Chair: We focus now on the 2019 target date.
(panel) Statistical Committee / Angela Me: Our five targets are, as you know, eliminate or reduce significantly and measurably (1) illicit cultivation of opium, coca and cannabis (2) illicit demand of drugs and drug-related health and social risks (3) illicit market of synthetic drugs (4) diversion and trafficking of precursors (5) money-laundering related to drugs.
Chair: That was very interesting. I am taking the first round of questions.
USA: We appreciate this invaluable data, I have questions about the perception indicators. We noticed the graphs were very US focused and we gladly share our data widely, but we are wondering if you have data from other countries as well?
Morocco: We managed to reduce by 65% the Cannabis cultivation that is stated clearly in various UN reports. Could you give us more information on the new tendency of the production and emergence of new regions?
India: This upcoming session in March is very important and we expect this topic to come up. When we talk about increase in the use of drugs, it is important that we indicate if it covers the same areas and data collection tools. A word of caution, when you present use of drugs and HIV on the same slide, people seem to link the issues to each other. Yes, there is a link, but is it a 1-to-1 correspondence? Please take this into account when you present data.
Angela Me: Thank you for clarifying perception, the first one is based on experts and their estimation of prevalence of use, the other one was relying on other indicators… yes, I apologize I didn’t make it clear. I guess what I’m saying is that it seems to be much cooler to smoke cannabis than cigarettes in the US. We do rely a lot on US data, because there is a lot of input…from a research point of view, this is a good way of understanding the possibilities. I do take the point that it is very US focused. As for Morocco, we haven’t seen a change in the region and I think it’s important to understand the difference between the herb and resin. In total seizures, resin is much less and the herb is cultivated everywhere, inside, outside… we are not able to measure it so precisely. It is unfortunate that resin is based in very few countries and so we focus on them in these prospects. It is also an important point that India raised, much has changed in data collection. On drug use, we have huge gaps in data but where we do have data, the trends are similar. I mentioned HIV only in the context of injecting drug use and we see a decrease in the relation between the two and some say that the current HIV prevalence is not as much related to drug us anymore.
Slovenia: Of course we are talking about HIV, but we have to know that we invest a huge amount into this important issue. About Cannabis, I am interested in the data for the future. It is based on the occasional use, but we didn’t have data on regular use. From the public health perspective, what do you think we can expect? Do we repeat the US epidemic? Do we need to invest more in prevention? Treatment?
USA: It is interesting to think about the trend forecast and some things continue to increase. Would these be much higher if it was not for the work we’ve been doing and what has your office been doing?
Angela Me: There are researchers that try to model the impact of different legislations, but as you said it depends on interventions a lot. What we try to do is learn from others. I tried to show the differences between Europe and USA so we can learn something for the still contained market in Europe. We have a saying that it is a bit like weather…
(panel) Nigeria: It is the duty of every MS to develop an action plan to deal with these issues. […]
Egypt: We totally subscribe of the views expressed just now. How does the panelist assess the regional cooperation within the African continent?
India: Towards the end of the presentation, you said international cooperation and supply reduction are the keys. Since 2009, we have the 3 fundamental pillars established – how can we exclude demand reduction from our dialogues and say we have a balanced approach? As for op36, it is true to some extent that we should try to look at new ways while continue our efforts.
(panel) Nigeria: It is very much possible, catching up. While we say these issues are global, they are very much local. Why would you do nothing internally? UNODC is doing a great job. I agree with the colleague from India.
South Africa: I subscribe to the views expressed by Egypt and India. Regarding op36, the basic documents, we’d appreciate the streamlining of the discussion.
(panel) Mexico: It was important to see the technicalities presented by Angela. Delegations are called upon to improve data collection as a basis for the future work of CND and the work that has been done is impressive. As for the instruments and goals, this is obvious for us in Mexico, but it is worth pointing out. We have utilized a great number of resources and international agreements, even called on the armed forces for the eradication of illegal crops. We have a great number of programs to reduce drug production. We launched broad ranging campaigns for demand reduction, in full respect of human rights, we have set up harm reduction programs. We involve stakeholders from civil society, the private sector, and academia. We have set up mechanisms between different parts of the judicial system to properly execute those involved in illegal trafficking. These quantifiable and tremendous efforts lead to a “diagnosis” that there is no reduction in drug consumption, there is indeed an increase in proportion of the increase of population – we look at the prevailing age of first use with concern. There has been a considerable increase in many aspects of consumption and potency. We are convinced that new drug related international agreements should be built on all previous agreements – it is not like the newest is replacing all the previous ones though UNGASS is the most holistic and most action oriented paper. We have identified a clearer and broader vision of the illicit market by now, as Angela has shown us, there are a number of factors we have to keep in mind. We think UNGASS chapters helps us identify the facets of the phenomena efficiently and we began a process in Mexico that moves us from discussion to action. We opened a dialogue with grassroots civil society groups, various other governments, and CICAD to draw on learnings in developing our actions. Our public health actions go beyond simple demand reduction, we work on making pain relief more accessible and balance out the gender divides, we address human rights issues and we have a broader based approach in law enforcement. We are looking for alternatives and proportional responses. We produced a document that deals with all these salient issues and builds on UNGASS – this is available for all of you, copies are left up front.
