Chair: In memory of Ambassador Christine Stix-Hackl – 1 minute of silence.
Thank you. Let’s turn to our agenda points. Proposed dates for the roundtables have been circulated and tomorrow at 9 am we start with informal consultations for fine-tuning. Regarding the draft outline, it was sent out last night so now you can review it. It is a draft I prepared based on your suggestions including these chapters: preamble, stock-taking and the road ahead. The final version will be presented in the reconvened session in December. The current length could be overwhelming, but it is only indicative and the outcome document will come from the next phase of our negotiations that will be more political in nature. The informal dialogues will begin on November 12th – I am counting on your cooperation. Let us proceed on the normative segment. Congrats on 50th anniversary of INCB.
President of INCB: Honored to be here – we are working along the most widely recognized convention that is aiming to secure the health and welfare of humankind by ensuring substances for scientific and medical purpose while avoiding diversion. I have to call your attention to the presumption of innocence and respect for rule of law. As with other international treaties, the legislative and administrative measures are left to the discretion of national governments. While it is true that in some cases, policies are adopted under the name of drug control led to undesirable results and this is a function of legislative choice made by states. The conventions have been incorrectly fought by requiring states to adopt laws that have negative consequences, ie. deficiency in the availability of medicines for legitimate rational medical use, overly punitive responses to drug related crimes, stigmatization and marginalization of people affected by drug use – most of those which violated human rights. This narrative challenges the consensus international drug control conventions and it undermines the normative. Regarding Cannabis legalization, the criticism at the conventions has been used by some as a mean to deflect responsibility from failed approaches to drug control that were adopted on the national level. It is a result of the lack of understanding of convention, their main objectives and normative content. The implementation choices affect governments and civil society groups. The lack of substances for legitimate use continues to be a health problem a situation that has been falsely connected to the international framework. The 1961 preamble as amended by 1972 protocol, and the 1972 convention states that our main objective is to fostering health and welfare of humankind and the conventions recognize the indispensable nature of drugs and has a stipulation that their availability for medical use should not be unduly restricted. ‘61 and ‘71 established a system of administrative control, regulating production, manufacture, import, export, etc. whereby states themselves evaluate domestic requirements and then report to INCB. In many states the access has been hindered by lack of capacity and training. The lack is not attributed to over-regulation indicated by international framework, but more to improper state level implementation. The main obstacle is lack of capacity and investment in health care systems, in terms of staff and facilities. Thus governments urgently need to address capacity in health care and work to increase the know-how of professionals. States should also provide legal and regulatory frameworks. In emergency situations, ie. humanitarian disaster, the conventions allow simplified control. We also saw devastating results of over prescription, particularly in North America, this leads me to mention reasonable medical use. Many people lack access to medicine while in other parts of the world, aggressive marketing and over prescription lead to an other kind of crisis. We must do better. Turning to the issue of respect for human rights. Violations have occurred not because of the conventions but in spite of them, I wish to reiterate in the clearest possible term that if drug control measures are adopted, they must recognize international human rights agreement – the health and welfare of human kind is the objective of the conventions and this must be in full enjoyment of human rights. Violating this in the name of drug control is fundamentally inconsistent with the international drug treaties. Extrajudicial responses can never be justified under international agreements. Drug related crimes must be responded in the truest form of criminal justice in full recognition of the universal declaration of human rights. In addressing suspected drug related crime, states are required to be proportionate. The conventions provide the possibility to apply education rehabilitation and social reintegration as responses, in particular regarding people who use drugs. Criminal justice policy lead to high rate of incarceration, including those with minor offences. This is a result of national policy. In many countries, governments chose to use strict responses. Certain groups have been disproportionately affected by this, systemic discrimination is a fundamental issue. It cannot be attributed to the conventions. On the issue of capital punishment, the conventions remain silent for the death penalty, the board is compelled to draw the MS attention to the understanding of the larger UN family and it’s stance that capital punishment for drug related offences is not commended and member states should consider the abolishment of capital punishment at large. MS are required to pay special attention to the prevention of abuse, early identification, care, treatment and social reintegration. We also call upon MS to ensure training of personnel delivering these. States should avoid those measures that do not have measurable successes and adopt the best practices. Insufficient mechanisms exist to foster integration and fighting stigma. Women, the backbone of our community, and children, our future, are more affected by stigma… unnecessarily. We see underlying problems here such as the lack of epidemiological understanding. Finally, the conventions as they were agreed, limit exclusively the production, manufacture, import export, distribution, use and possession to scientific and medical application. This is a general obligation and leave no room for recreational use. In the past years, the restriction of such was challenged by some states in relation to the legalization of Cannabis. As the board is responsible for monitoring the implementation of conventions, INCB has cautioned that legalization measures are inconsistent with the obligation of MS and constitute a serious violation. Respective of the jurisdiction of the states in question, some are characterized as experiments, but it is still a clear violation of the international drug control framework. To turn a blind eye to this, the board would not fulfil its mandate. We will continue to work that the potential of the conventions is fully realized.
Chair: thank you, I now open the floor for national statements.
Russia on behalf of like-minded countries: Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Columbia, Congo (?), Cuba, Egypt, El Salvador, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kurdistan, […] , Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Korea, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of INCB, that is empowered by the cornerstones of international drug control system, the three international drug control conventions. Today the 3 conventions are among the most worthy, widely agreed policy papers with international consensus. On the occasion of the anniversary, we support the INCB and commend their work as the independent quasi judiciary body. We reiterate our commitment to ensure overall safety and health for mankind. We ensure of our unwavering commitment to this as stated in the treaties and the principle of common and shared responsibility.
China on behalf of the Asia-Pacific group: Our group welcomes this opportunity to interact with the INCB and congratulates the board. We support the 3 conventions. Regarding implementation, we reiterate that the convention constitute as the basis of our work. This was restated in consequent policy documents such as 2009 and 2016. We reiterate our serious concern regarding the legalization of Cannabis as it clearly violates the treaty. The legalization of illicit drugs for non-medical use poses significant threats to the health and welfare undermining the stability of the international drug control system and our efforts to counter the world drug problem. We recognize that conventions allow flexibility, state parties shall nonetheless should adhere to the principles. In conclusion, we reiterate that our international efforts to promote health and welfare we call upon all members to fully comply with the conventions.
