Thirtieth special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem (2nd plenary meeting)

The chair addresses the floor.
The chair addresses the floor.

The full statements delivered by member states during the UNGASS general debate are available here

Chair: We will resume the agenda.

India: This is an Historic special session. We are meeting after 2009 political declaration, just months after we adopted SDPs. The Drug problem impacts our ability to achieve this agenda. The three conventions have served us well in limiting and managing the drug problem. We strongly believe in the centrality of the conventions. We believe that the conventions provide ample scope to incorporate the human face of the drug problem. Terrorism knows no borders, the growing networks of criminal trafficking thrive, we are committed to fighting them. National efforts however intense and sincere cannot tackle the drug problem, international cooperation is key. Precursor chemicals are important and we are doing our best to tackle this. We are taking measures grounded in public health, including OST and treatment clinics. Money laundering and illicit financial flows remain a major challenge. We hosted the network meeting in New Delhi to combat these crimes and increase international cooperation. The task ahead is arduous. I’m confident that this session will give new impetus to our aims. Thank you.

Switzerland: In 1998, the last UNGASS proclaimed a drug free world we can do it. Today the contours of a new paradigm are taking shape placing the human being at the center of policies, not substances. This is welcomed by Switzerland. Rectifying the situation of the world drug problem are health approaches. Abstinence cannot be our response. Risk reduction is an indispensable pillar of drug policy. Repressive measures must work in coordination with this, but we are aware that this increases risk. Thus coordination between health services and law enforcement. We confirm our opposition to the death penalty, and express our disappointment that the death penalty was not mentioned in the outcome document. We must implement an international drug policy based on health and human rights.

France: The dire effect of drugs on the health and well being of people is well documented. WHO has shown this. Violence goes hand in hand with drug trafficking, and it funds terrorism in some cases. Faced with this triple scourge, France is implementing a comprehensive approach guided by the conventions. This response must go hand in hand with human rights, and opposes the death penalty. We are tackling the drug problem in several ways: Through health: France has developed many harm reduction programmes that have allowed us to reduce new HIV cases. Through trafficking and financial flows: stopping trafficking of precursor chemical, confiscating financial assets. Through prevention: we have just organized a side event on this, ‘Listen First’. Our only choice is to come together. We must implement the road map adopted today by the General assembly.

United Kingdom: We welcome this special session. We wish to lay out a clear road map for the declaration of 2019. The United Kingdom welcomes the outcome document, it has ambitious goals that we should all follow. We are implementing a comprehensive approach to drugs within the framework of the conventions. Drug use is down in England and Wales. We are currently developing a new drug strategy. In January we introduced new legislation, which introduces a general ban on all NPS. We have shown global leadership, with a long term objective of a sustainable international plan to deal with NPS. We should tackle it with data sharing and sharing of ideas to get harmful NPS under control. We implement a smart response, which includes alternatives to incarceration for minor offenses, treatment for drugs, and proportionality in sentencing – and we attain this while still retaining criminal sanctions. We do not support the use of the death penalty in any case, and we support human rights approaches. We are the second largest funder for HIV prevention and HIV care. Too many people live and die in avoidable pain because of limited access to controlled medicines.

New Zealand: what will we collectively have to show for our efforts after this process? We regret the lack of consensus on the death penalty. Make no mistake: it has no place in civilized society. People will hold this up as a meeting that promises much but achieves little, and it will reflect badly on the system if we do not negotiate something concrete. Compared to the global narcotic drugs industry, we are moving at a snails pace – because we are tied by an outdated, punitive global response. [Quote on failure] Globally drug policy is approaching its “10,000” failed attempt. Responsible regulation is the way forward. It is imperative that a move toward a regulated market, is an authority led process.  We made the mistake of allowing a drug market (NPS) to grow with out being led properly, and this must be avoided. We must not allow regulation to get ahead of us: Cannabis is an example. It must be subject to a robust scientific response, like any other drug. That said, anyone with a terminal illnesses deserves the right treatments.