India: These interventions that we address issues with have to change overtime […] as the issues change. An observation about drug cultivators- that they are considered a victim of organized crime. Economics look at it that they are entrepreneurs who benefit from the economy of the market. If we look at it that way, we have to think about how we incentivize these farmers.
Brazil: Although we are geographically far, we are the same region and we share a lot of challenges. A specific point you mentioned was increasing links to organized crime, which is a reality that largely concerns Brazil, especially the increased violence in the Latin American region. We have a large number of people in prison for trafficking and it is increasing, but it has not affected public security so far. Still, we are aiming to go for the roots of the issue as well. How can we take actions against money laundering and synergies between other areas of UNODC’s work regarding crime organizations dealing with drugs and other forms of organized crime?
Russia: What about cooperation with civil society when devising Mexico’s policy on countering drugs?
(panel) Mexico: I agree completely with India. There are universally applicable elements in our national strategy – we are always running behind so the point of international cooperation is to help foresee damaging effects. Criminal organizations communicate among themselves, so one precursor produced in India easily finds its way to Mexico. We have to think about common denominators and this is how we think we should develop drug policies, depending on national priorities. In spite of the distance between Mexico and Brazil, we are the same region and it is very important to our region what UNODC have done. We shouldn’t be surprised that we found links between issues through the financial flows. We have to recognize an other criminal aspect, we have to respond for example to weapons trading with respect to the different dynamics of the market. Finally, in response to Russia, transparency and openness has been a key with all stakeholders, not just CSOs but academia and legislative bodies as well.
OAS: CICAD is as good as it’s member states and we really appreciate and thank Mexico for chairing the dialogues and their work.
Switzerland: Since we are talking about stock taking in a way, have you made estimations on the money spent on the drug markets by organized criminal groups and the tax payer’s money that has been spent on various actions.
USA: the goals of 2009 are silent of this issue, we have to get specific on the issues we have to overcome in terms of access and availability. We are looking forward to concrete and practical steps. I just wanted to make this observation in this discussion and we thank you for your great presentation.
(panel) Mexico: Yes, we recognize the work of CICAD in our region is really working hard together. We call on other regions to do the same. I thank Switzerland’s comment – this is one priority we have and are making efforts lead by an independent body, the national statistics institute, so that we have more precise estimates available regarding the costs in both direction. As for the USA, we are grateful for this comment and we acknowledge the work done by the region to understand how illicit markets are functioning.
(panel) Health Canada: About the opioid crisis and our response to that – it a health approach, grounded in evidence. It has four pillars, based on UNGASS. We lost thousands of lives to the crisis, mainly between the ages of 30 and 39, and mostly men. As demand reduction measures, we developed national prescription guidelines that provides updated information for medical professionals and patients about the use of opioids for chronic pain; We informed Canadians about risks associated with opioid use through warning stickers and mandatory patient handouts; We increased the transparency in marketing and promotion of therapies for pain management by engaging pharma companies. As for supply reduction, we akejded the controlled drugs and substances act in 2016 to make it illegal to import an unregistered designated device (ie pill press), to enable border agency services to open international mail, to extend offences and penalties for pre-production activities; we also engaged with the US and Mexico through the North-American Dialogue on Drug Policy; we implemented the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sythetic Drug Initiative to prevent diversion of chemicals from foreign sources that fuel clandestine drug labs and reduce illicit drug production. We also introduced enhanced protocols and detection technology for frontline Border Services Officers interdicting illegal opioids at our borders; We improved monitoring of distribution channels and increased knowledge-exchange among international law enforcement agencies; We are working closely with international partners. As for the diversion of and illicit trafficking of fentanyl and precursors, related chemicals intermediates have been scheduled and we are conducting scientific analysis of potential precursors such as benzyl fentanyl and analogues, desproplonyl fentanyl and analogues, norfentanyl. We are continuing to engage our law enforcement partners at the RCMP and CBSA to monitor for new precursors across all illicit substance groups.
Russia: We’d like to express solidarity for the victims of the opioid crisis – this is reason for international cooperation in response to drug problems. We would like to know more on the sources of opioids that entered the market and the triggers for the crisis.
(panel) Canada: Than you. Both of those issues are very complex. We are looking at indications of poverty, trauma, gender issues – we are increasing our focus on how to develop prevention tactics. For the rest, I will have to come back to you with an answer.
USA: Has Canada made a commitment to make the current situation an opportunity to collect better and more data in order to share with us how Cannabis’ new regulation impacts the issue? Would you like to make comments on the toolkit that could provide us more insight into fighting the opioid crisis?
(panel) Canada: Yes, we have made a commitment. We are hoping to establish a data observatory, similar to what is present in the EU – of course it depends on funding. Our Cannabis survey is public and available now. We are focusing now on drug use within the university age population and we will conclude that in the next 2 years. We are also looking at a possibility of an NPS survey. We will continue to share all the information we can regarding our new legislation and consequences. We are developing an evaluation framework to assess treatment and therapies. As for the toolkit, we are happy to share whatever we can share with you and continue the dialogue.
