UNGASS Special Segment Day 1 – Statement by INCB President

UNGASS is an opportunity to rethink what we have done over the past 50 years. the world has changed. But have the objectives of the treaties – protect health and welfare of mankind – really changed. The discussion is ongoing and encouraging. But there is little that divides us in fundamental issues.

Health and welfare is the key objective of the 3 drug conventions. Demand reduction and related matters are of primordial importance. Governments should take all practical measures for the prevention of drug abuse and treatment, rehab, social integration of people involved. This remains central to tackling the drug problem. But implementation and budget have not always met the challenge.

Availability of substances for medical purposes remains greatly uneven. 5.5 billion people or 3/4 of the world’s population have no access to scheduled substances. Reasons are complex. It is not the regulatory regime that is at fault. The situation could be substantially improved by collaboration between states. The Board decided to add an updated version of its 2010 special report on availability to its 2015 Annual Report.

Many social economic factors impact on demand and supply of drugs. These must be taken into consideration within a balanced approach to the drug problem. We must look more at poverty, vulnerability and marginalisation, gender issues. We must create an environment that is conducive to

Decriminalisation – nothing states in the conventions that we must incarcerate drug users. There is a need for proportionality.

Respect for human rights – governments must use international mechanisms to protect children. Governments should also consider ending the use of the death penalty.

In implementing treaties, governments have focused on organised crime and money laundering. We need real time information to focus on the most critical activities.

What is the future? Is regulation of markets a real solution? Will it work and eliminate crime and secondary black markets? The world is interconnected and interdependent. Such approaches would be contrary to the principle of common and shared responsibility. What can we learn from tobacco and alcohol? The prevalence of drug abuse is much lower than that of alcohol and tobacco. Why people focus more on prescription drugs? This constitutes a hindrance to health and welfare. Would your governments bear the costs of increases in use if they moved towards a regulated model? There is no scientific evidence that this would have a good impact on organised crime. And it would increase the use of very harmful drugs, in particular for young populations. With regard to NPS, we know how challenging these are. They are now being manipulated and introduced for profit at the expense of our people and our youth. We must address this urgently.

The imbalance of policies implemented by states or absence of action may have these impacts; failure to invest in treatment, rehab and social integration and overall demand reduction programmes, absence of supply reduction measures, have contributed to what today is an intractable situation. But these are not intractable. The drug control treaties are not outdated, irrelevant or inapplicable. They have stood the test of time and are as relevant today. What needs revalidating is the full commitment of states to implement the treaties to tackle all aspects of the treaties. International cooperation, solidarity, shared responsibility should be used to tackle the world problem together.

The future of drug control is in the hands of governments, who have the responsibility towards their population.

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