CND Intersessional – 24 February 2016

Chairs of CND and UNGASS Preparations open with information on logistics and procedures for the CND. Speaking time at the opening session will be limited. 10 draft resolutions have been received, as well as some additional scheduling recommendations.

For the UNGASS, negotiations on the outcome document are ongoing and being held in “informal informals” between now and CND.

They then discussed the UNGASS roundtables, roundtable Chairs, and topics. There were 78 side events accepted for the CND, but there will only be space for less than half of this number at the UNGASS itself. The process for NGO participation has also now been launched.

Netherlands, as Presidency of the EU – Happy that access to medicines has now been reflected in preamble of the outcome document, but we hope for a special paragraph on this. A step forward has been made in the new draft, but some key elements are still missing or need to be reinforced. We need a strong and concise document with the following elements. UNGASS must be a milestone event for more balanced policy worldwide. We support the abolition of the death penalty, and language must reflect that the death penalty is used by some countries for drug offences, and is condemned by others. UNODC should also be asked to report on this issue in their World Drug Reports. We must focus on public health in the spirit of evidence-based drug policies, including risk and harm reduction measures. We need a proper evaluation, not based on ideology only. The outcome document must encourage stronger working between UNODC and other UN agencies.

Mexico – We appreciate the atmosphere of the negotiations. The outcome document is too long, and the Board should make it more concise and focused, and much more political – as is appropriate for UNGASS. This depends on the leadership of the Board, and we feel that the methodology is correct. A number of paragraphs have been left to one side, but new text will make the document even longer. So we need to properly include these – in synthesis. We do not like the idea of two tiers of paragraphs – those agreed and within the sole mandate of CND, and other broader ones needing more discussion. These must not be treated as first class and second class: the Board must pay attention to them all.

On the UNGASS roundtables, we encourage colleagues in New York to make progress on these issues too, as this is the responsibility of the President of the General Assembly. CND’s role is to support.

UNGASS Board Chair – This is in the hands of member states. Paragraphs that are agreed in the informals will be included. Member states are the same here as in New York, we should be receiving the same instructions in Vienna, so I do not see where the problem lies.

Guatemala – With only a few weeks until CND, we need to approve the document and yet we are told that a third draft is coming soon. The second draft includes 49 paragraphs – but it is hard to approve paragraphs in isolation rather than negotiate the entire text, and even harder if we get new language next week. We should not be eliminating paragraphs. The third draft should be considered the last one, then we start negotiating the final text. I reiterate our commitment to approving this document in Vienna, but it may have to be discussed in New York too.

Pakistan – Just a few observations. We still have some problems with the structure of the outcome document. It should fully preserve the balanced approach of the 2009 Political Declaration [which had three pillars: demand reduction, supply reduction and international cooperation]. We have created multiple placeholders in the text, which continues to expand, and the balance is being impacted. We are supportive of human rights aspects, but see an overemphasis in the draft on some elements over others. Now that there is a section on human rights in the text, all references to human rights should be moved there. The challenges of transit countries should be reflected too. We must avoid being prescriptive in our proposals, and the principle of shared responsibility needs to be reinforced. Regarding health, we should be forthcoming in discussing the means of implementation for the proposals.

Ecuador – The informal debates have been intense and complex, and we now see which subjects need greater effort to agree consensus. Informal discussions have not concluded fully, and we need a text with an initial agreement while we continue on more complex issues. The aim for UNGASS is to reflect the breadth of opinions and views.

Regarding UNGASS roundtable chairs, this decision should be made with the President of the General Assembly, as underscored by Mexico. We should also consider the level of participation at UNGASS, will it be Heads of States or ministers, etc.

Italy – We align fully with the EU position. We need to align the text and avoid duplication to have a shorter, more focused outcome document. The promotion of proportionate sentencing and alternatives to incarceration for minor drug offences is one of the main objectives of the UNGASS, in line with drug conventions. One important element is still missing, and we need reference to the abolition of the death penalty for drug crimes. Partners have put forward very constructive language in this regard.

