High-level Thematic Debate in support of the process towards the 2016 Special Session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem

All official statements are now available here.

Opening session

H.E. Mr. Sam Kutesa, President of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

The world drug problem affects us all. Drug trafficking affects national institutions. Worldwide markets are worth 332 billion dollars. Men, women and children are trapped in poverty, languish in prison. We must do what we can to overcome their vulnerabilities that expose them to illicit drugs. We must uphold the rule of law. Crime prevention and criminal justice should be adequately integrated. Combatting the world drug problem is joint initiative. We must scale up interventions and international cooperation to combat organised crime, under the three drug control conventions. Although the implementation has been incomplete, we must look at improving international cooperation. We need to balance demand and supply reduction strategies and raise awareness of the impact of drugs. We must monitor trafficking trends. We must bring attention to corruption issues. I commend the UNODC for its programmes aimed at improving the lives of many across the world. I welcome exchanges of views for improvement.

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H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations

I thank the President of the General Assembly for convening this timely thematic debate. Today’s meeting is an important opportunity to take stock of debates towards the UNGASS. We must integrate a range of persectives on drug issues. We must listen carefully to each other and engage in debates. There are different perspectives on the road and challenges ahead of us. We must acknowledge that the drug trade poses threats to peace and security nationally and internationally. Nationally, criminal networks are a threat to societies, feed corruption. They are a source of funding for non-state armed groups, fuelling violence and instability, and hindering respect for human rights. Links between transnational organised crime and drug trafficking are jeopardising peacebuilding efforts. Tackling drugs and crime is part of the mandate of peace building operations in Guinea Bissau and Afghanistan.

The drug problem also encompasses human tragedies. The first words of the UN Charter “we the people” remind us that we must support people to live in dignity. Discrimination, stigma, debilitating effects of long prison sentences for minor offences… There are rare opportunities for alternative livelihoods. Providing education, healthcare and alternative livelihoods are essential to serve all members of our societies. When we refer to intractable challenges, we must realise that there is no military solution. The war on drugs is in fact a painstaking, unending struggle.

The evidence is clear – countries that integrate health and support have better outcomes. We must promote health-based responses. We must ensure access to controlled substances for pain relief, we must promote HIV prevention services. And we must protect young people, prevent use without criminalising them. At international level, the UN requires a balance for drug control, and we recognise the role the conventions play. We can build a multi-sectoral approach based on partnership and cooperation. This includes civil society and the scientific community.

In 2009, member states adopted the 2009 Political Declaration. As we approach the 10 year review of the declaration, UNGASS is a critical milestone to set the course ahead. We must seize the opportunity for a comprehensive discussion with all stakeholders, including CSOs and youth. We must respect human rights and cohesion of societies. The CND has a crucial role to lead the prep process in an inclusive manner. I urge all states to engage broadly. I wish you every success in your important work.

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H.E. Mr. Arthayudth Srisamoot, Chair of the 58th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations in Vienna

The world drug problem requires a global response. The preparations for the UNGASS demand intensive efforts from all of us – governments, UN agencies and CSOs. The CND is committed in implementing its mandate entrusted by the UNGA to lead the preparatory process. We have embarked in our intensive journey. During the 58th CND, a Special Session was held with high level experts representative of all regions, focusing on key thematic areas: health, crime, human rights, new challenges and approaches, and drugs and development. During these discussions, member states, UN and CSOs had the opportunity to share experiences and lessons learned. I invite all of you to visit the UNGASS 2016 website.

The CND welcomes the active participation of youth and the scientific committee. In parallel to the proceedings, a youth and a scientific forum took place. We also stress that in addition to the formal setting, a record number of 65 side events took place, involving member states, UN bodies, international organisations and CSOs. The CND provides an open forum to share different perspectives in decision making. We also agreed resolution 58/8 on the UNGASS which contains two parts: formal arrangements (convening of special segments at the reconvened session of CND and the 59th CND), and modalities for the UNGASS itself including a date and a format (roundtables focusing on the same themes as mentioned earlier). The outcome will be a short, concise document reflecting discussions. The CND will continue to hold special events.

The journey towards a successful UNGASS continues,and we look forward to hearing from you.

Plenary Session with High Level Representatives 

H.E. Mr. Yesid Reyes Alvarado, Minister of Justice and Law, Colombia

After more than 50 years since the creation of the drug control regime, we are facing obstacles. In 2012, Mexico, Guatemala,Colombia called for a rigorous review calling for a new discussion and paradigm to address all dimensions of the world drug problem and identify challenges to be addressed. We do not want to ignore the conventions or force a change of them. But we want to take stock of what has been achieved and what new challenges we face. We need to tackle demand and supply, and we have made progress, but much remains to be done to achieve the utopian goal of a dug free world. We see an increase in criminal organisations controlling the markets and constantly modify their activities. Drug control has not had the expected results and we need a change. We must devise interventions to respond to a more humane and effective way to this challenge.

Colomia has managed to successfully dismantle powerful drug cartels.This shows my country’s commitment to combating the drug market at the cost of many lives. Two of my predecessors in the Ministry of Justice were killed. If we don’t recognise that the illicit market is constantly changing, this will obscure the progress that has been made. Policies and tools must be changed. Colombia made progress in stopping drugs moving beyond its borders and stopping drug use. The distinction between producing and consuming countries has blurred. We must be more flexible and agile in our responses. We must foster a frank, transparent, evidence based discussion on what has and should be done.

There are a few lessons. Firstly, criminal law should be the last result in tackling the weakest links in the drug chain. We must focus on dismantling criminal networks. Second, drug use should be addressed from a public health perspective, not stigmatising users, recognising the measures that reduce harms. For consumption, we need differentiated responses. Third, economic and social rights should be taken into account. Serious impacts have been seen in deteriorating social fabrics. Fourth, we must focus on a territorial approach. Countries should have sufficient leverage to set up their own response. Sixth, evaluation of drug policies should not be done only through the aim set out, but we must also see how this impacts other countries. We need new measures to tackle new realities. This is only possible through a broad process of evaluation to agree on adjustments to be made.

I want to point out 12 points:

  • recovering the aim of the conventions in improving health and welfare of our population
  • aligning policies with all human rights commitments, including abolishing the death penalty
  • guaranteeing the right to health, focus on eliminating harm and guarantee access to essential medicines
  • define measures to tackle new substances, review systems for reclassification of substances
  • recognise broad leverage for states to apply policies in line with their context
  • improve participation of all UN agencies and CSOs
  • Decriminalise drug use
  • Develop alternatives to incarceration
  • Preserve a healthy environment
  • Alternative development

The UNGASS will be a forum to recognise achievements and shortcomings of the current drug policy and establish tools to address the issue.

Hon. Mr. Mark J. Golding, Minister of Justice of Jamaica

This debate is of tremendous importance for countries that don’t have a permanent representation in Vienna. Our porous borders in the Caribbean means that the region has been used as a transit route. The Caribbean cooperation falls within the CARICOM rime and security strategy. But security measures implemented to tackle the flow of drugs is often insufficient. Jamaica remains committed to strengthening programmes to reduce supply and demand. However, our experiences over past decades thought us that the world drug problem is multifaceted. Past approaches based on the war on drugs has not achieved its objectives. It was insufficiently holistic and has led to the strengthening of organised crime, repressed indigenous groups, and alienated and criminalised youth. We have undermined sustainable development and the rule of law in many countries. It is widely accepted that tere needs to be a holistic approach that places priority on health, awareness, human rights, human development and safety to reduce the negative effects on people’s lives.The UNGASS provides engagement in the areas of advocacy, and a qualitative assessment of our work. Jamaica’s position is that UNGASS should not be a forum for rubber-stamping previous agreements. We must look with a fresh eye at past achievements. We must be frank and transparent in our discussions.Outcomes we would like to see is: the establishment of an expert working group focusing on systemwide coherence and treaty tensions in particular with cannabis. We support CSO engagement and UN entities going forward to support a more holistic approach. The UNGASS shoudl clearly mandate the direction of a new plan of action towards an integrated and balanced approach. We would like a treaty regime that allows for greater autonomy for countries to establish policies, in particular with regards to cannabis. We must be able to fashion our own rules for a coherent and inclusive society. We are fully committed to cooperating with other countries on combating trafficking and crime. We look forward to thought provoking ideas and debates to address the world drug problem.Click here to read the full statement

