Yuri Fedotov, UNODC: Today I am addressing you for the last time. As regular budgetary sources decreased, we were able to rely on your voluntary contribution, which I am sure will continue to allow us to deliver as you expected. We have come to a place of pressure as the whole UN system is experiencing budgetary issues. As for operations, UNODC can deliver on global, regional and country programmes – you remain a clear example of multilateralism in action. The famous spirit of Vienna serves a role model to finding common grounds and develop solutions together. CND colleagues have lost no time after UNGASS and the Ministerial Declaration. I welcome your solid steps; you can always count on UNODC. I hope to see you privately in the next life. Thank you.
Mexico: [Expressions of gratitude towards UNODC’s departing Executive Director].
Colombia: UNODC is an entity that has been of great significance for my country for many years. The breadth and scope of the work undertaken in Colombia is reflected in the size of the office (the largest worldwide). We’ve supported UNODC too, which is why I am most grateful and thank Mr. Fedotov for all the support you provided us in combatting the scourge that has a deep impact on human lives and resources in my country. We continue to work in full alignment to the three Conventions and we work further to progress along the new pillars since UNGASS – with respect to human rights, alternative development, improved monitoring systems, among others. The Ministerial Segment of 2019 clearly states we have to work together to achieve our goals; we have the tools, we have agreements, what we need is political will. Wish you all the best, Mr. Fedotov!
Russia: [Expressions of gratitude towards UNODC’s departing Executive Director]
Pakistan: [Expressions of gratitude towards UNODC’s departing Executive Director]. We will continue to receive guidance. Pakistan is at the frontline of drugs crime and related issues. We appreciate UNODC enhancing its presence and efforts to combat the scourge.
China: We can’t express the depth of our appreciation for Mr. Fedotov. We admire his skills, leadership and all he’s done.
Germany: [Expressions of gratitude towards UNODC’s departing Executive Director] One flagship product that is of high value to my Health Ministry is the UNODC World Drug Report. It is an important evidence base that is a tool of trust.
Australia: We congratulate you on your achievements and remark specifically UNODC’s first gender strategy.
IOGT International: You’ve told me your door is always open and it proved to be true both professionally and personally. We have discussed policy, the involvement of civil society and administrative issues. Thank you, Sir.
Austria: Although the world drug problem is far from solved, you’ve helped us develop strategies that we are sincerely grateful for and hope to carry on with executing the strategies.
European Union: We join the previous speakers expressing our gratitude and appreciation.
[Expressions of gratitude towards UNODC’s departing Executive Director from Sudan, Argentina, Nigeria, Belarus, Italy].
Yuri Fedotov, UNODC: I apologise for disturbing the course of the meeting. I will see a few of you in the next few weeks and various conferences.
Kees De Joncheere, INCB President: [Expressions of gratitude towards UNODC’s departing Executive Director] We highlight the Ministerial Declaration of 2019 and the UNGASS Outcome Document, both centred around the 3 Conventions, and the importance of ensuring the availability of scheduled substances for medical and scientific reasons while preventing their diversion. We are doubling down to work efficiently in this increasingly complex environment. We conducted 50 country missions this year and we appreciate this opportunity to engage with countries. We met with civil society representatives during the missions and here in Vienna – a practice we hope to continue. We have expressed our concern about the global imbalance in the availability of medicines which remains an issue. Through the INCB learning program, we worked on improving the regulatory control and international trade for medical and scientific purposes. With Russia, we just conducted a training for Russian speaking Member States. The e-learning modules are available on demand for national authorities. This is possible through extra budgetary items, which we are grateful for. We also worked on the electronic exchange of trade information. We increased take-up of this free system that eases the paperwork-load. We depend on your active participation and financial support. Our Precursors Incident Communication System (PICS), as well as task forces, help governments monitor international movement of precursors. ION and IONIC system help Member States to address the issue of NPS and the non-medical use of synthetic opioid – we look forward to your continued support in this arena. The community should be proud of their commitment to the Conventions, yet at the same time there have been new developments (such as the legalisation of cannabis for non-medical use, which the Board has expressed their dismay about). Actions in the name of drug control should not violate human rights, we urge the abolishing of capital punishment. Any action violating human rights is also violating the drug control conventions.
Albania: Drug traffickers abuse the local societal and economic conditions while showing no compassion towards human suffering. More open borders and technological developments are taken advantage of by crime groups. Noting with deep concern the effects of this complex phenomena, we increased police activity and cross-sector information sharing, crackdowns on criminal groups and their financial income has increased our detection rates. Also, bilateral and multilateral cooperation have clearly aided our operations. We have air-cargo control unit since this year and coast border management since 2014 that have been duplicated by a number of European countries since. Holistic approaches targeting the most vulnerable are of paramount importance for us. Stepping up international cooperation to crack down on organised crime, more efforts and determination are needed. Albania thanks Mr. Fedotov for his work and wish him well. We also welcome Madame Ghada Fathi Waly.