Austria on behalf of the EU: We thank the INCB for its work and welcome them today. The interventions today demonstrate the importance and our unwavering support for INCB from the members of the commission. We support for the conventions and will continue to support the board’s work… mainly through country visits and informal dialogues. We support the availability to medical and scientific use. We thank the INCB’s operational work, specifically on NPS and precursors. We appreciate the communication and information exchange systems. In the future the INCB’s role should remain crucial to the UN architecture with strengthened interagency cooperation with the WHO and other relevant bodies. We welcome the strengthened dialogue between INCB and civil society. The EU and MS always called for an integrated and balanced approach and we deem INCB’s input as valuable. We welcome the reports of ICNB – these support the implementation of a human rights based approach to ensure the welfare of human kind in line with the conventions. In preparations to the next CND, these are key elements to guide our work. The universal declaration of human rights and the 3 conventions are basis of this guidance.
Singapore on behalf of South-East Asian nations’ group (10MS): We are committed to address the scourge of drugs. We have always supported a no tolerance approach to drugs and promote communities free of drugs. As part of the international community, we always recognized that the conventions are the cornerstones of drug policies. More recently, we contributed to the 2016 document that underscores the conventions and is aligned to our aims to counter the threats of drugs. We believe each member state has a freedom to decide how to tackle the problems within their countries, but it has to be within the framework within the conventions. Legalizing recreational use is definitely not within the framework. We are sending the wrong message by adapting these laws, it contradicts our efforts and doesn’t guard our children from harm. It also threatens public safety. Illicit drugs are harmful substances, the removal of legal sanctions will not solve the problem in our region, it will lead to increased demands and will result in more addicts… including our children… Our position is clear, we stand firmly against the legalization of drugs, we take firm steps to save our children from drugs.
Russia: Colleagues, we highly value the role of the board in implementing the conventions. On 17th of October, the board made a statement about an issue Russia is concerned about, as are many other MS. This was set forth by the South-East Asian group, which we fully support. What I am talking about is Canada’s decision which has been discussed many times during the intersessionals. In June, about 20 states took a firm stance against this decision. Many appealed direct to Canada to abstain from the implementation of the new law. These calls fell on deaf ears. Canada is celebrating the victory and calls upon the government to legalize, as a next step, heroin for example. In the Canadian press there are many issues discussed, including drug-dollars. There is just one thing though, the international legal aspect, that has been excluded in the conversation. From an international legal point of view, directly with the mandate of CND is an out and right violation of obligations as it exceeded the drug control conventions. Our international agreements allow medical and scientific use but not in any manner recreational use as will be the practice in Canada. Concretely, it is a violation of a huge number of provisions. Under the new law, the Canadian government will have a difficult time respecting the rights of the child. In line with this new law, even if it is applied to those above the age of 18, it will be clearly more accessible for adolescents as well and the government will not be able to effectively stop this. INCB has expressed concerns over the effect of this new law on public health, in particular that of the youth. This law runs against international political agreements such as 2009 and 2016. Against this backdrop, it is difficult to take seriously the appeals of Canada to build a new, rules based world order as Canada is disregarding rules in the most barefaced manner. It opens Pandora’s Box, introducing selectivity in implementing the conventions. This might encourage other countries to not comply. Consciously violating the drug control regime, Canada is creating the World’s largest drug market, which will promote a flow of this substance to other countries. The new law appears cynical in the light that Canada is a member of CND and we are coinciding with the review. According to the declaration of 2009 the international community in March will be taking stock. Turning a blind eye would lead to new violations. The UN conventions have a lot of measures in case of violation, we suggest that CND consider applying punitive provisions. This should become a subject of discussion during the HLMS in March. Our task is helping Canada to come back within the boundaries of international law. We must ensure CND has membership only to those who comply and not allow a Trojan horse.
Kyrgyzstan: Congrats to the ICNB. Being the part of the 3 core conventions, in our national capacity, we acknowledge the norms of the fundamental conventions that non-medical consumption should not be allowed. Revision needs a balanced, gradual systematic approach and it should be duly studied and fully justified. At the same time, we fully support INCB which noted that legislation is contrary to the provisions of relevant conventions. In conclusion, we are ready to cooperate with UN in the fight against illicit drug trafficking.
Norway: The main goal for any drug policy should be to prevent harms. Norway pursues a knowledge based policy that aims to save lives and ensure dignity. We are in the process of changing our legislative approaches, however, we will not legalize the use and possession as agreed by all MS, the 3 conventions and relevant instruments that are cornerstones. […] We appreciate the timely mention by ICNB of the importance to respect human rights. We call all MS to comply with their treaty obligations but we understand that these have to be adjusted to the realities on the ground locally. The right to health must be ensured to all, without regard to age, race, etc. We constantly state that drug related offences don’t meet the seriousness of the death penalty. Norway strongly opposes the death penalty and commits to the abolishment of it. Serious human rights gaps exist in national drug policies. The complexities of the drug problem also results in PUD being victims of human rights violations. We hope today’s session will contribute to addressing these issues.
Turkey: We reiterate our commitment to the conventions as cornerstones of the system and the role of INCB. We believe that the information sharing platforms, developed by the board, are important tools to strengthen international cooperation. We expect the board to consistently improve their tools.
Kazakhstan: As an active member, we fully support the implementation of the conventions. Today, colleagues stressed this and Cannabis is stated to be only allowed to be used in medical and scientific contexts. We believe all CND members should advocate for the full implementation of the drug control system.
Colombia: The conventions are cornerstones and they provide ample flexibility […] we reiterate our commitment.
Indonesia: We fully associate ourselves to Singapore’s statement and would like to add that we take note of the INCB’s stance regarding human rights. We are on the view that for drug control to be useful, we have to strike a balance. We revere human rights and fundamental freedoms, but human rights are for the protection of people, including protection from the threat of drugs and criminals. So the rights of those who fall victims to drugs and drug related criminals should be prioritized – let me underline that each country has the sovereign right what is the most appropriate approach to respond to the drug problem. I understand the importance of UNGASS outcome document but we think it should be implemented in a comprehensive and balanced manner in line with the 2009 document.
