Home » Plenary Session: Item 7. Follow-up to the special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem held in 2016, including the seven thematic areas of the outcome document of the special session.

Plenary Session: Item 7. Follow-up to the special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem held in 2016, including the seven thematic areas of the outcome document of the special session.

Canada – Canada is a strong supporter of the UNGASS outcome document and is committed to the implementation of its operational recommendations. The UNGASS outcome document not only represents the latest international consensus, but provides a balanced and comprehensive guide for our efforts to respond to the world drug problem. By incorporating key commitments from the 2009 Political Declaration, while also promoting a comprehensive, balanced, and evidence-based public health approach grounded in respect for human rights, the UNGASS outcome document represents a milestone in our collective efforts to address and counter the world drug problem. Canada therefore believes that it should guide our collective efforts beyond 2019 and that our attention should be focused on implementing its operational recommendations. To this end, Canada recently launched a new national strategy to address the challenges that stem from problematic substance use – the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy. The strategy is aligned with the UNGASS outcome document and pursues evidence-based approaches to prevention, treatment, enforcement and harm reduction. I will speak briefly to some of the efforts Canada has made to implement the UNGASS operational recommendations on the thematic chapters of demand reduction, prevention and treatment; supply reduction; emerging challenges; and international cooperation. Domestically, a critical priority for the Government of Canada has been to respond to the ongoing opioid crisis, which has resulted in a significant rise in overdoses and overdose-related deaths stemming from the proliferation of highly toxic synthetic opioids. Many of the measures I will speak to are grounded in addressing this national tragedy. As a first step, we have focused on prevention. The Government of Canada is working on better informing Canadians about the risks of opioids; supporting better prescribing practices; and reducing easy access to unnecessary opioids. A key piece of these efforts includes recent updates we’ve made to our national guidelines for the appropriate prescribing of opioid drugs for chronic, non-cancer pain, to help reduce the rates over- prescribing that we are seeing in Canada. The Government of Canada is also focusing on public awareness activities related to demand reduction. We have developed and disseminated evidence-based guidelines to support safer, lower-risk uses of cannabis and alcohol. We are also undertaking a significant public awareness campaign at the national level to highlight the risks of cannabis use, particularly on the risks to the cognitive development and mental health of young people. Consistent with the UNGASS outcome document, Canada has also taken measures to reduce the supply of illegal drugs. We have implemented legislative changes to prohibit the unregistered importation of pill presses into Canada, to help reduce the manufacture of illegal drugs, particularly counterfeit pills. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has implemented a new national enforcement strategy targeting synthetic opioid importers, distributors, online vendors, manufacturers and traffickers to reduce the supply of illegal opioids. We have also introduced new powers to allow for the imposition of temporary controls on dangerous substances, which allows our Government to keep up with rapidly emerging trends in the drug market and place controls over so-called “designer drugs” quickly, pending completion of a full regulatory study. UNGASS also recognized the importance of addressing the most pressing drug-related socioeconomic factors. We know that social and economic conditions can make important contributions to people’s ability to avoid harms from problematic substance use. Factors such as income level, employment status, access to education, parental involvement, community connections and housing status are known to influence harms associated with problematic substance use. Canada recognizes that effective prevention includes action to address these and related socio- economic factors. The Government of Canada is working together with partners at all levels of government and civil society to strengthen Canadian’s resilience overall, which is linked to harms from problematic substance use, among other benefits to society as a whole. Finally, Canada recognizes that combatting the world drug problem is based on the principle of common and shared responsibility. We are therefore committed to working with international partners to address and counter the world drug problem and promote human health and welfare. In line with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, we are also ensuring that our partners are conducting and applying a gender analysis to all projects funded by Canada’s Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program, which builds the capacity of beneficiary states to prevent and respond to threats posed by transnational organized crime, primarily in the Americas. Key successes have been the promotion of proportionate sentencing for drug-related crime in the Americas, including through training and capacity building to establish drug treatment courts and provide pathways for non-violent youth and adults to reintegrate into their communities. With support from Canada, there are now 14 countries in the Americas exploring or implementing the adult drug treatment courts model. Another success has been Canada’s partnership with UNODC’s container control program. This program establishes and trains Port Control Units, inter-agency teams that identify, search and intercept illicit trafficking via maritime containerized cargo. The program has strengthened interdiction capacity across the region, resulting in increased drug seizures in the countries in which it operates, but also other illicit goods such as counterfeit merchandise, arms and other contraband. More recently, Canada has partnered with the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission – CICAD – to develop and fund the Inter-American Program for Strengthening Gender Equality in Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (GENLEA). This programming aims to strengthen member states’ capacities for dismantling criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking, by emphasizing gender mainstreaming as a factor that helps improve the effectiveness of anti-drug intelligence operations. Our Government also recently approved a $3 million project, in partnership with the UNODC Global SMART Program, to assist 13 governments in the Americas to improve their capacity to identify, detect and respond to synthetic drugs and new psychoactive substances. This project will help combat the proliferation of NPS in the Hemisphere and improve our shared capacity to address the negative health consequences that stem from the proliferation of NPS. In closing, these are just some of the efforts Canada has made to implement the thematic chapters of the UNGASS document. We remain committed to implementation and will continue to share our experiences with the international community.

