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Plenary Opening

Chair: Welcome.

Secretariat: Welcome. Precautionary measures.

Chair: It isa privilege to chair this commission. My country, Poland has always been very supportive of anti-narcotic institutions. I offer you a small gift from my home town – a reception in the break. The extended bureau had three meetings until now to set up organizational matters. Thank you for all who actively participated. Special thanks to my predecessor. 1st agenda item – election of officers. The commission opened its 64th session and elected Ambassador of Colombia as 2nd Vice Chair, Nigeria for 3rd Vice Chair and myself as Chair and nominations arrived: 1st Vice Chair Ambassador of Switzerland, Kyrgyzstan for Rapporteur. I see no objections. Decided. Congratulations.

Agenda item 2 – adoption of agenda and organizational matters. We will only come together in person for 3 reasons: opening, WHO ECDD recommendations consideration and closing.  We are doing a podium only format, also for the Committee of the Whole. Agenda item 5a on changes in the scope of control: Wednesday 12:00-14:00. Voting can not be done remotely. Adopted. By 15th of March, four proposals have been tabled and will be discussed. In addition, resolution on the Statement of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on the implementation of Member States’ joint commitments to address and counter all aspects of the world drug problem has been tabled by myself and is to be tabled this morning. Agenda item 2 is adopted.


Today marks the anniversaries of our conventions – they constitute the cornerstones of the intl drug control system. As agreed at the previous session on 10th of November, we will hold a ceremonial segment in cooperation with WHO, INCB and ED of UNODC. Now, an intro video.

[CND image video]

Ghada Waly, UNODC ED: These conventions were adopted to safeguard our people. I welcome the COVID19 response strategy. No one left behind – in the spirit of the conventions. Over 1000 NPS, the most harmful prevalent substances have been concluded in the schedules by CND, the MS as one. I thank you & we must continue to forge evidence-based policies that safeguards out people, especially the most vulnerable, We’ve been shown how much the world needs solidarity. We need to recover better. I urge you to contribute to the collective efforts. Wish you a productive meeting.

Munir Akram, President of EcoSoc: Honored to be here. These conventions are the most widely ratified international legal agreements that reflects the broad international consensus. The problem increased dramatically in the past few years. Illicit trafficking has reached record levels. The pandemic has intensified the drug problem. Evidence points to funding shortages and diversion of resources. The World Drug Problem can only be successfully addressed in a multilateral comprehensive approach in accordance with the 2030 agenda. Key points: principle of common and shared responsibility, evidence, demand and supply reduction in conformity with the conventions and the recent declarations and plans of actions (2008, 2016, 2019), all MS should address socioeconomic issues related to production, trafficking through their programs. The functional commissions of the EcoSoc continue to make contributions to the work of the council for effective responses to the World Drug Problem. The CND has an important role to contribute to the global progress on SDGs. The international community is on the right path towards a balanced and comprehensive approach and to have a positive impact.

Executive Director, UNODC:  This session comes at a unique junction. Important anniversary while looking ahead. As we celebrate 50 and 60 years, the purpose of those treaties should guide our way forward. We should look at the spirit – it’s one of unity. It brought th world together to show common responsibility to a common challenge. It’s also a spirit that inspired Member States to put aside differences. UNODC is a partner to member states In implementing commitments. Shared responsibility should form the backbone of our response. World needs it more than ever before. The situation has only been compounded by the pandemic. Brought about changes to dryg market, as well as behaviours. The qualitity of prevention, treatment have been hit by COVID-19. Access to controlled substances also affected, particularly low and middle income countries. Rising unemployment deepened vulnerabilities and more likely to turn to cultivation to earn a living. Studies from after 2008 Financial Crisis show that drug use became more harmful, shift towards cheaper drugs while government budgests decreased. UNODC has been assisting on prevent, working with 100s of NGOs, trained 10,000 professionals. UN toolkit on Synthetic Drugs accessed by 4000 in 151 countries. Solid foundation to. More than 2000 NPS reported to early warning. Container Control Porgramme – 65 countries supported in 2020, seizures. We must continue equipping ourselves with knowledge and information. Report will be launched in June, outlook on post-COVID-19 drug markets and how cannabis is viewed by the younger generation and the risks associated. Soon launch a web based system to submit drug-related data. Deliberations this week will tackle topics of great importance, best of luck in your discussions! I’m confident the Vienna spirit will prevail as ever.