Switzerland: In terms of compliance, there are many point besides cannabis to be raised. We must remember what unites us – drug policies must promote the health ad welfare. Safe injecting facilities have helped us reach populations that are usually not reachable and we are able to promote safety and prevent the spread of blood borne infections. Medically supervised injection rooms help PDU to be connected to welfare services and keep them safe. We welcome the INCB’s call for closer collaboration with civil society. Gender inequality continues to be an issue. All countries should implement gender-sensitive treatment. The use of drugs among vulnerable groups such as women and youth keeps growing. SDG 3 and 5 – we must emphasize equality when responding to the drug problem. Drugs are a horizontal issue, requiring a social response. Solid inter-agency cooperation and dialogue with civil society has been enshrined in the UNGASS outcome document. We are actively engaged in a strong multilateral system. We are committed to the global approach and the 3 conventions as well as other relevant instruments.
Netherlands: We align ourselves to Austria are committed to the implementation of the 3 conventions and other relevant instruments such as the global declaration of human rights. Balanced national policies should respect human rights, contribute to the 2030 agenda. People who use drugs are often deprived of adequate and dignifying treatment. The efforts in many countries for rehabilitation and reintegration has been successful, these are element of our treaty obligations. World-wide, too many people have insufficient or no access to medicines, we must continue to explore innovative and evidence based approaches toward the implementation problems we face in the current framework. On the nature of the discussion – we understand that due to ongoing development some might feel the need to discuss Cannabis regulation, we are ready to discuss and are aware of the sensitivity. We highly value the Vienna spirt and look forward to continue the discussion with the focus on what unites us. We don’t support a discussion where member states are singled out. As the president of INCB mentioned today, the debate should be addressed in a broader context, not focus on certain chosen elements of the conventions and the discussion should not come on the expense of other important agenda points.
Vietnam: we align to the Asia-Pacific group’s statement. We express a grave concern of the legal obligations’ breach by a member state. This undermines the integrity of our work and poses a serious threat to public order, safety and security. We vision of a drug free society and urge MS to adhere to the conventions.
Tajikistan: We support our regional group’s statement. Our main concern is the production of drugs in our area. We have reason to believe that adopting laws that contradict conventions will serve as an example for other countries and we worry about the challenges. We remain committed to all international conventions to counter drug trafficking. We stress the role if INCB and call the board to address the issue.
China: We welcome the discussion on the compliance to the treaties. The treaties are the most widely accepted conventions and form the cornerstones of drug control framework. Since their entry into force, thanks to our collaboration efforts, we have convened serious commitments. INCB, CND, UNODC and WHO all carried out fruitful work in laying rules based international order. Despite significant progress, we should not be complacent. We still face emerging challenges, such as NPS and the darknet. We should not put the blame on the conventions for concerning situations in certain areas – on the contrary. Cannabis is a substance explicitly scheduled and its harm have been long proven. China is deeply concerned by the recent rhetoric by some specific countries that lead to the erosion of the 3 conventions. In particular, the legalization of non-medical use has been stated by the ICNB on the 17 of October to be a threat to the international order. China believes that no scheduled substance should be legalized for whatever reason. As a state party to the treaties, we earnestly adopted a comprehensive measures to supply and demand reduction with achieved remarkable results. As evidenced by the flattening curve of drug abuse, China registered a 3.8% reduction in the number of drug abusers and even more among those under 18. Any action undermining the drug control regime threatens our shared interests.
New Zealand: We welcome the INCB’S report and the inter-agency cooperation. We are fully committed to the drug conventions. We followed to conversation today and have a few points to add. Regarding the non-medical use of cannabis, we thank Canada for their transparency. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting the same results. We know that Canada has not taken this decision lightly, they have the interest of citizens at the heart of their new policy. We welcome an open debate on the issue, these are questions we battle on our domestic level. We agree with Netherlands that singling out nations is not really Vienna spirit and, especially with the HLMS rapidly approaching, we should not be distracted by one topic. We see a number of relevant topics to the implementation: proportionality in the criminal justice response, in particular death penalty, equitable access to treatment and human rights obligations. If we look at this, we have to look at all matters on the table. We are looking forward to discuss this at next CND and reiterate that conversation needs to remain broad.
France: We align ourselves to the EU’s statement and reiterate our commitment to the conventions. We align ourselves to countries that called for respect to the international regime, but it is not part of the CND’s mandate to judge any state’s decision and so we welcome the INCB in these discussion. It -is precisely that INCB holds the legitimacy to choose a response to non-complying countries.
Iran: We align ourselves with the Asia-Pacific group’s statement and Russia’s statement on behalf of like-minded countries. INCB pointed out that legalization of Cannabis is incompatible to the legal requirements of the conventions. In our national capacity, we reiterate our commitment to the 3 conventions. Defying the rules based international order will have serious consequences on other member states.
Italy: We align to the EU’s statement and join groups of states that commended the INCB. Effective, successful and sustainable implementation should be based on fundamental human rights. Drug dependence is not a crime, it is a complex health disorder. It is crucial that state parties adopt scientific evidence based approaches with the principal of proportionality of sanctions. The conventions provide enough flexibility to respond to issues with other than punishment. We welcome the board suggestion to abolish death penalty, we remain strongly opposed to this form of punishment in any circumstance. While the drug problem has evolved, the drug conventions remain the basis of our architecture.
Japan: We align with the Asia-Pacific group’s and Russia’s statements. The issue of implementation is of great importance as the conventions are the cornerstones of the international drug control system. CND has been aiming at a united response and we firmly believe this should be maintained. From this aspect, we are concerned about the legalization of Cannabis.
Pakistan: We fully share the view that the conventions are basis and continue to provide us a legal framework. Effective implementation is imperative and we reiterate our support for the INCB to monitor treaty compliance. We share the concern about legalization of Cannabis. As a country most affected by the transit of drugs, we are concerned about the consequences of such decisions. We encourage the board to address this. In preparation to HLMS, we have to strengthen collaborative efforts.
Singapore: The INCB has played an important role and we commend them in aiding CND in addressing emerging challenges. One of these challenges is the legalization of Cannabis for non-medical use. We express deep concern and regret on Canada’s decision. The INCB stated that Canada contributed to the weakening of international drug control framework and are concerned about health consequences, particularly when it comes to youth. We maintain that the 3 conventions are the cornerstones. While we agree that countries have to respond in accordance to national specifics, it has to be within the frames of the conventions and recreational use is not permitted. A literature review from our Institute of Mental Health confirmed the harmful and addictive nature of Cannabis. Our position that it should remain an illicit drug. We call on the international community to uphold the international drug control system.
