I’m honoured to take the floor in preparation of the UNGASS next year. The political declaration in 2009 was a major milestone in addressing the world drug problem. Member states have tried hard to eliminate the problem by 2019.
As the CND meets to prepare for the UNGASS 2016, it is apparent that while much has been done, new challenges have emerged that require action.
There are positives to date – global drug use has remained relatively static; the number of problem drug users has stayed stable; coca cultivation has declined; there is increasing cooperation of law enforcement efforts which are aided by the UNODC.
However, there are challenges which can’t be ignored. Poppy cultivation reached an all time high in 2014. There is the challenge presented by NPS which aren’t controlled under the drug conventions. The number of people who don’t have proper access to treatment for drug abuse is concerning.
India has attributed the highest priority to this issue. The prime minister put forward a 3 point initiative:
- Increased health services to those addicted.
- Better education in schools.
- Stronger efforts to combat drug trafficking.
The prime minister identified drugs as a psycho-social problem and therefore it should be treated and tackled as such.
On demand reduction, our policy emphasises evidence-based interventions with the involvement of civil society. We’ve created a committee to properly accredit organisations in the private sector involved in providing de-addiction centres.
With the assistance of the UNODC we have successfully tried methadone as part of OST. The government has also approved changes to the rules concerning synthetic narcotic drugs. All these efforts are to better serve victims of drug abuse and people in need of pain medication.
The entire world is grappling with the emergence of NPS. To strengthen enforcement, the government has controlled mephedrone. There is also a committee in place to monitor this phenomenon. However, there is a need for greater international cooperation on this issue so that law enforcement agencies are not constantly playing catch up.
India has always supported the three UN drug conventions. Over the last few years we have attempted to align our policies to conform to the principles laid out in the conventions. It has been our experience that the conventions provide flexibility to recognise the human face of drug problems.
We don’t need to dilute the conventions, but to implement them in their right spirit.