Launch of the 2019 World Drug Report, Vienna

CND Chair: Welcome. The World Drug Report is our most comprehensive dataset that is key to combat the world drug problem and contribute to the 2020 agenda and whose importance is recorded in the conventions as MS are required to submit data. In the Ministerial Declaration of 2019, we committed to increase our efforts to strengthen our information and monitoring systems, improve methodologies, data collection. In 2019, the declaration adopted to promote and improve the collection, analysis and sharing of quality and comparable data. CND has been supporting the thematic review of the progress to the SDGs and we continue to provide input to the high-level political form by providing quality data.

Mr. Fedotov, UNODC: We are launching the report simultaneously in New York and Geneva as well as Vienna. Indeed, the findings provide a detailed picture of global drug challenges. Our understanding of such is improving. Health and justice need to go hand-in-hand on our track to achieve the SDGs. The theme of today’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is ‘Health for Justice, Justice for Health’. What is new: India, Nigeria. According to new estimates 25 million people around the world are in need of treatment services. Drug use has caused almost half a million deaths last year, mostly young men and women, mostly preventable. Drug associated disorders are particularly prevalent in prison settings, where treatments are less accessible too. Overdose deaths caused by opioids in the USA are accounting for 68% of total global overdose deaths. Stabilization of the situation has been noted however the presence of synthetic opioids rose by almost 30%. While only 4 countries reported fentanyl in 2016. 16 did so in 2017. The other opioid crisis in Africa concerns Tramadol – it remains outside of international control while presenting a serious health problem. In Asia methamphetamine problems are growing almost 8-fold in the past 10 years. Global opium and cocaine production remain at a record high since 2017.The great effects on law enforcement and international counter-efforts are visible: trafficking from Afghanistan in the Northern route has decreased, 10% of global interception dropped to 1%. International efforts to counter NPS have been effective on the global level our monitoring system keeps MS up to date and provides a platform for information sharing. CND in March put some new substances under international control and confirmed dedication to safeguarding our future and that no one is left behind as per the conventions. UNODC supports countries in this effort with technical assistance via toolkits and research for example. Our global opioid strategy covers early warning systems and we also work with partners to develop international standards for prevention and treatment. Scaling up evidence-based interventions regarding hepatitis and HIV, improving access to treatment for prison populations, promoting alternatives to incarceration, removing barriers for medical use, coordination of collaborations are our recorded priorities – which of course need to paired with action. We pledged to address the connection of the illegal markets to terrorism, investigate the darknet. A balanced, evidence-based approach to the problem is called by CND.

Angela Me, UNODC: I will focus on three aspects today, to give you the impact of the data addition from our new countries; transformation of markets; international cooperation. Nigeria and India have undertaken high-quality surveys with a huge dataset to contribute to our work. Now we can estimate that 35 million people suffer with drug use disorders as opposed to around 30 million last year. In prisons, the annual prevalence is extremely high, much higher than outside of prison. What are the availability of services in prison? In many MS, we have no information but a few number of countries do offer minimal services.
In different regions the drug of concern for treatment admissions is different. In Asia, Cannabis is hardly a concern while in Africa is it prominent, then cocaine is visibly mostly a problem in the Americas. An important message here is that as dynamics change, the responses needs to change. The global cannabis market has also changed, it diversified from herbs to edibles and others while the THC content has increased globally, it now reaches up to 70%. The availability of opioid analgesics is very different in North America to other regions. I am not here to pick on the USA but its important for the international community to understand that it correlates to the addiction phenomena and then the overdose crisis. It is not only an issue in North America, for example in Northern Ireland, the opioid related deaths have increased dramatically. On the supply side, new opioids rapidly come to the market, the quantity of fentanyl seized had increased significantly. Our new survey from Nigeria revealed that 4,6 million people use opioids for non-medical reasons. Other transformations on the market that don’t reach the market are among school students and concerns stimulants. – some countries see as much as 4% of students using stimulants for non-medicinal purposes. For some other countries, tranquilizers are the biggest concern. The challenge is clear. What happens in terms of responses and the results? The manufacturing of cocaine has grown but the rate of seizure has grown faster. Most efforts of law enforcement are from the supply countries. An other noteworthy result of law enforcement efforts is that after the shutdown of AlphaBay and Hansa markets, 10% stopped using the darknet. Internationally controlled NPS on the market has been contained since 2015. In terms of ATS (amphetamine-type stimulants), the market is expanding globally but different regions are affected differently. Just to make a point that if we have the same problem it translates to different challenges on different markets.