Malaysia: [aligns to previous statements] We commend the ICNB’s work and fully recognize it’s role as a quasi-judicial body. The world drug problem is a collective problem. We believe that the recent policy documents outline a good framework. We witnessed new and alternative approaches which might impact negatively our collective efforts to address the world drug problem. Our efforts should be based on shared responsibility. The disastrous effect of drugs does not only effect drug users, it effects national security. We have to commit to the vision of a society free of drug abuse that we agreed on in 2009, 2014 and 2016. Any measures must be guided by this noble vision. The decision by some countries for non-medical and non-scientific use we understand are in response to local specifics but decisions must be strictly in line with the 3 conventions, the cornerstones of our system. New approached might have a spillover effect and run contrary to our longstanding principles. Each country has the responsibility to respond the way they see best in context to the national and cultural specifics, but it must remain in accordance to our agreements.
Canada: My remarks will focus on the gaps the INCB has recognized. First, regarding the domestic regime of Cannabis regulation – it came into effect in October and we indeed did not take this decision lightly. It has not been cynical, we have a seriousness of purpose and have been transparent since the beginning. We listened with interest and continue to engage with interested colleagues. The use of cannabis has been the highest in the world, particularly among youth. Our prohibitive approach did not lead to success. In order to keep the substance away from youth and take money out from the black market, we decided to regulate access in a legal framework. We are committed to measure the impact of this new policy and we have offered the outcome data. We remain a strong supporter of the 3 conventions, we are not challenge it and we don’t advocate for legalization in other states. Today theme is a broad one and our discussion must be so as well: Articles in conventions assign responsibility to take measures to aid persons affected by drug dependence. They all recognize the right to physical and mental health, there is no question that treatment of drug abuse is our obligation. We welcome the ICNB’s president stress on the human rights. It is as much of an obligation of MS as the suppression of drug trafficking. The stigmatization of people who use drugs impede them seriously to seek treatment services. The lack of access to evidence based programmes is a fundamental challenge. Not only are states obliged to provide such services, it has to be rooted in evidence. This is not a rich country solution – on the contrary! Indeed, the INCB has highlighted that treatment is highly cost effective because of reduced crime rates and costs for the criminal justice system. We adopted a new national strategy that is supported by strong evidence. CND members will recall that 2016 outcome document and other relevant international agreements constitute as the cornerstones – what constituted as a relevant agreement, there is no dispute that the universal declaration of human rights is relevant. Canada remains gravel concerned that human right violations in the name of drug control undermine our objectives to the well-being of humankind. We commend and support ICNB’s call to abolish the death penalty. It is against the norm of international law. We reiterate the call for proportionality in response to drug related crimes. We are reviewing our own sentencing policies at the moment to ensure Canadians can enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms. We remain concerned about the continued human rights violations, unproportional responses and lack of evidence based treatment services.
In light of the numerous comments today, I would like to add a few remarks in response to erroneous claims. Our objective is to keep the substance out of the hands of youth and the profit out of the hands of criminals. Some of the measures we put in place include significant penalties for those who enable youth to consume drugs, promote Cannabis, accompanied by a robust education and awareness campaign together with surveillance. This is a major effort – Health Canada has utilized many information outlets with the evidence based approaches that helped to drop tobacco consumption in recent years. Our tobacco strategy is a massive public health success story, particularly regarding youth. On the concerns of effects across our borders – trafficking remains a serious offence, our customs act remains in place, law enforcement agencies work internationally and we established a tracking system to prevent diversion of Cannabis. Our previous approaches were consistent with the conventions and were not successful. We are not challenging the conventions, we are making a domestic decision to effectively counter the problems we face in Canada. We are committed to find solutions to promote the health and well-being of people, we recognize our treaty partners pursue different approaches and we do not advocate this as a solution to others. Our commitment remains unchanged and it has been recognized by member states as we have been reelected to be on CND after the announcement of the planned domestic legislation. We will continue to respond in an open and honest way to raised questions and concerns. Our work is very important and if we adopt a tone that is hostile in these rooms as at least one delegation did today, we will inevitably suffer.
Egypt: Congrats to INCB on their anniversary, we reiterate our support for their role and work. We believe in the role of INCB, ECDDA and INCB are crucial. My delegation stresses the most important role of INCB as ensuring that the provisions are implemented in MS and ensure there is no violation – this applies to our discussion today very much. We are concerned about the violations caused by the measures some MS took towards legalizing illegal drugs for non-medical purposes. These are clearly not complying with the agreements we all signed. The nature of the world drug problem does not allow such behavior as any action taken in one member state effects all the other treaty partners. This is why we come together here. In this regard, we ask INCB and CND on elaborate on how to address violations.
Belarus: In the national capacity, we would like to emphasize the INCB’s role and their clear position that legalization for non-medical and non-scientific use is incompatible with the conventions. International cooperation is an important pillar for the work of CND.
Chair: Our colleague from UNODC, director of division for operations, will not be here in the afternoon so with your permission, I will hand it to her right now.
UNODC: I would like to talk about our next topic, Chapter 6 of the UNGASS document. Everything that UNODC does, here and on the field is very much aligned to the SDGs and the UNGASS outcome document. Some key facts to mention is that financial contribution from MS represents te largest share of UNODC’s budget. Our expenditures last year 23% was spent on alternative development, treatment, etc and another 23% counter organized crime. We have 17 field offices and 62 program presences with a total over 1000 personnel who deliver technical support. As various other topics thematically reviewed by CND, we will talk about two areas…
UNODC’s deep technical knowledge and field offices network is a basis for our work, our leadership in the response to the world drug problem. In South-East Asia, we are confronted with a new patter of NPS that are not tied to traditional production sites, so the drugs-flows show a much more complicated pattern lately. We are looking to help member states in this changing reality. West-Indian Ocean, the heroin trade, a better understood regional issue, we move around in vessels where the problem is more concentrated. We see a much stronger inter-regional response. Heroin flows are up but there is a belt across the Indian Ocean that is staffed by UNODC and is taking care of the problem. We get information from prisoners, we have good access to difficult-to-get information and with the help of maritime reports, we reevaluate law enforcement responses there. Two more things to mention, we do a lot of work around the globe to translate information and we do have a strong cooperation with various other regional entities and also one bread-and-butter type of activity is our ability to support intelligence agencies’ collaboration across borders. A specific cooperation I would like to mention is between Japan, Russia and UNODC in response to the issues in Afghanistan.