Indonesia – Committed to advancing promotion and protection of human rights at all levels and translate these commitments into concrete actions. Improving legislation at national level to reflect human rights commitments, but these must take into account local differences in addressing the world drug problem. Arrived at a critical point where threats are imminent and real. Trafficking has had disastrous effects on social fabric. Families, women, and youth have suffered and lives have been lost. In addressing human rights, access to health, care, and social services should be available to everyone in a non-discriminatory matter. Rehabilitation services for children with substance use disorder should be done out-patient, however, in-patient is also possible. Psychosocial interventions directed towards development of identity. Rehabilitation services should be given to addicts and pregnant women, who have same rights as other addicts. Need special handling for drug issues. Occupational therapy tailored. Provider should create a plan for needs of person with disabilities. Implementation of rehabilitation is provided to prevent recurrent crime, reduce drug abuse, and improve health and social functions. Therapy program includes access to HIV/AIDS, hepatitis A and C, and TB services. Help drug abusers readjust and reintegrate into society.

OHCHR – The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), once again, thanks this Commission for inviting the Office to speak under the item 7 of 61st Session of the Commission. We also commends CND for holding the intersessional consultations, held in 2017, on the implementation of operational recommendations of UNGASS 2016. Upon CND’s invitation, OHCHR participated at several of these consultations and provided inputs from human rights perspectives. In 2018, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70. This anniversary provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the relationship between drug control efforts and human rights. In his statement on “global update of human rights concerns” to the United Nations Human Rights Council on 7 March, the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged all States to examine the effectiveness and human rights impact of their current approaches to the so-called “War on Drugs”. The High Commissioner also urged a more comprehensive implementation of the Outcome Document of the UNGASS 2016, including its fifteen operational recommendations on human rights and related issues. Today, on behalf of OHCHR, I would like to highlight two human rights issues, related to the implementation of human rights commitments of the 2016 UNGASS Outcome Document: (i) Practical measures to end impunity2 for human rights violations, in particular extra-judicial killings related to drug control efforts; (ii) The need for a Human rights approach to data and information collection for measuring drug policies. Dear Chairperson, Eliminating impunity for extra-judicial executions In his Study on the impact of the world drug problem on the enjoyment of human rights, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights emphasized that the right to life should be respected and protected by law enforcement agencies in their efforts to address drug-related crimes, and only proportional force should be used, when necessary. Extrajudicial killings should be subject to prompt, independent and effective investigations to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice3. Since the adoption of UNGASS 2016, the right to life has continued to be challenged in some States. A dramatic upsurge in extrajudicial executions and other serious human rights violations has been reported in the context of the “war on drugs” campaign launched in those States. In its 2017 annual report, the International Narcotic Control Board stated that extrajudicial responses to drug-related criminality are in clear violation of the international drug control conventions, which require that drug-related crime be addressed through formal criminal justice responses; and which require adherence to internationally recognized fair trial and due process norms and standards.4 In the UNGASS Outcome Document, all States committed to take practical measures to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and eliminate impunity5 for violations. Practical measures to eliminate impunity for serious human rights violations, such as extrajudicial killings, should include a prompt and effective investigation by an independent and impartial body with a view to bringing perpetrators to justice. Cooperation with international judicial or other mechanisms, such as the International Criminal Court, responsible to investigate and prosecute heinous crimes under international law is also needed. Without such measures, impunity will prevail. On 8th February 2018, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced her decision to open a preliminary examination in the situation of the Philippines, which will analyse crimes allegedly committed in this State since at least 1 July 2016, in the context of the “war on drugs” campaign launched by its Government.6 OHCHR urges the relevant authorities to fully cooperate with the ICC to end impunity and uphold its obligations under international human rights law while addressing drug related challenges. Dear Chairperson, I would now like to turn to the need for a human rights approach to data and information collection for measuring drug policies concerning, inter alia, the promotion of human rights7 – when furnishing information to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, pursuant to the three international drug control conventions and relevant Commission resolutions There is a growing realization that traditional indicators regarding arrests, seizures and criminal justice responses are inadequate to show the real impact of drug policies on communities. The success of drug control strategies should increasingly be measured through an assessment of the impact of drug control efforts in the enjoyment of human rights and other critical aspects suchas security, health and social/economic development. in data collection would also strengthen the process. OHCHR has developed a set of human rights indicators for the realization of human rights8 and a guidance on human rights based approach to data collection in the implementation of the SDGs.9 Both could be useful in strengthening and streamlining existing data-collection and analysis tools in drug control efforts. Thank you. 

