Interactive, multi-stakeholder round table of the ministerial segment: Taking stock of the implementation of all commitments made to jointly address and counter the world drug problem, in particular in the light of the 2019 target date for the goals set in paragraph 36 of the Political Declaration; analysing existing and emerging trends, gaps and challenges
Chair: To me taking stock means to examine what we have done from mistakes and successes. That takes an honest review; in accordance with 61/10 the roundtable will consist of a panel discussion followed by an interactive debate. The organisational arrangements have been laid out by the secretariat. Member states with have the floor first, followed by governmental organisations and then non-governmental organisations. With the assistance of the secretariat, I will summarise the salient points and present them to the plenary at the end of the ministerial segment. The summary will be non-negotiable.
Director Division for policy analysis and public affairs at UNODC: I would like to make some considerations to the efforts made by member states. The last 2018 ARQ summarised and compared the reports across all reporting cycles. It showed the need inter alia to design and implement alternate development programmes. In the UNGASS outcome document, adopted in 2016, Member States reaffirmed the commitment to the political declaration 2009. It focused on sharing the lessons and experiences learned. It noted the persistence and emerging challenges of the world drug programme. Despite improvement there is a lack of data in the African and Asian regions. There is a lack of estimates on cannabis cultivation which affected the countries world-wide. There has been significant progress in the number of member states submitting the responses to the ARQ. Efforts need to be maintained and strengthened since not all regions are equally covered. Understanding the drug problem includes the understanding of psychoactive substances, gender disaggregation, and socio-economic factors.
Colombia: You’ve pointed out that more countries that have given information on the ARQ. From which region do we need more information to get a better response rate.
Director Division for policy analysis and public affairs at UNODC: We have a major gap in information in the African continents. We cover 70% of the total population there is still room for improvement in the amount of data.
Minister of Public Health in Ecuador: In OP36 of the political declaration, we the member states set this year (2019) as the deadline for achieving the 5 overall objectives. We all know this target has not been reached in the manner we would have wanted. I would assess achievement in the form of these bullet points: What did we do well? What could we do better? In the next ten years we should look back with a less sense of frustration. In the case of Ecuador, we have enacted an organic law that centres on the human being and intersectional plan. We have a narcotic drug consumption problem in my region. What could we have done better and where did we go entirely wrong? Efforts were huge. We should focus on an area where we haven’t addressed this sufficiently. The impact and collateral damage to the policy: The time that we devoted to international commitments, the backlog in terms of a new human-based approach. This has had a very serious impact. The high impact on medication costs and opioids for pain management and violence and homicide rates that are linked to poverty and exclusion. The efforts devoted to demand reduction are high. We have not been paying enough attention to the role of Civil Society and community organisation. We should see what the proper focus should be and learn from past experience in a positive function
Russian Federation: We are seeking to draw conclusions. We have to note that despites the efforts of the international efforts the drug problem has grown into such proportions that it is mind boggling. The internal resources used has reached billions of US dollars. These drugs are being used in various ways and with all of this just 10 years ago the international community has not been able to get enough information on the drug community. The traffickers are doing so in a well organised manner. The Russian Federation has continuously developed its policies with law enforcement. We have also engaged in multi and bilateral cooperation. It is necessary to focus attention on psychoactive substances and production centres of narcotic drugs. Afghanistan is in need of international support. Russia has attempted to strengthen the policies of Afghanistan. It is impossible to have effective approaches nailed down. It is necessary to have a global and economic orientated approach. It is necessary to have the restructure of Afghanistan and other similar countries. Anything which is narrowly focused will not help. It is necessary to see what use is made from the ill-gotten production centres. Various colleagues have spoken about the preventative approach to quelling the problem. It is necessary to be preventative to step up international drug control. As is stated in the United Nations drug control document. Russia is ready to go through all efforts to control narcotic drugs. We will not be endorsing narcotic drugs anywhere. It is necessary for us to be responsible in this fashion. We would call upon all states to observe the UN document and to uphold the treaties. We hope the Russian draft will be supported by all delegations. Many of our efforts have borne fruit and we believe it is necessary to properly focus along these lines.