(panel) NGO: Ann Fordham (International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), United Kingdom: Excellences, ladies and gentlemen, dear civil society colleagues, Thank you, Madame Chair for the opportunity to present here today as part of the panel on ‘taking stock of the implementation of the commitments made to jointly address and counter the world drug problem, in light of the 2019 target date’. Firstly, as a civil society representative, I would like to thank you, Madame Chair and the CND Secretariat, for your continued commitment to the meaningful engagement of civil society in this forum. The practice of civil society engagement at the CND is being increasingly held up as a good practice example, and the great strides that have been made on that front in the last 10 years is strongly welcomed and appreciated. The role of civil society is to bring the realities on the ground to bear on these important discussions. In formulating social and public policies, it is fundamental to consider the impact on the lives of people and communities, on public health and human rights, both at the core of the values of the United Nations. Thank you in particular for your collective support for the Civil Society Task Force of which I am a member. We have continued our work after the UNGASS to engage global civil society from all regions of the world in the lead up to 2019. We have just closed the global online consultation to seek new inputs from civil society on their views on the last decade of drug policies and ideas for the future. The results of the online consultation will be presented here in Vienna on the 5th December and we invite you all to attend that important session. My intervention today however, is on behalf of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC). IDPC is a global network of 177 civil society organizations from over 60 countries. We come together to promote objective and open debate in drug policy making and call for evidence-based policies that are effective at reducing drug-related harm that are based in the broader priorities of the United Nations – human rights, development and peace and security. In Resolution 60/1, member states agreed to take stock of the implementation of commitments made to jointly address and counter the world drug problem, in particular in the light of the 2019 target date. As a contribution towards this critical discussion of ‘taking stock’ and in the absence of a comprehensive formal review process, IDPC has produced a civil society shadow report that reviews progress towards the overarching goals from the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action. In addition, the report also seeks to evaluate whether and how the implementation of the Political Declaration has contributed to the broader UN priorities of protecting human rights, advancing peace and security, promoting development. Finally, the report offers recommendations for new goals and metrics for the next decade on drug control, focusing on UNGASS implementation and the SDGs. In terms of the methodology used, in addition to looking at the progress against the targets from operational paragraph 36, we selected 33 actionable and measurable actions out of the 234 actions in the Plan of Action. We looked at the data available between March 2009 and July 2018. The data is largely taken UNODC and supported by other UN data from WHO, OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP and others, as well as academic and civil society research. There is a great deal of data in the report and I invite you to read it. We have hard copies executive summaries here with us today. For now, I will briefly share the headlines. Firstly, with specific reference to the first two targets from operational paragraph 36:
– On target 1 which seeks to reduce or eliminate the cultivation of certain plans. Data from the UNODC shows us that over the last decade, there has been an increase in opium and coca cultivation which are now at record levels.
– On target 2 which seeks to reduce both illicit demand as well as health and social risks, we note an average increase by 31% in the global demand for all drugs. With respect to reducing health and social risks, we have not seen a reduction in HIV, hep C and TB prevalence among people who use drugs, overall infection rates have remained stable – and in some regions are still increasing. There has been a worrying increase in drug-related deaths – with WHO reporting some 450,000 deaths in 2015. Around a third to one half of these are fatal but mostly preventable overdoses and the rest are from complications relating to HIV, hepatitis or TB infection which are also preventable and treatable.
– On target 3 which seeks to reduce availability of psychotropic substances, including synthetic drugs, there has been a huge increase in the number of new psychoactive substances on the market. In addition, the available data shows increasing production and expanding markets for methamphetamines, and the record levels of the illicit use of prescription drugs in some parts of the world.
– On target 4 which seeks to eliminate and reduce the diversion and trafficking of precursors, despite the best efforts of member states, the INCB reports an increase in the use and number of precursors.
– On target 5, to eliminate or reduce money laundering, again despite tighter controls, estimates are that less than 1% of all money being laundered is currently being seized. In parallel, we looked at the impact of drug policies on the fulfilment of human rights, and in particular on the right to health. Globally only 1 in 100 people who use drugs live in countries with adequate coverage to both needle & syringe programmes and opioid agonist therapy. While for evidence-based drug treatment, there is reportedly little increase in the availability of drug dependence treatment between 2010 and 2016, and coverage remains low for many key treatment interventions such as detoxification, OST, peer support groups, cognitive behaviour therapy to name a few. In terms of access to controlled medicines, around 75% of people remain without access to adequate pain relief – this is primarily in the global south. The WHO has estimated that 92% of the world’s morphine is consumed by only 17% of the world’s population. In terms of other human rights impacts, we see a continued use of the death penalty for drug offences and a very troubling increase in the number of extrajudicial killings in the name of drug control. With respect to human rights associated with incarceration and disproportionate punishments, according to UN data, one in five prisoners worldwide is incarcerated for drug offences, the overwhelming majority of whom are for drug possession for personal use. In certain regions, this proportion is even greater for women – who are the fastest growing prison population in many parts of the world. Finally, in terms of advancing development, there has often been too great a focus on eradication measures at the expense of a broader development focus that takes into account the particular issues faced by communities in both rural and urban contexts.
Finally, in formulating the next phase of drug policy, we call on Member States to honestly consider the progress, or lack thereof, that has been made towards the overarching goal in the 2009 Political Declaration to significantly reduce or eliminate the illicit drug market, as well as progress made towards implementation of the UNGASS Outcome Document. As our shadow report states, it is difficult to credibly claim progress given the reality of a robust and growing illicit drug market coupled with a rise in both drug-related harms as well as devastating policy harms. Ten years ago, the previous UNODC Executive Director, Mr Costa referred to the ‘unintended negative consequences’ of drug control as part of the previous 10-year review – that paper is unfortunately as relevant today as it was ten years ago. In addition to offering up our shadow report as a key contribution to this important phase of ‘taking stock’, the IDPC network has four key asks for the 2019 process:
- The international community should consider adopting more meaningful goals and targets in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UNGASS Outcome Document and international human rights commitments, and move away from targets seeking to eliminate the illegal drug market.
