Home » General Assembly: Thirtieth Special Session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (3rd plenary meeting)

General Assembly: Thirtieth Special Session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (3rd plenary meeting)

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

Chair: The third plenary meeting of the 30th special session calls to order; the GA continues its meeting

Singapore: Mister President, Singapore is happy to be participating to UNGASS 2016. To discuss the global drug problem, we need to ask a question: what kind of world to we want for our people? Good quality of life. This can’t be achieved without security. How do we deal with drug abuse in our communities? In the next three year, we will need to develop consensus on this question. Countries have tried to fight to scourge of drugs, and they have failed. Parts of countries are led by drug lords; other countries problems are contained within certain segments of the population. When you go down the route of harm reduction: drugs harm the abuser, their family and community. Period. Looking at the literature review, 500 articles from reputable medical journals state that Cannabis is harmful; it can harm brain and can have negative cognitive effects. The science approach to drugs is that drugs harm you. You wouldn’t willingly give drugs to your children. We are located in a difficult environment. We believe drugs will destroy our society. 2 million people crossing our border, this is why we have adopted a comprehensive, tough approach to tackle demand and supply. Singapore is relatively drug free, and the drug situation is under control. There aren’t no-go zones, no centers of drug production. I have heard speeches at UNGASS: Demand reduction does not have to mean no compassion for the abuser, doesn’t have to mean throw away the key and condemn the abuser to a life of criminality. It is possible to be tough on drug abusers and at the same time support them, help them and re-integrate them into society. We focus on counselling, we do not detain, rather we place them into a framework so they reintegrate. Help them kick the habit, cold turkey is often necessary, because we believe in the dignity of human potential. In the 1990s we used to arrest drug abusers every year: Singapore has halved the number of abusers today. What that mean is that 3000 lives have been saved a year from the scourge of drugs. Looking at crime, in Singapore, they are related to drugs, or past antecedents related to drugs. How do we product the victims of drugs: what about the victims? Babies born with drug dependency, do we talk about their rights? Young infant babies who are already drug dependent. We will change our position if people can show us based on evidence, that drugs are good for people, and that crime situation will not get worse. Not impressed with rhetoric alone. Those with different views, show me a model that works better, and we will consider changing. If not possible, don’t ask me to change. For 2019, we need consensus on how to move forward. Every country should have the right to choose what is best for them. We are a drug free Singapore, drug-free ASEAN and this comes from a country rated 1 on rule of law, within top 5 quality of life, and social achievement, education and health care. So if you want me to change, show me a better way.

Denmark: Mister President, ladies and gentlemen. Progress has been achieved, but drug problem continues to challenge the well being of society as a whole. Please allow me to dwell on a few points to the achievements on further progress: Drug policies should be balanced. Prohibition and control cannot stand alone. Overall aim of policy must be harms resulting from drug abuse. Harm reduction measures have been placed in Denmark. This approach is based on the fact that drug policy should be built on human rights. Everybody has the right to be treated with dignity. Denmark regrets that the outcome document doesn’t condemn the death penalty for drug crimes. Denmark is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. To conclude, despite our joint effort, we still face challenges. Human rights and the involvement of civil society are essential to meet this challenges.


Canada: A few weeks ago, in preparation to this event, I met with a groups of lawyers, activists, NGOs, but the most powerful one was of a mother, telling the story of her daughter. She watched her daughter slip away, and pass away. These stories are too common. Countless lives are cut short because of illicit substances. Minister of health acknowledges we must do better for our citizens. We base our reform on a lens of public health and science approach. As a doctor in Canada and in sub Saharan Africa, too many people suffer the devastating effects of drugs. Fortunately, solutions are in our grasp. In our country, work of Insight, supervised consumption site, people can access care and the support they need. We have saved lives from overdose. Our approach to drug must be comprehensive. Must respect human rights. In Canada we apply these principles in terms of Marijuana. Legislation due in spring 2017, will keep Cannabis away from children and profit away from criminals. This challenges the status quo. Canada will continue to modernise its approach to drug policy. Law enforcement partners, we know it is impossible to arrest our way out of this problem. Solutions are collective, with civil society, UN agencies etc. Different countries have different measures, but we respect each other perspective and have common ground.