Chair: Agenda item 8. We considered together with CCPJC yesterday the Consolidated budget for the biennium 2020–2021 for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Now we are considering the amendments to the draft. Before we adopt the draft, I give the floor to the Secretariat.
Secretariat: The amended draft has no implications to the regular budget of this organisation.
Chair: So, if no amendments are needed, I invite the Commission to adopt the budget. We agree, it is so decided. We now go to agenda item 9. We invite the WHO to provide regular and timely recommendations for scheduling new substances. 42nd meeting of its expert committee took place in October to undertake critical reviews of synthetic cannabinoids, stimulants and benzodiazepines. The scheduling recommendations have been sent to state parties for comments. I now give the floor to Gilles Forte of the WHO.
Gilles Forte, WHO: 13 substances were thoroughly reviewed by the ECDD:
- Synthetic cannabinoids: APINACA (AKB-48), AB-FUBINACA, 5F-AMB (5F-AMB-PINACA, 5F-MMB-PINACA), 5F-MDMB-PICA (5F-MDMB-2201), 4-F-MDMB-BINACA (4F-ADB).
- Synthetic stimulants: 4-CMC (4-chloromethcathinone; clefedrone), N-ethylhexedrone (NEH, Hexen, Ethyl-Hex), Alpha-PHP (PV-7, α-pyrrolidinohexanophenone), DOC (2,5-Dimethoxy-4-chloroamfetamine).
- Fentanyl analogues: Crotonylfentanyl, Valerylfentanyl.
- Benzodiazepines: Flualprazolam, Etizolam
WHO is mandated by two conventions to advise the CND on which substances should be controlled and whether the level of control should be changed. We review a number of harmful substances, specifically the risk of abuse and their harm to health, when it is necessary, we review their therapeutic potential as well. We do this based on scientific information. WHO Secretariat provides a large number of information to carry out the critical reviews. We also seek information from MS through a questionnaire. The scope of the recommendations is aimed at protecting health, the objective is to prevent harm and also to make sure substances with possible therapeutic use can be made available when needed. The ECDD will only review and propose scheduling for substances individually and not in groups – as might be the case for some MS. Throughout the las 5 years, the Committee reviewed 60 substances of which about 50 have been scheduled. We reviewed two benzodiazepines, five synthetic cannabinoids, three synthetic cathinone, two fentanyl analogues and one phenethylamine. Synthetic cannabinoids were recommended for scheduling as they were recognised to be associated to fatal intoxications and a cause for fatal car accidents. They have no recognised medical use so under 1971 Schedule 2. Synthetic stimulants mimic already controlled stimulants (amphetamine for example): DOC has similar effects as LSD without veterinary or medical use so we recommend it to be controlled under 1971 Schedule 1; cathinone 4CMC produces MDMA-like effects and have been detected as a variable in road accidents so we recommend it to be scheduled under 1971 Schedule 2. Alpha PHP mimics already controlled stimulants and is recognized in death cases and a cause of impaired driving, as they have no medical use, we recommend it to be controlled under 1971 Schedule 2. Etizolam and Flualpazolam have marketing approval for anxiety disorders but have been involved in fatal incidents and pose a serious risk when combined with opiates, we often find them in overdose cases, we recommend them to be scheduled under 1971 Schedule 4. Preparations of codeine and of similar products category includes 8 substances. It is well evidenced that they have potential use for medical use, in many countries they are available without a prescription. We considered a pre-review of these and found that active substances are opioids that are controlled under Schedule 2 in the 1971 convention. We recommend that a critical review of this preparation to be carried out in future ECDD meetings. Thank you.
INCB: INCB has the responsibility to assess chemicals used in the manufacture of illicit drugs. In this mandate, we submitted a recommendation to the CND about MAPA, a substitute chemical P2P. It started to emerge in late 2017 with the increase of seizures in 2018. The emergence of MAPA is linked to the increased scrutiny of APA/APPAN. This is a designer drug that is purpose-made. MAPA has no legitimate use so it is not traded widely although it is advertised on the darknet. I encourage you to prepare voting on the scheduling this during CND. I encourage you to think about how we address the proliferation of designer chemicals.
