to encourage youth to do others. We must also consider alternative development. Experience shows it is not enough to provide substituent crops. Eradication where appropriate, suitable infrastructure and economic opportunists and smarter law enforcement efforts must work in synergy.

Panel: Milton Romani, Uruguay: We need to change our point of view, and re-balance a strategy that has been unbalanced, and focused excessively on the role of reducing supply. We need to selectively look at the state activities and also the law. If we apply this throughout the chain there is a loss of efficiency and we are able to reduce supply in this way.  The characteristics of supply are constantly changing. A challenge is fighting multinational networks that have economic goals that are very specific. They don’t necessarily focus on drugs, but also arms and people trafficking. This is a very complex phenomenon. The International community has been introducing the tool and the concepts of reducing supply and demand. There has never been a question that reducing supply has has beneficial affects. Since the 1990s, it has addressed the growing consumption of drugs from the developed world. And now today money laundering is the key issue. Unless we address all of the issues at once, this war will become a war against persons. Minors have problems with drugs. The problem with these venerable populations is that they face cultural marginalization, and as a result traffickers target them. There have been new approaches showing that there are alternative ways to regulate our markets. Bolivia has not focused on repression and prohibition but rather alternative development, and it has been successful. When we criminally prosecute low level offenders, using oftentimes military means; that approach is not effective. We need a strategy to regulate markets. We have the experience to address drug trafficking like we have addressed other markets – this is not about legalization, this is about regulating use and supply. We did the same with offshore finance. There is a need to address supply and demand, and consider the markets. Corruption and drug trafficking are not just a result of trafficking: they are conducive of yet more drug trafficking.

Panel: Konstantin Gobrusenko, Russian Federation: Some time ago, Illegal drugs were found to be very profitable. The money enables criminal networks to infiltrate society and undermine stability and security. What has changed? Money laundering has become an increasing threat to economic security. According to data on UNODC, it represents half of all income for crime networks. It is infiltrating the entire global economy. Internet and anonymity has advanced this cause. Forums at the Paris Pact initiative, EAG, cooperation from Russia, has shown that a significant amount of money is crossing borders and can spread across the entire globe. We are now hearing about the emergence of universal laundering systems. Further strengthening of international cooperation is necessary.

Chair: As you know, in line with the relevant paragraph, decision 58/16 will comprise one nomination from the CSTF. Unfortunately, the first panelist nominated was unable to join us. As a result we have received the second nomination from the CTSF, Mr Peter Soderlund

Panel: Peter Soderlund, X-Cons, Civil Society: I want to tell you a story of a boy. His father drank alcohol, he began drinking alcohol, he grew cannabis. He went on to take methamphetamine, and had the idea of selling increased quantities of marijuana to his friends. Drug use became the normal way of life for the young man. His friends never spoke about it, as they all did it. Society became the enemy, as it tried to catch him out. That little boy was me. After being sentenced for 4.5 years, I decided to take a different route in my life. I built a popular movement to help others in my situation. As a former addict and criminal, I have been instrumental in building one of Europe’s biggest drug support centers. But there were no resources for us to expand our help centers. Do not forget that a drug addict can be your friend, or a family member. Criminal sanctions do not help addicts, they make drugs more and more expensive and allow the markets to thrive. Organizations like mine need support, and the international community will fail if it does not support popular movements. I urge the UN and nations in the world, I actively implore governments to support NGOs and civil society. Use your citizens as a resource to offer support to society. Everyone wants to be somebody, and everyone wants to be a hero for their nation. I urge member states to remove bureaucracy on those organisations working on drug issues. And i implore members states to remove the death penalty, it is a primitive punishment in a modern world.