Portugal: Since 2009 the international drug policy landscape has changed, evidence from the UN shows the range of drugs and drug markets are expanding like never before. The ic need to step up the responses cope with these challenges. We have a unique opportunity to assess the strategy to tackle the world drug problem at regional, national and local levels. UNGASS 2016 represented a ground-breaking moment of a forward-looking blueprint of action. We should focus our efforts in the implementation of its recommendations. The commitment to protect human rights, promoting peace and human development whilst keeping within the 2009 political declaration. For the more significant changes and the emerging trend of online markets of psychoactive substances. The gains made since UNGASS need to be structurally built in and should continue to form the bases of international drug policies to take the single-track approach beyond 2019. This policy architecture aims to protect the health of all humankind. In the sense, Portugal supports UNODC to strengthen and streamline the general report questionnaire to reflect the new priority areas in the UNGASS document. Domestically Portugal has stated its commitment in the last 20 years on humanised and pragmatic policies aligned with the UNGASS 2016. The Portuguese approach was considered as a model approach by the INCB. We follow a model that promotes measures directed to public health and reaffirms our commitment. We did not forget supply reduction. Our laws pursue drug trafficking of drugs connected with money laundering. Portugal remains below the EU average for drug use mortality as we have 5.8% deaths per millions – one of the lowest in Europe. There are remarkable benefits from implement effective and human right base policies that focus on the three international drug control conventions. We reaffirm Portugal’s goals to reaffirm the UNGASS outcome doc.
Representative of the African group: Morocco: In 2009 the international community set itself a target in reducing supply and demand, in a common and shared capacity. This session today corresponds to the 52nd session, where the main strategy was targeted as reducing demand and supply, and encourage member states to share their efforts in a multilateral approach. This was the aim of the 2016 session and the 2014 declaration. The plan of action was based on 3 axes: reduction of supply, demand and international cooperation. The first axis involved the suppression and elimination of illicit drugs, countering illicit actions and groups, but also to contain innovated approaches in crop cultivation. It also focused on sustainable and alternative development. We first have to acknowledge the courage in addressing the problem, and the human rights of individuals involved. One has to think in terms of care rather than suppression of a given condition. A community approach which destigmatizes is necessary, it is also necessary to focus on vulnerable populations – including young people, children, women – and this has to be done in synergy with international institutions, UNODC, the Pompidou group, and of course NGOs. It’s necessary to introduce opioid subtitute programs, and get scientific evidence for our programs. Children, parents and their teachers need to be aware of these issues. Very close international cooperation is necessary in countering narcoterrorism and human trafficking. The sharing of best practices is necessary. The scourge of drugs continues to be a scourge of all nations – countries need to break the chains and engage in truly meaningful fashions. We can certainly do more than we do now, and join our efforts.
Representative of the Asia-Pacific group: Japan: It’s my honour to participate in this roundtable. We have a grave concerns with the influence of illicit drugs and we are struggling with associated problems with them. Countering the world drug problem is progressing since 2009, and I appreciate the INCB’s analysis and input to these programs. New drug problems have occurred since 2009, especially in synthetic drug issues. I will focus on this. One of the factors is technology development – technology is supposed to make like easier but it is causing new drug challenges. Japan has been warning about amphetamine type stimulants and novel psychoactive substances for a long time, and now issues have spread all over the world. Precursors are also an issue. New drugs have spread all over the world, and is a new challenge since 2009. Novel psychoactive substances (NPS) in particular – it is essential that we anticipate these challenges. These drugs are easily trafficked. Progress with technology make it easier to track NPS. In order to cope with new challenges, and to analyse it properly, we need to seek to find a way along with enforcement systems. In Japan, we have new designated drug systems, and we can designate the substance involved with the abuse. Current NPS controlled by the conventions helps us contain synthetic drugs issues. We need to protect younger generations. I will stop here – I believe we have made much progress since 2009.
