High Level Segment – Statement by Raymond Yans

The examination of the political declaration and plan of action focuses on the health and welfare of mankind. We could ask ourselves what kind of situation we would be in today without these conventions. Without them, we would probably have about 100 million people consume drugs across the world. In fact today, we have 5 times less. UNODC estimated that the prevalence was much lower than alcohol and tobacco, two substances that kill much more people than narcotic and psychotropic substances.

It is true that time and circumstances changed since 1961. We had less UN members, there was no internet, no globalisation, no some global health challenges such as HIV/AIDS. Incidentally, today’s high concentration of THC in cannabis was also different. Not that this alters the basic principles of the 1961 Convention. The access to these substances was only for medical and scientific substances, on the advice of the World Health Organisation. The second principle is that of multilateral consensus implementation.

Do we have the right to weaken the system that we took more than 100 years to put in place. The INCB has never waged war against anybody. Sometimes we seem to forget why governments put the systems they have established on drugs. Governments created the system to control substances that were highly dangerous. The reason why it is difficult today to access these substances is thanks to the conventions.

I want to quote UNODC on international cooperation on precursor control – this has improved largely. And this is not because the INCB has asked governments to do so, but because governments themselves wanted to protect the health of their people.

On cannabis for ex, evidence shows the harms on young people’s psyche. We hear a lot about legalisation these days. Limiting access to medical and scientific purposes is key to the treaties. Changing this would change levels of use and would have impacts on the health of young people. Is it not common sense to control supply and consumption? Who would control availability and accessibility? We talk about depenalisation and decriminalisation – nothing in the conventions pushes states to criminalize drug users. We have always insisted on the need for a balanced approach with a pivotal role for prevention and treatment. Neither INCB and conventions would consider drug users as criminals. We must remain human when confronted with such substances.

Now on NPS, many states are attempting to established national, regional and international drug control frameworks. We must address as a matter of urgency the issue of trafficking. INCB and UNODC are helping you in achieving this. This is reminiscent of the time when governments were so alarmed that they created the conventions to control these substances. Is it not contradictory in this context that some countries are seeking to legalise cannabis for the reason that it is “aligned with the times”? We are ready to engage in dialogue on drug control. We continue to be aware of our responsibility and are open to the changes of our time. We encourage states parties that impose the death penalty for drugs offences should abolish this sentence. This should be consigned to the dustbin of history. Nothing in history is set in stone, but policy priorities should be based on scientific evidence with consideration given to health concerns. INCB is of the view that we must adapt but also strengthen international drug control, in particular on corruption and money laundering. But it is up to the member states to make decisions and shoulder your responsibility to future generations.

Please click here to read the full statement: http://myconference.unov.org//Documents/Get/3d02e535-343b-40a6-b160-2b0730dd4faf

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