Plenary: Item 7. Inter-agency cooperation and coordination of efforts in addressing and countering the world drug problem

Chair: …Co-operation also takes place among inter-governmental bodies. The Commission seeks to strengthen horizontal cooperation. More information on this matter is contained in the conference paper E/CN7/2020/CRP-5, providing an overview of inter-agency cooperation of efforts. The Commission also has a note by the Secretariat on promoting coordination and alignment of decisions by the INCB, and the programme on HIV/AIDs, E/CN7/2020/7. With these opening remarks I open the floor for statements.

European Union: Republic of North Macdedonia, Norway, Moldova, Georgia, San Marino and others align themselves with our statement. Last year we committed to accelerate our actions to counter the world drug problem. Inter-agency cooperation is essential to this. We are committed to address the world drug problem in a way which focuses on a broad range of policy issues; we will continue to focus on health and harm reduction, treatment, rehabilitation, social reintegration and recovery. We need to guarantee that drugs policies respect human rights, as well as alternative measures to coercive sanctions. A strong link needs to be made with the SDGs. We need to continue to implement supply reduction measures, including countering money laundering, alternative development, and effective law enforcement.

We support the role of the Committee, and the UNODC, in addressing the world drug situation. However, we need to focus on the expertise of other UN entities and organisations, too, including UNAIDs, UNDP, OHCHR, UN Women, WHO and others. It is therefore crucial to ensure engagement with these. For this reason, the EU support the new Common Position on drugs and the UN Task Team in charge of its implementation. We believe that inter-agency cooperation and coordination is essential. Synergies between WHO/INCB and others are essential in providing technical guidance and assistance to countering barriers. Collaboration with UNODC and UNOHCHR is essential to ensure dignity and respect for those who use drugs in all aspects of drugs and social policies. Alternative development: coordination with UNDP is necessary to give a coherent response to the challenge of illicit crops while facilitating development. Inter-agency collaboration is key to rebalancing the public health and human rights dimension of the world drug problem.

Jamaica: The Outcome Document of the 2016 special session calls for a dynamic approach to the world drug problem, and a well-joined up approach in countering the scourge of the world drug problem. We welcome the efforts of the UN Task Force, this work is of particular importance for Jamaica. Jamaica is also encouraged by the UNODC, WHO for work in access to controlled substances, particularly for hospice and palliative care. This presently remains woefully inadequate. We urge the UNODC, INCB to carry out their vital work and strengthen partnerships where possible. Jamaica has benefited greatly from initiatives helping us secure our border from illicit trade in drugs. We recognise the complexities of the world drug problem, we firmly believe that making further progress is contingent on the CND/UNODC’s ability to cooperate with other agencies and strategically position itself within the UN system.

South Africa: Countering the world drug problem requires closer inter-agency cooperation and coordination of efforts. The 2019 Ministerial Declaration will further assist member States in strengthening policy coordination, strategy formulation, research and capacity building, with a view to promoting awareness to tackle this scourge. The increased abundance, diversity of the illicit drug trade is at an unprecedented level, compounded by evolution of the drug markets, categorised by controlled prescription medicines and new drugs. There are criminals exploiting social media and online markets, cryptocurrencies. Both foreign and domestic criminal groups constitute a significant threat to public health, national security and economic stimulant of our country. The latest trend is illicit production and abuse in poly-substances. In 2019, we detected several poly-drug laboratories. These groups are active in major urban centres throughout South Africa. In recent years, several shipments of a precursor, not presently controlled, were intercepted. We appreciate the INCB who issued a global alert to sensitive countries on this precursor. Between April and December 2019, we have seized illicit drugs worth $26 million. Tackling illicit drugs, organised crime and gang-related activities remain an apex opportunity for this government. We work collaboratively with other agencies, regionally and internationally to protect our organisations. Regionally and internationally, SA places a high premium on fostering collaboration. During 2019 and 2020, we participated in the multi-lateral forum in Zambia. We also participated in other conferences. During September 2019, we hosted the INTERPOL illicit drugs conference.

Chile: One of the steps made forward in controlling the supply of drugs was the creation of the drugs ministry in our country of a report on trends, with a qualitative approach – this allows reliable information on drugs trafficking in Chile. Through this instrument, during 2018 we detected a significant increase in the trafficking of synthetic drugs, including by sea, with our ports identified as a platform to transport drugs to other continents. Both phenomenons are of concern to us. Overcoming the view that reduces the problem between producer and consumer countries. The drug problem is not a local problem – it is a transnational problem, dynamic and governed by laws of the market. Inspired by common and shared responsibility we have sourced new solutions. … We are promoting the establishment of criminal investigation teams, including one with Colombia and Ecuador. Promoting such actions can only have benefits for dismantling transnational criminal organisations, which act in a coordinated manner in all our countries.