Bahamas: Good morning. The Bahamas is grateful for the opportunity to participate in this special session. Serious drug problem we face, and commitment to national action and international collaboration in this area is key. Our country is strategically near Latin America and from North America. Cocaine and marijuana produced in the region mainly are in transit in the Bahamas. Serious challenges stemming from drugs fuel arms trafficking, human traffic, illegal immigration and trafficking of persons. These illicit activities, especially arms, sit on the platform created by drug trafficking. A single trafficking exercise, involves illegal immigrants, arms and drugs. We look forward to global efforts, relative to international security. I give my assurance that the Bahamas is willing and committed to address the world drug problem. Bahamas will spare no effort to promote society. I thank you.

Croatia: It is evident that tackling drug problem and punitive approach has negative impact on the world. Croatia does not support death penalty in any circumstance. Including for drug relating offences. It does not deter criminal behaviour. Drugs needs to be approached as public health issue. Essential to think multi-dimensional. One of the biggest concerns, NPS. Elements of outstanding importance: recent years Croatia has been working on national drug policy, while taking into account global drug policies. We have developed to evaluate the cost benefit ratio to implement to national level. Croatia is committed to reintegrate drug users in society. Projects are also aiming to reduce stigma, re-education programmes, and increasing employment rates. It is important to say these programmes are implemented within civil society frameworks. Despite different in national drug policies, it is possible to reach agreement through dialogue. Close with quote of Gandhi: difference between we do and what we are capable of doing will solve most of the world’s problem. On the basis on constructive dialogue can reach our potential and what we are capable of doing.

Philippines: In the Philippines, we find ourselves at the cusp of political change. General elections to be held in three weeks and will impact national policies. Our nation desires to end war on drugs is unwavering and we remain committed in the war. Three basic tenets: first, all of our countries, initiatives and efforts against drugs are aligned with three conventions, second, remain firm against legalisation of drugs. Third, P does not support capital punishment for drug offences. Happy to report progress. Treatment and rehabilitation of drug users: anti-drug plan of action until 2020. Chair, recognise the problem is complex and always evolving. Emergence of narco-politics, and new substances and more, truly our best laid plans will be ineffective unless we all unite. With this huge turnout, it is clear that as a global community and seeming divergence, will prevail. Thank you.

Argentina: Mr. President. I will begin by referring to a tragedy that recently happened in Argentina: these events have made us change our presentation today. 5 young people died because of illicit drug intake at a concert, another 5 are in critical conditions at the hospital. This clearly shows how drugs affects every country and person. This special session must be a key moment to renew and prove our fight against drugs. During the process of our present government, priotity has been placed on: fighting against drug trafficking. When we recognise there is a problem, we can find solutions. This problem knows no limits or borders. We need to cooperate against this, this should be a priority. This is why we promote information sharing, and the reduction of demand to prevent and assist and face other crimes, like the traffic of arms, corruption and money laundering. In terms of demand, we take into account that the ultimate aim is to place people at the heart of drug policies. These need to be based on scientific evidence. Human rights are an integral part of Argentina’s stance with drugs. Speaking of human rights, I was to point out that we do not use the death penalty and we want to abolishing of this punishment. UNGASS 2016, we have considered this the opportunity to make an honest evaluation about the progress, achievements and failures. This has been a rich debate, without restrictions. We can see there is a consensus about human rights being one of the biggest parts. In conclusion, we have to fortify our international capacities. We need to periodically review these listings, and we must strengthen regional and international organisations to better fight against drugs. This special session, and the time until 2019, are an excellent opportunity to multiply our cooperation, based on scientific research. Thank you very much.

