Plenary Item 7. Inter-agency cooperation and coordination of efforts in addressing and countering the world drug problem

Chair: The commission has before it conference room paper ECN 720 21 (?) and note by the Secretariat of interagency cooperation and coordination of efforts in addressing and countering the world drug problem. Pursuant to commission resolution 51/14 relevant decisions of UNAIDS are transmitted to the Commission in a note by the Secretariat on promoting coordination and alignment of decisions between the commission and the program. Coordinating Board of UN AIDS information on the relevant decisions of the board is before the commission in document ECN 720 21/6. And it’s resolution 62/6, the Commission requested UNODC as the convening agency of UNAIDS for matters relating to HIV, AIDS, and drug use, and to HIV AIDS in prison settings to continue to provide its leadership and guidance on those matters in partnership with relevant United Nations entities. And now I would like to invite Mr. Sharma Glover you to take the floor, please.

Director of the Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs (DPA) of the United Nations Office on Drugs: Excellencies, distinguished delegates, allow me to refresh our memories, to bring everybody on par with this topic, being tabled. You might recall the true decision in April 2017 of the internal UN executive committee established by the Secretary General has been leading the coordination with the following entities in assisting member states with the implementation of the recommendations contained in the outcome documents: the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNAIDS, UNICEF, UNDP, UN Women, WHO, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs of the Secretariat [next to the Executive Office]. And since April 2017, a number of United Nations system-wide activities have been initiated, including, as you may recall, the United Nations system wide joint messaging, a joint calendar of events, and social media campaigns, highlighting the joint efforts of the UN and supporting them mistakes. During the internal meeting of the UN chief executive support for coordination in November 2018, to preserve the United Nations entities, discussed how the United Nations system could most effectively support the implementation of international reference for policy through effective in the agency collaboration. The meeting of that board produced the principles adopted the United Nations Common Position on drug policy in which they committed to harnessing synergies and strengthening in the agency cooperation, making best use of the expertise within the UN system available, and supporting each of these activities within established mandates review to ensuring coherent efforts in particular, coordinated data collection. The United Nations system coordination task team was established within the framework of the Secretary General’s executive committee. As you will understand the task team is an internal event mechanism and members are exclusively UN entities. The task team operates through formal coordination and technical sessions. The purpose of the task team is to support the realization of the set of actions, agreed to in the common position of the UN, notably to support the development and implementation of policies that puts people, Health and Human Rights at the center, and to provide member states with the necessary evidence base to make informed policy decisions and to better understand the risks and benefits of new approaches to drug control. One of the challenges to the UN task team, is that it has been established within existing working resources and not added funding has been added, so the task team remains relatively limited. Nonetheless, allow me to conclude with some of the public outcomes as the was in preparation of the 2019 ministerial meeting, the production of a paper on what the UN have learned on what works on drug policy, it was submitted as a conference paper. Since then, pre briefing sessions were organized by the European Union also jointly with Mexico to publicly present the work of the task team in Vienna, and in Geneva. The third session was supposed to take place in New York, early 2020, but was cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19 internal event task team is currently preparing a document to disseminate the UN code position to the UN conflict teams in the field, ensuring a coherent view and approach to assist countries on issues. Thank you very much.