Ukraine: Thank you. We have all heard as a child the expression on what is good and what is wrong. Everyone among us teaches their own children the same values. We are establishing a simple concept in the compliance with the law. Since childhood, it establishes certain red lines which cannot be crossed by default. For this reason, when confronted with criminals, we cannot always stop the activities. Criminals benefit from our lack of creativity. That is why they are using communication platforms for accomplishing the criminal attention. Geniuses who created these platforms sold globally in their dreams. They came up with a machine covering hundreds of Kms per second – they give people opportunity to communicate regardless of distance. This made it possible to fall in love, to start families and start a business. However, criminals have blurred this dream that people all over the world, by chasing and selling death. Drug addiction is a pain. Grief and tears. Broken families. Unhappy children. Powerless parents. There is no morality, red lines or patience for those who have taken responsiblity to trade death. Therefore, I want to appeal to those who own social media networks that are used by criminals to sell drugs: our future is in our hands. You cannot allow to stain your dreams with blood of drug addicts and grief of loved ones. We proposed to enhance cooperation between international law enforcement and agencies of member states and request a joint meeting with officials of social networking groups, to discuss further effective collaboration – once and for all to solve this serious and global problem. Then we can say we have learned a lesson from our parents on what is good and what is wrong.

Uganda: We commend the collaborative efforts of the UNODC. For obvious reasons, Uganda has adopted the same approach to address the world drug problem. We have several agencies – governmental and private – to combat the world drug problem. Through such collaborative efforts, we have been able to revise, review and strengthen the policy and legal framework in Uganda: we have an advocacy framework which intends to remove barriers to HIV prevention and care, and medically assisted therapy programmes. We have national guidelines for therapy for people who use drugs, and harm reduction, we have the narcotics drugs act, and are setting up treatment centres for therapy in different health centres. Through collaboration with the Minister for Health and Palliative Care Association, we have improved access for those who need it – without exposing the drug to abuse. This has been a great advantage and move to people who need morphine. Civil society groups have increased efforts to skill the youths to provide an alternative way of life and discourage them to use drugs. We harness the different strengths and resources we have at different levels to improve our efforts, to counter the world drug problem.

USA: We remain committed to following up on all our efforts, in line with the 2019 Ministerial Declaration. We focus particularly on the practical implementation of operational recommendations in the UNGASS Outcome Document. To make our work in addressing the world drug problem effective, we much leverage knowledge and experience through enhanced cooperation. CND Resolution 60/6 provides us with a guide for enhancing such coordination, while respecting each agency’s respective mandates and treaty-mandated roles. We affirm that the CND, in its leading role, remains responsiblity for engaging with specialised UN agencies within their respective mandates. Let us be clear: the inter-agency cooperation called for in the resolution intends to support the efforts of international drug control policy – it does not give up power to Task Teams or other agencies. We must use every tool available to us to implement the UN treaties within the mandates established by member States. For example, we were pleased to associate in a stakeholders opioids meeting. These discussions were enriched by UNODC participation, as well as other organisations including the INCB and WHO. This meeting not only provided MSs with a better understanding of the challenges posed by synthetic drugs, but provided a path for the future. While this originated with an event on synthetic opioids, its outcome assisted in allow states to address the issue. Practical stories like this one is why CND is unique and Vienna must continue to operate its role as the prime organisation responsible for drug policy in these areas.

Republic of Korea: the Korean government recognises the importance of inter-agency cooperation, as highlighted in the 2019 ministerial declaration and 2016 outcome document. The government has been encouraged to cooperate with UN agencies, including the UNODC, INCB and WHO. We have shared information with UN entities, and joining activities organised by UN entities. We appreciate the Global SMART programme organised by the UNODC and the INCB online mechanisms, as well as the activities they organise. We have worked closely with the UNODC and INCB, including organising a regional anti-drug meeting of law enforcement officials. It has been lauded as being very important. To ensure inter-agency cooperation and coordination of efforts, UNODC has been playing a key role at regional level by organising the regional law enforcement officials meeting known as HONLEA. The next regional meeting will be held in Korea.