- Member states should meaningfully reflect upon the impacts of drug control on the UN goals of promoting health, human rights, development, peace and security – and adopt drug policies and strategies that actively contribute to advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially for those most marginalized and vulnerable.
- Global drug policy debates going forward should reflect the realities of drug policies on the ground, both positive and negative, and discuss constructively the resulting tensions with the UN drug control treaties and any human rights concerns associated with drug control efforts.
- Beyond 2019, UN member states should end punitive drug control approaches and put people and communities first. This includes promoting and facilitating the participation of civil society and affected communities in all aspects of the design, implementation, evaluation and monitoring of drug policies.
Thank you for your consideration and your continued commitment to civil society engagement.
Germany: Thank you for bringing civil society perspectives to this discussion. We welcome the development in CND for CSO participation. Have you experienced similar progress in international drug policy debate?
Switzerland: Useful shadow report. Regarding access to controlled medicines, you mentioned a huge number of people do not have sufficient access. Can you provide more data? Regarding money laundering, you mentioned we are not close to the corresponding target, can you elaborate on where that data is from?
Austria: Alternative development – how do you assess progress?
Norway: The findings of the shadow review are depressing, but this honest approach is very valuable approaching 2019. Regarding moving towards more useful targets you mentioned, what would you suggest?
EU: My question has already been asked by Norway so let me just praise the high quality of your publications, in particular the shadow report recently.
(panel) NGO: Yes, there is definitely progress in terms of civil society participation, especially here in CND and it can been seen in the progress of drug policy as we are now more aware of the “recipients” of drug policy. The improvement of inter-agency cooperation and other UN agencies being visible in this forum has shown great progress as well which an important contribution. It is in the report, but it is indeed an important keypoint that we’ve seen a failure in making controlled medicines available adequately to people who need it. The data on money laundering is from a 2011 UNODC report. In response to Austria, we think adequately sequenced AD is key but most efforts are focused on eradication over real issues of affected communities, we highlight positive examples in the report from Thailand for example. Regarding “better targets”, we see that the targets solely focused on eradication and elimination are not close to being achieved and this is not the first time CND sees a conversation about a plan and noting no progress in terms of reducing the illicit market… Angela Me presented this morning that the market is booming. We think that in line with the 2030 agenda, focusing on drug-related harms, scaling up evidence based treatment and harm reduction services, reducing poverty in areas of illicit cultivation and trafficking, improving citizen safety reducing corruption would be something that serves us 10 years from now as we indicated in the last chapter of our shadow report. Thank you for the questions.
Angela: Just to comment on the report, the message is clear… Evidence points to the progress towards targets being disappointing but we are happy to work together to compare data that are comparable.
UNODC: I want to acknowledge the efforts of VNGOC and NYNGOC to involve CSOs constructive in these discussions. I have a question, in Mexico we had Confedrogas and identified lack of data collection and indicators regarding cross cutting issues. What do you think?
(panel) NGO: Yeah, that could be something for the coming phase. I know there is work going ont o revise the ARQ, I think it would be important that data collection efforts reflect the much supported one-track approach. It is also important to consider where data is collected by other organizations – it would be worthwhile to connect to these data collection instruments. I also think other UN agencies could be called upon to share and further collaboration with the UNODC.
Slovenia: Short question, do you think the bad results are a consequence to the global economic crisis?
(panel) NGO: maybe we need to call the World Bank to answer this. This brings us an important thing though, the singular focus on drugs ignores so many other factors as to why people engage in drug use and the drug markets.
Angela: We looked at this issue a few years ago and it is in the World Drug Report.
UNODC: I am going to be the half empty guy… if we look at the targets of the 2009 declaration, the numbers are clearly not delivered. We are working very actively on this however. We are a custodian of the SDGs, we hope we will be able to develop a solid methodology. We have some data gaps and issues that prevents us to really look at where we are. We identified four critical areas: availability, data quality, lack of focus, lack of consolidated methodology. Regional coverage of ARQ replies, we see a general increase, but it is still really low in Africa and Oceania. Quality issues are mostly related to lack of uniformity, both in terms of criteria and methodology. The topics are often prove to be insufficient or not focused enough to monitor efficiently. We are missing methodology consolidation as well in many areas of interest. As for possible solutions, slide.
USA: National focal points – this is something we can certainly support to be included in a resolution. We remember it has been done in the past so what do you think about a more regional focus in our efforts for data collection? We listened to CICAD’s work in this area, so we are wondering if we can use more instruments for better and more responses from states outside of the western hemisphere.
Italy: Some of the graphs you showed are really depressing for some regions… this is a good indicator for what we have to think about more in preparation to 2019. Regarding the last slide about elements to be improved, I just want to thank you.
Nigeria: Regarding the data collection in Africa, is your data derived from one region or is a general information? What do you think might be possible causes for our inability to collect sufficient data?