Hon. Mr. Miguel Ángel Osorio, Secretary of the Interior, Mexico

On behalf of Mexico, I thank you for the invitation. Progress made remains insufficient. It requires us to open up the debate and seek better positions. We must analyse together what adjustments are required. This phenomenon has various causes and costs on health and the environment. We must also recognise that states are affected in different ways.Since the end of the 1990s, we have observed a paradigm shift moving towards health for drug use. We now must do another shift towards social inclusion. UNGASS is an opportunity to achieve a broader consensus on lessons learned, failures and successes. It is an opportunity to make better decisions. Coordinated efforts based on shared visions is a way to strengthen our strategy. We must develop social policies in the context of full respect for human rights.We have experienced the impacts of the drug problem and the social harms caused, including violence, exclusion and victimisation. This underpins our interest in reviewing policies to address every aspect of this phenomenon, and we are looking at alternatives. In this context, Mexico has embarked on a series of actions to combat crime and consumption of drugs. We have taken action against criminals, without criminalising users. We also focus on prevention as we believe this is a collective effort. We target the root causes of crime, risk factors. The key solution lies in prevention. We rebuild and strengthen the social fabric, community cohesion. We also work on a series of indicators to help improve drug policies. We reaffirm our commitment to international shared responsibility. Another world is possible if we build solutions together. We support strengthening cooperation to effectively respond to the world drug problem, based on more fair drug policies protecting human rights. We must review the scope of the regulatory regime, focusing on the well being of individuals and society, while remaining aligned with the three UN drug conventions and human rights conventions. So e deeply regret the lack of consensus on cruel and inhuman measures. I encourage you all to consider all criminal justice tools to use a comprehensive approach using proportionality of penalties.We hope the UNGASS will be an opportunity to change the path we are on. If we act together, we can take firm steps to encounter solutions for the global drug problem.

H.E. Ambassador Rodrigo Vielmann, Vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, Guatemala

This is an opportunity to reflect on the world drug problem. As we look at experiences, we will better understand the nature of the problem and how to respond.We come to this event with prior reservations, but we have the responsibility to analyse progress made through multilateral forums that enable us to discuss the phenomenon. We cannot only focus on citizen security. We also need to evaluate the legal framework, interpreting the conventions with a broad approach. We must focus this discussion on the fact that after half a century of prohibition, the model has not achieved the desired results. It has led to violence, corruption and human rights violations. Prohibition is insufficient. We know very well the consequences of trafficking, we are a transit country and activities have spread. We must also focus on health and development. Prohibition is a clear barrier to development. Organised crime, linked to other activities such as money laundering, is also a barrier to tackling this issue. It is the responsibility of member states to find new approaches to these challenges. We have created an entity to find more effective drug policies.The reciprocal right of countries to adopt policies that are best for them can lead governments to adopt more or less tolerant approaches towards dugs. The time has clearly come for a comprehensive approach to address the social costs of the phenomenon, recognising proportionality of sentencing, alternatives to prison, paying special attention to vulnerable people.As we deal with the transnational phenomenon, we cannot achieve a single response, but we can have a global agreement and pull our efforts together to learn from countries that are experimenting with new ways to deal with the phenomenon. We must support states through UNDP, UNAIDS, UNICEF, etc. to achieve better results. The UNGA, ECOSOC, HRC should set up guidelines to pay attention tot he social fabric within this phenomenon.We want to share our experience in hosting the OAS GA in Antigua and the adoption of the Antigua declaration, as well as the Guatemala declaration. This highlighted the importance of the human being, dignity and social inclusion, focusing on development, citizen security and human rights. We can find ways towards consensus and today we wish to support this towards the UNGASS. We can take major steps forward based on a position that enables an opening towards comprehensive solutions that establish a balance between citizen security, human rights, health and strengthening the social fabric. We invite all member states to share their experiences. With a view to prepare for the UNGASS, we will work constructively so that we can have specific actions to tackle the matter more successfully. Every day that goes by without making progress leads to the loss of valuable human lives.

H.E. Juan Carlos Molina, Secretary of State of the Secretariat for the Prevention of Drug Addiction and Fight of Drug Traffic, Argentina 

I endorse the statement that will be made by Ecuador for CELAC. We need to conduct a serious evaluation of what has been done, including challenges and obstacles. We must work together to tackle this issue. It cannot continue to affect lives. One way to tackle this is by broadening the consultation to look at causes and consequences. We must try to foster the contribution of all organisations, bodies, academic groups, drug users, and other vulnerable groups. No one can be left out. More than 15 years have passed since the 1998 UNGASS where we urged for the end of supply and demand. To achieve this we set out resources. But the results today are not good, even if we take into account progress in various countries and regions. It has been 50 years since we have been addressing drug trafficking. Pepe Mujica would be critical of this. It is not countries that produce drugs only, the issue is consuming countries, as well as drug financing – where is the money, producing, consuming, or tax havens? We need to address this question, as well as financing of international terrorism to see where the money of the drug cartels is going. Developed countries are left behind. It is a priority to discuss the policies worldwide. We cannot think short term. The UNGASS provides an opportunity. We must seize it so that we can make progress before the 2019 UNGASS. But we must also see what can be achieved in the mid-term through discussions and agreements to reach the maximum results.We are looking for new approaches to tackle the world drug problem at local, national and international level, including the non-criminalisation of drug users as this leads to stigma. We need proportionality of sentences, and alternatives to prison, we need harm reduction, we need to regulate drug markets, among other measures. We must also bear in mind the prominence of human rights instruments, including human development.Drug trafficking involves lives, projects, dreams, people. It deals with finance, justice, security. It causes corruption. Schools, children, youth are affected. It leads to violence, crime, sadness, death. The time for our people is more important than anything else. IN Argentina, we deal with our people as part of our nation. the USA, Europe, are not the centre of the universe. We are what matters. We cannot be afraid to make changes, including on the conventions that appear to be untouchable. They are not the bible, they must evolve,just as people, policies ad politicians, they evolve. Our voice must be heard, whether we have differences or similarities. We are no longer a colonised people, we want to be heard, we don’t want any death. We also strongly condemn the death penalty. We must recall the need to recognise universal respect for the dignity of human life and its tremendous value.Click here to read the full statement, in Spanish.

H.E. Rodrigo Velez, National Secretary of the Council on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Control, Ecuador 

My country has changed the language of this social phenomenon. The war on drugs has failed. We can reflect on respect for human dignity and rights. There has been a platform for the Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution on drugs. The discussion of drug policies and its impacts on human rights were captured in the resolution. In Ecuador, it is a standard to adopt human rights to protect people’s lives. We have made significant progress to address the socio-economic phenomenon of the problem. Addiction is a health problem, and criminalisation of users is prohibited.

We are here to reiterate what has already been said in other forums – drug policies at the UN should be deeply changed given the results obtained since the adoption of the treaties. The model focused on reducing supply and demand, and resulted in increased criminal markets. But it did not have the expected results. It resulted in a growth in trafficking, with harms on the population, the environment, etc. Ecuadorian prisons are full of drug offenders, most are women drug mules. The law is disproportionate against them. We decriminalised drug use. In 2008, we implemented in amnesty for drug couriers. Many of these women are mothers, and we also gave an amnesty for children. We rebuild families as the nucleus of society. We used the flexibility provided by the conventions to adopt our new Criminal Code in 2014.