Switzerland: we wish to reiterate the importance of inter-agency cooperation – this is the only way to grapple with the world drug problem. That’s why we need to cooperate with UN agencies including the UNDOC, WHO and OHCHR, and try to bring other UN agencies on board. We encourage the UNODC to assist with this, including with the Task Team. It is essential to approach the world drug problem from different angles, including human rights, public health and the sustainable development goals. All have responsibility to do this. Drug policy is one of the tools to implement our commitments. In terms of human rights and the UN Common Position, the government is working with the GDPO and other CSOs. The right to life and health is one of the fundamental rights. It holds sway over all human beings. We welcome the entry into official duties of the liaison officer between the UNODC and WHO in Geneva. This should strengthen consistency between the offices and better meet the challenges of public health in meeting the world drug problem, which can only be resolved with a holistic approach with joint agencies. That’s why we need to strengthen cooperation between UN agencies on this issue – we suggest this become a permanent item on the agenda of the CND and invite the Task Team to provide inputs.

IDPC:

Thank you Mr Chair. Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. The International Drug Policy Consortium, a global network of more than 190 NGOs, welcomes the “UN System Common Position supporting the implementation of the international drug control policy through effective inter-agency collaboration” and the establishment of the UN system coordination task team within the framework of the Secretary General’s Executive Committee.
Together with the Transnational Institute we have published a briefing paper (copies available here on the NGO table) that reconstructs the history of the UN Common Position and the decades long efforts to improve UN system-wide coherence on this complex issue.

In our briefing paper, we address some of the misconceptions about the nature of the UN Common Position and clarify the mandates and responsibilities of the specialized drug control entities vis-à-vis the rest of the UN system. Some Member States have expressed concerns that the UN Common Position may undermine the primary role of the CND as the UN policymaking body, and that the Task Team creates a parallel mechanism that infringes on the leading roles of the INCB and UNODC within the UN drug control system, and for those reasons have objected to the inclusion of references in resolutions.

In our view, the Common Position and the Task Team are not a parallel mechanism nor do they undermine the Vienna mandates, instead they represent a necessary and long-overdue correction, which aims to bring the Vienna-based drug control entities and the rest of the UN family into alignment. The ‘leading role’ of the Vienna entities was never meant to become a silo, it was explicitly meant to be a coordinating role in close collaboration with other UN agencies and governing bodies. After several previous attempts to enhance system-wide coherence over the past decades, the siloed culture that has grown over time here in Vienna needed to be rectified.

In many ways the 2016 UNGASS set the stage for the UN System Common Position: – The General Assembly, in its resolution 69/201, provided all UN entities and specialized agencies with a clear mandate to fully contribute to the UNGASS process. – The 2016 UNGASS thus provided an opportunity to broaden the debate by including UN organisations that approach drugs issues from health, sustainable development, human rights, and peace building perspectives, and to promote system-wide coherence with respect to global drug control strategies.

The UN system common position on drug policy, adopted in November 2018 by the Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), is also a response to structural UNreform efforts and the adoption of the SDGs as a new global overarching framework,  which required a more coordinated strategy for the whole UN system. From the UN’s inception, Member States recognized that discrepancies within the UN system could appear. To reduce this risk, in 1946 ECOSOC mandated the Secretary General to establish a coordination mechanism.

Over time, discrepancies between certain drug control practices and the over-arching aims of health promotion, social justice, sustainable development, human rights protection and peacebuilding have become more apparent. Some of those contradictions are rooted in incompatible objectives between the UN drug control system and the UN human rights regime. This recognition was the foundation for the Secretary-General and the CEB to take measures to address the lack of coherence. Furthermore, the Common Position is based on a strong mandate given by General Assembly to the CEB and the Secretary General to improve system-wide coherence, and incorporates many elements from the 2016 UNGASS, the SDG framework and
human rights instruments that have all been adopted by member states. The Common Position uses predominantly uses language that has previously been agreed by Member States and only in a very few paragraphs goes beyond ‘agreed CND language’, especially where it refers to harm reduction and decriminalisation.

This is for obvious reasons: as the Common Position is not a politically negotiated document but reflects language commonly used by UN entities.The UN Common Position and the Task Team are hard-won achievements that  provide unprecedented authoritative guidance for UN entities and can help guide the
current drug control system into the 21 st century, on the ground through the new resident coordinator system and at the global level to overcome the siloed approach.

The Task Team can play a pivotal role to improve effective inter-agency collaboration and coordinated data collection from all relevant UN agencies to promote scientific, evidence-based implementation of international commitments. We call on Member States to actively support the work of the Task Team, ensure references to it in resolutions and promote that drug-related issues continue to appear on the agenda of other UN forums, including the General Assembly, ECOSOC, the World Health Assembly and the Human Rights Council, and ensure that all relevant UN entities—including UNODC—actively promote the UN Common Position.

Secretary: Satisfaction surveys have been distributed through pigeon-holes. While I am speaking I’m also informed that there are informal consultations on L4 at 15.00 in M4.

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