Ms. Okeke, Nigeria: As we heard, the world drug problem is still a major challenge to the international community, we still have a long way to go. The topic of today’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is that criminal justice and health are interlinked for the welfare of humankind. We made commitments at the ministerial meeting in 2019 to promote a balanced approach. This year’s report discusses the first nation-wide survey conducted in Nigeria which contributed to the better understanding of the problem in Africa and globally. It indicated that 14 million Nigerians have drug use disorder which helped us to allocate resources addressing the phenomena better. A good understanding of the issue and good data is crucial to advance our work. We resolved to review in 2019 our progress in implementing our commitments. The report confirms that we are on the right track. We thank the statistical bodies and look for an interesting discussion.

Mr. Kitano, Japan: The WDR is the most important evidence we have to base our work on. I would like to share some reflections in my national capacity. The cultivation of illicit crops remains high, the opioid market is expanding increasingly, accompanied with overdose deaths. The prevalence rate of methamphetamine is alarming high. The report had some hopeful findings such seizure increase that reflects that our cooperation have become more effective. The global trends show the persisting and emerging challenges. It serves as a basis for us to rely on for comprehensive balanced, evidence-based measures to protect humanity. This March we adopted the Ministerial declaration that commits to accelerate our joint efforts, now is a good opportunity for us to confirm that.

Ms. Navarette, Chile: The reports shows we lead in the consumption of certain substance. The World Drug Report is important to govern our actions. Regarding prosecution of criminal organizations, we created operational gatherings of authorities, public prosecutors and the police to coordinate our efforts. The most affected area is the Northern border, but we dismantled 2 major organizations this year and have successfully reduced the problem in the area. Cities are often controlled by smaller groups who use fear to control and we launched a program for micro trafficking. Interactive maps were created to identify even street corners. Police officers have been extensively trained and after 3 years of operations this is one of the best evaluated programs. Decrease in demand is one of our greatest challenges, the use of drugs in my country is at its highest level. We launched “chose to live without drugs” for children and students, a national campaign. 1 in 3 students have reported to have used Cannabis in the last year, but they have also used cocaine, cocaine paste. We developed our program based on the Icelandic model. We consider the World Drug Report a highly important body of evidence for our work.

Ms. Sabbatini, Italy:  We hold the WDR in high esteem and welcome the new countries providing data. The growing complexity of the program should advise us to not provide simple responses, there is no easy fix. Illicit cultivation and manufacture are following a long-term upward trend. The number of people who use drugs is 30% higher than 10 years ago, the death-poll is appalling. We should not underestimate our progress as a result of enhanced international cooperation however.  The accelerated scheduling of CND has allowed us to check the emergence of NPS. An increase in our law enforcement efficiency has been reflected in the report. I am reaffirming our commitment but much remains to be done to address the gaps – public health responses continue to fall short of need as only 1 in 7 receive treatment. It is particularly alarming in prison settings. The promotion of a health centered approach is dear to my country where national public health system has a network of about 500 centers and we work towards legal protection and information dissemination at a young age. As we celebrate today, lets remind ourselves that in order to deal with the world drug problem, it is not sufficient to talk about drug only, we have to talk about protecting factors especially with children to promote a heathy lifestyle and protecting them from exploitation as well as provide protection, bringing perspective to their lives, supporting families and communities. If we are to safeguard the future, as we have committed so, addressing these issues is inescapable.

Ms. Markovic, Croatia: The conventions are instruments and are key to the functioning of the international drug control system. While there have been achieves in addressing the world drug report, many remain to be addressed as the report mentions. In our national perspective we are preoccupied with the Balkan route as is mentioned as the world busiest heroin trafficking channel. Incorporating a gender-perspective is also of high priority for us. To undertake our joint commitments we need to cooperate multilaterally. The report will aid our understanding and guide our discussions particularly regarding action-oriented interventions. Data collection and analysis is key to overcome the ever-evolving challenges we are facing.