Under Secretary General, DPA: Drug trafficking and transnational organized crime have significantly compromised our ability to achieve the SDGs. The 2030 goal implores us to fight to improve our world. I am pleased with the outcome document’s references to human rights, gender etc. But we must not talk only about supply and reduction. They are not the only issues, poverty and inequality are extremely important, they are the route of the problem. The 2030 goals are the best drug policy we can have. In some cases entire governments have been dwarfed by the illegal drug trade. The global drug trade drives economic violence , and our militarized response has not helped. In addition to supporting the three conventions, we must look at humane approaches to reducing the unintended negative consequences of our drug policies. This could lead us to question the very principles that established the international drug control framework. Is a drug free society possible? Or is it that we need to do our best to reduce the harms and unintended consequences of drug policy? Evidence based policy making means we must not be afraid to consider all options. Read the full speech.

Panama: we recognize the high cost in terms of violence and crime and economic resources that drugs trafficking represents for states. On the basis of shared responsibility we must step up our efforts. We must strengthen institutions. We have modern mechanisms in place to counter money laundering and the finance of terrorism. We have aimed to tackle the finance industry to improve transparency. We have introduced measures to know our clients, so we do not conceal terrorists, or laundered money. We have exceeded the Budapest convention on combating crime, and recently we had an announcement at the start of negotiations, to adopt common reporting standards so we can update our legal framework in dealing with our neighboring and friendly countries. We restructured to address financing issues, and we were removed from the grey list. We have also endeavored to combat drug related crime. The president of the republic has shown on an international visit yesterday our common reporting standard. If we take into account the small size of my country, this is no small feet. Las year we seized 58 tonnes of illicit substances. We have signed agreements to ensure transparency of our system. since 2014 we have been addressing the drug problem as a public health matter. 4100 of our addicts are involved in a programme of rehabilitation. It has focused on public health, rather than just sanctions and punishment.

Nicaragua: For us, the world drug problem is a threat to peace and sovereignty. We do not produce or consume drugs, rather we are in a region of transit. We have a strategy to contain drug trafficking. This is done by Arial operations and other ways, to ensure drugs do not come into the country. This strategy is one based on human aspects and community aspects and integrates all institutions – it is gender focused and focuses on treatment. We have a national campaign for a drug free Nicaragua to raise awareness. We have a judicial system that is highly effective. We do not have the death penalty.

Colombia: We would like to underscore one point about the the economic aspect of combating drug trafficking. We have talked about alternatives to incarceration in addressing production and the need to decriminalize use. We believe it is important to underscore criminal networks and their revenues. These do not register in producing countries. Where it is recorded, it shows that efforts were more effective in dealing with these transfers of funds during drug trafficking. We must call for increased cooperation, to clearly establish the causes of these movements of funds, to deal with drug trafficking and corruption. We must share information on how to identify the movement of illicit substances. Economic combat is very important. It would discourage very specifically drug trafficking and help in addressing this scourge.

Pakistan: This is an important opportunity to look at the successes and failures. This might have been possible if the conventions were implemented in their true spirit. We are witnessing a mixed approach, including legalization of substances, which is not in the spirit of the conventions. They are proposed with confused interpretations of human rights. We support the true spirit of the conventions. Supply reduction cannot work if we increase availability. Strict law enforcement is the key to successful supply reduction operations. We have record seizures, we are a poppy free state, we have frozen millions of dollars of drug proceeds. When we talk about alternatives to incarceration we must consider that drug traffickers have caused massive losses to the world population, particularly effecting woman and children.

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Representative of Pakistan makes a prepared statement.

Turkey: We want to summarize early warning systems and our approach to NPS. Because of principle of legality with Benzylpiperazine, we have been unable to put perpetrators behind bars. Only 34 substance from 2009-2013 were made illegal despite explosion in use. If any NPS is seized and controlled by EU, then we now make it illegal. With this method, 235 NPS were made illegal. The results were gratifying but not enough. In reaction, we prepared general classification with basic chemical make up. Individual listings are still used to prevent unpredictable substances. The use of individual and general listings are very useful.