We must also refer to money laundering in countries where there is demand for these substances. We all know that the war on drugs has hidden the fact that most of the money is from the financial system of some developed state. The Financial Action Group includes developing countries in the list of money laundering states. Precursors also come from the north, so do weapons that cause so many deaths. We cannot continue with this repressive approach and the deaths it causes. This is why the UNGASS is particularly important. We must undertake a comprehensive review, setting up a new architecture to respond to the phenomenon, this should include other UN agencies, academia and CSOs, and propose new approaches.

UNGASS should take into account new approaches and new experiences at national level. The global debate on drugs must focus on human beings, and not on substances. We must adopt policies based on humanism. We must recognise the need to include other UN agencies such as UNDP among other organisations such as WHO, UNESCO, etc. These will enable us to take a new approach to drug policy. We must replace strategies with a human rights based approach. We must set up preventative alternative development to empower communities and reduce their vulnerabilities. We join other CELAC countries and endorse their views. CELAC has set out proposals to base ourselves on a new architecture to address the social and economic phenomenon of drugs.

Ambassador Mr. Luis E. Arreaga, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, United States of America

The UNGASS is an opportunity to address the world drug problem. The USA favours tangible drug policy reforms that improve the lives of our citizens. The Conventions remain the best tools to do so. The USA emphasizes three priorities: UNGASS translates achievements from science into drug policies. UNGASS can be a way to set up standards for treatment. Second, the UNGASS is an opportunity to share best practice in criminal justice responses. Prison overcrowding and inadequate measures to provide treatment, require new measures. We cannot arrest and incarcerate our way out of the drug problem. We must ensure proportionality of punishment, and ensure alternative to prison where appropriate. We must finally build on our success in international law enforcement. The complex challenges of NPS are areas where UNGASS could catalyse closer cooperation. We must hear from member states and CSOs. CSOs are often closest to the issues and can contribute know-how and expertise, including rational access to medicines, prevention and treatment, improvements to criminal justice, alternative development. We look forward to these contributions. We salute UNODC for providing expertise. It is critical for other UN institutions such as UNDP, WHO and others offer their unique contributions. Others such as the OAS have offered a comprehensive set of guidelines on the issue. The world is directing its attention towards the UNGASS. We can shape the CND preparations with reason, scientific evidence and a sense of responsibility.

Mr. Fidias Aristy Payano, President of National Council for Drugs, Dominican Republic

Drug trafficking affects the tranquillity of our communities, as well as institutional stability. In our case, for a long time our country has been dealing with major drug cartels, substances go to the US market and Europe. They become a local threat and this can go beyond borders and affect our populations, especially when we see a change in practice. The government is firm and unshakable in its efforts to combat organised crime. We are aware that all existing structures and conditions given in a specific moment can change. But as we tackle this complex problem, it is not easy to achieve agreements. Latin America and the Caribbean, in line with projections made, has about 620 million people, about 110 million are aged 15-24, and 276 million are aged 25-51. So a great share of our population can work and be productive, save and invest. But 39% of young people in the region are poor, with 36% in rural areas. In some countries, youth poverty reaches 60%, with lack of education and vulnerability to violence.

We must face these realities squarely and not look at positive results in developed countries that have very different realities. We understand that prevention continues to be the best tool, and is based on the educational system. It is on the educational system that we must base our actions and see its cross-cutting aspects. We must have broader analysis of the basic aspects of these issues to find a global solution. This must focus on the harms produced by drugs. Even when we also permit new mechanisms to regulate and control drug use.

For us, there are still challenges that require solutions that cannot be put off any longer: achieving consensus in policies to tackle drugs focused on the dignity of human beings. We must make great efforts to treat at rehabilitate people dependent on drugs, respecting the international conventions. We must recognise that for historical reasons we have emphasized too much security, to the detriment of public health, and this must be changed. We must strengthen human rights protection and promote alternatives to incarceration for specific cases, strengthen the model of drug treatment tribunals. We must involve all sectors of society to reduce supply and demand. We must look to the cross-cutting aspects of prevention. We must remain alert in countering supply and ensuring common and shared responsibility.

We have underscored the tremendous sacrifices in our region in this fight and what still remains to be done in tackling drugs. We hope that we can truly tackle this at the source in our hemisphere so that these sacrifices are not in vain. We must have a world of peace.

Mr. José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States

Dealing with drug problems is particularly important in our region. Cultivation, trafficking and use are present in our countries. We need a regional approach that can be positive even if the situations in various countries are often quite different. We therefore opted for an inter-American convention on drug control 3 decades ago, including public health and prevention, as well as alternatives to prison.

We are proud of the work done in Cartagena in 2012. It is there that member states expressed concerns for growing use of drug in their countries, and the connection between drugs and violence. There has been an important multidisciplinary process. 2 years later, this continues to have a positive effect with the reports produced in 2013. This includes the need to modify our approach that can not only be repressive. We also look at the issue of decriminalisation of drug use. We look at the world drug problem as a health issue. There are increased incidents of governments unable to find solutions for their realities. There is also an importance of money that finances these activities. The conclusion of this report is that most money remains in drug consuming countries.

We then met in Antigua, Guatemala, and the deputy minister made contributions calling for a review of existing approaches based on science, enhance health, treatment and reintegration, provide alternatives to prison, reform the sentencing system. In the Americas more than 1/3 of people are incarcerated for drug offences. We will go back to this on the side event at lunchtime. We mentioned some examples of drug policies for cannabis in Latin America. We also need to recuperate seized funds, we need to increase exchange of information. And we need a new action plan. We hope that the document submitted to the UNGA and in Vienna will be useful and make a specific contribution to the 2016 UNGASS. We hope that this will be taken into account. We are convinced that drugs are bad, they are damaging for the health of our citizens. We are also convinced that the policies implemented so far are also bad. There are more people who were killed at the war on drugs than because of drugs themselves. It doesn’t mean we need to be permissive, but we need to reduce incarceration, we must think of possibilities for alternative sentences. We must adopt a human rights approach. We thank Colombia for having run the working group on alternatives to imprisonment.

The UNGASS would not have been possible without contributions of CSOs. We don’t want to review the conventions necessarily, but there is nothing there on criminalising drug use. So we need to think about decriminalisation.

Mr. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director of the Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

The debate presents many challenges on existing practices. Member states have repeatedly reaffirmed that the problem remains a common and shared responsibility, in particular in the Joint Ministerial Statement adopted in 2014. In Doha, at the Crime Congress last month, member states pledged to intensify actions towards a comprehensive and balanced approach.

Preparations for the UNGASS have been ongoing for some time. Speakers have mentioned the CND and its Special Session and adopted a resolution defining the modalities for the UNGASS. The process has benefited so far by member states, as well as UN agencies international and regional organisations and CSOs. There is a need to address the human dimensions of the world drug problem, strengthening the dialogue with the scientific community and increased engagement.

The preparatory process discusses and highlights international cooperation and the effective implementation of the UN drug control conventions. UNGASS can serve as a milestone for the 2019 UNGASS. Meanwhile, UNODC remains committed to supporting member states on the ground through national and regional programmes through our field offices, research and expertise. UNODC also supports member states to ensure access to controlled substances for medical purposes, as well as measures to treat drug use disorders and address HIV, and to reduce the poverty of poor farmers. Alternative development is the focus of this year’s UNODC World Drug Report, which will also include information on treatment. It is aimed at ensuring contributions for the UNGASS.

Click here to read the full statement.

Topic: “Achievements and challenges by Member States in countering the world drug problem”

Co-Chairs:

  • H.E. Ms. María Emma Mejía Vélez, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations
  • H.E. Mr. Alvaro José de Mendonça e Moura, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the United Nations: Reducing drug use through demand reduction interventions are programmatic goals in our society, with a focus on youth. And data confirms positive evolutions, in particular decrease in drug use among younger populations. We have more requests for treatment and clear decreases in intravenous drug use and infectious diseases. We don’t see direct links between positive results and decriminalisation. But it enabled us to put together the key policies that can reduce harms.