Chair: Morning session adjourned, we will continue with national statements in the afternoon.
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UK: We thank INCB for their work, a lot of issues have been brought up today. We are fully committed to the implementation of the conventions. As MS reaffirmed all aspects of drug response should be conducted in line with the conventions and the universal declaration of human rights. We welcome the increased inter-agency cooperation and looking forward to the OHCHR to continue join our meetings. We will advocate for HR at the core of drug policies. The conventions allow proportionate criminal response and we welcome the INCB’s report on this. We remain committed to implement the relevant UNGASS outcome document chapters. The preamble of 1961 states the availability must be ensured for medical access, despite this there are millions of people without adequate access to essential medicine. It is clear there are a broad range of issues that need to addressed, as such we think we cannot take a narrow approach, we do not believe that singling out MS is a productive measure. We must continue to build on consensus.
Australia: We are pleased to celebrate the INCB, welcome them today and continue to support their work and role. We continue to be guided by the conventions and our national strategy that is an evidence based strategy. Regarding HLMS, we should focus on tangible outcomes – human rights, access to scientific and medical use, proportionality. We support alternatives to conviction, the abolition of death penalty and a work built on our achievements to date.
Uruguay: I believe INCB’s presentation will make history. We thank the particular thematic focus on human rights, which is indeed a priority. The 3 conventions can be only implemented in compliance to these rights. The recommendation was made to abolish the capital punishment – thank you. We feel more must be done. I am addressing the president of INCB: we refer to the conventions as the cornerstones, but you have not used these words. INCB has however referred to the UNGASS outcome document as such… in this room, many people refer to the conventions as if they were the ONLY cornerstones. We reached consensus only 2 years ago where we said the bedrock are the 3 conventions and the other instruments – which instruments? Undoubtedly, nobody would deny the universal declaration of human rights is part of that. Uruguay has always stated that any declaration must highlight this. Our first convention are too old so alongside them, we must respect human rights as a basis for our work. The conventions were signed 57 years ago and MANY thigs have changed. We are not trying to change anything, we are unable to change them, we are unable to reach consensus on any substantial amendment. A position today was made, referring to a legal report, and we know a request was made by the Russian Federation – here, I would like to thank the Russian Federation – this was made because it was a run-up to a trap. We knew Canada was going to be put on the spot. This is what we witnessed all morning and there is no delegation who accused Canada would explained why they disrespect the conventions or followed the Chair’s instructions. We are all here because of Canada? We can’t go along with that. I would like to read out a UNODC statement from 2006 – a global survey on Cannabis was requested and published in the World Drug Report. The global community is concerned as the most popular illicit drug is Cannabis and we’ve seen an increase in use. The report shows that suppressing the use of Cannabis is impossible, the final conclusion was that it is an inconsistent issue. If you walk 4 minutes from here, you can buy male plants in a regular shop. The global ambivalence, talking about it for ten years. This inconsistency is laughable. Cannabis was not discussed in UNGASS. The representatives from Russia pointed out that in March 2019 the issue of Cannabis will be raised and we would like to make sure this is indeed on the agenda for HLMS, but we want to avoid singling out any country. Let’s turn to the matter of substance, because UNODC stated themselves that we are lagging behind understanding the problem. The legal regulation of the Cannabis market has been a topic and have occurred in many other countries, so why such treatment of Canada?! So we support the discussion of Cannabis in March but I would like to appeal to INCB: we have enough pilot experiences with regulated markets, we have scientific data… is there any scientific evidence from any of those states where there has been a deterioration of public health? Are there evidence that young people consume more? I would like to know what is the justification to back claims? We could ask WHO to draft a report on Cannabis and the dangers posed prior to March and use that for the basis of our work. I would like to commend Canada and thanking for refraining from hostile narratives such as many states have been done. Canada has fostered a Viennese spirit.
USA: We have some states that exercised their prerogative but USA has not legalized Cannabis, I just want to make it clear. ECDD will conduct their review on Cannabis and we look forward to the results of that. We are concerned that INCB will not be able to provide direct advice to the WHO in this process and we suggest that WHO and INCB work together so that whatever comes out from the meeting, we will have the opportunity to study and follow it. It is important to remember why we are here – to gather information in preparation to 2019. We agree with those who raised their voice against criticizing treaty partners. We are grateful for the drafters of the conventions so we have enough room to adapt the conventions to national specifics. Here, words matter… we recommend people go back and read the treaties. They don’t mention compliance, the INCB is empowered to aid MS to adhere to the rules. We all agree that health and welfare of mankind is our main aim. We confess that it is difficult for us to understand Canada’s decision but we appreciate their work on controlling trafficking and ensuring access for medicinal and scientific use.
Without the assistance of INCB we couldn’t make the progress in countering our devastating synthetic opioid crisis. We also recognize that interpretation of treaty compliance remains with member states. Here at the CND, we should be focused on addressing the depth of our problems and our common goals.
Belgium: Protecting health is our primary goal, while upholding human rights and so the debates here should be open, honest and constructive within these topics. Judgements about other members, threatening them, should not have a place here. We thank delegations for continually providing the commission with information. We warmly thank INCB for their work towards increasing access to scheduled substances for medical and scientific purposes.
Dominican Republic: We commend the INCB and their work. We are on the view that the 2016 UNGASS outcome document represents the latest consensus. We recognize the immense challenge the INCB must shoulder and that coordination among agencies is crucial. We think consumption of psychoactive substances poses serious challenges to our societies. We continue to promote international cooperation and commit to the three conventions.
Venezuela: As the competent monitoring body and making efforts to strengthen multilateralism, we thank INCB. We further strengthen our work for the health and well-being of our people. Striking a balance between preventive actions and full-on attack. We are focused on the principle common and shared responsibility while being aware that it has different impact on states… we reiterate that the conventions are the cornerstones and architecture of the drug control regime.
