Plenary – Agenda item 3: General Debate (continued)

Ghana: Since the onset of the pandemic, especially since the second Q of 2020, we have observed an exploitation of the maritime industry for smuggling larger quantities of scheduled substances. The Narcotics control Commission under the Ministry of Ghana observed dangers on the darkweb, social media and home delivery increasing. We have recorded a total of 22 seizures via courier services 7tons of cannabis by sea. Ananas haze, Banana Kush, Berry White, Blizzful Wizard, Kandyland, Cinderella99, DeathStar, etc emergence has been observed. Increase collab and increase shared responsibility.

Brazil: The full text of my intervention will be uploaded to the CND website – this is a shortened version. Threats require international collaboration and finding solutions to this problem is reflected in our work at CND. Promoting measures to HIV for women who use drugs, increasing access. A set of draft resolutions Brazil is cosponsoring – these address social impacts od the drug problem that have been exacerbated during the pandemic. I thank you for your leadership. I would like to mention that we just concluded a side event on innovations in Brazilian drug policy. We reviewed domestic novelties, for example pres. Bolsonaro’s laws are accompanied by resolutions – both the law and policy convey a strong stance against any flexibility in the control. We work with community-based services and rehabilitation centers. We are carrying out a population based epidemiological survey so we make sure we are backed by scientific evidence. We benefitted on the management of seized assets (?) Drug lords is the most efficient strategy in the fight against this crime. We have sold thousands of seized items in public auctions that included diamonds, vehicles etc. and the revenue 27million USD in 2019 has been allocated to the national anti-drug fund. We are an active partner of programs and initiatives across borders. Our political commitment and engagement with CND has inspired our decision to join the CND for the 2022-2025 term.

Palestine (?): We are still struggling. It is important to us to curve the scourge. We need more cooperation. We are committed to adopting a balanced approach, we are evaluating our strategies and social and community partnerships in order to provide the best services possible. We fully shoulder our moral responsibilities to protect our people. We are willing to share all necessary information and are looking for support from fellow members of the commission. We need capacity building and technical assistance [among others]. We thank UNODC and reiterate our commitment to the CND and all that has been said on behalf of the group of 77 + China.

Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent: Although Black and non-Black communities all over the world possess, use, sell, traffic, and access the drug economy at similar rates, the War on Drugs has always targeted People of African descent. Globally, the war on drugs has disregarded the massive costs to the dignity, humanity & freedom of people of African descent, despite compelling evidence that it has succeeded better as a means of racial surveillance and control than as a mechanism to curb the use and sale of narcotics, which has only grown dramatically in the nearly half century since the War on Drugs began. The Counter-narcotics economy, in which many of us take part, has thrived on the backs of Black people, depriving generations of opportunity, family, and future. This casual exploitation is familiar to students of history who understand the “social construction of race” began with the need to rationalize the exploitation and disposability of Africans for profit and power. The legacy mindsets of these historical atrocities persist today – the atrocities referred to are colonialism and the trade and trafficking of enslaved Africans. In January 2021, a study showed an increase in opioid overdoses during COVID, and likely disproportionate affect on Black people because of ongoing racial disparities in mortality and morbidity, less access to naloxone, and other factors. In reality, structural racism plays out predictably in COVID as in any other crisis that puts our priorities in stark focus. However, in response to COVID-19, some public health and occupational safety concerns have actually transformed some drug policies and enforcement.  Some judges reconsidering carceral sentences + policies and awarding humanitarian release for certain individuals. But Others do not…. Covid-19 exacerbated prison overcrowding problem (20% of 11 million prison population of the world are detained for drug related offences- disproportionately, in many countries, the vast majority of them are the people of African Descent). This is a moment of Opportunity – and we should see it as such and center our goals and efforts in that direction. This is a moment of opportunity to end the War on Drugs. We understand this ineffective “war” is really the continued systematic racism in drug law enforcement- which continued during the pandemic, an ongoing lack of harm reduction services for people who use drugs and more.  In some states, drug policy reform plans have been announced in 2021, which is a good sign.  But the international community should step up to its responsibility here – perhaps in ways it has failed to do during the COVID pandemic generally. It is time to change the narrative, end a war on drugs that has only expanded the presence and harms of drugs, and to explicitly demand an end to drug policies that have a disparate focus and impact on People of African Descent.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: The Secretary-general recognizes the vulnerability of people who use drugs during this pandemic. Treatment and harm reduction should continue to be provided. Drug policy is a significant […] Release of prisoners, including those held for drug-related charges. In addition to contributing to prison overcrowding, drug sentences tend to be disproportionate and hinder access to services. Releasing an unprecedented number of people, hoping it will lead to reform post-COVID. Call on Member States to stop using death penalty for crimes, including drugs. Contribute to achievement of Agenda 2030. Human Rights Office ready to work to support Member States in implementation of guidelines on Human Rights and drug policy