Georgia: Thank you for convening this Special session. Welcome the results, and the plan of action on international cooperation to counter world drug problem. Regrettably the international community still faces problem, despite our concerted efforts, the world rug problem continues to be a problem around the globe. Important developments in Georgia: Significance of the comprehensive approach. It encompasses four main components, reduce demand and harm, coordinating international and non-governmental organisations. G has taken several institutional steps to this end. Criminal code has amended in 2015, to distinguish between possession and criminal liability. Criminality for possession have reduced. G has also developed integrated national mechanism, treatment and rehabilitation. Medical personnel is no longer obliged to notify officials on drug overdoses. Unprecedented Hep C programme: treatment monitoring, latest drugs for the treatment. As secondary preventive initiative: employment former drug addicts facilitating social integration. In 2014, awareness campaign launched on risks of drug abuse and healthy lifestyle in the population. Coordinated response through greater cooperation. G committed to further cooperate to counter problem resulting from drug abuse. I thank you.

Iran: There is also approach to reduce drug offender’s sentences in prisons for alternative punishment. Harm reduction interventions also instated. Iran, as a country, views that 3 international conventions must be maintained as corner stone due to comprehensive and flexible nature. Meanwhile, CND, has to be supported. Iran supports role of INCB, scientific needs and strengthening UNODC office. Within the framework, voice readiness Iran for hosting conference against illicit drugs, especially for countries on transit route. President, since 2019 year set, Iran presents proposals to be included in agenda of future meeting: adoption of community based approach of recovered addicts and their families as successful measures, necessity to examine recovering addicts, new methods for effective detection of drug crimes through international and regional cooperation. Commitment and technical assistant to transit countries. Focus on containing problem of drugs, production zones, alternative development, principle of shared responsible. Readiness to implement deal between Afghanistan and UNODC with Iran. In conclusion I hope that UNGASS, will prepare conducive grounds for realisation of goals, non-interference, equality, for countering world drug problem. Thank you for kind attention.

Malta: Chair, Excellency, good morning. It is an honour to get opportunity to share our experience of drug control. Why do people become addicted to drugs, or anything else? Lack of will-power or lack of principles? Kicks from addiction? Maybe. But reality, it’s more complex. Complex disease, quitting takes more than strong will or strong intentions. Drugs change brains. Quitting is not really easy, not even for those read to do so. A lot of will power needed. Unfortunately relapsing is too common. Patience to get addict on its feet. Victim need help, support, and evidence based support. We know how to treat drugs. We strongly believe that victims of drugs, need help to beat cruel vice, not sentencing. Drug users no longer face drug sentences, instead a justice commissioner and social board made of experts. Repeat offenders, referred to drug offender rehabilitation/ board can impose mandatory rehabilitation and care. Anyone in possession up to 2 grams heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, while only be subject to a fine. 3.5 Or less of cannabis. We have clear distinction between drug barons, or drug users. Not talking about death penalty for drug traffickers. Regrettable that nothing has been said in outcome document about this. In harm reduction, we are focusing on present needs to prepare for the future. Seeking needs of persons suffering from drug problems. Distributing free for 20 years syringes to reduce harm, we have had 4 HIV, 15 cases of Hep C, 1 case of Hep B from needle sharing. Services are also free for any other addiction. Rehabilitation for under 18 year olds will soon be also given free. Dealing with victims and families will be dealt holistically: post- rehabilitation to after care. We develop anti-poverty strategy within community centres: Many drug addicts lose jobs because they are homeless. We have specialised support, where recovering addicts can build skills and job coach to reintegrate workforce. Recently introduced half way programme: help fund over 3 years living. I thank you.

Jamaica: Jamaica welcomes the convening of this special session. The current reality of world drug problem compel us to complement or develop responses while adhering rule of law. Develop balanced, innovative strategies. Grave threat of drugs, Jamaica has undertaken targeting. Demand reduction programmes are being implemented. We have strengthened laws, prevent money laundering. In developing policies, one size does not fit all. In Jamaica, cannabis has been used as folk medicine and religious sacrament. Uses are not associated with trade. Jamaica amended its dangerous drug act: decriminalised less than 2 ounces of cannabis, created legal regime governing, established state authority to monitor allowed uses. We maintain that countries should craft appropriate laws that take into account important elements. We contend that classification of cannabis is an anomaly, medical evidence should be based on science above anything else. We will be keeping to our policies, while working better addressing world drug problem. We reaffirm our common and shared responsibility to address world drug problem, and enhance collaboration with CND, WHO, INSD, UNDP. We must move forward to make meaningful in addressing world drug problem. Let us not let them down.