Colombia – We accepted the methodology of informal negotiations etc., although we did not accept consensus. We need to launch negotiations, and the outcome document should confirm the aim of the drug conventions to protect health through balanced, people-focused policies that include human rights. All of this has been endorsed by the INCB and UNODC, so should be reflected in document. We need more language on drug consumption as a health issue, and on the death penalty. The world drug problem should be dealt with in an evidence-base way, and not through ideology. It is a multifaceted problem. This does not mean undermining or weakening our fight against organised crime – in fact, it will strengthen it. INCB’s 2015 report states that UNGASS is time to make a critical evaluation of the world drug problem and drug policies, and to examine how the treaties have been implemented. The world has changed, and drug realities have changed. So we need additional policies to deal with this.

Costa Rica – In Resolution 58/8, the President of the General Assembly has the mandate to support the nomination process for roundtable chairs, so we are awaiting the final decision from New York, which will come after 10th March.

Chair response – We have raised our proposal in meetings with the President of the General Assembly, and it was never questioned and no doubts were raised – although this was his privilege to do so.

Turkey – We have seen attacks on civilians by terrorists, with arms bought with the profits from the drug trade. We want to see language on this in the outcome document.

Panama – UNGASS is our opportunity to rethink the world drug problem from different angles. The UNODC report in 2014 estimated that 243 million people use drugs – so we need a balanced approach that puts people, their health and welfare at the centre, and aims to achieve peaceful and inclusive societies in line with Sustainable Development Goals. The principle is not to leave anyone behind, including the most vulnerable, including those who use drugs. We are pleased to see public health and human rights approaches, including commitment to care for people to deal with addictions, in the outcome document. Too many people suffer without the right pain treatment because substances are not available. This requires evaluation to improve the effectiveness of UN bodies in this field. We all need to more effectively articulate our efforts in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. The multilateral agendas for women, peace keeping, etc. have already done this with success.

Chile – We need a concise and action-oriented document which avoids repetitions. If we are to conclude negotiations in Vienna, all member states need to make an effort to ensure a balanced document.

Norway – It is essential to conclude negotiations here in Vienna. We have spent months getting to know each other’s positions. We need inclusiveness. We thank the World Health Organisation, who have come here to support consistently, and the Human Rights Council meeting, etc. We know what each other want now – and you all know Norway’s positions too: abolishment of the death penalty, a person-centred approach, proportionality. As Chair of CND ‘Committee of the Whole’ in March, I urge you all to work intensively to prepare the resolutions and language, and to merge resolutions – so we can allocate more time to the UNGASS document. I don’t think we need to leave this to New York. This would seem like a failure given the efforts we have made in Vienna. It has to cover all of our concerns, and must be consensus.

New Zealand – The greater emphasis on proportionality is welcome, as are alternatives to incarceration – which will be a significant outcome for UNGASS. But the death penalty is still missing. On new challenges, we welcome the new structure. It is important that language addresses the whole ‘life cycle’ of new psychoactive substances, and not just their emergence. The role of academia is also crucial and should be encouraged.

Uruguay – There is still a lot of work to do. We need balance and a real diagnosis of the situation. We should strengthen the health and human rights aspects in line with the aim of the conventions. We don’t think that it is easy for delegations to consider new paragraphs out of context, we need to review the document as a whole. We have to remember that nothing can be agreed in the informals: nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

El Salvador – Thanks to all delegations for their constructive work. We need a short and balanced document. We need to take into account the concerns of delegations. On the UNGASS roundtables, we trust that there will be good coordination between regional groups and New York.

Russia – The greatest criticism of many is that the text is too long – but this is because some delegations keep proposing non-consensus text that slows down the process. We call on colleagues not to slow down the negotiations this way. We still have time to come up with a balanced, concise and pithy document in Vienna. We look forward to seeing the third draft of the outcome document. In terms of the role of the President of the General Assembly, this matter seems to be addressed in the General Assembly resolutions. The key role is with CND, and the President of the General Assembly remains involved. We call on colleagues to proceed in line with this.