WHO: Every year half million drug-related deaths around the world. Most ppl still lack access to safe medicines to relief pain. Requires a response that protects human rights. 1961 and 1971 have provided a unified framework to improve health and wellbeing. We must work together across disciplines to support fair, humane and sustainable drug policies.

INCB: Important time to reflect on how far we come as we face challenges. In the shifting face of the world drug problem, they’ve proved their value. Evidence of the global will to work on the world drug problem. We can state that the international drug control system has achieved control of licit manufacturing. Substantial growth in the volume. Critical challenges remain – ensuring availability for scientific and medical is not sufficient, trafficking treatment and rehabilitation has not been addressed effectively. Demand continues to be a concern, state measures for treatment rehab and socal reintegration. Member States not giving enough priority to this issue. Overdose deaths remain a huge issue as well as NPS, designer precursors and alternative precursors. Internet and social media increased marketing. Universal adherence to treaties is undermined by cannabis legalization in Member States, INCB continues to support them. Gross human rights violations were committed in the name of drug control – in spite of drug control treaties. It means putting human rights at the core, a balanced approach and proportionate response, prioritizing treatment and care.

Jamie Bridge, VNGOC: Your Excellency Madame Chair, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen. It is an honour to be asked to speak today, as Chair of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs, as we mark the anniversaries of the 1961 and 1971 conventions. The Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs represents more than 300 civil society organisations from all around the world. Our members range from global, professional networks, through to local community organisations working on the ground. Our role as an NGO Committee is to provide a link between all of these organisations and the policy making here in Vienna, ensuring the space for their voices to be heard. NGO engagement has become a strength of the CND, and we appreciate the efforts that have been made to protect this despite the exceptional challenges of the last twelve months. In consulting with our network ahead of this statement, it was clear that some NGOs hold very different views about the drug control conventions themselves. But what I can say with confidence is that, 60 years on, these conventions remain central to the global response to drugs. Even though the world has changed immensely across all aspects of life, culture, society, globalisation, technology and so on – the conventions remain almost universally ratified, and their spirit of collective responsibility continues to galvanise action, funding and political urgency. Furthermore, the convention’s headline concern for ‘health and the welfare’ of humankind remains more relevant today than ever before. The conventions establish an evidence-driven process for scheduling, they include provisions for alternatives to punishment, and they seek to ensure access to controlled substances for medical and scientific use. This, along with so many of the other provisions and articles, remain essential for the work that we all do. I guess it is a truism for all of us, including civil society, that ‘failure to adapt is a failure to survive’. Guided by the conventions and universal human rights commitments, the CND has continued to react to the changing drug markets, drug policies and even drug services over the years. As with all aspects of these debates, it is important that civil society is part of the CND discussions for the next 60 years as well. In fact, ever since the very first meeting of the CND, non-governmental organisations have been amongst the official attendees, as it seems we were for the plenipotentiary conferences to adopt the conventions in 1961 and 1971. Yet there is no explicit acknowledgement of civil society’s unique contribution written into the conventions themselves. This is not a criticism – it merely reflects the era in which they were created. In reality, civil society continues to play a vital role – in implementation, evidence-building, policy design and evaluation, advocacy, the promotion of public health, mental health and human rights, and in linking the work on the ground with the discussions here in Vienna. We have seen and welcomed the increase in civil society engagement at CND. Today, for example, hundreds of NGOs will be following the deliberations, even despite the COVID-19 restrictions. But I am acutely aware of how fragile these gains may be without explicit, written commitments in place. For example, while we are acknowledging anniversaries this week, it has been exactly ten years since the last CND resolution on the role and importance of civil society (that was resolution 54/11). I hope that this is something that we can address together at a future CND. To conclude, as we mark the anniversaries of the conventions, our collective attention and energy has to now be on the future. Effective, rights and public health based drug policies remain critical to the UN pillars of human rights, peace and security, and to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. We have much work that needs to be done – and we must continue to do it together. Thank you for your kind attention.

Chair: Thank you.  I call on the commission to adopt a statement I drafted. Adopted. Appreciation to Member Stateswho have been taking part in the drafting process. I invite the chairs of the regional groups to make their statements on the next agenda item. Bear in mind the time limits.

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