Holy See: We have often reaffirmed our firm intention and give global moral support and drug related problems. Our common global efforts rest on the recognition that universal action calls for international action. Ultimate success in combatting the world drug problem relies on all states promoting health and well-being of people, facilitating healthy lifestyles based on evidence. A key body is INCB and we thank the president for his briefing this morning with a clear message on legalization and death penalty. Be assured of Holy See’s support for the treaty mandated work of the INCB.
(NGO) John Walsh, Washington Office on Latin America: The UN drug treaties expressly limit cannabis use to medical and scientific purposes, and cannabis is placed under the strictest of the conventions’ control schedules. But cannabis is today, and has long been, by far the world’s most widely used illicit drug. Implementing the UN drug treaty obligations has led to the criminalization and incarceration of tens of millions of people around the world. Instead of persisting with efforts to ban cannabis markets, an increasing number of subnational and national jurisdictions are choosing to provide for legal, regulated access to cannabis for adults for non-medical purposes. Legal regulation, these jurisdictions are deciding, will be better suited to promoting the health, security, and human rights of their citizens. But the legal regulation of drug markets for non-medical purposes clearly contravenes international drug treaty obligations. The treaties do afford certain latitude for countries, providing considerable room for maneuver for policy makers on a range of crucial issues, including the decriminalization of the possession of drugs for personal use and the implementation of an array of harm reduction services. However, there are limits to the latitude afforded by the treaties, and one of the clearest limits is that legally regulated access to non-medical cannabis—or non-medical use of any of the other over 250 substances within the treaties’ purview, for that matter—is out of bounds. Appealing to States’ positive human rights obligations provides a powerful rationale for the legal regulation of cannabis. But grounding regulation in human rights arguments, however valid, does not automatically resolve the problem of drug treaty contravention that is entailed in cannabis regulation. Yet cannabis regulation is moving ahead all the same. The ‘Vienna consensus’—to the extent that it ever truly existed—is fractured, and starkly different national approaches to cannabis is among the key reasons why. What to do? Reaching a new global consensus to revise or amend the UN drug control conventions in order to accommodate legally regulated markets for cannabis does not appear to be a viable scenario for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the limits of flexible treaty interpretations have been reached and overstretching them any further would result in undermining basic principles of international law. States that intend to move towards legal regulation, or that have already done so, are obliged to explore other options to reconcile such policy changes with their obligations under international law. The World Health Organization (WHO) can recommend after a critical review by its Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) to ‘un-schedule’ a controlled substance, and the CND can adopt the recommendation by a simple or two-thirds majority vote (for the 1961 and 1971 conventions, respectively). In fact, the ECDD’s first-ever critical review of cannabis is underway, and is likely to lead to changes in the classification of the various cannabis-related substances under international control. It remains to be seen whether the WHO would recommend removing cannabis from the treaty schedules altogether, but such a recommendation would seem unlikely to get the required CND majority under present circumstances. The only other options that do not require consensus are either UNILATERALLY by late reservations or by denunciation and re-accession with new reservations (as Bolivia did with regard to coca), or COLLECTIVELY by inter se treaty modification, whereby two or more States agree to change certain treaty provisions among themselves alone. The inter se procedure—based on Article 41 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT)—was specifically designed to find a balance between the stability of treaty regimes and the necessity of change in absence of consensus in order to respond to changing circumstances and social conditions. The inter se option would require that the like-minded agreement includes a clear commitment to the original treaty aim to promote the health and welfare of humankind and to maintaining the original treaty obligations vis-a-vis countries not party to the new inter se agreement. As I noted, human rights arguments do not erase the issue of drug treaty non-compliance. But they do provide a strong justification for a State to enter into a temporary period of non-compliance, with the goal of formally altering its relationship to the obligations that it can no longer meet. Such a period of transitionary ‘respectful non-compliance’ could set the stage for two or more States to avail themselves of the inter se option for treaty modification. So, returning to the question I posed in the title of this presentation: ‘Can cannabis be regulated in accord with international law?’ Is it possible for non-medical cannabis regulation to proceed within the bounds of international law, rather than straining against them? I maintain that the answer is ‘Yes, quite possible.’ That does not mean, however, that it will be easy. Successful implementation of the inter se procedure will undoubtedly require some time and careful consultations before a group of States can agree among themselves on the best way forward. Applied with caution and reason under exceptional circumstances, inter se treaty modification can provide a useful safety valve for collective action to adjust a drug treaty regime that appears to be frozen in time. Taking recourse to this not-often used mechanism will surely be contested by other treaty parties, but in the current polarized climate of international drug policy, and in the absence of realistic alternatives, the inter se option is ‘perhaps the most elegant way out’. An inter se agreement would also open the possibility of international trade between regulated licit markets, enabling small farmers in traditional Southern producing countries to participate, and also diminishing the risk of a corporate capture of the emerging licit markets. Closed national systems of regulation are unlikely to fully replace existing illicit markets that are partly dependent on international trade to accommodate product variety and quality, cultural diversity and consumer preferences. To conclude: the coordinated, collective response to treaty breach required by inter se—combined with the clear appeal to citizens’ human rights, health, and security in justifying cannabis regulation—offers a markedly better path forward than ignoring or denying treaty breach, which risks eroding fundamental principles of international law more generally. The collective inter se procedure is also a more promising approach than the chaotic scenarios of multiple unilateral reservations and legally dubious treaty re-interpretations. Earlier this year, during the CND’s 61st session, WOLA and our colleagues at the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO) launched a report, Balancing Treaty Stability and Change, that explores in detail the rationale, potential legitimacy, and feasibility of the inter se option for treaty modification. Research articles on cannabis regulation and the UN drug treaties are also featured in the latest volume of the journal International Community Law Review. As more jurisdictions opt to regulate non-medical uses of cannabis, we invite your serious consideration of the dilemma before us and the merits of the inter se option.
INCB President: Thank you for your active engagement today. We will try to accommodate the needs of member states. We are 50 years now, so we probably know the proper way of managing issues. We are open for dialogue when MS need our assistance. I am about to have a meeting with the WHO right now, but there exist a report on the effect of Cannabis already, you can read the full paper on the WHO website. Next week, the critical review of the substance contained in the Cannabis plant will commence and we look forward to talk this through at CND.