H.E. Ms. Ruth Dreifuss, Member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and Former Swiss President

The proposal to initiate a UNGASS must promote a broad, transparent, inclusive debate based on scientific evidence, based on an assessment of successes and failures, and what to do better. At local level, the consequences of drug use were direct and painful. State entities had to take necessary decisions to implement pilot projects and provide a policy framework. We will never be able to emphasize enough that the movement is coming from the ground up.  We must acknowledge the failure of the war on drugs and the costs associated with it.

The process is now being pursued at international level, but we must not lose sight of NGOs working in the field, as well as academics who have a better understanding of the effects of drug policy. In the past 50 years, have we come closer to our goals? Have we seen drug use diminished, better access to essential medicines? Was there research on controlled chemicals? Was there an increase in security? If we measure this with objectives set out in the conventions, we can see may negative results. Today we see more and more voices being heard to condemn these harms. Economic and social development are being impeded by repressive measures. The recent convictions under the drug laws and executions are directly linked to this repressive approach. We must look at policies that have an impact on drug issues. I am pleased to see the progress made by UN agencies on the analysis of the consequences of drug policy. NGOs and scientists need to be heard to achieve goals that respect human rights, giving prominence to health.

Measures for social integration, countering poverty, urban and rural exclusion, etc. must be highlighted. We must promote public safety to reduce violence and improve access to justice, and decriminalise drug use. We should emphasize these measures here. They have accumulated evidence to show that they are achieving positive goals.

We must also re-examine and probably reform the system for scheduling drugs in the conventions. We also need to review what the risks are with drug use, and see what their medical and scientific usages are. Experimentation needs to be encouraged for market regulation. It is the responsibility of states to not leave legal and illegal drugs in criminal hands.

I attempted to not break well-establish consensus in 1998 although I didn’t believe that we could achieve a drug free world. And I still don’t believe it now.

H.E. Mr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations in New York

The drug problem is exacerbated by interrelated challenges of terrorism, corruption, violence and insecurity. Farmers become indebted to drug traffickers, it destroys the livelihoods of millions. Unless we eradicate production and consumption in our countries, this will hurt our efforts to development, peace and security. We must strengthen rural livelihoods and strengthen governance and the rule of law. We have achieved major successes in alternative livelihood programmes in land stabilisation and watershed development. We have achieved large amounts of seizures.The number of provinces engaged in illicit cultivation has been reduced. However, four provinces in south west Afghanistan retain a high security issue related to drugs. The Taliban and other groups have renewed their campaigns to disrupt the security of our country. Now groups like ISIS are aiming to control the narcotics market to gain a foothold in Afghanistan and use its resources. We have prioritised our counter narcotics efforts. Our president has pledged this, increasing costs on poppy eradication and financial flow tracking, and providing licit livelihoods. Counternarcotics efforts have not been sufficient. International cooperation is essential. Eliminating the threat of drugs requires regional and global strategies including demand and supply measures. With continued support of the international community, I believe we can continue to work constructively on this issue.

Mr. Milton Romani, National Drug Board Secretary, UruguayWe need an open and broad debate for the UNGASS considering all options, based on Mr. Ban Ki Moon. I reiterate what we said in Vienna – a comprehensive and abalnced focus in line with international human rights instruments. We promote a broad and fruitful debate on current models in the region and the world. We are critically rethinking this and looking at this realistically, thinking of a new plan of action. We don’t always have the courage to deal with new realities. Sometimes moralist, this raises frustrations. In 2016, we must acknowledge new approaches, new experiences and trends around the world, and we must respond to some questions, using a healthy debate. We should not repeat routing formulas. We should ensure that our policies are truly balanced, whether human rights are respected, where forced labour is eradicated. Will we continue a unilateral approach towards more repression? The death penalty is a human rights violation and causes much suffering, without evidence that this is effective. The lack of proportionality leads to undermining criminal law and prison overcrowding.

We welcome the resolution of the Human Rights Council. We welcome the report that will be presented and hope other agencies will provide valuable input and contribute to constructive dialogue.

We must recover the ultimate aim of the conventions to guarantee the right to health as the full enjoyment of the best state of health, ensuring the right to medical and scientific uses denied to more than 75% of people around the world according to IDPC. We need to place humans and society at the centre of drug policies in international cooperation. We should abolish the death penalty, provide health, treatment, rehabilitation and reinsertion. We should reduce harms and incorporate this without taboos, this is in line with the treaties. We need comprehensive actions with WHO to include reducing the harmful use of alcohol and regulate the tobacco market. We should include a human development perspective and dimension. We have seen the report on the development of drug policies by the UNODC and it is a way to look at drugs in a different perspective. We must look at regulated models and look at data and evidence on reducing harms as compared to a criminal system that is today harmful.

I will take a few more minutes as Uruguay has taken a sovereign measure to regulate markets. In good faith, we preserve the health of Uruguayans and tackle criminal markets, while preserving their security. Law 9172 regulates production, sale and use of cannabis. There are regulatory decrees for the production of industrial cannabis for medical cannabis. We have a registry that controls the process. Prevention, education and treatment are also available. The tracing of the origin of seeds has been made possible. Uruguay has never criminalised drug use. There are three ways to acquire cannabis without contacts with the illicit markets: registered personal cultivators with 6 plants max, cannabis social clubs, and the other way is to provide cannabis in community pharmacies for registered users, controlled with digital identification purposes (up to 40g per month, 10g weekly).

The state is regulating the use. But outside of this market, criminal law prevails. This model is in line with the cultural and legal background of Uruguay. We have a safeguard for security and th well being of poeple.

H.E. Mr. Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the United Nations in New York

Drug abuse and trafficking is under control in my country but we cannot be complacent. European Union and the USA, Russia and other countries have managed to establish a transparent, open policy for combating illicit trafficking. UNODC is also playing a crucial role. We are all interdependent. There is a very important institution participating in Asia doing an excellent job. I also draw attention to my country’s proposal focusing on building resilience and security.

Interventions from the floor:

Spain. This is a good opportunity to recall that for Spain, the three conventions are key. The instruments on human rights as well. The 3 pillars in Spain are scientific evidence, reducing demand and supply, and defending the rights of afflicted people. It is key to address the rights of people afflicted by drug use. There are two issues here: the role played by Spain in security, and the need for international cooperation to ensure greater control of demand and supply. We wish to share our experience and stand ready to discuss different models that don’t create greater risks for the world’s population.

Ecuador, on behalf of CELAC. Not too long ago, during the CELAC summit we adopted a declaration in which the drug problem has an impact on people’s lives, the rule of law, affecting development, to be addressed through common and shared responsibility, with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with the three UN drug conventions, and the inclusion of the person at the centre of drug policies. CELAC reaffirms that addressing the world drug problem is a common and shared responsibility, in accordance with national laws and international instruments. CELAC stresses the need for a balanced approach, including transit states, to address all the consequences of drugs. Demand reduction should be made by adopting a gender perspective, with full respect for human rights. Strategies include reducing violence, strengthening social inclusion. We encourage member states to work together with relevant stakeholders including scientists and NGOs. We look forward to the second ministerial meeting in Quito to be held next month. UNGASS is important for discussions taking note of national experiences and best practices, comprehensive and alternative development, and countering the negative consequences of the world drug problem. We must strengthen international cooperation to jointly address the problem with comprehensive policies, emphasizing a broad, transparent and inclusive debate, along with regional and sub-regional cooperation. We must seek alternatives to imprisonment, including care and social reintegration, including through a gender approach, access to rehabilitation, care and social reintegration. We recognise the key role of the CND and the INCB as the organs with prime responsibility for drug control matters. We also welcome coordination with other UN entities.

