CND Intersessional – 24th of September 2015

Chair of CND, Ambassador Srisamoot, opens the discussion.

Amb. Srisamoot: Welcomes everyone back to the 5th meeting of the year.  Proposes that Agenda item 2 is discussed – preparations for The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) 2016, before dealing with other considerations. Hands over to Chair of the CND UNGASS Board (Amb. Khaled Shamaa) to preside over the discussions.

Chair: Thanks Amb. Srisamoot.

Mentions that the composition of the UNGASS board has changed as far as Asian Pacific group is concerned. Welcomes new board members Ayoob M. Erfani (Afghanistan) that has taken over from Amb. Reza Najafi Iran and Carmen Maria Gallardo Hernández (El Salvador) who has taken over from Jaime Alberto Cabal Sanclemente of Colombia.

Praises Mexico for conference on reducing harm caused by illicit drug markets. Praises meeting with Drug office of Afghanistan for event on 10th September and Australia’s event with WHO preceding this intersessional. Encourages member states to follow example and host similar events.

Warmly welcomes Civil Society and their recent contributions. Notes that the CSTF has provided a document of recommendations that has now been shared among member states. Understands there will be briefing with CSTF today and another tomorrow.  And reminds members states that an information briefing is occurring on the 2nd of October in New York for which new President of General Assembly will try and make himself available.

There are now two major tasks for the CND:

  • UNGASS Modalities resolution.
  • Production of the outcome document to be recommended at UNGASS that is short, substantive, concise and action orientated.

A 200-page document has been shared with member states collated from the submission received on the 11th of September and posted on the secure Missions website. It has taken into account all contributions from member states so far. If a member state has not received the document, they must contact the Secretariat.

In a meeting on the 17th of September, the Board felt it appropriate to also produce an ‘elements’ paper, kick starting the process toward a concise outcome document. Concedes that there is much work ahead and paper does not yet do the comprehensive collated document justice. Notes that member states have not had time to assess the elements document.

The Board believes that it is not useful to launch full fledged negotiations on the “zero draft” yet, as this will result in a document that still comprises too many pages. However, delegations must continue negotiations towards a full-fledged draft at the beginning of 2016.

Notes the next intersessional meeting is to take place in mid-October (likely to be October 16th but this will be confirmed). It will be a platform to discuss the more general nature of the elements, rather than specific operational recommendations. The third intersessional meeting will be scheduled in mid-November (date to be confirmed). We might then be better placed to go into possible operational recommendations. This does not mean text negotiations. The purpose is to add substance, or ‘flesh, meat, tissue and soul to the bones that you have before you’.  We may also consider scheduling informals before or after the third intersessional meeting. Informal informals must also be taken advantage of.

A fourth intersessional meeting is also scheduled for the 8th of December, where we expect to hear ideas for the elements paper. Some of the time in this meeting might be needed to address other, non-UNGASS related issues.

Timeline available online.

Opens the floor for comments.

Mexico: Thanks the Board. Timetable is reasonable and meets concerns. At next intersessional it would be useful to have an exchange of views and the contributions of members states. Many delegations have produced documents that do not reflect national positions, but rather an attempt to find common ground. Where there is time, we must focus on areas of nuance and different views and identify compromises that may arise. Our preference would be to avoid a line-by-line discussion of the text.

Chair: Member states are invited to organize events on specific issues and topics to find nuance. This will not be a drafting exercise.  It is about the exchange of ideas and views, with the purpose of convergence on issues.

Ecuador: Acknowledges the Board’s efforts. We will send document for analysis and feedback. We hope our recommendations will be taken into account. We are confident that we will have a strong and coherent document for the UNGASS.

Luxembourg on behalf of EU: Thanks the Board for work and effort. We shall study document carefully, which will take time. The following countries align themselves with this statement; Macedonia, Montenegro, Iceland, Serbia, Albania, Norway, Ukraine, Moldova, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, San Marino. The UNGASS must be concrete and focused to provide a stepping stone towards 2019 and beyond. The EU and member states look forward to introducing and reaching its targets set for 2030 on sustainable development, which also address public health issues.