Sweden: Drugs threaten people’s safety and security across the world to different degrees, across crime, terrorism, trafficking. But the threat to health is universal. We must ensure that people have access to risk and harm reduction services. We must not regulate or legalize more of what does them harm. No coherent health policy can justify legal regulation of yet more substances that cause us harm. Refer to WHO’s recent report on the harms of cannabis. We must call for all human rights organisation to keep up the pressure on policy makers – including the rights of children, woman, proportionate sentencing, and the rights of prisoners. Human rights conventions are not parallel systems – human rights factions of the UN must work with UNODC etc. The cartels globalize what works for them, we must do so too, in the name of health and hope.

Uruguay: The GA is an irreplaceable system. But the models and strategies have not given the desired response. The model known as the war on drugs is a skewed interpretation of the conventions and has created more harm than the the harm created by drugs. Kofi Annan, former Secretary General, said “Drugs have destroyed lives, but government policies have destroyed many more.” The drug market is worth 330 billion dollars a year – but our policies have had scant effect on drug consumption. This has become a war on users and people. Market analysis is indispensable when dealing with this issue, drugs operate within markets. We must confirm that the aim of the conventions is to safeguard rights. The right to eliminate pain and mitigate harm. The outcome document is a step forward, if small. The most important part of this process, is this state of debate – which establishes a new consensus based on diversity. Harm reduction and risk reduction is important. We have strategic thinking on markets, and we believe that we must create regulated markets in order to control them. Cannabis for example, is something that we have been doing this with. It requires robust and continuous policy assessment, and might not be the answer for every country. it has been implemented with help from civil society, health professionals etc. We at one point unleashed a senseless war, to eradicate drugs, criminalizing users without impacting the profits in organized crime. Worst of all, it reduced respect for law and justice. Allow some literary license, although it may be a vanity: “to everything there is a seasons.. a time to be born, and time to die, harvest, kill, and a time to heal”. It is time for the UN GA to open new avenues and establish a new, peace-seeking agenda for drug policy.

Senegal: Costs includes human rights violations and other social harms. Conventions are the cornerstones of the drug policy approach. West Africa is particularly vulnerable due to geographical location – it damages our development. As a region, we must formulate and implement a strategy. Even though incarceration has failed in many respects, we are however against legal regulation and legalization.

Haiti: The drug situation worldwide is bleak and alarming.  Our statements here are focused on the issues of drugs in Haiti and the legal framework and the prospects of the government to which I belong. Our office of medicine provides an overview of the drug situation. Our geographical location lures drug traffickers, mainly cocaine and marijuana. The data from the observatory led to an increase in operations carried out to tackle this. We established a naval base to combat trafficking. From 2011 to 2015 – there was an increase of 212 KG cocaine and 500 KG marijuana seizures (…) There are many challenges in Haiti, including children in the streets. Many studies still need to be carried out, particularly  to measure the prevalence of drugs among the population. We want to halt trafficking and shield our population from drug abuse.

South Africa (on behalf of AU states): The AU emphasis evidence based approaches to drug control and respect for human rights. It is classed alongside health and population matters in the AU. 2016 is the year of human rights, particularly woman who are often caught up in drug trafficking. The common African position reflects the African POA, and health and human rights inform all the operative paragraphs. We wish to underline the usefulness of a regional approach. As you can imagine, this is important for our diverse continent. We wish to borrow lessons from the fight against HIV/AIDS – we must enable drug users to access psycho-social and health services by integrating them into society. Good information and services must be integrated into churches, tribal contexts and anywhere it is useful. Also, people should not die in pain. We must help and manage those found abusing drugs. We remain committed to a drug free continent and a continent free of new HIV infections.

Malaysia (on behalf of ASEAN): We recognize the UNGASS outcome document as an important milestone. ASEAN is looking to achieve a drug free society. We are aware of the disastrous affect of drugs, on national security, on drug users. The Drug conventions are the cornerstones, and provide an important platform from which to create policy. We are firmly against drugs and thus their legalization. We respect the sovereign right of countries to adopt polices that match their contexts however. While some adopt new approaches, they must not be imposed on other countries, including the ASEAN. This approach recognizes a wide spectrum of problems.  The overall objective of our efforts is to protect individuals and families from drugs. Supply reduction efforts are an integral part of all drug policies. We have also created new platforms to disrupt the work of international drug syndicates. We look forward to continue our partnership with UN agencies, including UNODC. Now allow me to deliver my statement in a national capacity.