UNODC: On focal points, we don’t have this indication from countries. We have a sister data collection on crime and there is a resolution on there, countries appointed focal points, but we don’t have that for the ARQ. In terms of issues in Africa, we have set up an expert committee and in their opinion, the collection is difficult because we are missing a link between capitals and Vienna… there is a lot of information on the ground, of course with varying quality, but if we fill this communication gap, we would be much ahead. Thank you for the support from the EU.
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UNODC: Opium poppy cultivation in the World in the past 9 years, figures have doubled. It can mainly be attributed to the production in Afghanistan, 83%. Since 2009 global coca production showed a decreasing trend until 2013 and it has been extremely up since. We have 90% more production than in 2009. How come this happened despite efforts by nations? There are security issues in the production areas, including terrorist activities. There is a strong correlation between the drugs and terrorism. On this map, you can see that areas controlled by terrorist and other armed groups, including the Taliban, opium cultivation is up. This also means a weakened rule of law and security. In Peru, we see that it is strongly correlated how terrorist, insurgent and non-state armed groups control areas and poppy cultivation trends. In Colombia, the area of coca cultivation has shrunk and farmers are encouraged to grow different crops. However, since the early 2000’s, the number of victims of violence involved in coca cultivation have increased. As a conclusion (slide)
Pakistan: We recognize the progress has a lot left to be desired. We’ve heard delegations saying that our targets are too ambitious and maybe not achievable. We saw now that the challenge lies in our efforts and we should not lower the bar… Now, coming to the topic at hand, what is UNODC’s response to address the spike in production? What has UNODC done in the recent past? I remember in a few months back, we were given a briefing about a new strategy to address this issue and I remember many MS, including Pakistan, supporting more consultations but we were not involved in any follow-up.
Colombia: Just what happened in the past few years, as we said on previous occasions, cocaine is reaching the market in increasing amounts. The number of seizures have increased, but the number of cases involving violence have also grown.
Peru: There has been a reduction of 70% when it comes to drug seizures. We have problems in many regions, in particular when it comes to terrorism. Drug trafficking, production, etc on our Columbian border is a great concern for our government. […]
UNODC: Colombia is right, I only presented the production side. Further indicators of the market are not presented here…
Colombia: I guess I wasn’t clear. The exercise here is looking at what we’ve done… we talk about reducing victims and human rights and reduction in communities affected – this could be an overall aspect for ministers. The reduction of production is of course a positive effect, but for today’s exercise, I don’t know.
Angela Me: It depends on the revision countries want to do in 2019. Your point is very valid and going beyond the targets and seeing the implications of drug policy on other issues is again I think valid…it is up to CND in what lenses they want to look in 2019. In response to Pakistan, what you mean I think is Sarto (?). I am going to inform my colleagues that this community wishes to be more informed about this project.
Afghanistan: I fully agree with Pakistan, we can’t change the goals but we should take a look at what we have done. In 2001 when the Taliban took over the production of opium and throughout their expansion… there was a good opportunity in 2005 to take control of the situation, but at that time Afghan regime did not have enough and proper security forces. We were under budget and had to spend money on various services, so we lost an opportunity to scale up our forces and tackle the problem. We are always behind the Taliban and NATO troops withdrew in 2014… now we are down to a few thousand troops, so the Taliban are expanding. We see the increase of Taliban rule and so opium cultivation as well. There has been a trend drugs following insecurity. In 2017 we had our most difficult year for the national army and we suffer a number of losses daily in fighting ISIS and the Taliban. Our security forces are exhausted so in practice, counter narcotic forces is not possible for us to be a priority. As long as we don’t tackle the Taliban, we can not tackle this problem. Even if have some more targets, it would be unrealistic to expect any kind of change in Afghanistan. Why do we develop policies that do not work? We talk from different context and for Afghanistan, the impact of heroin is different than other countries. The human impact of that is disastrous to people who are addicted to heroin – we don’t have capacities to deal with these situations, it is not a problem, it is a disaster. Somebody choses to smoke cigarettes, other choses heroin, it is up for people. Many people use drugs for enjoyment, but in Afghanistan, people are consuming opioids to deal with the misery that their lives are. We are coming from different context and we develop global policies and allocate budgets, we do that from our contexts. That is why it doesn’t work. We need genuine support from the international community so in the future what we need is investing money carefully, looking at the people who really need our support. We have 50% of our population under the poverty line. It is a problem for our country but we never say it is created by others… but we call on our treaty partners to pay attention to important details, like where do the precursors come from? The precursor to produce heroin from opium is very illegal in Afghanistan, so where is it made?
Iran: Illicit cultivation covers 3 issues: coca, opium and cannabis but I did not see any conversation on Cannabis. On one of the slides, from 2009 to 2017 around 4 thousand people have been killed in terrorist attacks, does that only apply to Afghanistan? Meanwhile, the same amount of law enforcement and so officers have been killed fighting criminals.
UNODC: At the moment we are not observing Cannabis but I understand Angela presented on the topic this morning. Regarding the victims, the numbers were only related to Afghanistan.
Chair: Thank you for the presentations. I am now opening the floor for the thematic debate.
Austria on behalf of the EU: In 2019 we will decide on how to go forward, we consider the commitments of 2016 as logical and progressive guide representing the most recent consensus. In the view of EU and its MS, since 2009 we witnessed an evolving reality and many new challenges. We have adapted accordingly, in 2016 building on 2009, the international community adopted the UNGASS outcome document. This has shaped global drug policy towards an even more balanced approach, we included risk and harm reduction, emerging, challenges, access to substances, link to human rights, whilst reaffirming our unrewarding commitment to supply and demand reduction. For us, we advocate for a full implementation of that document and propose to put this at the center of our work following 2019.