UNODC: We experienced a defining moment at the start if this decade with the emergence of NPS. Today, over 110 countries and territories worldwide have been affected. The peak of the problem was in 2015 when at least one new product appeared on the global market each week. 930 unique substances have been reported to UNODC until today. We’ve been able in responding, our tools evolved, our strategies are forward looking and are centred around protecting health. In 2013 we established the early warning advisory – it is a network of over 200 drug testing labs in 90 countries. It has over 21k individual data points. Multidisciplinary resources and analytical information aids us in our work. We’ve built strong partnerships to better understand this phenomenon with law enforcement, forensic institutions, the INCB, WHO, Organization of American States, EMCDDA. We’ve seen a 31% increase in the number of reported synthetic opioids to UNODC. We not only identify the problems; we look for tools to have evidence-based responses; we’ve developed guidelines. The international response will see over 60 substances scheduled by CND – these represent 20% of all substances under international control. At this point, I will comment on the WHO’s recommendations: The 2009 Plan of Action declared that understanding the NPS issue is key in addressing the problem. Implementations of the scheduling decisions, identification and detection of substances and international cooperation in data collection and sharing are our main challenges in effectively responding to the NPS situation. Thank you.
Chair: I open the floor.
China: With regard to item 9: since this year, MS provided comments on two rounds of ECDD recommendations. Cannabis is the most widely available and most abused drug in which THC is the main ingredient that is under strict control internationally. Cannabis may have some potential therapeutic value and effects to counter epilepsy but evaluation by our experts states the evidence is not comprehensive enough and it is not a first line drug. Rescheduling CBD and/or THC will send the wrong message to the public. Recently, with the legalisation of recreational and medical cannabis, we have seen an increased number of cannabis smuggling in China. Some order online, some learn how to grow and attain seeds through illegal channels. We are concerned about the growing number of cannabis abusers. Legalisation is in breach of the Conventions. INCB is suffering financially – sufficient funding is important for them to carry out their function. Thank you.
Russia: We believe that the timely briefing of the CND on ECDD’s work makes it possible for MS to make informed decision on the international scheduling on the most harmful and widespread substances. We continue to examine the recommendations on cannabis – at this stage we are not inclined to give consideration to the one-by-one decisions as the issues are interlinked. During the summer intersessionals, we heard no persuasive arguments in favour of rescheduling cannabis. Many states are looking into the medical application and are stepping up cannabis production. The market for medical cannabis has grown substantially, at the same time as per INCB’s 2018 report, cannabis is not a first line medicine. The World Drug Report tells us cannabis is the most abused drug in the World which indicates it should be subject to strict control. We believe that such a weighty decision can only be taken only on the basis of solid evidence.
Nigeria: The review of control measures must be backed by adequate information and must benefit humanity in line with various conventions to combat the scourge of drugs, especially in protection of youth. We received with interest the ECDD’s recommendation on cannabis. Cannabis is the most abused drug in Nigeria as showcased by a survey we conducted in cooperation with UNODC. Do we have scientific evidence on the consequences of medical use? Negative perception: increase abuse? What will the impact on global laxing of control? Recommendations need further review based on clearer scientific review. Is INCB worried that ECDD made the Cannabis recommendations despite INCB’s report about it not being a first line medication? Is there a guarantee that this decision will not further aggravate the problematic situation? We are on the view that the scientific evidence is not sufficient and so the decision is difficult. We think cannabis should remain scheduled as is with a footnote. CBD and THC are difficult to differentiate by law enforcement on the ground – this loophole is dangerous. We recommend the decision to be put on hold until a sufficient scientific base is presented, field operations assistance is provided specifically CBD&THC, capacity-building for law enforcement is organized and until we resolve the public confusion about schedule categories. We urge INCB and WHO to add Tramadol to the list of controlled substances.
Sudan: We would like to make sure that the scientific research regarding similarity is sound. Cannabis is a major drug of abuse in Sudan. This month, 100 tons of cannabis were burned.
Canada: With regard to the recommendations on NPS, we would like to receive further information as our scientific and legal experts would like to review the supporting documents. We owe it to our citizens to carefully study the ECDD recommendations and review them in their entirety.
WHO: The report will be available end of January, mid-February at the latest.
Gambia: We are determined to strengthen our drug control efforts to address drug abuse particularly among the youth and particularly regarding cannabis. We are strongly against the legalising efforts of cannabis; it is the most dangerous and problematic substance in Gambia.
Indonesia: We take note of the report presented by INCB and ECDD. Indonesia has adopted the three Conventions and our Minister of Health consolidated health regulations, reporting mechanisms and precursor monitoring. We report our annual estimations to INCB. Cannabis is not used for medical purposes and such decisions are not supported by sufficient evidence. The use of Cannabis for recreational purposes is classified as illegal. We are of the view that the application of death penalty does not violate international laws including human rights. Punishing of criminals is not against international law, it is about the application of the rules. It serves as an important deterrence.
Croatia: We created a system that also lists information of NPS. We support all measures by INCB, UNODC, WHO.