Chair: We will have a short break until we rearrange the podium. Presentations will be posted on the CND website.
(panel) WHO: WHO Director General congratulated INCB yesterday – we are a specialized agency on health. We have new strategic goals of 3 billion that is firmly based on SDGs and human rights principles. We aim to have 1 billion people protected and covered by universal health coverage and safer lives. Our new operational focus is on country impact, in particular, low-income areas. In context of WHO strategic priorities, we shall aim to leave no one behind: universal health coverage & promoting healthier populations by accelerating essential treatment for non-communicable diseases and mental health. Recent and future relevant high-level events: Third High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on the prevention and control of Non-communicable Diseases, UN General Assembly High-Level MEtting on ending Tubercolosis, The Global Conference on Primary Health Care, High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on Universal Health Coverage. WHO activites on psychoactive substances and related issues are not restricted to scheduled substances, focuses on public helath and is implementing a range of specialized technical programs. Plus there is the treaty-based function of ECDD. Together with the UNODC, we also work on the epidemiology of drug use not just regarding scheduled substances – Examples: field testing of international standards on treatment of drug use disorders with subsequent implementation on country levels, multi-site implementation study on community management of overdoses including the use of naloxone, dissemination of WHO guidelines on substance use during pregnancy, technical guide on prevention of mother-to-child transmission, strategic advisory group to the UN on HIV, global estimates on the number of PUD, interagency technical working group on drug epidemiology. We reviewed synthetic opioids and have recommended for scheduling car fentanyl, ocfentanyl, furanyl fentanyl, acryloyfentanyl, THF-F and will review 5 fentanyls and tramadol next week. We will also hold an intergovernmental expert meeting on synthetic opioids in collaboration with CND, UNODC, INCB in Vienna on the 3rd and 4th of December.
USA: We are interested to read the outcome of the expert review and we are pleased to see the number of fentanyls on the list of the review. We are eager to learn more about the outcome on Cannabis and we are curious to learn for example what the threshold of CBD content is and how that will appear in the treaties. There will be a number of question as you could see from this morning so we encourage the science to be irrefutable.
Canada: Let me just echo my American colleague and thank WHO for their work on scheduling. You made a comment about the privilege of ECDDA meeting to hold closed meetings. Could you let us know why these decisions are taken?
Russia: Mr Voznyak (WHO) mentioned human rights are the basis of every decision which must be true. From a medical point of view, to what extent does drug use has an effect on an unborn child?
Spain: Current trends made I essential for WHO to participate and in the context of the ECDDA, cooperation must be mutually enforced. Any opportunity for exchange must be supported.
WHO: To the USA, technical challenges present in the review on Cannabis was mentioned. In 2006 we prepared a document and in preparation of the expert committee, from different aspects, the document was updated and it can be find on the WHO website now. These materials will be the basis for the planned report on Cannabis. There are significant technical issues that are not easy to address with current science, but we undertake efforts to close gaps. When it comes to the deliberation of the expert committee, it is entirely up to the discretion of the chair and this not a permanent role, we have strict rules on the composition of expert committees. They came to a decision to hold closed session and they have the right to. [In response to Russia] When it comes to the impact on the fetus, there are indications that almost all psychoactive substances have negative effect on development. The most dramatic is alcohol, but if we speak about Cannabis, there is scientific data that there is some negative effect on newborns, but these are much much less than with alcohol. I understand that Spain is encouraging us to strengthen our collaboration – we are implementing our MoU and are carrying out joint activities. We are fully committed to continue and strengthen this collaboration.
(panel) UNDP: [SDGs] is becoming the most displayed slide in this building. Member states committed to leave no one behind, among others… illicit drug markets and addressing them cuts across many issues. The Secretary General called on MS to ensure the approach in tackling drug issues promotes equality, human rights, sustainable development and greater peace and security. There are many underlying issues, poverty, cultivation of illicit crops for livelihood, gender inequality, he range of services to treat drug abuse rarely recognize gender specific needs of women. IN some countries admitting to use drugs can lead to the termination of parental rights that can prevent women to seek help to begin with. As for alternatives to incarceration – in countries where data is available, a higher proportion of women is imprisoned for drug related offences with poor conditions and lack of health services. Keeping people outside of the criminal justice system in the first place by decriminalizing possession of small amounts for example is a first step towards achieving the SDGs. Due process is also essential. Some quick word on human rights guidelines, if I may… We have issued several handbooks and all MS seem to be clear on the guidelines, but what is missing is a monitoring and evaluation system. We anticipate that these papers can provide a blueprint for MS to meet their international human rights obligations. UNGASS, that represents the most recent consensus, will be reviewed and we hope that MS that wish to strengthen their commitment and adhere to leave no one behind will step up their efforts.
EU: I would like to thank UNODP and WHO for their presentations. It is important to have this inter-agency collaboration for long standing progress.
(panel) Interpol: We have the mission to facilitate international cooperation with respect to international human rights. As crimes become more globalized, we established networks to bring police forces together and maintain crime databases which was consulted 3.4 billion times last year. An example: few years ago, the British police was looking for a murder suspect in a drug related organized crime situation. We managed to identify the finger prints with help from Canadian data and the person was found in Kenya, then sentenced in the UK. It is important to use and populate the databases therefore. We have specific areas for types of crimes. Our drug related database sees 140 countries participating. We have a large body of data on criminal activities, phone numbers, financial information, etc. The Relief database: when traffickers send drugs, they also send a metallic tracking device and these leave unique traces on the packages. Using these, we were able to identify packages on different parts of the World and we were able to trace it back to their production site. We found that proceeds of drug crime are mostly flowing to criminal groups involved in armed conflicts. Interpol provides operational support to law enforcement bodies to dismantle criminal organizations, in Africa it is mainly concerning cocaine. In the Asia-Pacific region, we work with many intergovernmental organizations. The 62nd session of CND will be a crucial opportunity to further discuss cooperation.
Russia: Thank you for pointing out that proceeds of drug crimes go to activities that violate human rights. I have no question but a wish for Interpol to participate in these meetings more often.
USA: Indeed, Interpol red notices are crucial to our work, it really catches the fugitives. Thank you for bringing these topics to our meetings. Your services in training police is also appreciated. We value your assistance.