Mr. Jocheere, INCB: The drug control conventions assign specific mandates to the CND, INCB and WHO and through the SG, to UNODC. I appreciate the UNODC’s role. We continue to be faced with dire challenges, we must ensure we build on our expertise and skills. We have an important contribution to make and coordination is key to optimize our effectiveness. Noting today’s theme, justice for health and health for justice. The board remains concerned that many people affected suffer from a lack of justice and of stigma. We are here to ensure that responses are proportional and are founded on respect for human rights and dignity. The World Drug Report shows the nature and extend of the problem and how far we have yet to go as opium production is at record levels. We urge UN agencies to provide further assistance to address challenges in Afghanistan. We are pleased to see the 2019 report and are concerned by the findings yet we are glad UNODC could make use of our data. We have initiated programs and stand ready to collaborate the growing threats. A holistic approach is needed regarding gender and age – our annual report will have a special chapter on drugs and youth next year. We have a lot to do together. Thank you.

Mr. Bridge, VNGOC: Thank you Mr. Chair, and thanks to UNODC for once again allowing the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs to make a formal intervention as we mark the UN Day Against Drug Abuse and Trafficking. I want to start by congratulating Angela and her colleagues for the delivery of another rich and engaging World Drug Report. The Report is a huge undertaking, and one that makes an important contribution to the global response to the world drug situation. There are three areas, in particular, I want to focus on today.

Firstly, one number stood out when I first read the Report last week. 585,000 people died as a result of drug use in 2017. Regardless of whether you believe that the answer lies in treatment, or harm reduction, or law enforcement, or rehabilitation – 585,000 deaths is a staggering failure that we all have to face up to. We simply have to bring this number down. The SDGs seek to “leave no one behind”. But we are not doing that. We are leaving lots of people behind – and the Report’s data on deaths, prisons and the unmet treatment need show this to be the case.

My second point is about the alleviation of pain and suffering, which remains a global health imperative. The World Drug Report refers to a, quote, “global paradox of too much and not enough”, unquote. It is an important reminder that we are facing more than one kind of opioid crisis. But the actions, narratives and strategies still do not reflect the necessary balance between rational access and control. Ensuring access to controlled pain medication, including both scheduled and non-scheduled opiates, is essential to meet the SDGs. This cannot be an afterthought. And it cannot continue to be just collateral damage from the control of non-medical use.

My third point today is about the data themselves. The World Drug Report reflects the information harvested through the ARQs, yet the questionnaire is in need of modernisation to reflect the UNGASS, the 2019 Declaration and the UN System Common Position. I appreciate that this is an ongoing process, with a lot of hard work already underway – including through the new UN System Coordination Task Team on drug-related matters. The Task Team, launched earlier this year by the UN Chief Executives Board, aims to promote cooperation and coordination in drug-related research, data collection and analysis across the UN system in the quest for better, more effective drug policies. But I also want to highlight the role that civil society can play in this regard. NGOs on the ground often have access to knowledge, information and evidence which can complement the data being collected from governments and academia. This can help to formulate the most complete picture possible, while civil society can also help to supply the human stories which make the data real. Many NGOs are experts in data collection, monitoring and evaluation – not least because we are constantly having to do it for our own donors! We can help to verify and critique data – as currently happens, for example, for the UNODC, WHO and UNAIDS estimates on injecting drug use each year. And we can also help to plug gaps where the ARQs are not submitted or are incomplete. I encourage you all – member states, the UNODC, and the UN System Coordination Task Team – to better tap into, and nurture, the existing resources that NGOs have to offer.

Chair: Floor is open for questions.

Colombia: Today, on the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, I reaffirm Colombia’s commitment to comply with our international commitments. We support UNODC, and welcome the WDR.  We still need to improve research and effective responses to safeguard people and their health. NPS and changes in the cannabis market are important phenomena as well as the increase of cocaine cultivation which we address with AD projects.  It is worth mentioning that we dismantled more laboratories as before and have a leading role for seizing controlled substances. Illicit crop reduction is my governments priority and have put in place a number of mechanisms. The new report mentions Colombia several times and attempts to reflect the complexity of the coca problem – we hope this will prevail in the coming reports as well. Common and shared responsibility is key to counter violence and crime that is fueled by the drug problem. The report shows this is at an unprecedented high. It is necessary to asses the actions of all states. What’s the reason of the extremely high demand? Why is it so easy for users to access? Why does media promote liberality in consumption? What responsibility is taken by those overlooking the [precursor supply chain]?