Colombia: We are moving forward with our commitments in the framework of the conventions. The world drug problem continues to challenge many important aspects of well-being. 2019 was considered to be a deadline for the 2009 goals, but we need to bear in mind that that realities and circumstances are changing. In this context, we would like to highlight the importance of phenomenology, the strengthening and optimizing of information sharing. There is a need to draw on complete information. We need solid methodology to advise efficiently on addressing problems and we have to include more appropriate indicators, including the lessons learned on different levels of drug policy.
UNODC: It was clear for MS in 2009 that synthetic drugs pose a specific challenge. For every synthetic drug, you have a number of precursors and when you look at scenarios of manufacture, it can move thousands of miles just because of demand. In 2009, it was recognized that any solution will be global. There is an absence of global monitoring system though. In addition, there is a low capacity in most countries to identify precursors…. this would be the first step to any successful regulation. I will demonstrate the best practice of international cooperation:
Now we are able to understand more of NPS and work on a global monitoring system, global forensic support, etc… now we are able to pick up best practices, exchange information in order to timely identify new substances and their precursors. In terms of making decisions on a global level, we understand substances more and are able help the work of CND and WHO. National legislative responses, we understand are taking some time, but now we are able to coordinatedly assist MS and publish risk communication booklets twice a year. Moving into 2019, we can say we’ve never been in a better position to understand the synthetic drugs market, we work with countries to reduce risks on country and regional levels as well.
USA: I can not thank you enough for your work. Can you tell us more about what interventions will be included in the UNODC toolkit that you touched on?
China: What is the main challenge in terms of scheduling NPS?
UNODC: The toolkit should be able to guide you in your national interventions. We are not going to reinvent the wheel, we are trying to make your decision making easier. We will bring on board resources on prevention and treatment from WHO and other agencies, other valuable input. Net march, we will try to have an electronic toolkit ready on forensic capacity and precursor information for example. The main challenge in scheduling has to do with the amount of information. We need solid information on the risk of abuse and effects, among others. We are not able to get these in some cases… the chemicals are not used as single items so we are not sure which causes dependence. In the future, having now the toxicology model, we will be able to work more efficiently.
UNODC: In terms of coverage of laboratories, we are working hard on data collection but we have countries with very good forensic capacity don’t participate, because of regulations, we can not send them samples… We have been making efforts through the CND to remove obstacles for these countries to receive drug samples. Hopefully, we can revisit parts of this conversation in the future. Secondly, forensics is not cheap so some countries still not able invest in this. Finally, the early warning systems should enjoy sufficient political support.
Morocco: I would like to inform you that my government has been facing transnational organized crime groups bringing in synthetic drugs to an increasing extent. We saw ecstasy tablets coming from European countries. Is there a UNODC initiative to help us protect borders and detect these substances?
UNODC: We have training programs for law enforcement and laboratories. Next week for example in Panama, we are bringing together experts. They will learn to identify substances and have resources to work efficiently. Drug testing kits are cheap and we are sending them out to train officers.
Mexico: There are processes which can be harmful for the environment so what analyses or proposals does UNODC have to help us improve the final destination destruction of precursors and NPS?
UNODC: I get the feeling we are not promoting our resources well enough. We have a project developed in 2010, a guideline for disposal. We made it very simple in the past years with colors, easy instructions. This is all available as an illustrated guide and computer based materials as well, in English, for officers’ training. The idea behind this was in response to one of the SDGs about clear water.
NGO: Peter Sarosi (Rights Reporter Foundation, Hungary) I would like to thank you, Madame Chair, and the Vienna NGO Committee, for giving me this opportunity to speak about the drug-related crisis faced by society in my region, Central-Eastern Europe. This crisis is not caused by drug use itself. It is driven by bad drug policies, based on a faulty assumption that we can make our societies drug-free by punishing people who use drugs, instead of supporting them to stay healthy and alive. In most of the countries of the region, the majority of injecting drug users belong to deprived and marginalised communities. It is important to understand that for them, harm reduction services, such as needle and syringe programs, are not only about reducing the negative consequences of drug use, such as infections and overdoses. For them, harm reduction is not just an extra option on the menu, not just the first step to recovery. For them, harm reduction programs offer the only opportunity to be treated as a human being – and sometimes the only chance to stay alive. During the early years of this century, thanks to international assistance from the Global Fund, Central-Eastern Europe made huge progress in building up a harm reduction system of care and support. With great sadness, I have to report that this system of care and support is now collapsing in most countries of the region, due to the retreat of international donors and the lack of funding and support from member states. The UNGASS outcome document required member states to provide HIV prevention interventions in accordance with the WHO’s technical guidelines. In most countries of our region, however, provision of these services has dropped dramatically since 2016, and now qualifies as extremely inadequate in terms of those guidelines. Sadly, this is a typical example of failure to invest appropriately, where international commitment by member states is not translated into action, and inaction leads to death and suffering. My organisation, the Rights Reporter Foundation, specialises in making movies. We have for many years been documenting this crisis on our website, Drugreporter. We have filmed how the crisis evolved, and how programs have faced shutdown in Hungary, in Montenegro, in Serbia, in Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Romania and others. In recent years, almost all the needle and syringe programs in these countries have closed down. We have filmed how HIV and hepatitis C epidemics broke out as a consequence. I can show you graphs of growing infection rates – but graphs don’t show the whole picture. The purpose