Mongolia: As part of our reform initiative, we have fully abolished the death penalty for all crimes, including those related to drugs. We still face challenges that require different solutions. We strive to improve the capacity of our law enforcement agencies. Many internal agencies lack the skills and the resources to work and cooperate. Mongolia continues to cooperate with neighboring nations, including seminars with Russia and others. The mutual legal assistance agreements are also very crucial for combating drug trafficking. We plan to make more legal agreements. This must be done in timely and efficient manner.

India: India is located between two of the main trafficking countries in the world. India has been an active and faithful participant in the Paris Pact since its inception. The emergence of NPS is of global concern. We have already controlled Ketamine and Methedrone as illicit substances. India is a major manufacturer and trader of precursor chemicals. To effectively counter the flows of cash on drug trafficking, we have been changing our laws on money laundering to stop illegal property ownership etc in India and abroad. We are in the process of setting up an intelligence center, alongside UNODC, with several other countries from the region. These initiatives will help the problem.

EU: Supply production is very important as far as EU is concerned. Drug markets are highly complex and new technologies play a major part. We have tried to develop a systematic answer. Key principles: good agreed international framework, intelligence led policing, appropriate tools such as tools to analyze using monitoring, EUPOL. We value a good international frame work. We welcome the focus on illicit activities on a larger scale.

Nigeria: We are apprehensive about legalization, and condemn any attempts to do so. Cannabis remains a major problem. As the world grows in maturity, we must make laws that are compassionate to our fellow human being (…)

Indonesia: We are of the view the criminal justice approach is highly important. Transnational crime such as money laundering is a priority. Indonesia has adopted a zero tolerance approach. We have used strong penalties for drug related crimes and drug traffickers. The linkage between corruption and drug use must be tackled in the most serious manner. The diversion of precursor and pharmaceutical drugs is a major problem. The increase of NPS is alarming, and countries lack the infrastructure and capacity to deal with this. We call for more cooperation to tackle this problem.

Thailand: Criminals always find loopholes. Precursor control is one of the key issues. We urge producing countries to curb the diversion of precursor chemicals to illicit markets. We support the conventions and ask for their implementation to be strengthened, with respect to national laws.

Tajikistan: We are not a producing country, although we are a trafficking route. We always support initiatives to fight drugs. We are grateful to the EU and UNODC for helping us in our work. Past 20 years we have adopted and implemented four programmes to counter drug trade. This includes short and long term measures; shutting down channels, reducing illegal trade for non-medical use. Income from the drug trade provides terrorism with billions of dollars annually, and the issues are inseparable. We have confiscated a quantity of drugs that could make roughly 50 million people drug dependent, so we have been successful in our measures. We have been alarmed by the number of tablets we have seized, coming in from foreign countries.

El Salvador: Our National strategy was developed with civil society and government. There have been obstacles to implementation. Lack of financial funds to decrease drug consumption. The consumption of licit drugs, as opposed to illicit, shows a major difference. Illicit consumption is half of 1% in El Salvador. Our key problem is a public health one – dealing with licit drugs. Young people and men are most venerable. El Salvador is not a drug producing country, we are a country of the transfer of drugs. Strategies employed by international community do not help transit counties. We need a specific strategy for these types of countries – not just strategies for producing and consuming nations. A drug trafficker fears prison more than the confiscation of goods. We ask the international community to help us combat drugs by giving us an institute to deal with this drug problem.

Afghanistan: We have a strong political will to counter narcotics. No doubt we produce a lot of opium. Drugs are a complicated process. In the last year, a 90% decrease has been seen in poppy cultivation and a 60% reduction in opium production. Our main challenge is security in the region, and within our country. There is a lack of of contributions and help from international community, lack of cooperation, lack of treatment centers, lack of resources for law enforcement. We ask member states to help in providing these resources.

Italy:  While aligning ourselves with the EU, we would like to make remarks in a national capacity. We are actively engaged in countering the illicit production of drugs. In Italy we can count on a wide range of bilateral agreements, and regional co-operation is tantamount. Constant monitoring is necessary. We need to constantly monitor the wide and evolving links between drugs and other criminal activities. We must try and cut opportunities for criminals, including new technologies and internet (as much as possible). We should spare no effort to achieve consensus on this issue.