Malaysia: Malaysia strongly underscores the importance of the conventions. We recognize the need for an integrated/balanced response for supply and demand reduction. We recognize that there is no one size fits all measure. We believe in sovereign right of nations to decide what is best for them. We fully recognize the issue of common and shared responsibility in regard to the world drug problem.

Turkey: The production of drugs has funded terrorism for a long time. It is an open threat to national and international security. We consider drug addiction as a trade-able disease. We have a zero tolerance approach. Success can only be achieved through cooperation. For the last 10 years we have carried out 192 international cooperation activities with 40 countries. We are implementing legislative changes. to ensure this, we have established a commission. We have established a new special law enforcement unit. We have increased penalties. I hope this meeting provides guidance for our future work.

Japan: We have actively participated in the discussion in UNGASS. We are very much looking forward to this discussion. Three areas of concern: 1) Spread of methamphetamine 2) margins of NPS 3) global instability,. We are particularity concerned about third point. Fighting global drug problem is key to fighting violent extremism. We have made considerable steps toward controlling NPS. We have contributed to anti-terrorist operations. We highly appreciate the role of CND and INCB and UNODC and support these bodies.

Morocco (on behalf of Francophonie group): Sufficient resources must be mobilized to tackle WDP. Human rights conventions and instruments of UN charter are keystones in developing drug policy. In areas of public health, we must focus on prevention and treatment, within  the context of a balanced approach. We commit our selves to promoting the well being of society as a whole, on a non-discriminatory basis. We are concerned that 80% of world does not have access to pain relief. We must ensure availability while not allowing them to fall into illicit markets. We must pay attention to the links between organized crime, terrorism and drugs. It has been scientifically proven that consumption of certain substances can lead to brain damage and emotional damage. We are particularity responsible to young people. Preventing addiction requires global and balanced approach. Prevention strategies must take into account recent discoveries on drug abuse and recommendations by experts. This should guide states in choosing programmes. In education we must advocate prevention and take different approaches at different ages. Synergy between all involved: law enforcement, health professionals, lawyers etc. We must have preventive measures that take into account socioeconomic factors. NPS poses a serious threat. We must build effective response based on evidence. We must develop global anti-drug polices and programmes over the long term, focused on sustainable development etc. We call on all stakeholders to provide greater support over the longer term, that are balanced and focus more on sustainable development and health solutions.

Morocco: This session is indeed timely. It comes at a decisive moment, where we have seen an increase of NPS and modes of consumption. We must adopt national / international strategies to tackle this. We must come up with specific answers, and a usable road map, in-spite of different approaches. The international community has the objective to protect our societies. We stress the importance of being extremely careful of decriminalization and legalization, we must not move quickly from blanket prohibition to a model like this, as this could prove to counter-productive and dangerous. Our geographical location has led us to a position of vulnerability and we are currently struggling against the scourge of drugs. We are developing services for drug users, and alternative development programmes to make our fight more effective, as well as increased international cooperation. We have reduced the area on which cannabis is grown by 63% since 2003. The international approach has produced some good results, yet drug use and production is on the rise.

Sudan (on behalf of African Group): While appreciating progress made at regional, national, international levels, we also recognize much needs to be done. The three drug conventions the cornerstone of this system. We re-affirm our commitment to 2009 declaration and its implementation (…) The group stresses that effective drug policy is balanced and integrated as outlined in conventions and POA. We must create a society that is drug free. It is important that we recognize drug abuse as a health issue, while upholding the rule of law. Concerned about lack of access and un-affordability of pain relieving drugs. We would like to call for increased technical assistance to respond to drug problem. Concerned about links between terrorism, human trafficking, cyber crime, money laundering etc. We express concern over the legalization and decriminalization in some regions of the world. We think these misguided policies will lead to further problems in our global fight against the WDP. We attach high importance to alternative development as a means to curb the WDP. In conclusion, let me assure you of the full support of the AG.

Macedonia: We align ourselves with EU statement. We undertake harm reduction methods to fight drug problems, alongside other approaches. Balkan route is important trafficking route to European Markets. Migrant crisis has increased trafficking, seen as an opportunity by traffickers. The only way to tackle this is to cooperate with regional and international partners. This UNGASS is an opportunity to address challenges and increase cooperation.