Goes on to highlight points that should be reflected upon in EU recommendations for preamble part of outcome document: It is right that the UN Drug Control Conventions and Universal Declaration for Human Rights are the cornerstones of the response to the world drug problem. Member States believe that there is sufficient scope and flexibility within the provisions of the conventions to acumen a wide range of policy in accordance with regional and national specificities. Scientific evidence and best practices supported by reliable and objective monetary and evaluation systems should be the driving principles of drug policies. Policy proven more effective when the appropriate balance is found between supply and demand with reduction. Important to recall that promotion of health and welfare and access to essential medicines are key objectives of UN drug conventions. Need health focused approach emphasizing early detection, prevention, treatment and harm reduction, rehabilitation and social re-integration.  UNGASS should reaffirm that objective of the treaties is the health and wellbeing of human kind. Must focus on international efforts to stop trafficking including judicial cooperation, public security and countering money laundering. Must include input from civil society and the scientific community. Assures the Board of the full cooperation of EU and member states.

Argentina: Thanks the UNGASS Board for their contribution. Not appropriate to get into substance at this stage, but rather consider sequence of meetings and the ‘road map’. Hopes that the ‘soul’ mentioned by the chair will be present in the outcome document.

Agrees, like distinguished Amb. of Mexico that the ‘road map’ offered is the sensible way forward. It is important not to jump ahead too fast at this stage –must make sure the right ‘bones’ are there and we are not forgetting any key parts. Asks if we will have an opportunity to see a revised version of the elements before the next meeting to get clearer idea of what to work on. Preference would be to work together at every stage of the process. In spite of the board’s excellent efforts, there undoubtedly will be changes that will need to be made.

Chair: Thanks for operational recommendation, the first of the day. Yes, there will be the possibly of having a revised elements paper in the timescale suggested.

USA: Thanks the Board. Reflects on 18 months of preparation. The process is an end unto itself – the broad discussions that have taken place are an important part of the preparation for UNGASS. However, US now happy to see a more detailed work plan, which will provide opportunities to focus on issues of convergence. Hopes for a short document, and can see how the detailed work plan will help in the build up to this outcome. Must consider the informals as well as the intersessionals. Informals should be used to flesh out the details and nuances on more specific topics. Would like to thank the EU for focus on health. Medical availability is a key issue (in the 180 pages of zero draft submissions) and the side event this morning was just an appetizer in this discussion. We could spend a whole week discussing this. The elements draft covers many key issues emphasized in the 180 pages – thanks to the Board for the road map with many points of convergence. More time for discussing availability of essential medicines and the problem of diversion should be taken at informals.

Guatemala: Thanks the Board, and welcomes the proposed schedule.  Such a schedule helps small delegations to get prepared, especially in light of so many meetings. Sure that by next meeting that they can provide additions that may have been overlooked.

Peru: Thanks Board for the documents. Thanks leadership and efforts to achieve a good result. Pleased to see the form the document has taken, enables us to flesh out the bones together. Pleased that this will be less a drafting exercise and more an exercise on convergence. Believes the calendar is suitable.  Promises to participate in an active way and would like to welcome new members of the board and thank those that have parted for their good contribution.

Switzerland: Thanks the Board for document. Would have been better to receive earlier although recognizes this was not possible. Will provide comments on content and structure at later date. Wishes to share considerations on what Switzerland would want for outcome document. Realizes it will inevitably be of a political and not a technical character. Would like to see a document that addresses that key causes and consequences of the world drug problem, including those in the health, social, human rights, justice and security fields, in line with principles of common and shared responsibility. Need effective balance between supply and demand reductions. However, almost two decades after the UNGASS called for a balanced approach, we do not see it in practice. Urgently need to give attention to public health, prevention, treatment and harm reduction as well as other measures that are proven to promote the health and well being of our population. The availability and accessibility of controlled substances for medical purposes also needs to be improved. WHO’s guidance in this respect should offer inspiration. Thanks permanent mission of Norway and Australia for the preceding side event on access to controlled medicines. These types of events should be the norm.

Sweden: Aligns itself with position of EU. Thanks Board for the document. Thanks the Mexico delegation and the Board for process – prefers to avoid line-by-line discussion without discussing substance. Praises good process at the 1998 UNGASS when the final document was agreed in Vienna and presumes the same can be reached by having substantial discussions for this UNGASS. Sticking to substance will create a successful outcome. Sweden has made proposal that the joint board meeting of UNDP, UNICEF and World Food Programme in New York in January should be focused on the preparation for UNGASS on drugs. Encourages delegations to support this initiative.

Russian Federation: Wished everyone a happy Eid. Thanks board for document. Hopes for constructive discussion in order to move closer to a common understanding and hope the process suggested gives the discussion a constructive dynamic. Does not want to forget the spirit that underpins these discussions – to strengthen international cooperation on drugs and allegiance to the principles set out in the UN conventions. Hopes the outcome of the UNGASS will address the causes of the world drug problem.