China – We appreciate the constructive attitudes of colleagues in negotiations. We hope that CND and the Board will play a more positive role and work with more countries to make this UNGASS successful. Regarding the outcome document, we have achieved a lot to date. The document needs to comply with the aims of the UNGASS: namely to review the Political Declaration of 2009, to identify new challenges, and to summarise achievements, within the mandate of the three drug conventions. In consultations, we notice new situations and challenges emerging, but we think these are covered already in the Political Declaration and the conventions. We need to think hard about whether we have really implemented the conventions and the Political Declaration. If we had done this, the situation would be much better now. So our focus should be on the implementation of these, rather than on changing the current framework. There is no need for us to reinvent the wheel. We emphasise the balance in the outcome document. The drug issue has many aspects and we need to think about the contents, comprehensiveness and integrity of our proposals. We are talking about drug policies rather than human rights, Sustainable Development Goals or climate change. Not that these issues are not important, but they are not our mandate – there are better forums in the UN for these discussions. All states should be constructive and cooperative in their approach, to create a successful UNGASS, rather than creating barriers and problems to complicate the process. Some colleagues mention the death penalty. We have discussed this for some time. If we introduce that here we run the risk of complicating and politicising the situation. We don’t think it is proper to discuss the death penalty in this setting, as it will not lead to any consensus.

Sweden – We align fully with the EU position. Some additional points of importance: we welcome the progress made. In 1998, CND agreed on an outcome document which was then agreed by UN General Assembly – we hope this is the case in 2016 too, and we avoid complicated negotiations in New York. Work ahead needs to have a human rights based approach – including the right not to be exposed to drugs, the right to treatment, etc. We welcome the reference to Art 33 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Gender aspects must be incorporated too, rather than as an isolated issue or track or one that is merged with paragraphs on other groups and their specific needs. We should reference the right against discrimination in the preamble. Global efforts to reduce demand are insufficient and need to be strengthened. We should also strengthen cooperation between WHO and UNODC on treatment, rehabilitation and access to medicines, ahead of 2019. CND and UNODC have unique roles to coordinate drug issues, but the wider UN system should be mobilised to tackle drugs in their own mandates too. The role of the World Bank and the regional development banks should also be clarified.

Tunisia – We support the intervention from Turkey on terrorism and the links to drug trafficking as a source of funding. These groups have entrenched their presence and launched attacks on countries around the world – including Tunisia. This is related to the smuggling of drugs.

Peru – We cover many topics, all of which contribute to a balanced and integrated document – but it can be improved further and made more concise. We welcome proposal for a third text which can then be negotiated and agreed at the CND.

Nigeria – The UNGASS Board has done a wonderful job. 2016 is an important milestone on the road to 2019, and the new Political Declaration. This is closely linked to the 2030 Agenda, with its focus on health and development. Many discussions have taken place, recognising that this is a complex issue. The outcome document should include a clear statement of the limited progress that has been made towards the 2019 goals, and the new realities we face, and acceptance of the need for new approaches. We should also promote alternative development initiatives. The document should emphasise transnational organised crime and the link with drugs. Proceeds of crimes should be returned to the countries of origin. Transit routes are also an imperative. We subscribe to the need for a short text which includes all of the concerns of member states. No country alone can confront this issue – shared responsibility is key, including a comprehensive approach to treatment and care.

India – We support efforts to conclude these negotiations at CND, and emphasise the need to stay on course. Attempts to weigh down the document by including unrelated and weak paragraphs will only delay the process. Attempts to introduce and import unrelated issues into the document should be discouraged by the Board. Now is the time to prune down the document, to achieve a short and concise document, rather than veering into unnecessary areas.

Egypt – We trust in the UNGASS Board and the CND.

Saudi Arabia – We must abide by the three drug conventions as the cornerstone. Some member states have added suggestions that are not in line with international law, such as language on the death penalty. We reject suggested language on eliminating the death penalty, and support other countries against elimination. We do implement death penalty. We should not prevent implementation if it is committed within legal standards. We need a balanced approach for demand and supply, including rehabilitation for drug addicts. We reaffirm the operational paragraphs in the document, and reject some calls to allow use of certain drugs for non-medical purposes.