Chair: Next agenda item. 63rd session of the CND: 2-6 March, 2020. Reconvened: 2-3 December, 2020. The deadline to submit draft resolutions: noon 3 February 2020. Provisional agenda for the 63rd session: ECOSOC has approved it and if there is no objection, we adopt. So, decided.
As it was decided during the extended bureau meeting on 5th of September and the intersessional in September, Angela Me’s team will now brief us on the improvement of the ARQ.
Angela Me, Chief of the Research and Analysis Branch, UNODC: To summarise the last two year, we had expert groups, online consultations and a pilot exercise. We had 84 countries participating in these activities with diverse geographical representation. The draft ARQ was sent to MS with positive feedback: over 80% were clear on all items, availability of items was satisfactory too. We plan to have the new ARQ fully translated by the end of January. It will be submitted as a conference room paper to next CND.
Chair: Floor is open for questions.
Russia: Thank you to the Research and Analytical branch of the UNODC for their work on the ARQ. The new version will require further attention on the national level. At this stage, before the official adoption, it is important to make sure the new format is understandable for those completing the ARQ. The goal was to increase reporting rather than to complicate the entire process, so we have further comments and recommendations. It is vital that ARQ covers all commitments undertaken since 2009. It is crucial that states are provided with technical support to complete the ARQ to build analysis potential. We would like the questionnaire translated to all UN languages as soon as possible so that we can acquaint ourselves with it prior to the March session.
Mexico: My delegation was one of those that raised this ARQ issue so I would like to express our gratitude to Ms. Me and her team.
Iran: I have a question of clarification. Updated ARQ should be submitted for translation – by the end of January, will this new ARQ be available for MS to review?
Argentina: In this context, we have been discussing the need for accurate data in line with our work. We participated in the pilot project and contributed national expertise. We are interested and grateful.
European Union: In the Ministerial Declaration, we committed to improving our data. We requested the UNODC to conduct expert level consultations to improve ARQ and submit it for the 63rd session. The organization has been successful. We thank the UNODC for their work on this challenging task. We need a realistic and comprehensive view including the legal responses, proportionality, respect to human dignity and human rights. Sufficient monitoring systems are essential to deliver our joint commitments. The EU and its MS are committed and are actively engaged in this ongoing process.
Angela Me, Chief of the Research and Analysis Branch, UNODC: I would like to reiterate that the ARQ reflects all the suggestions made by national experts from various capacities. We are confident that we are giving CND the best tools. Then of course it is up to you to assess what we give you is good enough. We fully understand the importance of translations so I would like to thank conference services for their amazing work on this. I also thank you for recognising our immense work, I will report your appreciation back to my team.
Canada: Regarding a previous agenda item – will there be an intersessional in Q1 2020?
Secretary: As per practice, the 63rd session will be opened immediately after the closure of the 62nd and then the Secretary will be liaising with the incoming chair regarding the roadmap to March. There is usually a need of at least one session before March so we will see how we can best organize that with the new chair.
Iran: I would like to clarify that by the end of January the translated ARQ will be shared?
Angela Me, Chief of the Research and Analysis Branch, UNODC: Yes.
Chair: Next agenda item: adoption of the report on the reconvened 62nd session. Are we agreeable? It is so decided.
Nigeria: I’ve just arrived from Nigeria and the Africa group gave me this statement that my national capacity is fully aligned with. We congratulate you on the successful conclusion of your chairmanship.
Chair: One more matter we have to attend to today which is the election of the new bureau for the 63rd session. Rule 15 guides us to elect our next Chair, 3 Vice Chairs and a Rapporteur based on the rotating of the offices and regional groups. Chair from the Asia Pacific group: Pakistan. I invite the new chair to take his place and conduct the rest of the appointments.
This brings me to then end of my 62nd session of CND. Congratulations to Mr. Fedotov for his work and welcome Madame Wally. Gratitude to the Africa group for their support during my chairmanship. Thank you everyone.
Chair (Pakistan): Thank you for your trust in me and my country for this position.
1st Vice Chair from the Easter European states: Poland,
2nd Vice Chair from the Western and other states: Belgium,
3rd Vice Chair from the Latin American and Caribbean states: Chile,
Rapporteur from the African group: I ask the chair of the group to inform us when you can put forward a nomination.
Namibia: We don’t have nominations at the moment, but consultations are undergoing.
Chair: Provide us with the nomination as soon as possible so we can conclude the nomination at the opening of the 63rd session. Let us adopt the officers by acclamation. It is so decided.
I count on your support for what is shaping up to be a busy period. The chairs of regional and other groups will assist me with organisational matters – this will constitute the extended bureau together with the Officers.
Source of featured photo: UN CND