Colombia: Pleased to have participated in the UNGASS Board over the last seven months and agrees with the position and the schedule. Many valuable contributions have been received. Not just because of the quantity but also the quality of proposals which all deserve consideration. We notice nuances for dialogue and differences which indicate the challenges ahead and in particular for placing people and Hum rights at the centre. It is important the negotiations are transparent and open as per resolution 58/8 and focus on health, human rights and evidence. Would like to see the methodology better defined as it has not yet been decided how to process contributions received and who should take charge of this work. We need guarantee comprehensive participation as possible from all stakeholders (MS and other agencies as well as civil society). This must be considered in order to integrate all the views of all of the member states even those without permanent representation in Vienna. Transparency and proper integration of contributions is key to accuracy and shared ownership of the outcome document. Colombia sent a proposal on doc the process through GRULAC for the Board’s consideration. This proposal aims to be a contribution towards guaranteeing that the UNGASS doc will take into account all contributions received. No contribution should be excluded A priori even if controversial.

Thanks the board for document, views it as important but certainly not ‘document zero’ and we need time to analyse its contents. We need to read contributions in detail for inclusiveness, transparency. What is the point of the contributions if we don’t use them? We should not proceed in haste and fully appreciate the work done by countries, regional groups, UN agencies and civil society. Colombia reaffirms its strong commitment to solving world drug problem through comprehensive and inclusive debate. No secret recipe for solving the problem, because of this policy has changed in Colombia. When finished with aerial sprayng efforts, Colombia will focus on replacement crops for farmers and operations to combat drug trafficking. We will focus on social investment and redesign prevention policies and legal reform so that criminal groups cannot hold onto assets.

Korea: Thanks Board for document. We are in a hurry to get to conclusions and don’t believe we have a sufficiently long time. Agrees with proposed structure but wants more balanced approach, particularly with regard to some semantic issues. Needs to be inline with UN conventions on drugs and Human Rights. Delegation prepared to fully cooperate.

Netherlands: Aligns itself with EU position. Acknowledges usefulness of dates to plan work in Vienna. Inclusive preparatory process is important, and input is still coming in. Civil society is doing a lot of work and it makes sense that the input is acknowledged.  Notes that many delegations are not represented here in Vienna. It is important to not throw away topics before having a proper discussion and ensure the inclusiveness of this process.

Belgium: Thanks board for documents and good overview. Document highlights states willingness to engage in discussion. Belgium wants a document that sends clear and strong message to world community. Belgium subscribes to the EU position. Access to essential medicines is crucial and encourages further collaboration, also the proliferation of new psychoactive substances remain a key emerging drug challenge and a potential game changer with very negative consequences. Highlights Belgium’s work on generic structural legislation, which should enable a better response. Supports schedule presented by Board.

Romania: We should aim for a political document with political impact that indicates determination to solve global drug problem. Should be action orientated and inclusive in order to make a difference. Board members should engage as early as possible in briefings and benefit from expertise and civil society must be involved. Romania offers its full cooperation.

China: Thanks Board for elements document. Welcomes new members of the board. Pleased to see contributions by regional powers in documents. Important to remember the objective of special session, and to review implementation of the plan of action under the political declaration of 2009 (intercom problems). We must take into account new developments to meet challenges. Will not make specific recommendations today, however would like to point out that international cooperation plays an important role and should be reflected in outcome document. China will support the work of the board and will adopt constructive approach in discussions in order to counter drug problem in joint manner and produce a document that stands the test of time.  Offers thanks for presentations made by Australia and Norway this morning on supply of essential medicines. Notes distinctions should be made between the control of illicit substances and ensuring supply of essential medicines.

India: Thanks Board. Pleased to see elements document and timeline. Makes things much easier. Considers these as concrete steps in right direction. Suggests we must move beyond the outcome documents, and have a mechanism spelt out in order to implement them. India offers it’s full cooperation.  

South Africa: Thanks Board for document. Addresses issues raised by Netherlands. Dealing with inputs coming after the 11th September deadline and from meetings not mandated by MS (CND) – eg. Mexico meeting – how will those inputs be included? Will they be negotiated?  We will need to see the details of those inputs. What about civil society inputs? How will these be incorporated? How will we proceed with these issues? Any information from other meetings that comes to the UN process must be transparent. Interested in seeing these contributions and discussing them. Two colleagues talked about political documents – what is the intention of another political document – does it replace the current 2009 Political Declaration. We should look again at the mandate of the UNGASS? Was this the intention?

Australia: Agrees with importance of succinct outcome document. This is one of the main ways we can make sure the document stretches beyond rhetoric. Wants outcome that is practically useful to governments and policy makers – an action-orientated document is important. Acknowledges input of civil society and governments. Offers Australia’s full support.