IOGT International – Three key actions that we urge governments to adopt in lead up to 2019, and eventually 2030. Level and severity of harm corresponds to level of drugs in a society. Illicit drugs at least effect twelve areas of the SDGs. All sectors need to play a role. First, make use of the full potential of the conventions. Conventions provide ample space and considerable potential. Conventions are health-centred and do not treat drug users as criminals to be marginalized. Guarantee availability of illegal drugs for medical conditions, while preventing non-medical and non-scientificc use. Second, implement measures that can prevent and reduce drug-related harm at individual and population levels. Third, pivot to prevention and health promotion. Cost effectiveness and sustainability of interventions. Positive engagement of children, youth, and adults in communities. 2030 agenda is possible and we support goals of drug free communities and societies. Growing scientific evidence shows potential of integrated approach to world drug problem. 

FORUT – UNGASS Outcome Document is an excellent roadmap for years to come. Time has come for action and implementing the outcome document. Important role of local communities. Most powerful harm reduction we have is local communities working towards drug free communities. Need local programs that bring together governments, schools, police, religious groups, etc. to collectively address drug problems. Iceland’s national prevention strategy is a striking example. Norway has a national program. One priority issue is to bring together community programs to discuss best practices and experiences. Establish a national clearing house to elevate prevention. Give funding to CSOs that have proven to be effective. Challenge from Drug Policy Futures to mobilize one million communities to address the world drug problem. 

World Federation Against Drugs –  Need to mobilize youth and young people, including in African countries. Young people need to be protected. Children are the most vulnerable to harm caused by drugs and least capable to protect themselves. Use can prevent parents and caregivers from fulfilling their role. Convention of Rights of a Child speaks to protecting children. Prevention is highly cost effective. Personnel and infrastructure to address drug abuse is needed. Work in collaboration with civil society. Prevention will overcome our problems. Incorporating additional cultural authorities is key to passing our messages. We need to domesticate ownership of issues. There is a need for African countries to do this. Governments need to treat CSOs as key partners. Congress in mid May this year to continue this discussion.  

New Zealand Drug Foundation: We extend our thanks to the CND for creating the space for civil society engagement and to the chair to make this statement. As non-government organisations in New Zealand we welcome the opportunity to participate with colleagues from across the international community. Whilst based many miles away from deliberations in Vienna we are committed to being actively engaged with civil society colleagues, international bodies and government. We acknowledge and welcome the resolutions particularly from Canada and Australia. We support the statement from our government to CND this year and commit to continuing our joint working. There has been much debate regarding language during this CND. Deliberations on language are integral to the formulation of resolutions and finding consensus on key issues. There has also been substantial discussion on stigma and discrimination, particularly with regard to terminology and the role it plays in the formulation of policy. We welcome the Global Drug Policy Commissions Report “The Drug Perception Problem” and recommendations regarding use of language when talking about drug use and people who use drugs. We wish to respectfully highlight the influence that our individual values and beliefs play, and which generate powerful undercurrents underpinning perspectives taken at an individual and societal level. Throughout the last few days we have consistently heard phrases such as “they”, “them”, “those people” and “addicts in our society”. If we are to successfully address stigma and discrimination we believe we need a shift in mindset. Aside from cultural, societal and religious differences when we continue to see people who use drugs as “other” and as separate to ourselves then we will never address stigma and discrimination in any meaningful way. We need a change in mindset and recognise that we all use psychoactive substances whether they are legal or illegal. It is in the space between ourselves and people who have different experiences to us that prejudice grows. It is not until we start to see that we are all more alike than unalike that stigma and discrimination can be effectively addressed. Building our understanding of our own and others lives is the foundation of a society based on compassion, empathy and understanding. We must recognise that drug use takes many forms, in the vast majority of cases the use of drugs does not lead to problematic use or dependency. Drug use cuts across all society, we have never had a “drug free world”, all societies and civilisations have used substances in one form or other. Drug use is in this sense normal. It is also important to acknowledge that people who use drugs are not only “those people” and that even here at CND people who use drugs are present in many different ways and not just in the groups representing user networks. We believe we need to build a society in which we have a world free of drug harms. If we are to achieve this we must address stigma and discrimination, develop and our mature our thinking about drug use.
We recognise that stigma and prejudice towards drug use and people who use drugs can compound existing stigma and discrimination experienced by those who are socially and economically marginalised. Therefore in our own country our first people, our Maori communities bear a disproportionate burden of problematic use. It is essential to acknowledge that drug use and drug use problems are complex and not the result of a moral weakness, failing or illness but a complex interaction of factors including oppression, colonisation, discrimination, trauma and social injustice. It is essential if we are to successfully build a world free from drug harms that we heed the words of a Maori proverb – he tangata, he tangata, he tangata – what is the most important thing, it is people it is people it is people.

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