European Union and Balkans. We welcome the organisation of this thematic debate including member states, UN agencies, NGOs and others. UNGASS will be a key opportunity to take stock of the challenges and to identify workable and sustainable solutions. We reiterate that the UN conventions and the Universal Declaration of HUman Rights are the cornerstone of international drug control, comprising demand reduction (harm reduction, prevention, treatment), and supply reduction and international cooperation.

We are convinced that drug related health, social risks and harm reduction should be an essential element of drug policies at national and international level. There is an urgent need to improve access to controlled medicines for medical purposes.

The meaningful participation of civil society should be promoted and encouraged, namely through the CSTF, and is vital for UNGASS and beyond.

The abolition of the death penalty is primordial for human rights, as well as other practices that are not in line with human rights. Alternative development should be promoted as a long term solution. Precursor control must also be addressed. We support the decision to produce a short, concise and action oriented document for the UNGASS, and a chairs’ summary of the round-tables. We welcome you to consult EU recommendations to feed into the debate at the UNGASS. Let me state that the EU remains firmly committed to a successful UNGASS 2016.

Click here to read the full statement

Topic: “The importance for Member States of implementing a multi-dimensional and multi-stakeholder approach in addressing the world drug problem” 

Co-chairs: 

  • H.E. Mr. Andrej Logar, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the United Nations
  • H.E. Mr. Mohamed Khaled Khiari, Permanent Representative of Tunisia to the United Nations

H.E. Ms. Györgyi Martin Zanathy, Ambassador, Head of the European Union Delegation to the International Organisations in Vienna

I want to recall this morning’s debate around women, youth, proportionality in sentencing, health responses, and calls to abolish the death penalty for drug related crimes. I also recall the cross-regional approach, in particular CELAC. One of the main pillars of the EU/CELAC cooperation is very important to us.

Drugs are a complex social and health issue. We have worked to develop a comprehensive approach with an EU drug strategy and action plan. This provides the framework for drug policy: demand, supply reduction, international cooperation, research. We also address new challenges including poly-drug use, the spread of NPS, shifting drug trafficking groups and the use of new technologies, as well as the prevention and diversion of chemical precursors. The strategy aims to reduce demand and supply, as well as the health and social risks caused by drug use. We provide a framework for joint action and external cooperation. The drug strategy builds on the evaluation of previous documents. We attach the great importance to a balanced approach to drug policy. But this objective remains to be achieved in many parts of the world.

Unbalanced approaches focusing on disrupting supply without tackling demand has not been effective. We support efforts to rebalance strategies towards demand reduction. We have seen progress in ensuring a more humane approach to drug policy, scientific monitoring. Drug users are considered as in need for treatment and harm reduction measures, which allowed for a decrease in diseases. Decriminalisation and alternatives to incarceration allowed for reduced incarceration rates.

We should not base ourselves on a moral argument but on a scientific and objective argument. The EU is the only region explicitly integrating risk and harm reduction in its strategy. The EU is the only region promoting alternatives to prison as well as coercive sanctions. The EU refers to scientific evidence as a constitutive element of its strategy. The EU approach is one of the most humane, balanced and integrated strategy in the world, focusing on human rights. We call for the abolition of the death penalty. The rule of law and respect for human rights are an integrated part of our strategy. The drugs phenomenon is a national and international issue that must be addressed in the international context. Drugs are still a danger for young people from around the world. We are keen in promoting our values in drug policies to develop measures and guiding principles that approach drugs based on a balanced and comprehensive strategy.

Mr. Ahmadu Giade, Chair and Chief Executive of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Nigeria

The world drug problem is dynamic and necessitates policies that impact demand and supply. We recognise that measures can provide different outcomes. We acknowledge the need for an integrated, multidimensional and balanced approach, within the drug control treaties. We have put in place an integrated framework. The government also established an inter-ministerial committee on drug control which is multi-sectoral and multi-ministerial.  We also encourage the establishment of a state drug control committee, which would be grassroots and involve community-level organisations. The INCC and SDCC provide a platform for information sharing for the implementation of the drug control master plan. Most of the progress has been made, but there is a need to strengthen the ability of these institutions to facilitate their interventions and improve their ability to deal with new drug challenges (NPS and new technology). There is a need for improved cooperation between member states. Nigeria collaborates with several agencies including the DEA, EU, UK Crime Agency, German BKA, etc. This collaboration has enhanced information sharing. We reiterate our commitment to collective and collaborative work – we need a network to counter a network to address all the aspects of drug problems.

H.E. Mr. Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations

Our experience is one of several decades. Drugs destroy our society and they are an ongoing challenge. It requires to move forward together.  We know that there are differences between countries so we must find some broad-based approaches and solutions with the participation of other stakeholders such as civil society and academia. Peru has participated in the debate as a producing, transit and consuming country.

Trafficking in Peru has led to crime and violence. Fight against drugs relies on a national strategy. We believe in policies to counter the world drug problem that rely on a framework of consensus to tackle problems in a pragmatic way. We must move forward in areas where we do agree. Discussions should be in the framework of international law and non-intervention in the affairs of each state. Success in drug policy relies in a balanced approach. In the past, greater emphasis was placed on security to the detriment of health. We must make sure that we don’t promote one aspect over the other today as well. International cooperation is also key. To combat the harmful effects of drugs, cooperation should go hand in hand with countries that have greater economic needs.

We have three components to our policy: prevention and treatment, alternative development, and international cooperation. Or national strategy has received significant resources from our government and have achieved important results in reducing coca crops. This was recognised by the UN as a historic milestone. Another success was alternative development to prevent vulnerable populations from falling in cycles of crime and poverty. We should constantly try to improve our strategies.

Mr. Dispanadda Diskul, Chief Development Officer, Doi Tung Development Project/ Mae Fah Luang Foundation, Thailand

40 years ago, Thailand was the biggest opium producing country in the world. UNODC removed us from the list in 2001. Our success relies much in integrating vulnerable communities into economic mainstream. Drugs is  multidimensional problem to be approached through a comprehensive approach. In 1988, we started our project in northern Thailand. Only by addressing poverty and inequality could we address the issue. The government agreed with a 30 year project with different government partners focusing on roads, water, security, human development, livelihood and education, so that people could dictate their own future. We must base ourselves not only on statistics, but also on human centric indicators. We saw an increase in capital income, increases in people in higher education, improved health. This included also increases in security.

Our project always emphasize the need for multi-stakeholder partnerships. We must ensure we align the interests of all involved, identify problems and prioritise, implement and monitor and evaluate. Our role is that of a facilitator in the development sector, and success comes with cooperation with all these stakeholders. The private sector has a role to play, and for communities to stand in their own feet. They can offer market access. Products should be sold because of their quality, not because of pity because this would not be sustainable.

Accumulated good practice is contained in the UN guiding principles on alternative development. We will organise a conference on alternative development this year. We count on your support and participation.

Ms. Sandy Mteirek, Advocacy Coordinator at Skoun, Lebanese Addictions Center, Lebanon

I am not only representing Skoun, but also a member of the CSTF. Lebanon is affected by drug policies and the current approach is not working. It is coming at a high cost, it is costing lives. Criminalisation and punishment has done more harm than drugs themselves, and have sacrificed lives.

Lebanon declared treatment as an alternative to punishment in 1998, but was only put in action in 2013. For 15 year, people were incarcerated because of state failure to deliver the mechanism to provide health services. It was only due to cooperation between government and CSOs that we could draft an amendment to the drug law. This could not have been achieved without cooperation between the government, CSOs, academia, private sector and others. We should not go blind on human rights and we should empower people when their rights are violated. We must cover security, safety human rights, health and social reintegration. We must also reduce harms related to drug policy. Governments should adopt harm reduction policies. From our experience, a multi-stakeholder approach needs CSOs. Governments should include CSOs and the CSTF at the UNGASS. What I represent is the fact that we must learn from our and others’ experiences.