Iran: Alarming trends and patters can be seen in the report, once again. The illicit crop production is at an all time high. Public health responses continue to fall short while access to medicinal opioids is insufficient. The only way to overcome these challenges is via international cooperation as well as enhancing regional efforts. In our experience, addressing organize crime is necessary to haul illicit drug cultivation. We seized approx. 11 thousand tons of illegal drugs, 76% of opium seizures and ca. 30% of heroin seizure are made in Iran. We shattered hundreds of gangs and seized hundreds of tons of controlled substances, we stopped tons of heroin to cross our borders. Access to controlled substances for medical use is an integral part of our strategy while countering diversion as well as promoting public heath and creation of society free of drug abuse. We seek to prepare the ground for the treatment and social integration of abusers. Illegal sanctions against Iran has dramatically hampered international efforts to counter drug issues which is accountable for diminishing our capacity. Intervention of politics in the development of humanitarian issues is one of the major challenges for us.

Germany: We welcome this landmark document, a treasure of information. I see two key messages: (1) the fight is far from over, we have to re-double our efforts and (2) we have a dire need for international cooperation. We will carefully read and study the report – we contributed 600,000 euros to the creation of the report.

Russia: We welcome this flagship publication and fully share one of the main conclusions: law enforcement constitutes a key response in dealing with the World Drug Problem. We see promising results of such approach, especially along the Northern route. Despite the record cultivation in Afghanistan, we prevented smuggling into Russia thanks to our collective treaty organization and collaboration with Asian countries. We built a K9 unit for Afghanistan aimed to increase interdiction capacities. The report dispels many arguments for cannabis legalization. Commercial companies are trying to seize the profitable opportunity that creates public health problems. The number of patients seeking treatment for cannabis related problems have increased. The report specifically highlighted the balance between the efforts to ensure availability for medicinal use as well as prevention of diversion. President Putin declared the palliative care system as a national priority. We were perplexed by other MS’s responses and that the needle-exchange programs and substitution therapy are mentioned as landmark interventions in the report – we can’t agree to such a selective selection of interventions, we demand a more holistic approach to demand reduction. We launched a month-long awareness campaign aimed at the younger generation. We believe such events both national and UN level help promote a society free of drug abuse. We commend the efforts of UNODC to improve and strengthen data collection tools – more capacity building will be needed.

Pakistan: Thank you so much for this report. We see that comprehensive responses are required to counter this menace. We can also find a manifestation of enhanced international cooperation as we see an increase in seizures. Our region is faced with a series of challenges particularly as our population is mostly young in age. To eliminate the scourge of illicit drugs will remain our focus with border control, education, while taking inspiration from the declarations of 2014, 2016 and 2019. The ministerial declaration and the multi-year work plan are an opportunity to streamline our efforts.

Afghanistan: Thank you for the panelists and the UNODC research team for this most important report next to the EMCDDA, an other excellent source of information. The figures regarding heroin have increased especially on the Balkan route, we hope this is not a political shortcoming but a technical issue. Our assessment shows that Balkan and Northern data is not scientifically sound as most of the heroin smuggled there is cultivated outside of Afghanistan – let me refer to Iran’s contribution to last year’s report. The data is based on seizure, we can reasonably come to the conclusion that our contribution is less than 20% – the Iranian government have confirmed this. The data on southern route lacks scientific judgement, we don’t deny our contribution, we are not accountable for large amounts – what is the UNODC’s data based on? According to this report, we are one of the origin countries, we had the highest amount of seizures globally. According to the INCB report, we are a destination country for precursors. No matter If we are the country of origin or destination, our law enforcement is the most active in the World. In any report, we have to interpret data in a balanced way and we kindly ask UNODC to provide us with an explanation of heroin production in our neighborhood.

Mexico: Thank you and congrats on your work. We reaffirm that international cooperation under the principle of shared responsibility is the best approach to respond to the drug problem. Focusing on public health and human rights is the way forward if we want to have ling standing impact. We see an opportunity in the alignment of drug policies and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, particularly that illicit markets come with violence. The report represents an invitation to accelerate our discussions and actions. The report must be read as an expression of cooperation and not as finger-pointing as we identify new realities. The UN system plays a primal role in our cooperation, we reaffirm our commitment. We welcome the global vision on health implications. We are undertaking an unprecedented campaign particularly aimed at youth with participation of civil society and the government as well as.

UK: […]

UNODC: Special thanks to the Research and Trend Analysis team.

Chair: Thank you to everyone for coming today and contributing. Meeting adjourned.

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