Nigeria: We align ourselves with statement of Thailand on behalf of (?) and the statement of the African Group. We are not a producer of drugs, but we have become a thoroughfare. it is a concern that young people both use and sell drugs. We must educate people to reduce demand, supply and trafficking. We have leveraged the day against drugs (26th June) to broaden the debate – including possible measures to ban pharmaceuticals that can be taken as drugs. We want to prevent and ban the consumption of any substance that can harm our people, particularly young people.

Lebanon: (…) We have given users the right to choose a state sponsored treatment programme, with the chance to have charges dropped if they undertake the programme. We are committed to drug free world. We look forward to a positive outcome of the UNGASS.

Cape Verde We align ourselves with the African Group. Reforming our world in a sustainable manner remains paramount. Countering the world drug problem must include human rights considerations. We deeply regret that the outcome document does not include language on the death penalty.

Representative of Uganda prepares to speak
Representative of Uganda prepares to speak

Uganda: We have made a number of legislative changes to ensure pain medication are prescribed where needed. We have many challenges, including lack of availability of opioids, lack of capacity and resources, lack of coordination between our government instruments. Narcotics and drug trafficking a major problem that we have identified. Uganda realizes that we need to use some drugs in medicinal context , but we must also uphold international law on controlled substances.

Tunisia: we align ourselves with the African Group position. Punitive measures have not brought about desired results. Often it destroys the lives of users. We have a new piece of legislation that distinguishes between the seller and the user of drugs, which is important. Prevention has become a priority over punitive approach. We stress the importance of drug addicts’ right to have access to treatment and rehabilitation services.

Ernesto Samper speaks on behalf of UNASUR

Saudi Arabia: This is one of the most important challenges facing the international community. We wish this UNGASS all success. We hope the consensus document helps to tackle the WDP. This calls on our responsibility to protect our societies. We must enhance international cooperation. We must seek this solution, within the conventions and with respect to national law. The kingdom has focused on providing treatment for drug addicts. On prevention side, a national project was established.

UNASUR: My pleasure to speak on behalf of South American Union of Nations. Working for more than 40 years for the nation of Colombia, I can look back over this process. At the time it was a case of imploring consumer countries to shoulder responsibility with the producing countries, developing the principle of common and shared responsibility. Our consensus has three basic premises: 1) human rights is inseparable from the issue 2) Human rights is the most important issue is public health, it is not a security problem but a health problem, drugs are not bad because they are prohibited, but bad because they impact health 3) having a more tolerant position with the weak link of the drug chain, allowing traditional uses – these things are not incompatible with a firm stand against organized crime. We would like the document to include the elimination of the death penalty – but as this is not the case, perhaps instead we could seek agreements to have South American’s repatriated instead of murdered abroad, and more lenient penalties on users and micro-trafficking. For our countries, the drug problem is not just a problem of public health but also the survival of our rule of law. The drug problem is about surviving as a democracy. Please take this home and think about it. We will continue to work hard to fight this problem.

Chair: That was our last speaker. We continue with the right of reply.

Armenia: We regret to see that Azerbaijan has hijacked our voice, and made strong allegations against our nation. We reject all of them. It is Azerbaijan that violates security resolutions, not Armenia. We have accepted measures proposed by mediators. Heavy use of heavy weaponry and machinery shows the international community that they have violated the resolutions. Azerbaijan keeps Nagorno-Karabakh’s cordoned off with military forces, and these forces commit violent attacks against the population, in ISIS style attacks; be-headings and mutilation. The accounts show that Azerbaijan personnel have been exposed to substance abuse before these attacks. I call on the general assembly to hold Azerbaijan accountable for these attacks.

Azerbaijan: we take the floor to exercise the right of reply to challenge this falsified statement by Armenia. Conflict and post-conflict situations contribute to the growth of criminal activity. Armenia‘s occupation of our territory has provided safe havens for drug production. Starting from January 2nd 2016, Armenia has been conducting systematic and non-discriminatory attacks on 32 settlements. Without use of defence measures there would have been a higher death toll. Azerbaijan has only taken appropriate measures. More than 80% of deaths reported on Armenian side have been the deaths of military personnel, which demonstrates the extent of their military involvement.

Chair: We will continue tomorrow at 10 am. Meeting adjourned.

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