Chair: Thank you
SANA, Singapore (NGO Delegate): The Singapore Anti-Narcotic Association (SANA) is honoured to speak here. Since our inception in 1972 we’ve aspired for a drug-free Singapore. This session marks this cause – we’ve seen first-hand how drug destroy communities, and it impacts children the most. These children often end up abusing drugs themselves and this is an intergenerational issue. We’ve seen how a balanced approach can turn this around. Singapore’s approach has worked well. Number of people who use drugs has significantly decreased since 1972, due to strong work between government and civil society. Our Government focuses on effective prevention, we focus on community organisations and alternatives to drug use. We engage 5000 youth each year through our youth program, they are taught how to orgnise anti drug events. https://talk2sana.com/ is an eportal to educate young people of drug use. We train these clients to become peer leaders and facilitate peer recovery support groups and reach out to the community. We see the power of peer led programs. We provide services and family mediation in the community as well. It’s conveniently located in a safe community center. We provide food and transport vouchers, and emergency funds at the step up center. We hope to help more people to make positive change. While the local drug situation is under control, we remain concerned about the young people who are using drugs for a long time – we need to keep a close eye on the youth starting to use drugs, and do more to reach out to this population, we will increase our social media engagement to try to reach ore youth. We will work hand in hand with the community for our goal for a drug-free Singapore. To find out more please see our booth and upcoming side event.
Chair: I am opening the floor for interactive discussion. I call on you to keep interventions short, no more than 3 mins.
European Union: Thank you. We believe that the situation after 10 years was very aspirational and ambitious, the situation on the drug market is not as we had expected when embarking on these goals. The situation is critical, all the panelists underlined this. We believe that in fighting these problems all together – we can’t just use a singular approach.
Societies are changing, criminals are changing their aspirations. It is not the time to dual on supply and demand reduction approaches, or law enforcement and health and harm reduction. We need to look at these all together. If we did this in 2009 we the results would be stronger. It’s the time to look ahead now and concentrate on the big things – those that unite us in the decisions that we make. The problems we have with new psychoactive substance and opioids. We need to share best practices, more analysis, deploy more resources in order to help the youth. In the EU, we see a strong partner and a generous donor. We provide support and technical assistance in how to respond to this. We push to take up what the UNGASS document described – this is the way we interpret the declaration adopted this morning. We are very proud we came to consensus on this document.
Kristina Sperkova, IOGT (NGO Delegate): Dear Chairman, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, On behalf of the members of IOGT International I thank you for the opportunity to address you today. Our analysis of progress during the last ten years shows considerable achievements and successes as well as serious failures and severe shortcomings in the response to the world drug problem. With regard to the progress made we would like to highlight three of the seven achievements that we can clearly identify: 1. Drug use has remained strikingly low and relatively stable. Nearly 95% of the world’s population lives drug-free which is an important achievement worth our attention. 2. Proven solutions for drug policy in the era of the SDGs are at hand. The decade since 2009, has engendered a stronger scientific evidence – base for interventions in drug demand reduction leading to reductions in drug-related harm to people, families, communities and societies at large. 3. Clear global consensus exists for comprehensive action tackling the world drug problem as Human Rights and public health issue. This is a positive shift in line with the UN Drug Conventions that strengthens countries in their efforts to move from dealing with drug use exclusively as a criminal justice issue, to increasing involvement of the health and social services. Understanding the progress made over the last ten years is an important part of paving the way forward in the global response to the World Drug Problem. It shows that not all is bad. At the same time, it’s not all good either. By no means is the global community where we collectively set out to be in 2009. in Western societies. But experiences from many decades with alcohol and tobacco control show that there is no good reason to legalize other harmful substances that have much lower prevalence, availability and public acceptance. We cannot ignore these lessons hoping – without any proof – that this time it will turn out for the better. We commend the WHO and UNODC for making the development of comprehensive, integrated, health-based approaches to drug policies a priority and wish for all actors to follow their lead. A pivot to evidence-based prevention including treatment is most cost-effective and sustainable. It also helps to empower people and communities, promotes Human Rights and contributes significantly to positive engagement of children, youth and adults with their families, schools, workplaces and communities. I thank you for your attention!