Interventions from the floor

Zimbabwe, Southern African Development Community. Thank you for convening this important event in the lead up to the UNGASS. Trafficking and consumption transcend borders and merit international collaboration as it is a threat to our communities and our youth. Involvement in the drug trade by youth is linked to poverty and lack of education and prospects. It is the same for drug addiction. There is a myriad of social ills related to drug use and trafficking. The relation between drugs and poverty is cyclical. People addicted to drugs are often caught in a cycle of poverty. Evidence also abounds on the negative health outcomes of drug use. More attention should be paid on the health outcomes of drug addiction. We also call on states to ensure that drug policies don’t impede access to essential medicines, in particular for palliative care. Effectively addressing the world drug problem needs to encompass health, security and economic policies. We adopted a 1996 protocol that reflected this balanced approach. We do not believe that one approach on criminal justice should go at the expense of other approaches including human rights. We must focus on prevention. We need to express caution and emphasise the cooperation between all involved and reduce fragmentation. We must strengthen cooperation in the evaluation on policies and practices We are guided by special protocols in this regard on health, criminal matters, and against corruption and organised crime. Collaboration should be an essential aspect of drug approaches. We have noted a tendency of drug syndicates to take advantage of movements in people and products. We must ensure free movement but also prevent trafficking of illicit drugs.

Antigua and Bermuda, on behalf of CARICOM. We value the opportunity of participating in this important debate. The chance to provide inputs into the preparation of the UNGASS is significant for us, since we do not have representation in Vienna. This preparatory process must be fully inclusive. I want to make a few points – it is clear that the war on drugs has been at best a stalemate, or at worst a failure. Despite decades of emphasis on law enforcement, drug use has not been reduced. We must review our global strategy, with a view to improving a balance between demand and supply. Taking into consideration the perspective that there is growing overlap between supply countries, demand countries and transit countries, the principle of share responsibility must lead us to address the multi-aspects of the world drug problem.

CARICOM countries find themselves at the epicentre of the drug trade. We are forced to deal with the multiple repercussions of the issue. The impact on limited national budget can already be felt, as well as on development plans and goals. We implore all actors to take into full consideration the need for tailored measures to address the specific realities faced by countries like those in our region. They require multidimensional approaches. Partnerships in public health, alternative development, justice reform and criminal justice cooperation and improving regional capacity to gather data are necessary. We must begin a closer examination of, and turn our attention to, dealing with the causal factors that lead people to illicit activities. If we begin by addressing these root causes as preventative measures, we may achieve better progress.

Finally,CARICOM has established a regional commission to conduct research n the health and legal implications of decriminalisation of cannabis and medical usage. In Jamaica, there has been a reform to decriminalise cannabis, which will enable us to look into the medical and economic values of cannabis. We must look at legislative reform.

CARICOM places great value in addressing the world drug problem. Our quest to guard the health and well being of humanity will push us to use every opportunity to look into the effects of our policies. We will continue to participate in the preparations of the UNGASS.

Philippines. Strategies based on demand, supply, cooperation are the focus of our country. We have estimated a steep value of seizures of illicit drugs. We have dismantled illicit labs. On demand reduction, we promote education, treatment, rehabilitation and research, in particular among youth. We have recently implemented the programme DARE in prevention among youth. Challenges do require a shift in demand and supply reduction as priorities shift. National gains have been supported through cross border cooperation, civil society and international organisations cooperation.

Paraguay. We promote a comprehensive and balanced approach, in respect for human rights and to combat stigma. We fight firmly against corruption as it is like a virus and hinders all efforts to reduce the drug chain. We must be effective in this area. Also, we must end the death penalty for drug offences and will continue to implement the 3 drug conventions.

France. I want to highlight the main elements of this morning and afternoon. The drug problem is a great threat to health, security and the rule of law. Progress has been done especially through health responses in many regions n prevention, treatment and harm reduction. In the justice area, addiction is an illness and we have developed alternative penalties for rehab. Combating drug trafficking should be done at international level through cooperation tools and operative measures. But many challenges are being faced in terms of human rights (death penalty should be removed), strengthen health policies with more means. In terms of management of treatment and harm reduction, this should be promoted in the lead up to UNGASS. Trafficking is an international security issue. We reaffirm the importance of the international legal framework, but we do not legitimise the repressive approaches. We give prominence to UNODC’s policies and support. In 2016, France will focus on prevention.

Korea
Today’s debate will lead to a productive UNGASS for states to share valuable experiences. We have been able to stifle the spread of trafficking across the world through international cooperation. We are committed to do our part. 26th June is an anti-drugs campaign day. Despite our efforts however, countries still suffer from the threat of drug abuse. NPS are spreading and are a common challenge around the world. They present formidable danger to our health and safety. NPS trafficking has also increased and is not controlled adequately in many countries. We should use the UN drug conventions to address the NPS more effectively.

Russia. We are reaching the final stages of preparation for 2016. In our view, in the remaining time before 2019, we should not criticise the drug control system but focus more on the implementation of drug control treaties and the 3 drug control conventions to increase effectiveness. They are the clear framework for international cooperation. An important role in preparing for this session is the UNODC. So we must avoid duplication of efforts. On narcotics there will always be new challenges. There is no antidote. We must integrate the scientific world – we have a project of creating an international scientific committee in this regard. The international community should show solidarity with Afghanistan and ensure implementation of the Paris Pact. At the same time, we are committed to addressing security border issues. Activities of UNODC deserve our full support.

Algeria. This UNGASS will constitute an opportunity to evaluate progress made and see how to meet challenges. Algeria continues to face challenges. We became transit countries by excellence. Only trafficking of cannabis has increased in 2014. It represents a source of funding for terrorism and fuels organised crime. The connection between trafficking and organised crime and terrorism is well established, in particular in the Sahara region. The link has become more evident today. Combating the world drug problem requires an integrated approach. Algeria remains committed to the implementation of the three drug conventions.

Japan. We welcome the preparatory work of the CND. The upcoming UNGASS will constitute an important milestone in the implementation of the 3 conventions and political declaration. It will also be an opportunity to discuss new challenges such as NPS, which are a serious threat at global level. We adopted counter measures and domestic laws to control use and dealers. It is essential to enhance further international cooperation at regional and international level. We’re also concerned by precursor chemicals, including for ATS. We also want to underline the importance of alternative development. It serves to facilitate rural, economic and social development. We want to put emphasis on the importance of the international donor community. I want to reaffirm Japan’s willingness to contribute to the UNGASS preparations.

Canada. We have been an active particant in the prep process within CND. The UNGASS offers and important opportunity to take stock. Many new threats exist including NPS. Attention should be placed on a balanced, integrated approach combining supply and demand eduction, NPS, control of pre-cursor chemicals are of particular concern to us. Youth are a concern, we are focused on preventtn of drgs among YP. Espeically concenred around new substances of new drugs. Going it alone is not a viable option. There is no esasy ssolution, all factors must ne addressed. Calls for legalisation and decrim understimates the role of oransiaed crime. The three drug conventions are the cornerstone of the drug control.
We have the chance to use these mechanisms to the fullest, we do not need to “reinvent the wheel” nor can we afford to in such financially constrained times.

Qatar. Look foward to special session to be able to discuss the issue between all parties, which will hoepfully lead to the adoption o fthe politcal declaratio in 2019. Difficulties faced by int. community is due to the scorge we face. This scourge should be eliminated. We celebrate the int. day to fight drugs. All contries should suport it. We attach particular importance to drugs as is a problem not just for natopnal but all as a whole.
Qatar has developed several national mechanisms which support our international obligations. We hosted the 13th criminal justice conference. It is regrettable that YP are being targetted by drugs. we’d like to stress the important role of the family in social and moral education. We can’t neglect the role of education. It can make known the negative effect of drug.