Germany: Millions of people around the world are suffering from poverty, crime and violence. While drugs are not only reason, they have a major part to play. What do we have to show for the drug policy in recent decades? Of course, we need effective law enforcement, money laundering and corruption. Our agencies must be better connected internationally. Here we are on common ground. However, law enforcement alone will not resolve drug issue. Instead drug policy must put people and public health first. Decency is not failing, it is a disease that can be treated. Prevention, counselling, have good track record in Europe. Lower crime rates, less HIV and fewer Hepatitis cases. Death penalty can never be a tool of human rights as a drug policy. Prevention, harm reduction and treatment methods that are people-centres must be used instead. Prosecution of criminal networks – I am convinced that our drug policy needs another corner stone, for alternative development strategies. People whose existence and livelihood based on crops, and real alternatives, financial support. So, Germany has set a new programme: Global partnership on drug policy. We are going to introduce it in New York. Drugs destroy lives, they ruin families, and they erode social structures, and corrupt and tire countries. That must change. Let us make human health the focus on our attention.

Netherlands: Honour to address you. The Netherlands, aligns itself with statement of EU made yesterday. Unique opportunity to look at progress made to date. However, we have responsibility to look ahead of 2019 and 2030. Today like every day, we will see the birth of thousands of children, depend on us. We have obligation to let them grow up in safe environment. However, I also believe children not so fortunate should receive appropriate treatment and care without disproportionate punishment. Drug policies are key to us: during recent years, global drug policies less repressive. Not one size for all. Every country needs to incorporate what is best for their country. Focus on rights and needs of drug users. Evidence-based programmes, people will use less drugs, and to prevent spread of diseases. 2016: time to recognise that risk and harm reduction measures are good and we need to embrace these. Outcome document: enhanced development of WHO in drug policy. Grateful to Dr. Chan who stressed this urgency. Her words make me confident that with WHO and other, today is first step to ambitious agenda in 2019. Continue to tackle transitional crime: including corruption and money laundering. We should not focus on drug users and non-violent offences. Organised crime is much bigger threat. Second, want to address importance of evidence-based policies. We need to move away from ideological ambitions. Death penalty not evidence based intervention. The Netherlands opposes death penalty in all circumstances. Crucial to apply proportionate sentencing. Prevent overcrowded prisons. Finally, affordability and access to medicine for scientific purposes. Some medications are unavailable in developing countries. I thank you.

Sri Lanka: Thank you for convening this special session. Sri Lanka is conscious of illicit production, trafficking in the country. Conscious to its international commitments, especially the 3 conventions. Government of Sri Lanka reaffirms its political will to tackle drug problem. Overall goal in relation to drug problem: reduce drug supply by 2020. Pursued by all drug law enforcement agencies. Focus on links between drug abuses, poverty reduction, improving health. Effective response: coordinated, supply control, etc… NGOs, government, etc. will go against smuggling, trafficking, exports, and distribution of drugs. In addition, our concern has been extended to over the counter medication or prescribed drugs. Initial steps have been taken to share intelligence on drug crimes. Judicial authorities have power to prescribe medicines instead of punishment. In conclusion, I assure you that Sri Lanka stands committed, a problem with no borders.

Czech Republic: Dear President, thank you for giving me this opportunity. We have gathered because of the deep concern regarding our concerns in 2009. John Hopkins on drug policy and health published recently: the report conclusively shows us that drug policy has failed dramatically. Intended to protect people but based on criminalisation and punishment. Our efforts have had detrimental effect on public health. If we do not admit our failure, we will fail again. We deeply regret that outcome documents: CR endorses the outcome document, because we believe it is not the end of the debate, but only the start. CR supports the call of the EU to enhance coordination between UNODC, WHO, UNAIDS, OHCHR. CR can and will use its own experience to demonstrate that public health of human rights oriented policy based on scientific evidence. Human drug policies should care for humans, not for drugs.