Russian Federation: You have reached out to us to be interactive, we’d like to thank all the panelists for their contributions. We’re also looking at how models of narco-production has changed in different countries and how they have changed. From Morocco we heard that the problem of opioid use is emerging, we’d like to know more about these emerging trends and find out more from other panelists as to trends that they are seeing.
Chair: Panellists? No one responded. Move to the next intervention.
Colombia: we’re grateful for your input to this roundtable. We have this opportunity to look back at challenges we’ve experienced over the last 10 years, as there are so many novel psychoactive substances that have emerged, and more misuse of licit drugs. There are also more precursors. Consumption has risen by 31% since 2009. This contributes to risk perception around the world. The world drug problem is still a threat to health, political instability, and the environment. It’s especially a threat to the lives of children and young people in Colombia. We are far from achieving the targets set in 2009. This should give us more momentum in the future. This question is for the Japan panelist who proposed alternatives to demand reduction. How are you applying these alternatives in practice? It seems very important.
Indonesia: This meeting provides a unique opportunity to review the progress made in the last 10 years. Bearing in mind those targets Indonesia, demand and supply reduction remain an integral part of our policy. Indonesia is in a state of narcotic drug control emergency. Amphetamines pose a serious threat to the health and socio-economic trends in families. Strict law enforcement must be brought against drug traffickers. International cooperation remains important. Establishing agreements with other countries in the field remains extremely important.
United States: We welcome this important discussion to address and counter the WDP. It is vital to share best practices and learn from its mistakes. Plant-based drug control threats have been compounded by the new age threats from illicit drugs. The US has suffered from an unprecedented synthetic drug control problem. The US places an overemphasis on palliative care and pain management, and as a result, there is an increased number of people suffering from opioid addiction. We are working on streamlining procedures and enacting laws on adulteration and trafficking. We are coordinating a task ford force to address the specific concerns of citizens. On public health, The US promotes a comprehensive approach. The US has invested record levels of funding to tackle this, expanding access to treatment and a vast expansion to follow up care. Innovative public health and safety as response efforts. The illicit substances such as fentanyl created a new challenge to law enforcement as they were being trafficked through the postal system. Moving forward we will implement the following: Reduce synthetic drug production; strengthen capacity to detect synthetic drugs; reduce the global demand for these drugs; strengthen global partnership. Our efforts need to be balanced and comprehensive. The consensus of the UNGASS document is one of our greatest achievements.
Australia: Australia thanks the Chair and the panel for the update on global, regional and domestic progress towards actions outlined in the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action, the Joint Ministerial Statement of the 2014 high-level review and the outcome document of the thirtieth special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem, representing the commitments made by the international community over the preceding decade to address and counter the world drug problem.
Australia is very pleased to participate in this High Level, interactive, multi-stakeholder round table focussed on taking stock of the implementation of all commitments contained in those three complementary and mutually reinforcing documents.
We note that since the adoption of the 2009 Political Declaration, the attention of the international community on the important issue of access to controlled substances for medical purposes while preventing their diversion and misuse has grown significantly.
In our most recent international consensus, the Outcomes Document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem contained no less than eight operational recommendations on this matter.
However, and unfortunately, our increased attention has not translated into practical change for most of the 80% of the world’s population who continue to have little or no access to controlled medications which are essential for the compassionate management of pain and palliative care.
Instead, we have seen the problem of opioid dependence rise over the last decade in Australia and elsewhere at alarming rates, indicating that we as a global community have neither increased access where it would best benefit people, nor prevented the diversion and abuse of controlled medicines as we might have hoped in order to protect our local communities.