Tanzania. We must put the most vulnerable at the centre of our responses. We must base our responses on the 3 drug conventions. Drugs continue to affect vulnerable people who suffer from poverty. It undermines social and economic development, wildlife, and health. We must prevent drugs from entering our shores. We collaborate with our partners. International cooperation is indispensable in filling existing gaps. We must focus on alternative livelihoods. The implementation of conventions on organised crime and corruption is also necessary. Drug addicts, should be protected from HIV and hepatitis C. In 2013, we became the first nation in SS Africa to start a methadone project.

Austria. We must a holistic approach towards drugs. 4 years from the target of 2019, much remains to be done. UNGASS is an opportunity to review the implementation of the political declaration. We have followed a human rights and health based approach, focusing on health and social programmes focused on consumption and addiction, including risk and harm reduction. We also promote exchange of best practice, including demand reduction services. We also promote access to essential medicines, which is not sufficiently implemented. Progress has been made since the 2009 political declaration. I promote the role of UNODC for addressing the world drug problem. We support a number of UNODC projects in Latin American countries and will continue to do so. We continue to call for the abolition of the death penalty and promote proportionality in sentencing, as well as non-discrimination and human rights. Preparations of UNGASS are well under way, and we promote the role of civil society. We therefore welcome the creation of the CSTF and continue to welcome dialogue with all stakeholders.

China. The drug situation remains complex, with new challenges related to NPS, terrorism. The UNGASS will be an important platform for debate and cooperation. We must uphold the existing drug control regime. The 3 conventions and 2009 political declaration must continue to serve as a fundamental guideline. We should better implement the principles of common and shared responsibility to reach consensus. We must fundamentally oppose the legalisation of narcotic drugs and the questioning of the drug conventions. We must recognise the negative effects of drugs on health. We must recognise the leading role of CND in the preparatory process. We must enhance communications with the PGA. We participated in drug control efforts and will work to ensure a participatory process.

Australia. It is timely that we find the right approach to drugs. We remain committed to the struggle through cooperation. We established a task force on the issue and we look forward to sharing results at the UNGASS. We are strong proponents of the drug control regime, there is sufficient flexibility. We also look to ensuring better access to essential medicines.

Egypt. I thank you for convening this session. We believe that the 3 drug control conventions remain the cornerstone of the drug control system to implement all provision. Every region has its own experience to respond to the world drug problem. The importance of respecting the sovereignty of all member states and their criminal laws are primordial. The importance of respecting society and lives is essential. Societies with high drug prevalence have high violence rates. We must promote treatment and rehabilitation programmes. We must focus on the root causes of the drug problem. We must focus on Africa. The problem has negative repercussions on the economic and social sphere in Africa. We must promote judicial assistance and international cooperation. We must address issues of substances not under international control, such as tramadol. We encourage all stakeholders to support the CND as the central policy making body in dealing with drug related matters and its leading role in the preparations of the UNGASS.

Brazil. We associate ourselves with the statement of CELAC and Jamaica. We call for a comprehensive and balanced approach in accordance with the principle of share responsibility. we should avoid concepts of stigma and marginalisation. But we must also promote social development and human rights, as well as the role of civil society. NGOs have become a key partner. Yesterday, we cohosted the 5th CS Hearing. We have been fully engaged in the preparatory process leading to the UNGASS. We want UNGASS to be open, inclusive and pragmatic, operating within the framework of the conventions. We also raise concerns about the recent executions of people for drug offences – no crime warrants the application of the death penalty. We commend Mr. Fedotov’s strong statement on the matter.

Tajikistan. Drugs are an ever-increasing menace to international cooperation. The international community should unite in combating demand and supply. We share the profound concern of the links between drugs, organised crime and terrorism. Production of narcotics in Afghanistan is a complex problem for the country, its neighbours and the international community. We need coordination among all interested countries to address the issue. The elimination of poppy fields, closure of labs, etc. are necessary. We strive to meet our objectives under the drug conventions. We attach significance to the treaty framework. We have actively cooperated with the ministry of foreign affairs. An important trend is the struggle against money laundering. We must establish a real control for the flow of funds in the region. Producing, transit and consuming countries need to engage in adopting urgent measures. We must block the channels of drug trafficking and consumption. In the run up to the UNGASS, our president put forward the initiative of a regional conference to discuss regional challenges. This will be held on 27 May 2015.

Senegal. We should welcome cooperation with UNODC, it supports us for treatment for drug addiction. Proportionality of sentencing must be taken seriously. We must strengthen strategies at national and international level. The implementation of the conventions is crucial for a balanced and comprehensive approach. We must promote prevention and education. I want to invite UNODC to continue to provide support to member states, and increase the capacity of the justice sector to deal with the challenges of the world drug problem.

Switzerland. Switzerland welcomes this thematic debate and the UNGASS. The topics will allow us to overcome new challenges. We must protect health, human rights, preventing HIV through harm reduction. Human rights should be an integral part of the drug issue. The death penalty is a violation of the right to life and to health. The availability of substances for medical and scientific purposes is also key. We must work in close cooperation with all UN agencies in preparation for the UNGASS. CSOs play a key role for the success of the UNGASS. The accreditation process of NGOs must be fully transparent and based on professional rules.

Morocco. We call for a multidisciplinary approach to the world drug problem and manage drugs through drug supply reduction and demand reduction through prevention, information sharing of best practice, and alternatives to incarceration and development programmes. There are increasingly dangerous connections between drugs and criminal groups. We should put together partnerships to fight against the problem. The UN system as a whole should be involved to ensure security and sustainable development.

India. Overcoming the challenge of drugs is a principle of common and shared responsibility. Financing of money laundering, arms trafficking,etc. UNGASS 2016 is an opportunity to deal with this drug menace. We must also ensure access to essential medicines. We must uphold human rights and social development. The rights of patients to address controlled substances is a priority. We have a special responsibility. India will continue to implement the 2009 political declaration and plan of action.

Jamaica. Statement delivered by a cross regional group of delegations consisting of Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Guatemala, Mexico, Norway, Panama, Philippines, Senegal, Uruguay and Jamaica.

The world drug problem remains a global challenge that needs us to place people at the centre of our strategies according to the principle of shared responsibility and human rights. We need greater coordination and engagement among UN entities. Regional actions are also valuable, as well as cross-regional dialogue. Drug policies contribute to the harms caused by the world drug problem. We stress the need to highlight a socially responsive action. We must ensure the accessibility to controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes, while reviewing the mechanisms for scheduling of new substances. We must embrace contributions from academia and NGOs at the UNGASS and preparations. In the lead up to UNGASS, we must asses progress made and challenges. these must include human rights, social inclusion, public health, development, fair criminal justice responses and international cooperation. We are committed to continue our engagement towards an inclusive UNGASS to address long-standing challenges.

Click here to read the full statement.

Singapore. We are a small country and call for a comprehensive approach between demand and supply. We work closely with parents, schools and community partners to discuss harms of drugs. We work on different profiles of drug use. We provide aftercare programmes and reintegration programmes. HIV infection rates in Singapore remain under control. We decided against adopting OST and NSP. Our view is that such measures are not suitable for Singapore. It is our comprehensive approach between demand and supply that saves us from drug problems. There is no one size fits all approach and each country has its own sets of challenges. Our government is accountable to its people to ensure a safe and drug free country. We understand that some countries have adopted different approaches, and we use our own sovereignty to adopt our own approach, adequate to our social context.

Iran. There are a number of challenges that have led to failures to address the world drug problem. Iran has built one of the strongest counter-narcotics enforcement capabilities over the years. Despite all barriers, including sanctions against our nation, we have remained committed to the implementation of the 3 conventions and the 2009 political declaration. We have been actively engaged in technical cooperation for drugs and crime in collaboration with UNODC. This is structured around illicit trafficking, demand reduction, and HIV control, and crime, justice and corruption. We cooperate with neighbouring countries and combat maritime drug trafficking. I want to touch upon some of the challenges to be considered at the UNGASS – failure to materialise the principle of shared responsibility, alternative livelihoods, technical assistance to countries of origin and transit; a politically motivated approach including all relevant subjects; poverty, underdevelopment and lack of awareness about the scourge of the world drug problem.