Cuba: We have all come to this special session with high hopes and the desire to strengthen international cooperation to counter dreadful drug problem. How can we not be worried if we have failed to reduce drug production and use? Millions consume illicit drugs, and affects every region. Difficult to solve problem if we do not stop the demand in the north. If countries continue to be militarized, attacking peasants, the scourge will not be stopped. Solution: states cannot or will not fulfill their obligation and protect health of their citizens. Cuba does not support this approach. It is not right to generalise. We need in-depth analysis. We must also tackle root-causes, political-economic and social model. Experience is showing that effectively combating drugs is possible. Accessible to non-discriminatory health services. Cuba has ensured that consumption of illicit substances. Cuban revolutions has been successful to combating drugs due to commitment of governing people and the support of its people. We reiterate our support to outcome document, Cuban total commitment to a society free of drugs.

Cameroon: Cameroon welcomes the convening of this special session, devoted to the world drug problem. Serious problem to health, security and welfare of all human kind. Mr President, so far and in light to these documents there is no doubt we have made progress. But there are many obstacles ahead of us: reducing supply and demand. Impacts are serious concern for our states. Cameroon like many countries, is faced with ever-growing problem of production, consumption, with young people being the first victims, 15,000 between 15 and 25 years old who are regular cannabis users. We are party to the three main drug conventions. Cameroon has also adopted national strategy which focuses on awareness raising campaign to prevent drug addiction. These efforts include inter alia: organising awareness raising workshop and building community leader capacities, with more involvement with greater participation of civil society; we have developed teaching aid, organising and moderating education chat rooms, showing films and documentaries that target most vulnerable; we have also been including drug-prevention in our school curriculum. We are also trying to reduce the rate of consumption of new drugs. Aware that this is not a crime issue, but a public health one, our authorities have focused on providing care for drug addicts within their homes, inside hospitals, and health centres. Stepped up the control of this scourge on our borders, this reflects our will to effectively tackle this problem. Mr President, we can never over-state the scope and seriousness of drug-related problems. As global cross-cutting problems are affecting all countries, these problems are further exacerbated in terrorism and transnational crime. Need for a global response, technical assistance, capacity building. Cameroon wishes to reaffirm its commitment to continue strengthen our prevention measures, working in concert with all countries and the UNODC and African Union to find lasting solutions to this problem. Cameroon suggests that we entertain idea of holding a sub-regional meeting of central African states, with support of United Nations to deal with the fight against drugs.

Ghana: Mr President, heads of States… I bring you the warm greeting of the President of Ghana. While the document shows our joint commitment, it also provides the basis for continued global commitment. Moment to rethink drug control strategies, and strengthen approaches to drug policies. Negotiation of the outcome document has helped establish relationship between criminal justice, human rights, which are key to combat drug problem. Ghana wants to see outcome, flexibility has to be core part within United Nations. Flexibility needs to focus on pluralism. Need to implement palliative care and access to controlled drug. We have to implement human rights approach. Urge new pro-development metrics, and call establishment of high-level expert commission issued by WHO to assist countries. Encourage sharing of information regarding drug policy. Finally, UNGASS 2016 should establish a working group to measure goals for 2019. Working group based in New York, working up until 2019. Reports must be replete with human rights. In conclusion, Ghana looks forward to continue dialogue so that re-balancing emphasis is placed on human rights. Thank you.

Togo: Mr President. Although drugs and drug addiction have existed for centuries, the international community has only recently been committed to fighting this. Togo is on the transit route from cocaine from Latin America going towards Europe. 1996, aware of this danger, Togo has set a drug committee responsible for examining drug policies. 1998 we adopted a law: operation steps were placed. In 1990s, these measures broke down, and criminals took routes in the country. Smaller number of drug seized over the past years, is that traffickers chose other routes. Togo removed death penalty in 2009, even though this is recent, the last case was in the 70s. Togo determined to fight this scourge, and wants to see different agencies and agents work together. Allow me to repeat that my country supports the Joint Support of the African Union.