We need to act decisively and soon to turn our stated intentions on access to controlled substances for medical purposes while preventing their diversion
Karim Nanmour, Legal Agenda Lebanon (NGO Delegate): The Global War on Drugs is a complete failure. No one knows it better than Lebanon, one of the top cannabis and hashish-producing countries in the world. This War which started almost 100 years ago, was based on misinformation and prejudice, and used as a tool to discriminate against vulnerable groups of society. Eventually, it manufactured marginisation itself by systemativally targeting persons who use drugs and impoverished famers who grow it. Since the 1950s, due to external political pressure, this War developed in my home country – Lebanon. Torn between external pressure on one side and big, well-connected armed traffickers on the other, authorities who counldn’t arrest powerful drug lords, aimed at the weakest link of the chain: persons who use drugs, whom they started incarcerating by the thousands each year. This is how a new category of marginalization was born: the ‘drug user’. This category was so vilified by political rhetoric that it became synonymous with ‘criminal’. Suspected drug users would be arrested, beaten, mistreated, and jailed for years without any consideration of their medical health or psychological needs.
In 1998, Lebanon adopted a new Law on Drugs which consecrated the principle of “treatment as an alternative to prosecution”. However, due to the consistent repressive rhetoric that dominated the discourse about drug-related issues, that principle remained ink on paper for more than 15 years. It was only thanks to outstanding efforts undertaken by local non-governmental organizations like “Skoun, Lebanese Addiction Centre” and the “Legal Agenda” that the principle was finally applied to persons being prosecuted for drug use. Judges started halting proceedings and referring defendants to the National Drug Addiction Committee to undergo treatment instead. Nevertheless, primary arrests did not cease in-spite of progress on the judicial level. In 2018 alone almost 8’000 people were arrested for using drugs, which represents almost 2‰ of the Lebanese population. In parallel, and in contrast, law-proposals have been submitted to parliament aiming to legalize hemp cultivation for medicinal purposes last year. However, these proposals fail to address decriminalization of drug use and fail to resolve the issue of hemp-growing farmers against whom there are thousands of arrest-warrants and therefore will not benefit from an eventual adoption of such proposals. In fact, such proposals seem to better serve commercial interests at the expense of consumers and farmers.
Therefore, with an ever-increasing number of arrests each year and very little impact on the rate of drug consumption, it becomes imperative to acknowledge today that the repressive policies and laws adopted have completely failed to resolve the drug-issue. The war on drugs is a huge failure with detrimental consequences on both persons who use drugs and hemp-growing farmers. It is time to end the war on drugs, it is time we finally decriminalize drug use and organize hemp-cultivation within a fair-trade framework. State monies must be better allocated and managed more responsibly. Decriminalization is of public interest and it is a matter of public health.
United Kingdom: The United Kingdom fully supports the EU statements. The human social and economic cost of drugs is too high. 2018 shows the production and manufacture of illicit drugs is at a world high. In the UK we have seen an increase in drug-related violence. Gangs are grooming and using vulnerable people to traffic illicit drugs. We must recognisethat the range of drugs and drug markets are expanding like never before. Meeting this challenge means inserting evidence-based policies at national and international levels. We must strengthen national and international policies to protect the health of mankind. The United Kingdom, support a modern balance and evidence-based policies within the UN controls.
Canada: Over the past decade, the world drug problem has manifested itself differently in different countries. The prevalence of psychoactive drugs has been fuelled in Canada, leading to an increased number of deaths since 2016. Part of the response, Canada adopted the CDSS. The international community saw a need to implement a comprehensive evidence-based approach is grounded human rights. However, many concerning challenges still persist. 1 in 6 people do not have access to treatment programmes. Evidence shows that women who use drugs are more underrepresented. There are human right volitions that have proceeded in the name of drug control. These undermine the effort to protect the health of humankind. The death penalty is incompatible with human rights and human dignity. We believe we must continue to learn from the past and Canada will remain an international partner in achieving these goals.
Jamaica: We believe the discussions are relevant and timely. We believe that a stock talking exercise is fundamental of all good policies. We have made great strides through supply and demand reduction, drug awareness to tackle the world drug problem. Drug markets are expanding and diversifying. A meaningful stocktaking exercise will ensure that the appropriate actions are taken to addressing this problem. Good drug control policy should not lead to mass incarceration of the poor; it is essential that communities reflect, take stock to better future generations.