Morocco: It was stated the Interpol can provide information on the machines packing narcotics. Is there a follow-up procedure to obtain that information? If we seize packages, does this go to national authorities, providing evidence?
Interpol: Thank you for your comments Russia and USA. In response to Morocco, the Relief database uses accurate photographic evidence working with algorithms. The ordinary procedure is this: first we address the national police force, the country’s judicial body and then the process can be started. The photos need to comply with specific standards, we are testing this system right now but there is a protocol in place.
(panel) Nigeria: I start my presentation reiterating that the 3 conventions are key in combatting the world drug problem. Nigeria considers equally important the 2009, 2014 and the 2016 documents. Our conviction that these are complimentary and mutually enforcing documents. The significance of supply and demand reduction cannot be overemphasized. Tramadol is most popular illicit drug after Cannabis Sativa. These are not manufactured in Nigeria, most of it is imported from India. Over 6000 kg of the substance was seized, one eight of the world’s seizures. Thanks to the positive collaborative efforts of the UN, we were able to make these seizures. Information sharing is a basis for strengthened drug control.
Egypt: Thank you for this speech that accurately captures the situation in the Middle East and Africa. I cannot stress the seriousness of the issue of tramadol. The problem of synthetic opioids has to be taken seriously.
USA: Mutual legal assistance – with this new platform, are you engaged in a single type of network? How do you interact multilaterally?
(panel) Nigeria: The relationships were established informally, but now they are based on country requests and are official.
(panel) Pakistan: Meaningful international cooperation is the basis of successfully addressing the world drug problem. In the face of persistent and new threats, strengthening common and shared responsibility is crucial. Without it, none of the documents can be translated into actions. This is not just about timely share of information but also concrete assistance and knowledge transfer. It is vital to suppress transnational criminal organizations. As we prepare for the next CND, we must assess how far we’ve come in implementing our commitments and our score card is mixed. Post 2019, the Commission should play the lead role in close cooperation with relevant entities. We hope the HLMS will provide fresh political guidance in terms of implementation. The tendency to selectively pick the commitments will not lead to – we must make best use of regional and multilateral mechanisms. Children and youth are a huge asset, we have to implement effective measures to foster their health. UNODC’s programs should be within the needs of member states. Pakistan is confronted with 2 challenges: drug trafficking and drug abuse. We are part of various regional groups and our agencies swiftly respond to legal assistance request. Many law enforcement officials have been trained in Pakistan.
Egypt: More of a comment than a question. We are happy with the post 2019 vision presented here. The nature of international cooperation was mentioned and it should not be by sitting together but a lot needs to be done when it comes to capacity building and technical assistance or technology transfer. This is a point we agree on with Pakistan and wanted to highlight.
Russia: Outstanding statement from the frontlines! In your region, there are close links between drugs and terrorism – what’s your opinion as to the nexus between the two and addressing this threat?
Iran: Our countries are most effected and we have a good cooperation among our colleagues which resulted in huge seizures. Less than 2 weeks ago the UNODC established its first sub-office in a province bordering Iran to which extent will this enhance regional cooperation?
Vietnam: Not a question but a comment to thank for this statement. MY delegation shares the view on international cooperation and we’d like to see more of this discussion, especially as we are coming closer to the 2019 review.
(panel) Pakistan: Thank you for your comments and questions. It is obvious that the nexus exists between terrorism and drugs. As for combatting it, there are platforms and regional initiatives – only through cooperation can we be successful. Answering Iran – in my understanding this is essentially assistance to national authorities. The drug phenomena has several dimensions to it and we would like to work even more closely with our regional partners to effectively address this.
(panel) France: Our topic today is at the very core of combatting drugs. We are very much attached to upholding human rights in our international cooperation. We are facing increasing threats to the safety of our societies. The importance of cooperation has been reiterated many times by members of CND – UNGASS breaks it down to actual recommendations. France since 2016 has been working alongside 40 MS and UNODC to support a prevention campaign “Listen First”. Targeting young people and their friends is the most efficient way to address the issue. We support the INCB learning initiative and welcome the hosting of a seminar for French speaking African countries. Technical assistance is of essence when it comes to combatting of criminal organizations that are exploiting technological innovations such as the darknet. It is our common responsibility to take part in the conversation with the Vienna spirit. France will fully play its part to arrive at an understanding.
Russia: I really admire the work of the representative from Kenya – without major funding they are carrying out necessary work. Narcotics are one of the most dangerous threats that many African countries are facing.
NGO: The most commonly abused drugs, besides alcohol and tobacco, are Marijuana. It is popularized in Kenya and the discussion of legalizing it is in front of the Parliament. In many parts of our country, Cannabis is held as a religious tool. The Rastafarians have their roots in Arica, so there is a huge amount of people support this bill. An other one, called “Khat” is not very known outside of our region. Kenya is a transit point for narcotics, so even the ones that are not rampant in the country find their way in…
Chair: Thank you for the presentations. We have two more experts and an NGO representative before adjourning the meeting.
(panel) Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD): As a region, the Americas play a central role in drug policies. We have contributed to the implementation of all chapters. We are training and certifying a new generation of professionals. We established a consortium of universities to research drug related issues. We support member states in strengthening their capacity to suppress supply. We bring together experts to discuss cross cutting timely issues. We help member states exchange best practices. We are leaders in approaching drugs as a health issue and have undertaken innovative gender related projects. We promote alternatives to incarceration. Evidence based policies must include the collection and analysis of relevant data. We are establishing regional drug information networks. We have a multilateral evaluation mechanism – the only peer review tool of its kind in the world.
(panel) OESC: We’ve been joining forces on many departments and contribute to global efforts […]
Chair: Thank you professor, this was a very important presentation. With this, we are closing our meeting but before that – any final comments and questions? Interpretation is off from now on, so please speak English.
Colombia: Regarding the work of CICAD- we benefit largely from this program.
USA: support for CICAD.
Russia: CICADs scope is much broader than mentioned here. We thank you for this. To the professor – what can communities and/or families do?
Spain: importance of information exchange!
NGO: In response to Russia, there are evidence based practices families can take – there are many practices, you can look at the blueprints website of the University of Chicago but we also have a research on that. We try to convey the evidence of the developing brain and we found that they are keen to understanding that.
Chair: Meeting adjourned. Thank you.