Costa Rica: Thanks board for hard work and elements paper. Highlights importance of feedback between states and Board and importance for accountability and transparency to ensure the outcome document’s legitimacy.

Turkey: Thanks board and notes importance of identifying convergences. Aligns itself with contribution paper from EU while taking note and welcoming contributions from other states. Would like action-orientated approach, like the distinguished delegate from India. Offers cooperation of the delegation.

Morocco: Describes joy and happiness on day of Eid. Thanks to Board for outline. Three matters of great importance are already outlined in the UN conventions on drugs. Operational outcomes should be faithful to the outline, and it should not be a political document but a technical one.

Norway: Fully agrees with EU statement. Norway is working towards an open, transparent and inclusive process. Acknowledges that drug policy is complex. We want to rank and give priority to major areas. We place health and humans in centre of policy, and want to safeguard health of drug users. We are determined to abolish use of death penalty for drug related offences. Drug policies regulate citizens and affect their lives, and so we welcome contributions from civil society, as should other nations.

Pakistan: Presence here demonstrates commitment in light of Eid. Will not share comments on document today- but will meet the deadlines for feedback and contributions. Time is of the essence. Must judiciously allocate our time, and appreciate the schedule offered. Important that final document is in harmony and that it will help to speed up the implementation of 2009 Political Declaration and Action Plan.

Chile: Thanks Board. This is a good summary. Supports what India and others have said about the outcome being action-orientated.

Uruguay: Thanks the Board. There are some very important aspects in elements document. We will analyse the document in accordance with the timescale. The structure or ‘bones’ are crucial to the formation of the outcome document. Proposes openness to them being changed. Notes process must be as inclusive as possible. Civil society must participate in whole process. Countries not represented here must also be included – right from beginning, right from the formation of the ‘bone structure’. Cannot disregard the original 200 pages submitted to the Board. The drug question constantly evolves, and policy and debate must remain flexible. Support the use of informals to make progress on those subjects that divide us.

International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC): Intervention is on language. Billions of people in the world must live and die with no pain relief from medicines controlled under the int. drug conventions. Part of the problem is that UNODC, the INCB, and CND still call these substances “narcotic drugs,” and persists in warning states parties to prevent their diversion and abuse rather than to encourage their rational provision.  Although the manufacture, distribution, and consumption of narcotic drugs is illegal except for medical and scientific purposes, pharmacists, the vast majority of physicians, and nurses are still afraid of using them because they have absorbed the message of the Single Convention preamble that “addiction” is evil. We know that the number of patients treated with medical opioids for severe pain rarely if ever misuse or divert their medications.  The medical profession in industrialized countries know how to use them and they must share this expertise with their counterparts in the developing countries under the principle of mutual and shared responsibility, a principle that the CND knows very well. In order to solve the pandemic of untreated pain and turn and transform all the barricades into bridges, CND must change the narrative: replace the outdated term “narcotic” drugs with “controlled medicines”, the stigmatizing “evil of addiction” with evidence based dependence treatment.  Citizens need no longer suffer untreated pain because their health professionals have no knowledge of essential controlled medicines. The countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, and Rwanda in Africa, and the state of Kerala in India, where governments are committed to relieving preventable suffering can also show the way with their best practices.  CND will be very fortunate to have Uganda and Kenya join in 2016 to provide leadership for UNGASS on this critical topic.

Civil Society Task Force (CSTF): Thanks Chair for including civil society. Top priorities from CSTF recommendations comprise a focus on the five thematic areas of the UNGASS: drugs and health, human rights, drugs and crime, woman, communities and new challenges for alternative development. With regards to health, civil society believes prevention has not received enough attention. Spread and availability of harm reduction must continue and legal and ideological barriers must be broken down while more funding must be provided. Substance dependent treatment should be accessible and affordable to those who seek it and evidence based information must be made available to member states by UNODC.  Access to controlled medicines should be highlighted. Human rights and public health should be paramount in considering response including reintegration and care for drug users. Discrimination against them must not prevent access to fundamental human right of health care. Concerned about unequal sentencing and wants assessment of cost effectiveness of current policy. Should be room for greater policy experimentation for member states. Must develop specific guidelines for young people affected by drugs that is fully aligned with other UN guidance related to children. Civil society also concerned about unequal access for female drug users to treatment. Gender issues must be considered in all areas of policy as well as issues relating to other marginalised populations. This does not represent a consensus from civil society but rather different views. Drug and alternative development has been identified by key organisations as a top priority. There is a need to respect traditional use. Other important issues: reduce barriers for civil society access to different events; include other UN agencies and greater NGO involvement in debates. Concrete outcomes expected form UNGASS 2016: Use of greater data in decision making, re-evaluating indicators of policy success, increase use of health based approach, improved access to controlled medicines, harm reduction and greater civil society involvement.