of making movies, was to allow us to look beyond the numbers, and bear witness to human stories of suffering in the shantytowns and ghettos of our cities. The international drug control system was created with the declared intention of promoting public health. But most of the people who inject drugs whom we interviewed have never been afforded the same opportunity to make healthy decisions about their lives as most of us who are sitting in this room. Most of them live in poverty and are dealing with multiple social and psychological issues, from homelessness to childhood trauma. They are the living reminders of the moral failure of our societies to treat every human being with respect. Harm reduction is not the opposite of abstinence or recovery. It is about supporting people, where they are at, as fellow citizens in need of help, and treating them with respect. Not as problems to be solved, but as part of the solution. By producing films about harm reduction among vulnerable people, we came to realise that for them, abstinence is often not a real choice. To ask someone who lives on the street to quit drug use is like asking someone with one leg to ride a bicycle – or asking a traveler to give up his hat in the desert. Repressive policies based on the idea of fighting a war on drugs are pushing vulnerable people deeper into a vicious circle of poverty and drug use. They don’t need our sermons and judgment – they need our support to stay alive and healthy, and they need it where they are at. Unless we bring harm reduction services to people where and how they need them, our investments in treatment and recovery will be wasted. Without harm reduction, the road to recovery is a road that leads nowhere. It is a stairway without steps. The dream of a drug-free society might be a positive dream for many – but the dream is a nightmare for those who, in the name of an unachievable ‘drug-free society’, are denied access to live-saving services. Some people say there is a funding crisis for harm reduction. I don’t agree. A funding crisis happens when governments don’t have the money to deal with an issue. In this case, governments do have the money, but they choose to fritter it away on implementing repressive laws to punish people for trying to ease their pain. Every year, we spend billions on arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning people. Harm reduction programs cost a small fraction of the money required to arrest and imprison people and unlike punishment, they produce positive effects. I urge all member states to quit their dangerous dependence on repression – and instead, use their resources to keep people healthy and alive. Thank you for your attention!
NGO: Hussein Abdalla Tayab (Muslim Education and Welfare Association (MEWA), Kenya: http://vngoc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/MEWA-Taking-Stock.pdf
UNODC: You all saw Angela’s presentation in the morning, so I will try to go a bit further in terms of trends. Trends are also influenced by the growth of the estimated global population. If you look at changes in prevalence, you can see the increase of 16%, 9% in regards to opioid and 8% in the use of cannabis. The use of most other substances remained consistent. These have been brought on by
Most countries in Asia don’t conduct any kind of drug use surveys at all. In any given year, there are a number of changes in the collected data. In the US, if you compare, there is a 50% increase in the users of Cannabis in the past year, but more alarmingly 100% among the daily users. The trends in terms of injecting drug users and HIV have been hopeful, but methodological changes can affect our data thought the number of reporting countries have grown. The mortality rate has increased by 7% since 2009 that are directly relatable to drugs.
Turkey: About this figure, death rates between 2009 and 2016. Is the growth of the population taken into effect when we diagnose a growth?
Slovenia: I only want to point out that we can reduce a lot of these deaths… if we want. We know how HIV treatment works, it is 99% effective in my country. I have always advocated that addiction is a disease and I would like to point to the treaties at this point… these people need medical attention.
UNODC: This 7% is in the rate per population, so it has taken it into account, yes. If you look at only the numbers, the increase is 16%.
NGO Brun González Aguilar (International Network of People who use Drugs (INPUD), International) : Excellences, Ladies and gentlemen, Dear colleagues, My name is Brun Gonzalez and I am Chair of the International Network of People who use Drugs, a peer-based global network working to protect the health and defend the human rights of people who use drugs. I would like to thank the Chair and the CND for the opportunity to bring forward the voices and perspectives of the international community of people who use drugs to this space. Our voice has not been heard often enough here in Vienna, or in drug policy development overall. Drug policies cannot continue to be debated and developed, without the input of those most directly impacted by drug policies, that is, people who use drugs. We celebrate the process that is being fostered and enabled through the new seven-themed structure delineated in the 2016 UNGASS Outcome Document. The Outcome Document, ratified by member states, reaffirms a commitment to the “comprehensive, far-reaching and people-centered set of universal and transformative Goals and targets” that is the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, signaling an unprecedented shift towards ensuring that public health, development and human rights concerns do not remain peripheral, but are prioritized and become central to all policy development, including drug policy. We again welcome member states commitment in paragraph 4 of the outcome document to work towards drug policies that respect human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the inherent dignity of all individuals, including people who use drugs who are affected or negatively impacted by the current criminalizing and stigmatizing paradigm. Developing proper monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for the implementation of the commitments made to jointly address and counter the world drug problem is fundamental. Following the principles described in the SDGs related to Prosperity, Peace and Partnership, and according to the simple logic of “Nothing About Us Without Us” which means that key affected populations should be involved and participate proactively in every stage of the design, development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of any and every public policy that is supposed to address their needs and/or that directly affects or impacts them in a specific way; we are still as open and willing as ever to cooperate with relevant UN agencies including those with mandates respectful of human rights and who are willing to collaborate with civil society to achieve these goals. The international community should recognize that existing punitive drug policies fuel violence and unrest, and threaten democracies and individual freedom. Going forward, drug policies should seek primarily to reduce violence, strengthen governance, community