Committee of the Whole – Day 1

The Committee of the Whole (COW) sat at the CND today to consider state sponsored resolutions. The COW is the CND forum where states debate and agree the language of the proposed resolutions.

The first and only resolution (partially) considered this afternoon was that of Namibia, and supported by the Africa Group, on ‘promoting international cooperation in combating trafficking in drugs, especially the use of women and girls as couriers’.

The discussion, which remains to be finalised, began with whether or not the resolution should be restricted to the role of women as couriers or expanded to their roles as users, producers, manufacturers, and traffickers, more generally – this remains to be finalised.

The discussion then moved on to whether ‘women and girls’, the original focus of the draft resolution, should be amended to be women and children, or women, alongside men – again, this remains to be finalised and those countries who have tabled the resolution are unwilling at this stage to broaden this out because of the particular vulnerability of women and girls, not least those who are pregnant, to being exploited.

The discussion then moved on to whether asking the UNODC to carry out scientific research and collect information and statistical data on the various drug trafficking activities in which women are involved at the local and international levels and the underlying causes for such conduct and the threats posed by such activities to society was something that would result in budgetary implications. The secretariat was insistent that the money for such research could only derive from more donations to the UNODC rather than it be reallocated from other projects within the general budget of the UNODC. This caused concern amongst some countries as they understood the mandate of the UNODC to be the mandate that it was given by member states. there may be an opportunity, if this work plan is put off for a number of years, for the funds to come out of the general budget, but this debate, which extended almost an hour after the end of the allotted time, is yet to be continued. Another issue that arose from the USA was the unwillingness to mandate unodc to collect information from non-prosecutorial, non-state actors, if member states were not forthcoming as they stated they did not consider such information to be reliable or empirical.

The debate in the COW continues tomorrow.

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