UNAIDS: 40 years since first case of HIV, progress towards a world free of AIDS by 2030 was already under threat before the pandemic, this is further throwing us off course. Community-led service delivery is helping to overcome extraordinary challenges. New UNAIDS strategy calls to scale up comprehensive harm reduction in all settings. Well established in scientific literature. Public health approach is critical to providing prevention of new HIV infections and encourage adherence. Let me reiterate. Harm reduction works. Harm reduction saves lives. Wish to reiterate commitment to supporting community-led responses. They need political, technical and financial support. Facilitated successful modes of HIV service delivery, including key population-led services that bridge gaps of traditional service provision, including needle and syringe programs, antiretroviral treatment, etc.

WHO: Prioritizing protection, universal health coverage to access controlled medicines. Ensuring equitable access to safe and effective medications is a challenge, particularly in low- and middle income countries, especially during COVID. People with drug use disorders are at great risk of covid and – prioritize their treatment and care, including vaccination. Results of WHO report […] Innovative approaches in service provision coming from the pandemic have potential to improve service provision, such as take-home. Help universal health coverage once the pandemic is over. WHO will continue to work on health consequences of drug use. We must advance public health approach in line with Agenda 2030 and UNGASS 2016.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address the Commission today on behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent. People who use drugs continue to be among the most vulnerable and marginalized groups and it’s dramatic that in the world: – Only 1 out of 8 who need drug treatment, receive it. – People in prison settings, minorities, immigrants and displaced people face further barriers to treatment and multiple discriminations due to stigma. Their situation has further exacerbated due to the current pandemic, which risk to become the perfect excuse to avoid the treatment for people who use drugs. For a very long time, we have been calling for a more humane approach to address the issue—and not on punishment of people who use drugs, but based on support, access to care and treatment. This call is guided by a strong sense of humanity and well-documented evidence. RCRC, led by our Partnership on Substance Abuse, developed the Rome Consensus for a Humanitarian Drug Policy, back in 2005 and re-launched in 2020. These initiatives enable different stakeholders to promote and implement a humanitarian response to drug use. It lays out the health principles and best practices in drug policy responses, promoting a person-centered approach. In order to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC), we need to ensure that no one is left behind. People who use drugs are some of the first to be left behind. Evidence-based approaches must be at the heart of balanced solutionsto drug demand and supply. This is more important than ever, as illicit drug challenges become increasingly complex, and the COVID-19 crisis and economic downturn threaten to worsen their impacts, on the poor, marginalized and vulnerable most of all1 . IFRC is ready to continue working together to protect the lives of those in need. We must ensure full access to services and human dignity to people who use drugs, that are shunned and excluded from the society and ultimately moving them out of harm’s way. Thank you. Massimo Barra

Sovereign order of Malta: We have diplomatic relations with over 100 states and an observer status at the UNODC. We have a specific mission in the protection of health and people who are affected by disease or suffering. We support several projects in this effort. We show engagement to future generations by engaging with the Youth Forum. Substance use impact everyone, particularly young people. It is rightly so high in the global political agenda. We must strengthen prevention and treatment – based in science, we can support young people to grow in health and safety especially in this challenging time. We continue to work on the development of young people, we are proud to support the youth initiative of the UNODC. We are looking forward to seeing it further grow by creating and supporting sustainable environments not just for youth but together with youth. we support a stronger link between youth and policy makers.