systems and the rule of law, and promote the wellbeing of society, in particular those most marginalized and vulnerable. If we truly are now preparing to take stock of progress made and delineate the global drug strategy for the next decade, we firmly believe that simple common sense is enough to acknowledge the need of moving away from clearly ineffective and heavily harmful policies that rely on prohibition through criminalization. Continuing the “war on drugs” means a continuation of militarization along with armed confrontation and disproportionate spending on security, enforcement and supply reduction strategies at the expense of, and completely diminishing capacity around, establishing and promoting peaceful and just communities and societies. Under this new collective realization of the global issues we are all facing, which is the source and engine of the SDGs, we want to bring your attention to the fact that war-driven prohibitionist models and the unrealistic and undesired “drug-free” objectives actively undermine the SDG Agenda which is “determined to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence”. The SDG Agenda stresses inclusivity that is “all human beings… can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment” and have the right to pursue “prosperous and fulfilling lives” without severe impediment. We, as the international network of people who use drugs call for drug war peace. “There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.” Drug-free objectives are not only unrealistic, they are dangerous and harmful. They are used to justify widespread human rights violations, and an overly punitive approach that directly undermines health, development, peace and security. It is people who use drugs that are most directly and severely impacted, as drug free objectives contradict and interfere with the rights of autonomy, self-determination and the free development of the individual. We recognize that currently there is no consensus amongst member states on drug policy. With this in mind we would like to bring attention to the SDGs principle on Partnership, which clearly states that the efforts and guidelines should be “based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people. „Currently, the prohibitionist system that is the three drug control treaties, are showing significant cracks and challenges, and thus their continued existence needs to be questioned. Current drug policies undermine SDG 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; SDG 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries and SDG 16; Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Paragraph 8 of the Declaration of the 2030 Agenda contains a strong reference to the common ground that hopefully we can all easily arrive to, using nothing more than clear-headed pragmatic reflection: “We envisage a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination; of respect for race, ethnicity and cultural diversity; and of equal opportunity permitting the full realization of human potential and contributing to shared prosperity. A world which invests in its children and in which every child grows up free from violence and exploitation. A world in which every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality and all legal, social and economic barriers to their empowerment have been removed. A just, equitable, tolerant, open and socially inclusive world in which the needs of the most vulnerable are met.” This should be used to guide decision making in drug policy development. Right now, in many different countries around the planet, our communities are still subject to: compulsory drug detention that use torture and/or forced and unpaid labor in the name of treatment; death penalty for drug offences and open promotion of violence targeting people who use illegal substances; an epidemic of preventable drug overdose deaths, where globally over 200,000 people die each year and the number is growing due to NPS and the fentanyl family of compounds which are now present in pretty much every kind of psychoactive substances. Extreme examples of the harmful impacts of current policies are state sanctioned extrajudicial killings of people who use drugs, which have led to the loss hundreds of thousands of lives in just the last decade, and continue unabated, and led to the mass murder and disappearances amongst citizens, including youth in some countries. Drug policy must align with the human development agenda. The loss of life and atrocities committed in the name of the war on drugs must end. Instead, the world must move to health and rights-based approaches. Member states should address the impact of repressive policies on communities, including forced crop eradication or mass incarceration of PWUD. As people who use drugs, we promote the incorporation of full spectrum harm reduction strategies and policies that acknowledge the realities surrounding psychoactive substances, opiates and injecting drug use; a few examples could be substance analysis services, harm reduction for non-injected substances along with stimulants and supply side harm reduction. Drug policy needs to align with current world realities. Member states should acknowledge and reflect upon the realities of experimentation and innovation already going on, including cannabis regulation, medical cannabis systems, drug checking, decriminalization models and drug consumption rooms. We, as the voice of people who use drugs strongly affirm and believe that the post-2019 strategy should focus on inclusion, participation and community involvement. Drug policy should not continue to be encapsulated in a “parallel universe” that is isolated from the broader global governance agenda. People who use drugs are a fundamental part of the world, we are citizens, we are human beings, we are community.
(video message from the Council of Europe): We have a platform for drug policy, Pompidou, established in 1971. We promote a balanced approach in response to drugs and trafficking. Our group offers a forum for open debate and links researchers and practice to political debates. We develop cooperation with 50 countries, even with countries outside of Europe. We work on developing frameworks to work with vulnerable groups. We welcome the UNGASS of 2016, where members of CND reviewed 2009 and updated their commitments. (video to be added)
Chair: If there are no further comments or questions, I will close today’s meeting. Regarding the topics of the roundtables, I thank you for your inputs during the informals this morning. We will be circulating the revised version. As for the draft, in compliance to the mandate set out, I prepared it based on your suggestions. It contains, preamble, stock-taking and looking ahead. We are aiming for a reasonable length, keep the document factual, streamlined and focus on common grounds. This can be refined as is very long at the moment. I will take general comments tomorrow so on Monday I can present you with a lighter version. There is a proper process for agreeing on the final version and I expect to work with you on Monday – I am aware I have a mandate to prepare an outline and I need your input for this so I can leave that outline at the reconvened. See you tomorrow, thank you!