Zambia: (…) We have pursued alternative development initiatives and strengthened the fight against money laundering and other transnational crimes. We are committed to fighting drugs, and to cooperating.

Spain: The strategic position of Spain is particular, we deal with drug flows from Latin America, the Mediterranean and North Africa – many problems have arisen for us as a result. The steps we have taken have modestly helped. The issue at hand is to dismantle the networks, we must destroy them and leave them in ruins. This idea is important because it focuses on the victims in society who have been victims of trafficking. The issue is transnational, as we have heard from many other speakers. It is important that we have judicial cooperation. In the EU, cooperation is important, and we need operative cooperation and rapid instruments for bringing around court proceedings. We are making efforts to change and improve judicial cooperation between nations.

Israel: Thank you madame Chair. We have a balanced and comprehensive drug policy. We enacted legislation to combat NPS to allow temporary and emergency control. We place the burden of proving that NPS are not damaging to public health on industry, not law enforcement, which frees up resources. The misuse of the internet is a critical issues, and we are taking strides to tackle it. We are blocking internet sites involved in selling drugs. We are also directing internet service providers to block sites. Many sites have been blocked, proving our success. Promoting cooperation with the private sector is important to prevent the misuse of precursors – including regular visits and educating industry on how their products are sometimes used. This is important, as sometimes they do not have this information.

Singapore: Supply reduction is essential, it must be balanced. The role of law enforcement will always be integral against the scourge of drugs. We have a zero tolerance approach. We arrest all traffickers before they band together and create a large scale operation. With our close proximity to the golden triangle, we risk being exploited. But we have suppressed the scourge of drugs through tough enforcement. We have combated NPS with generic and individual listing, which has been effective. We need to step up our regional and international cooperation. We strongly support the three conventions, as they provide sufficient flexibility for member states.

Mexico: The world drug control policy and its efforts to reduce supply has been ongoing for more than 30 years. The focus on supply reduction has focused on aerial spraying and destroying labs. But poverty and economic disparity is the reason for supply. Eradication has destroyed lives and livelihoods. Alternative development offers a peaceful way to reduce supply. Our international methods so far have not worked: 7000 tonnes of opium was  produced last year, the 2nd highest recorded figure since 1930, according to UNODC. We believe in the importance of the conventions, but we must implement a new model, based on a humanist perspective. Policies must focus on what works, and importantly: what has not worked. The world and future generations will thank us, because both are in jeopardy.

China: Singapore and Pakistan made their statements, and they’re very impressive. Consistent efforts must be made to fight drug crimes and drug supply. The situations in countries are difficult and often very different. We urgently need to enhance cooperation, we need reduce planting and manufacture and we need technical support to do this. Individual countries should determine the punishment, as this works best. We have also taken note that some countries have refused to cooperate with other countries that still implement the death penalty, and they should overcome these differences as this undermines intentional efforts to fight crime, and undermines the principles of equality and respect between nations. China has adjusted the categorization of new substances to fight the scourge of NPS.

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Representative of China speaks to the floor.

United Kingdom: Drug trafficking poses a significant threat to the safety and security of all our nations. We need to address the vulnerabilities that drive and foster organized crime. We need to grow sufficient economic opportunities to stop people pursuing a life of crime. An effective approach to supply production is needed. In the UK we implement a smart approach, including alternatives to incarceration for minor offenses. This resolution and the outcome document notes the importance of proportionality in sentencing. We call on UNODC to take steps to support member states, to undertake effective and proportionate sentences.

Panel: Hanna Serwaah, Ghana:  Thanks for all of your contributions. Capacity building support and cooperation are critical. We hope the possibilities for this cooperation, including sharing information on the classification of NPS, remain. If we are able to succeed, we require higher levels of cooperation than previously established. There should be the establishment of an open working group to help us deal with this.