CICAD: We are experiencing highly exceptional times with unprecedented challenges in health and social life as well as our economies. Drug trafficking continues to threaten the stability of our region. Drug syndicates were quick to adapt and this pandemic has shown the pressing need to implement public policies that better protect the individual’s health, safety and rights. We reiterate our commitments and have created the Hemispheric Drug Strategy and Plan of Action 2021-2015. It is a basic reference document with clear priorities and practices set out. It is a political compromise that establishes guidelines with full respect to human rights, gender and cultural considerations in order to provide a comprehensive and coordinated response. We enjoy a strong cooperation with many international organizations such as the UNODC for safer and prosperous communities.

SCO: Helping to promote solutions has been a priority for us. We are one of the most important regional organizations. We declare our firm intention to preserve and strengthen the existing drug control system, based on the conventions and we reaffirm our commitment to 2008, 2016 and 2019 policy documents and the CND itself. We support the efforts of the INCB and underscore our commitment to combat the World Drug Problem by promoting a society that is free of drug abuse so all people can enjoy health and security. We oppose the relaxation of laws around any psychoactive substance without apt scientific evidence, ie the legalization of nonmedical purposes. Our common and shared responsibility is also to tackle the illicit production of NPS, including those not currently under government control. The current drug situation in Afghanistan […] we call on other states for cooperation to response to the global drug threat.

INTERPOL: The world supply of drugs is more abundant, sophisticated and diverse than it has ever been, not hindered by COVID in any significant way. Affected traffickers and mules but they quickly adapted. Trafficking by post, mail and express couriers has exploded, services targeted to transport bigger quantities, like cocaine seized recently at European ports. Capable of transporting huge amounts without detection. INTERPOL supports its Member States to its highest level. Investigation support teams deployed. Operational and analytical supported case collaboration. Provided training and access to database enabling tracing and origin of seized drugs. Covid-related information was shared. Two regional operations in Africa and the Middle East took place, affecting nearly 50 countries. It’s a learning process to adapt to new reality. We must stand as one against trafficking. Public-private partnerships are important and the way outlined in UNGASS.

Senegal: [technical issues]

World Federation Against Drugs: My name is Regina Mattsson and I represent WFAD, an umbrella organisation of NGOs and individuals from across the globe who are united behind the Conventions being celebrated this year. With over 300 member organisations in almost 60 countries, our aim is to strengthen prevention, increase access to treatment, and to promote recovery. In March 2016, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs declared its commitment to advancing gender sensitive policies, and thus released an issue on women and drugs in the World Drug Report (2 years later). The report showed clear facts: women face more stigmatisation, experience more violence, and are less likely to receive treatment than their male counterparts. The list goes on. When we met in Vienna last year, right before the world went on lockdown, we organised a side-event about the need to break down barriers that women face in accessing relevant interventions. Our mission remains clear, and in the context of the pandemic, this mission is even more urgent than before. We have long known that crises exacerbate gender disparities and disproportionately affect women’s health, and COVID-19 is no exception. As the pandemic continues to rage unabated, a ‘Shadow pandemic’ of violence against women and children has emerged. And while alcohol, drug use and violence are all increasing, health care services, civil society, and emergency units are reaching their breaking points. In the background of this Shadow pandemic stand all those women who are suffering from violence, many of them simultaneously experiencing – and battling – addiction. Yet despite the crisis and urgent needs posed by the pandemic – and the resultant increasing rates of violence and addiction, women still face tremendous barriers and stigmatisation hindering access to needed services, including that of treatment and recovery. As made clear in the World Drug Report 2018, violence is a contributing factor to substance use. Childhood adversity, abuse and/or sexual assaults in childhood or adulthood are all common denominators among women who use drugs. To support women, children, and youth in our field – and to prevent large groups from developing addiction as a consequence of the violence brought about by Covid-19, it is imperative that we address both problems in a comprehensive way, focusing not only on the determinants of addiction, but also on those of violence. I would like to end by reiterating the importance of prevention and your obligation to protect children as stipulated in the Convention of the rights of the child. And the need to break the barriers that hinder women from accessing and adhering to addiction services, while highlighting the urgency to offer gender sensitive, trauma informed, interventions. Distinguished delegates, I ask you to fulfil your commitment to advancing gender sensitive policies in all areas – and on this Anniversary of the 1961 and 1971 Conventions, I ask you to fulfil your obligations to these conventions while integrating the articles of the CRC and CEDAW in your strategies. Thank you for your time!