France – Having an open and frank debate means considering the whole gamut of issues. For the French delegation, it is fundamental that the three drug conventions are the cornerstone. CND, in our view, relies on this structure put in place by the UN, and it is essential to tackle the world drug problem. Supply reduction is also a very important aspect. Tunisia, Turkey and others talking about the link between drugs and terrorism, this is very important and we hope that the document proves to be ambitious.

Indonesia – We echo the statements made for constructive engagement, and for not complicating or politicising the outcome document. We understand that the drug problem is quite complex. Responses include capital punishment.

Morocco – The draft outcome document is a solid basis for consensus, and we hope that the good spirits will remain, and we must all show sufficient flexibility to reach a consensus that addresses all of our concerns. We have underscored the importance of some paragraphs – including the need for balance, the security side of dealing with demand, and the need for common responsibility – based on the UN Charter and three drug conventions. The use of trade links for drug trafficking is an important factor in any strategy to tackle drugs and cultivation, and should be given importance in the outcome document, with commitments to technical support and alternative development.

Civil Society Task Force – My name is Katherine Pettus and I am addressing you today on behalf of the Civil Society Task Force for UNGASS 2016. The following are some of the main points from the summary of key themes from the Informal Interactive Stakeholder Consultation in Support of the Preparatory Process for the UNGASS.  Panel participants were from Pakistan Uganda, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Colombia, Chile, Kenya, Lithuania, Nepal, India, and Jamaica.

The President of the UN General Assembly, the UN Secretary-General, UNGASS Board Chair Ambassador Shamaa, and UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedetov. It was an inclusive and participatory part of the preparatory process. Civil society was represented by Ms. Asia Ashraf from the Sunny Trust International Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre, Islamabad, who drew attention to the urgent need for female-friendly drug treatment services.

The first roundtable was on “Drugs and Health: Perspectives from the Experts at the Grassroots Level”:

  1. Speakers voiced broad agreement over the need for a genuine people- and human rights-centred public-health approach to drug control. This perspective views punitive and repressive policies as damaging and counter-productive, exacerbating the HIV and HCV epidemics, and high levels of overdose, especially in prisons and closed settings. Only one in six people who use drugs receive necessary treatment and thousands die each year from preventable overdose.
  2. The lack of access to controlled medicines for the relief of pain, dependence treatment and mental healthcare, continues to create a public health crisis, as the new INCB supplement shows. Multilateral programs must fund technical support programs to educate drug control officers, lawmakers, and healthcare professionals in all countries where consumption is low to inadequate. The WHO identifies morphine, which is inexpensive and easy to produce, as the gold standard in pain management.
  3. There were many strong and urgent calls to implement and scale up comprehensive harm reduction services and evidence-based drug dependence treatment, and to ensure that these services are both gender-and age sensitive.
  4. Substance use disorder should be perceived as a multi-factorial health disorder, and not subject to criminal penalties. It is best addressed through an integrated spectrum of responses ranging from prevention, harm reduction, treatment, recovery and social reintegration.
  5. Young people must participate in the development and design of drug policies. They called for access to evidence-based prevention, dependence treatment, harm reduction and decriminalization of consumption. Particular attention was drawn to the responsibility of member states to prevent and discourage illicit drug use in children and young people.
  6. The gender dimension of drug control policies was highlighted, since repressive drug control measures negatively affect women and families. Women who use drugs should be consulted as part of policy and program development.
  7. Speakers called on member states to consider decriminalization, depenalization and alternatives to punishment and incarceration to improve public health outcomes. Criminalization undermines the health and well-being of people who use drugs as it deters them from accessing health services for fear of arrest and imprisonment. Speakers urged Member States to consider the responsible legal regulation of drugs, including medical cannabis, as part of a harm reduction response.
  8. Civil society’s role in representing affected and marginalized populations, was strongly highlighted. Broad and integrated involvement of civil society is critical to the success of the UNGASS and the final review of the 2009 Political Declaration and its Plan of Action.