Indonesia: Thank you Mr. President. This special session has reached milestones with the UNGASS outcome document. 7 years since adoption of Political Declaration and Plan of Action, problems remain consistent. Indonesia is unique opportunity to discuss progress and challenges. UNGASS and outcome document should be important step. Allow me to share points reflecting our national position: first, Indonesia that the tree conventions are corner stones, second demand reduction is a core strategy internally, with the establishment of regulation centres. Third, current state of drug trafficking is dramatic. Money laundering is another major challenge. To tackle crime, Indonesia has undertaken key legal measures. Illicit drugs is a threat to human lives and affect all foundations of individuals and society. Emphasis that every country has its own unique conditions, transnational challenges should also be addressed with territorial integrity and non-intervention in affairs. International cooperation is key.

Trinidad and Tobago: President, T&T recognises this special session on the world drug problem as a timely and important avenue for further addressing world drug problem. For us, a small island, plagued by drug trafficking and drug use, the moment for the convening of UNGASS is well placed. It continues to be believed that robust punitive laws would reduce world drug problem and social harms. However, T&T firmly believes that it is no longer possible to rely on the assertion that strategies focused on arrests and punishment will solve this severe drug problem. We support the shift that approach to a new approach, which focuses on balanced and integrated in tackling world drug problem. Resources should focus on reducing drug-related crime and effectively addressing at the same time the harmful social and economic consequences of drug abuse and the dependency syndromes. T&T also emphasises importance of timely and reliable medical collection and adopt appropriate measures. Also supports implementation of drug monitoring system and development of pro-active system to anticipate the potential implications on our societies. National drug policies in T&T seek to deal with complex issue of drug consumers. We have long endorsed a people-approach to tackle and eventually eradicate this drug problem. T&T is pleased to join consensus on outcome document, however it is our expectation that future negotiations, such as this one, would take place in New York where there is participation of all, and especially of those who are not represented in New York.

Kazakhstan: We welcome all participants. Issue of drug threats on international security plays important role on international agenda. We take threat seriously, and taking role nationally to combat drug trafficking. There is no dispute that this threat take coordinated, joint measures. We highly commend and support initiatives of UNODC and CIS, CSTO. We support to deal in a humanitarian way to deal with drug users. Growth in the production of drugs, narcotics does have impact to reduce production. We support all three Conventions. Active participant in coordination of efforts and agree to implement outcome document. It is also important step to combat threat.

Madagascar: Mr. President. Problem of drugs is not only a health issue but also security issues. We are limited in our resources but have always been committed to combat drugs. In a bid to preserve public health, prevention activities have been stepped up and geared. Our government adopted a money laundering plan. We have been sharing financial intelligence to tackle money laundering. Online training and coordination with our neighbours and further efforts. We offer free counselling since 2016. Everyone involved, agree supply and demand needs to be reduced. In 2015, survey on drug prevalence in schools was conducted. We have a master drug control plan, and expect to update because reality has changed on the ground. In conclusion, Madagascar is still in favour of countering drugs, but our socio economic conditions are not conducive to this. We are ready to do everything possible to serve best interest of country and counter world drug problem.

Liechtenstein: President, it has been 18 years since we came together here in New York and set out to achieve a drug-free world. Our collective failure is obvious: no country is drug-free. This special session is there for an opportunity for reflection. Let us remember our goals: In practice health is not a priority. More than 1 billion dollars are spent on drug law enforcement. UNODC’s report found that unintended drug consequences has happened. Women are disproportionately affected by this. Drug networks are also involved in human trafficking. We are also greatly alarmed of the imposition of death penalty. This is practiced in 33 countries and other impose mandatory death sentences. We urge to end this practice, which has no deterrent effect. This session is special is it is different: efforts based on human rights and based on scientific evidence.

Portugal: Good morning. I would like to stress that Portugal aligns with the EU. Portugal considers that one of the major achievements of UNGASS was recognition to shift drug problem to public health. We recognise drugs as chronic health disorder that needs to be treated and not punished. Implementation of evidence-based measures are key measures of our policies, because they protect drug users and improve health and drug user families. Measures have been successful and will continue to be implemented. Portugal supports all three Conventions. Indeed, Portugal is in line with these Conventions, as they do not imply decriminalisation in Conventions. Deeply regret that the outcome document does not talk about abolition of death penalty. Portugal is against death penalty in all circumstances. In conclusion, Portugal strongly believes the international community must address all aspects of drug problem, and my country will continue to contribute in this endeavour.

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