International Drug Policy Consortium – IDPC: This statement is made on behalf of the International Drug Policy Consortium, a global network of NGOs that come together to promote drug policies that advance social justice and human rights. 2021 marks the 5-year anniversary of the UNGASS. For the occasion, IDPC is launching a new report today entitled: ‘Taking stock of half a decade of drug policy: An evaluation of UNGASS implementation’. Using data from the UN, academia, civil society and the community, our research shows that progress has undeniably been made towards the implementation of the UNGASS Outcome Document, especially in UN agency collaboration, with the adoption of the UN System Common Position on drugs. The shift in rhetoric towards human rights, public health and development is also to be applauded. At the national level, various countries have improved access to harm reduction, controlled medicines, and alternatives to punishment. However, these positive reforms have not been able to counterbalance the lack of progress made in other countries and aspects of drug control.

  • Billions of people remain without access to controlled medicines.
  • People who use drugs continue to be criminalised in 85% of countries around the world driving stigma and discrimination, and creating a serious structural barrier to harm reduction and treatment services.
  • As a result, 585,000 preventable drug use-related deaths were recorded in 2017. This represents a life lost every 54 seconds.
  • Disproportionate and unjustly harsh penalties for drug offences fuel arbitrary detention, mass incarceration and prison overcrowding.
  • 5 million people are in prison for a drug offence.
  • Hundreds of thousands more people are detained against their will in compulsory detention centres and private rehab clinics.
  • At least 3000 people remain on death row for a drug offence, while people suspected of drug offences are victims of racial profiling, gender-based violence and extrajudicial killings.
  • Subsistence farmers of crops like coca or cannabis are subject to violent forced eradication campaigns that deprive them and their families of their livelihoods.
  • In parallel, civil society space has become increasingly restricted at both national and international levels.

This bleak picture highlights the urgent need for reforms to address, and redress, the ongoing harms caused by punitive drug control. There is still much work to be done to fulfil the important commitments made at the 2016 UNGASS. As member states have gathered today to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 1961 Single Convention, it is increasingly clear that we cannot wait for another 60 years to truly align drug policies with health, human rights and development. Thank you very much for your attention.

Fazaldad Human Rights Institute: We are a civil socety organization of Pakistan working on drug prevention. Crisis worse than previously thought. Covid restriction measures and economic downturn compounded drug dangers. Pritority in funding to fight drug problem. Rising violence against women, lack of economic opportunity. Caused shortage of drugs on streets, could lead to long term shift to cheaper and more harmful drugs. Pakistan is located at one of the busiest trafficking corridors. 130 millions of population at risk under 30, it is our priority to keep young population away from drugs. All governments need to show more solidarity with developing countries especially. Recommended to regulate {…] explicitly influencing the vulnerable youth. We are accountable. We need to take action now for a better future.

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