The second roundtable was on “Drugs, Human Rights, Community and Development: Creating Synergies between Member States and Civil Society to Empower Communities”:

  1. There were many calls to ground drug polices in the principles of human rights, including proportional sentencing and abolition of the death penalty for drug related offences. Member States need guidance as to what constitutes a most serious offence in the context of the conventions, as use of the death penalty for drug offences constitutes a violation of international law.
  2. Speakers asked member states to recognize, rather than criminalize, the traditional use of plants (such as cannabis, coca, opium) The rights of subsistence farmers and indigenous groups, should be respected as these plants are used for medicinal and ceremonial purposes
  3. Sustainable alternative development policies must include farmers in both the design and implementation processes. Protection of farmers and their communities’ rights is a key guiding principle since punitive policies and forced eradication have a detrimental effect on livelihoods and on the natural environment.
  4. The world drug problem is inextricably linked to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Speakers called for system-wide coherence and a multi-stakeholder approach reflecting mutual and shared responsibility.
  5. Participants in the dialogue urged member states to review the metrics and indicators used to measure the success of drug policies, since those currently in use do not address poverty, inequality, discrimination, food insecurity, and environmental damage. Current indicators also ignore the links between terrorism and organized crime, including drug trafficking. Developing new metrics would contribute to the achievement of just, peaceful and inclusive societies (Sustainable Development Goal number 16). A call was made for a formal body to revise indicators and metrics.
  6. A concern was voiced over the movement to regulate cannabis in some developed countries and the effects especially on children and youth, of such policies, and associated commercialization, in less developed countries.
  7. There were calls to set up an independent mechanism to assess the implementation of the international drug control conventions over the past 60 years. This mechanism would be tasked with providing a set of comprehensive suggestions at the 2019 final review of the 2009 Political Declaration and its Plan of Action.

For those of you who were not able to attend the event in person, the video recording of the Consultation is available on UN Web TV (part 1 and part 2).

Iraq – We need not to interfere in the legislation of states, which have variations in their levels of social and economic development. We also underscore the objectives and principles of the 2009 Political Declaration for a balanced approach. CND has an important role to play. All delegations have participated in the discussions, and the document is balanced and comprehensive – with some additions made here and there to amend the document. However, we call on some states to view positively and objectively the problems of other countries. I have heard contributions that we have rejected at other occasions, and there are indeed some terms that we consider inappropriate at this time. Time is short, and we will soon be at CND, and this document has to be adopted in Vienna.

Brazil – We appreciate the second draft of the outcome document, and we recognise the efforts to propose a document which points towards the end result of negotiations. We trust that the third version will bring us closer.

Oman – We underscore the need not to agree to the abolition of the death penalty, a measure which is taken in a very restrictive manner in Oman.

Singapore – The recommendations should be practical and easily translated into actions by agencies. We are doing our part by striving to keep our society free of drugs, and by following the three drug conventions. This includes effective laws, strong enforcement, and active engagement of the community. An integral part of this is capital punishment. We do not glorify this aspect, but it is an integral part of our efforts to manage the drug situation in Singapore. We have achieved a degree of success. The outcome document must also respect the sovereignty of states to manage the drug situation in accordance with their principles.

UNGASS Board Chair – I see no more requests to speak. Thank you all for the criticisms and the praise – it is all useful and we will try to incorporate it into the decisions that are made. Although some suggestions are contradicting so it is difficult. Many delegations praised the atmosphere in negotiations, which has allowed us to get to where we are. Of course, some are less happy than others. It is a difficult process, but this is the way that these negotiations go. I would like to have a shorter document, but delegations always introduce new ideas – so I sometimes wonder if it is more important that the document is good or that it is short. It should be operational and it should save lives. The document should have a ‘soul’. It does not have one yet, but I hope that when we arrive in New York it will have.

CND Chair (Lithuania) – That brings us to ‘Any Other Business’. [None raised].

CND Secretariat – Informal negotiations will resume this afternoon at 2pm.

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