Costa Rica. We support the CELAC and interregional group of countries’ statements. We have 4 million inhabitants but have not been exempt from the drugs problem. It is a health issue, but globalisation and the economic crisis have led to consumption and trafficking, as well as organised crime. We have developed a human centered approach. We have an anti-drugs law. Drug money goes into educational programmes. We were able to change the law to reduce incarceration of women who introduce drugs in prison. And in January 2015 we adopted a strategy on marginalised and most at risk groups and drug use. Our attention now focuses on the prison population. The human being should be at the centre of our efforts, within the framework of the law and international agreements. We have supported the proposal of the UNGASS in 2016, and the concerns of all states should be taken into account. We respectfully urge the CND to ensure that the results of today’s session be included in the UNGASS 2016.

South Africa. We need to foster cooperation among the international community. Member states must work in collaboration to address the problem. We must increase efforts in countering the abuse of illicit drugs, in particular cannabis in South Africa. We have dismantled laboratories, expanded trainings of customs and law enforcement officials, we put mechanisms in place and put together demand reduction and sustainable development. South Africa has increased infrastructure for the movement of people. We are increasingly being used to transport drugs and chemicals. We implement the 3 conventions and 2009 political declaration and are opposed to any actions that would undermine the integrity of these documents. Last, we caution against any premature discussion of alternatives to addressing the world drug problem until we have reached 2019 and evaluate the goals set out in 2009. We must put measures in place to respond to drug related crimes through judicial cooperation and we will work with the international community to end the world drug problem.

Turkey. The UNGASS constitutes an opportunity for the international community to address the world drug problem in many aspects. It is important to highlight that drug trafficking is a serious risk to international security and stability. Traffickers and organised crime groups are interrelated. The PKK is a clear example of crime/terrorism. The issue can only be addressed by the international community. We completed bilateral agreements with a number of countries. We contribute to the work of many international bodies such as UNODC through training and capacity building programmes of law enforcement officials. We also continue support for Afghanistan. We need a coordinated approach for supply and demand. The high council for the fight against drugs is a collaborative body between institutions was transferred to the Ministry of Health. We look forward to the 2016 UNGASS.

USA. I appreciate the comments of the panel. I want to discuss the UNGASS as a venue for discussing new challenges. NPS is one such challenge that needs a multidimensional approach. 500 NPS have appeared in the past five years. We must use all available tools at international level, which can lean on the conventions and other tools. Prevention, education and treatment are the first line of defence. So cooperation with CSOs is an essential part in the process. Information sharing is a way to alert us of NPS trends. The UNODC SMART programme includes tools.  We urge countries to use tools of UNODC and the INCB on early warning mechanisms. We must stop the proliferation of NPS. We should continue to use the treaty based scheduling tools against the most prevalent and dangerous substances. CND, INCB, UNODC and WHO should coordinate more closely. Finally, regional organisations are crucial – ASEAN, OAS, EU, in fostering information sharing and cross border control.

Chile. Human rights are primordial for my country and we call for the end of the death penalty. We should not talk about permissive measures, but policies that focus on various aspects of the problem. In Chile, the world drug problem cannot be limited to discussions of new approaches. We need mature thinking around demand and supply, better health policies, social integration and development. We are aware that there are significant challenges, with models for implementing drug policies. To share success stories, we must acknowledge things that have gone well and those that did not.

New Zealand. Compassion, innovation are key to drug policy. Next year;s UNGASS comes at a special time, with an increasing prevalence of NPS. Despite our isolation, we have not been immune. We have developed an innovative response, which we think will hold the key to an effective response. The world continues to change, and we must adapt or risk being left behind. Supply and demand reduction should not come at the expense of harm reduction. Responses must be proportionate to the crime. We believe in a more compassionate approach. We must move away from rigid law enforcement. We must shift towards a strong health approach to minimise harm. We also encourage the engagement of CSOs and UN agencies. We look forward to collaborating further.

Israel. In the spirit of President Roosevelt, we must tackle the scourge of drugs. We must adopt an approach that respects human rights and dignity. We need a gender approach, treatment for youth, finding accessible services for victims of drugs, including methadone and subutex programmes, as well as NSPs to reduce HIV among IDUs. We have also been engaged in cooperation with UNODC to counter drugs and crime. We have been involved in 2 resolutions in recent years, on on treatment for youth, the other around sharing information and best practice. UNODC has become a key partner and we expect partnership to grow. we trust that the 2016 UNGASS will serve as a platform to review the milestones we have set out to achieve.

Cuba. We endorse the CELAC declaration. With regard to UNGASS, we will concentrate on ensuring that the CND is the central forum for coordination for UNGASS. With regards to UNODC, it is mandated to assist member states to implement the conventions. The financial support that this office receives is derisory, and relies on the good will of member states. If there’s one thing that the cartels will laugh about is the deprivation of UNODC. With regards to drug trafficking, Cuba aims to guarantee the rights of our children to be free from drugs. We support the existing legal framework in the 3 drug conventions. We are not in favour of actions that would change the current control system. We have heard several warnings around changing the system, we don’t agree with those. UNODC and the 2009 plan of action and political declaration should continue to apply.

Thailand. Development and drug problems are strictly linked. We need to invest in partnerships. Thailand is pleased to learn that CND has decided to hold an UNGASS on drugs. We are fully committed to combating drugs. We believe in an integrated, multidisciplinary and balanced approach, as well as international cooperation. Along with our efforts to curb demand, we have engaged in alternative development programmes. At national level, Thailand has collaborated with key Thai NGOs. we also worked with member states to collaborate on alternative development and shared experiences. I reiterate our call for a development perspective to contribute to reducing illicit crops and alleviate poverty.

Closing ceremony

H.E. Mr. Khaled Shamaa, Chair of the UNGASS Preparations Board, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations in Vienna 

I want to express my thanks to the PGA and interesting statements in the course of the day. While there have been many achievements, there still remains challenges today. But the realities from the ground are difference between regions and from one country to the other. Discussing challenges and lessons learned is crucial for the UNGASS. We need inclusive preparations on themes and on stakeholders involved. We focus on a balanced approach including prevention, care, treatment, HIV prevention, access to essential medicines, money laundering and corruption, addressing the needs of women and youth, strengthening alternative development and international cooperation. these issues will be covered by the roundtables to be held at the UNGASS. We should endeavour to make good use of the opportunity. To make a good impact, we must take a practical, operational approach to strengthen international cooperation under common and shared responsibility. In terms of participation, preparations are conducted in an open manner. We must hear the voices of those on the ground by using webcast, skype, etc. Each interactive discussion benefited from expertise of speakers named by the CSTF at the UNGASS Special Segment. We also benefited from WHO and other UN entities contributions. Speaking about the UN system, we must include the contributions of all UN agencies. We must have the input of all the contributions of the scientific community. Also essential is the role of youth, our hope for the future. We need more of their views and ideas. UNGASS will be and should be about human beings, and should focus on ensuring the well being of all people.

H.E. Mr. Sam Kutesa, President of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

I thank our panellists and speakers for their contributions to this thematic debate. We must engage in an open discussion on drug use and trafficking. We must take into account the perspectives of a range of stakeholders. Today, we emphasized that the war on drugs is a complex threat that should be tackled through shared responsibility and a multistakeholder approach, including civil society and the academic community, in full conformity for international law and human rights. Member states must have flexibility to draft their own responses at national level. We need to undertake a comprehensive review of ongoing strategies and consider new approaches. We must place a greater focus on health ad social inclusion, with a focus on women and children. We need a comprehensive approach, focused on reducing vulnerabilities and promoting social reintegration and education. Some emphasized the links between drugs and terrorism and organised crime. Today, all speakers expressed their determination to strengthening international cooperation. Through international efforts, we will ensure a successful UNGASS. I will prepare a summary of today’s session.

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