Chair: Thanks the floor for support on the document. Would like to make a few points. Transparency, openness and inclusivity is a part of our process. It is not a novelty. Input is on-going. October intersessional will be a discussion on concepts. November will be the recommendations. Next on the agenda is preparation of the roundtables to be held at UNGASS. We must address the organisational arrangements.

Secretary: Thanks Chair. Happy Eid. All roundtables will be held in the same room, in conference room four in New York. First to be held in afternoon of the first day. Then morning and afternoon conference on second day. Then two on the last day with the final conference one hour longer in order to reach conclusion. Each roundtable open to all member states participating in the UNGASS. Seats also allocated to relevant observers. It is important to point out that there will be space limitation in terms of civil society access. I hope to provide more precise information ASAP.  Hope to have one of the Board members in attendance as one of two chairs. Number of panellists should be considered to make room for input from the floor. Want to address problem of integrating organisations without ECOSOC accreditations. Likely that an application process will need to be pursued and close cooperation with the CSTF will be necessary. Finally, there have been many inquires about organising side events at UNGASS and have sought information from colleagues in New York. We want to accommodate a large amount of events and have side events throughout the days of special session. An application process would have to be pursued. More information will made available on UNGASS website.

Chair: There will be further discussion on all that was mentioned.

Sweden: Respects that we cannot have as many side events as last time– but requests more room for side events than just one.

Secretary: Has highlighted importance of UNGASS to delegations to colleagues in New York. More than one room will be made available and we will try to provide as many as possible.

Chair: thanks for views and interventions.

Amb. Srisamoot: thanks to the delegations. Notes that many have expressed support to UNGASS board. Invites WHO to talk about schedule of substance that we will undertake in reconvene session. Invites WHO to make presentation.

WHO: Thanks Srisamoot. Next expert committee to take place in November. Committee will assess risk of harm and dependence and usefulness of substances. Committee will review 7 new psychoactive substances. Will include updates on Ketamine and Cannabis. We have developed a questionnaire that has been sent to 194 members states to collect data on harm and dependence of controlled substances. We have created specific webpages where reports will be posted and open for comments. This is where we are in terms of process.

Amb. Srisamoot: What is the timeline for consideration and recommendations?

WHO: 16th-20th of November. By the 20th the committee will have agreed on the recommendations and endorsed them.  It should take 1-2 weeks before they are released by WHO Director General, in time for the re-convened CND session on 9-10 December.

Amb. Srisamoot: Any more questions on scheduling of substances as provided by WHO? I see none.

WHO: UNODC and INCB will be observers to this meeting, as is tradition.

Amb. Srisamoot: Will take up remaining issues in mid October at next intersessional. Important to mention that the ECOSOC council is asking member states from CND for ideas on theme of 2017 ECOSOC session. Send comments to secretariat of CND by Monday 28th September by noon… Canada has a question…

Canada: (To WHO) Cannabis and Ketamine were not listed as substances up for review on website for ECDD meeting, do these drugs warrant a different protocol?

WHO: Those substances will have updates. Ketamine has been reviewed because the last committee suggested we supply more information. It is not on the agenda to critically review Ketamine at next committee. However, data will be assessed and a recommendation will be made for the necessity of carrying out another detailed review. For cannabis and cannabis resin, this is in response to resolution 52/5 from CND for a report on cannabis.

Amb. Srisamoot:  Any other questions related to ECDD meeting or the briefing? Thanks to WHO for taking up the CND resolution.

WHO: We are sensitive to the timetable presented. We are committed to providing the recommendations on time. We will also consider rearranging the ECDD so it can take place earlier in the year for convenience.

Amb. Srisamoot:  Before I conclude, I would also like to mention a number of subsidiary bodies that are conducting meetings; Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies have conducted several meetings:

  • HONLEA Europe took place in Brussels in June
  • HONLEA Africa took place in Algeria from 14th to 18th September
  • HONLEA will be in Latin American and the Caribbean, hosted by Honduras and will take place 5-9th of October
  • HONLEA for Asia Pacific in Bangkok on the 19-22nd of October
  • A sub-commission will happen in Abu Dhabi on 8-12 November

I would like to ask all countries to send delegates to participate actively to ensure good outcomes. There will be no meeting in the afternoon. Adjourns meeting.

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