Algeria: We are between two major areas of production and consumption. We are a transit for the circulation of drugs. Another phenomenon is the smuggling and use of drugs which are not scheduled as psychotropic substance which enable them to be used and is possible for them to be used by others that the initial market. We have to ensure the better trackability of these drugs. We are working on setting up a list of products under national and international control. amongst these, there would be products that comply with the same regulatory systems. The ministry of health has developed a series of text to step up the control of these products. There is an instrument that has to do with the modalities and dispensation of psychotropic substances. In July 2018 there was a new law enacted in Algeria; one part of this law refers to the special control of production and processing and access to substances which have a psychotropic and narcotic effect. There are 40 operational centres with specialised and general practitioners and psychiatrists. We are developing a Substitution Treatment programme which will be finalised very soon. There are awareness enhancement activities that are being initiated by ministries.
Morocco: I would like to thank the rep from the Russian Federation on the point she made on what has changed since 2009. The internet, facilitating trafficking and synthetic substances themselves have changed. It is difficult to zoom in on an illicit crop area. Before we had drug crops in traditional areas, now we are getting more indoor cultivation – this is very hard to work with. Morocco is a transit area. Many products are being used. In 2008 we seized more than 2000 tonnes of cocaine. This is the tip of the iceberg I supposed there is a lot under the tip of the iceberg that we have not seized. There is a multidisciplinary approach based on human beings. Clear goals have enabled more effective work. In 2007 we adopted police to reign in harm. This has produced 16 centres with 6000 people being treated in these centres. The EU has supported and thank you to the Pompidou group. There are two university programmes in addictology. There are a healthy proportion of women being treated in these centres. It is important that we understand what vulnerable groups have access to what drugs.
Japan: NPS and ATS are one with big improvements, not only in Japan but also around the world. One important aspect is how we control synthetic drugs. I think not every country has the technology of capacity to address these issues. I think that we are working to decrease new products in the near future. It is important for us to have good collaboration with civil society.
Russian Federation: I’d like to point out that these discussions have bolstered my view of the fact that the drug situation is a result of narcocriminality and is closer and closer to narcoterrorism and criminality. If we don’t get our act together we won’t be able to address this effectively. We can put our heads together with people in general debate.
Portugal: I think this was a very interesting session. We have common challenges to deal with but it’s clear there are different challenges in different region. I believe one size doesn’t fit all – in some regions, more people die because of shootings than the drugs themselves. We have different traditions and different cultures to the prescriptions of opioids. Its necessary to provide safer opioids, and make them easily accessible to those already hooked on opioids – easy availability of methadone or buprenorphine programs for example. We are very worried about the fentanyl crises seen in other countries. We have global challenges but a lot of tools to deal with it. Its important to keep working together. I am happy to refer to the importance of the Pompidou group in dealing with these problems from the demand and supply sides. As the chair of the Pompidou group we would like to increase its capacity. We have to cooperate to deal with these challenges. We believe in a balanced approach – In Portugal, decriminalization of drug use also led to achievements in supply reduction. As they pass drug users to health and social side instead of criminal justice, criminal justice had more time and resources to give to catch the real criminals. The development of health oriented policies is very important. This issue is not only health and social, it’s housing for example and much more.
Singapore SANA: I’d like to focus my attention on novel psychoactive substances (NPS) – it’s a threat in many countries today. We are seeing an increase in Singapore of people using NPS. An aggressive nation wide campaign needs to be undertaken to reduce the threat of NPS from our society completely.
Angela Me, UNODC: From listening to all statements, one common thread is the important of data collection. Many of you referenced the World Drug Report, which helps us define the problems. The other messages that come out are good and bad news. We’re probably not where we’d like to be, there’s more complexity in drug use, new routes of trafficking, violence related to drug issues, that were not around in 2009. The good news is that progress is possible, and you’ve spoken about the progress you’ve experienced in your countries. Possible in improving treatment, new ways of locating networks, markets that have shrunk, accessibility of drugs for medical use. It is possible to reach those in need. So what for the future? We are rich in opportunities. The drug problem remains a transnational problem – international cooperation remains key. Monitoring needs to continue, monitoring tools need to keep up with complexity. We need a shared body of knowledge.
Chair: I will make a summary of the most salient points of this discussion and present it to the plenary tomorrow afternoon.