After a series of informal meetings taking place throughout January and February, a new inter-sessional meeting took place on 27th February to continue negotiating the Joint Ministerial Statement.
The drawing of lots
The day started with the “drawing of the lots” for the High Level Segment, which aims to determine in which order the member state delegates will get to address the Plenary session.
The agendas of the High Level Segment and CND
The CND Secretariat discussed the three roundtables that will take place during the High Level Segment. These will be on demand reduction, supply reduction and money laundering. Member states were able to request seats for each of the roundtables. A panel discussion (new format) was also announced to take place on Tuesday 18th March, when the CND Plenary will split into two panels – one of which on scheduling of substances, the other on the preparations for the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs.
There are now 12 draft resolutions that will be discussed at CND, including the Chair’s proposed resolution on the 2016 UNGASS. Further informal consultations on this draft resolution were held on Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4thMarch.
The Netherlands have tabled a proposal to downgrade dronabinol from Schedule II to Schedule III of the 1971 Convention. If there is an agreement among member states to take a vote on this decision, the Netherlands will then require 35 member states to vote in favour for the decision to be accepted. The other scheduling item was tabled by the UK, which has called for mephedrone to be provisionally scheduled as per Article 2, paragraph 3 of the 1971 Convention. This would not require an active decision of the CND but would rather encourage countries to schedule mephedrone at the national level.
Negotiations on the Joint Ministerial Statement
The Chair noted that there had been a large number of extensive and intense negotiations in informal meetings and hoped that they were nearing a final agreed text. He invited the facilitators of the informal clusters (created to negotiate problematic paragraphs in the Statement) to update the plenary on the status of the paragraphs that had been discussed.
The issue of harm reduction was debated at length at informal meetings, in a cluster chaired by Belgium. The consensus language was proposed in Plenary, but Russia stated that they could not accept it. The Chair agreed to leave these for later. However, during the following discussion on the Paris Pact, the Netherlands declared that they would block the mention of the Paris Pact in the Statement if Russia continued to block the consensus on harm reduction. The following text was finally agreed:
Encourage Member States in conformity with the three international drug control conventions fundamental principles of their domestic legal systems and national legislation, to consider providing as appropriate measures aimed at minimizing the negative public health and social impacts of drug abuse that are outlined in the WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS Technical Guide and also encourage, where appropriate, bilateral, regional, international cooperation to address this challenge.
Recognizes that drug addiction is a health problem, and that many Member States have adopted national drug strategies with drug demand reduction components that include primary prevention, early intervention, treatment, care, rehabilitation, recovery, and social reintegration measures and related support services/risk and harm reduction, as well as measures aimed at minimizing the public health and social consequences of drug abuse, in accordance with national legislation and the three international drug control conventions, and to monitor and research the drug situation, and encourage Member States that have not yet done so to consider development, adoption and effective implementation of such strategies in accordance with national policies, legislation, as well as their timely evaluation, review and strengthening, as appropriate.
However, at the end of the day, Iran reneged on the agreement and questioned the incorporated language, which was based on the language agreed in 1998. The negotiations are likely to continue on these paragraphs in future meetings.
Another contention point related to Mexico’s inclusion in the Statement of the phrase: “Taking note of the debate”. Following the lack of agreement on the issue, Mexico decided to “bracket” the entirety of the Statement until this point was resolved.
The final key thematic debate focused on the inclusion of the death penalty in the Statement. Switzerland expressed their disappointment at the current language in the Statement, despite the fact that they had been fairly flexible during the negotiations. The language no longer referred to the death penalty and was considered by them as too weak. They therefore wished to revert to their original proposal. China, while appreciating the efforts undertaken to find consensus and the flexibility of many delegates, then stated that they would not accept any element of the paragraph being put forward and that they refused to continue negotiating the text on this issue. China’s declaration was supported by Iran, Vietnam and Indonesia. For their part, the European Union (EU) and Norway supported Switzerland. The Chair proposed that the paragraph be entirely deleted, a suggestion that was rejected by Switzerland. Sweden then stepped in to support Switzerland’s position, and connected the contentious paragraph with one pushed by Iran and China on providing equipment for international cooperation (para Alt 45 bis) – Sweden declared that it would not be possible for them to provide equipment as part of international cooperation if this was used in investigations leading to stoning or the use of the death penalty. The UK supported this by adding that they would not provide support for any activity linked to the imposition of the death penalty. Iran then insisted that they were one of the leading countries in the fight against drugs and that no Statement would be better than agreeing on a bad Statement. They declared that they were upset that some EU countries had preconditions for international cooperation. This paragraph remains unresolved.
A new Inter-Sessional meeting may take place before the High Level Segment. No date was so far decided.