Panel: Seju Kihara, Japan: brief comment on NPS. Many speakers referred to this. Japan is one of the most advanced countries in this respect. Today we have regulated more than 2000 substances. We strengthened awareness and access to treatment, although we still have problems such as online sales. We would be very happy to share our experiences.

Panel: William Brownfield, USA: We have heard many good ideas related to supply and reduction thereof. Yesterday, we  acknowledged that we will proceed with the terms of the outcome document, we have agreed that supply reduction remains a priority. We have agreed that differentiation between small and big time criminals is needed, we have agreed to address all level of the supply chain. We have mentioned communications and cyber opportunities, that we must tackle. We have mentioned many topics, and I look forward to the continuation of this debate.

Chair: I thank the Assistant Secretary of State for his words.

Panel: Milton Romani, Uruguay: I congratulate you on your able steering of our work. I have a concern however. I feel we have lost an opportunity to have a good discussion here. I have listened carefully to the statements from the United Kingdom, Mexico etc. I have listened to some controversial words from Pakistan and India, I have listened to many different points of view. And i think the important conclusions we set out in the beginning; that we need a change in order to tackle this imbalance in supply, that we need proportionality in enforcement, that we need to tackle corruption have not been properly discussed. From our point of view we mentioned the challenge of regulated markets because this is a market problem. We would invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to have a proper debate, even if we have differing opinions. Here is a chance to discuss these things, a rare opportunity. So perhaps in the future when we have an interactive round table, can we have a truly fruitful debate?

Panel: Konstantin Gobrusenko, Russian Federation: We have heard today about a comprehensive approach to combating the drug trade. If there was not so much income from the drug business, we would not care so much about these issues. Would we know anything about them? What do our experts know about the movement of illicit money? We need focused and coordinated work, bringing together international agencies to ensure we can be effective. We are dealing with the consequences of the drug business, and not the drug trade itself. Since 1988 president Francois spoke to the G8, saying that there needed to be a financial unit created. The expected results of our comprehensive approach will only be achieved if we integrate financial intelligence units at the international and national level.

Panel: Peter Soderlund, Civil Society: Can I pass the floor to my colleague?

Chair: [Permitted]

Andrea Huber, Penal Reform International: I would like to weigh in with a few points that were raised in a consultation PRI conducted with organisations working on criminal justice matters. One thing that NGOs have observed is that punitive approaches to drug policy have contributed to the erosion of fair trial and justice rights. Examples are mandatory pre-trial detention, admissibility of pre-trial detention longer than for other offences, the reversal of the burden of proof for drug-related offences as well as restrictions in access to case material in criminal procedures. A second shared concern was the fact that the criminalisation approach has led to prison overcrowding and congestion of criminal systems overall. The NGOs agreed that drug use and possession should be decriminalised, and sanctions be proportionate for other offences, with more use of non-custodial sanctions in line with the UN Tokyo Rules. A third shared observation was the disproportionate effect of drug policies on ethnic and other minorities, and on women who are disproportionately affected by drug policies. NGOs have observed a worrying rise in imprisonment of woman. To conclude, I would like to highlight two recommendations that resulted from the NGO consultation. The participants agreed that there is a need to balance the use of resources spent on law enforcement as compared to other interventions. Secondly, it was pointed out that success in drug policies should not be measured based on the number of arrests or seizures, but requires different criteria for evaluation.

UNODC: I’ll be brief. Drug trafficking proposes major problems for member states. I just want to share very briefly some of the lesson learned, that came to light during the last CND. Prioritising the dismantling of criminal sanctions appears to have better health consequences. The collection of analysis appears critical. Coordination among criminal justice institutions and health care further promotes effective responses. Criminal justice responses to drug use to personal substance misuse has been evolving. We have seen that alternatives to prison and punishment are effective, and the threats such as NPS are evolving and requires consistent updates. The CND and UNODC will continue to help in facilitating effective responses to all aspects of addressing the world drug problem.

Chair: Thank you for your outstanding and rich presentations. Those who have not been able to take the floor, please submit your statements so we can include them in the summary of the meeting. The meeting is adjourned.