European Union (Its member states and the following countries, align themselves with this statement, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Norway, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Georgia) Madam Chair, we are holding the 64th session of the CND in a pandemic time demonstrating how multilateralism coordination efforts and interagency cooperation are turning to overcoming common threats. The Coronavirus outbreak has brought major challenges to our societies and economies, and put them out the lateral system under serious strain. However, the situation has also created opportunities for new and innovative ideas and methods to strengthen our engagement to address global challenges. Five years after the adoption of the UN General Assembly Special Session outcome document in 2016, today’s reality emphasizes, more than ever, that the international community needs to step up its responses to cope with these challenges, we need to accelerate the implementation of the outcome documents, which remains the most comprehensive international drug policy document, and which incorporates broader human rights, health and development perspectives, demonstrating a commitment to embed drug policies into the vital human framework priorities of protecting human rights, promoting and advancing. Importantly, we believe that ensuring synergies and complementarity through interagency cooperation and coordination, and thus engaging other United Nations bodies, including human rights bodies in relevant practical issues is strengthening our action to accelerate the implementation of all joint commitments to address and counter the load truck situation. I would like to recall that in December last year, the Council of the EU adopted a new strategy for the European Union for the years 2020-25 that fully embraces the importance of international cooperation and building that multilateral level of coordination among relevant actors to address drug related challenges. In particular, our strategy explicitly calls for coordination with agencies, bodies aand organizations that have relevance for the drugs field within their respective mandates and promote coordination among actors in the UN context. The European Union and its member states consider the principal role of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, as the policymaking body of the United Nations responsible for addressing the world drug situation and the UNODC as the leading entity in the UN system in these matters. While underlining the need to enhance coherence within the UN system, in cooperation with other intergovernmental organizations, as well as civil society, we would like to emphasize also the need to strengthen cooperation between the CNB and UNODC with other UN entities within their respective mandates, including the World Health Organization, the International Narcotics Control Board, UNAIDS, UNDP, UN Women, but also the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. It is therefore crucial for the CND and UNODC to further develop and benefit from synergies and cost effectiveness with all relevant UN entities as well as international and regional organizations. In this regard, the EU and its member states support at the UN system-wide conversation on drug policy, as well as each task being proposed, or stepping up efforts to ensure that no one is left behind in line with the overarching Sustainable Development Goals. This inspires us with the framework to work together to support the development and implementation of our joint commitments, including policies that put people, Health and Human Rights at the center. We should now make progress on the implementation of the relevant parts of the common position and accelerate our efforts to ensure that no one is left behind. As an example of the spirit of interagency cooperation. I’ll need to draw your attention to the international guidelines on human rights […] which were released in March, 2019. These guidelines can in some ways, provide a comprehensive set of international legal standards for guiding governments to develop human rights compliant drug policies. We also underlined the value and importance of the cooperation between you and obviously WHO in order to strengthen and expand existing cooperation on the public health dimension of the world drug problem. In the same sense, the collaboration between you and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is essential to bring human rights to the forefront of drug policy, and to ensure that drug control efforts are effectively designed to protect people and that’s promoting the health and welfare of humankind as required alternative development, which contributes to the reduction of illicit prompts in the long term. And at the same time makes a clear contribution to meet the goals and indicators to the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in the fields of poverty reduction, security, climate action, and peace and justice – coordination between UNDP and UNODC is crucial. We encourage UNODC to report on collaboration and coordination to ensure, as no one is left behind. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Unite Arab Emirates: May the peace of God be upon you. We believe the importance of international cooperation to prevent problems. Therefore, in the UAE since 2018, and 2020 We’ve been deploying huge efforts in order to find this good, especially with regards to international cooperation. We have been providing information and data to on 340 operations on the international level and these operations include the 84 countries in Asia and 67 operations and on the American continent ;100 in Europe, and seven in Australia 21 in Africa, as well. So facing the global drug problem through this cooperation, allowed us to seize 24,544 kilograms of narcotic drugs of several kinds that are all criminalized at the national, regional and international levels. So and the efforts deployed by the Emirates were highly appreciated by the different institutions, and then Secretary of the Arab ministers of foreign affairs, granted us the first position in the field cooperation. The drug problem has been exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic. Our evidence is: we have stopped 101 drug operations on our territories, and based on the available evidence we have noted that there was a decrease of drug smuggling, by 20%, while smuggling through the post increased by 21%. Smuggling via the coastal areas also increased and the prices of drugs increased 150% on the international level, we haven’t only cooperated in information and intelligence but also we have been organizing training workshops in order to build the capabilities of all the agencies, cooperating with the UNODC especially those in Abu Dhabi and also to enhance our cooperation with the international alliance, which brings together several countries, studying how to deal with the drug problem in light of the pandemic. Thank you.

United States: The United States reaffirms the CND’s leading role in international drug policy, as well as the international drug control treaties, as the cornerstones of international drug policy. As both the 2019 ministerial Declaration and the 2016 unguessed document made clear, effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem requires leveraging knowledge and experience across the UN system. CND resolution 60/6 provides us with concrete guidance for accomplishments while respecting each agency’s respective mandates and treaty mandated roles.  In 65/6 we reaffirm CND in its leading role is responsible for facilitating increased coordination and cooperation with all relevant UN bodies and specialized agencies within their respective mandates to support the development and implementation of international drug control policy. It does not see the policymaking authority of the CND to task teams or other mechanisms and may be established to enhance UN system wide collaboration – at the same time, we must use every tool available to us within the UN system to implement the drug control treaties and policy documents within the mandates established by the member states, the resolutions and decisions. Over the past year, despite the challenges posed by the COVID 19 pandemic, we have seen many examples of increased cooperation and collaboration between the Secretary, UNODC, INCB and other UN bodies. For example, the UN toolkit on synthetic drugs has worked with experts from various UN sections, the World Health Organization, The International Narcotics Control Board, the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the World Customs Organization and the Universal Postal Union, among other, to produce modules and legislative responses to the opioid crisis, access to controlled substances for scientific and medical purposes; establishing monitoring and early warning systems for new psychoactive substances and creating drug prevention and treatment programs. Similarly, the INCB has worked with private sector partners, as well as both regional and international organizations that facilitate real time exchange of operational information and intelligence. These efforts have produced many successful operations and tangible results. We look forward to working with member states continue and build this kind of collaboration and cooperation. Thank you.

Netherlands: The Netherlands fully supports the statement by the EU and 13 MS aligning itself with is. We underline the encouragement of the statement to UNODC on reporting on the implementation of the UNGASS recommendations. We are grateful to the secretariat on the work of the task team and the implementation of the UN System Common Position on Drug Related Matters. We cannot imagine a better place to report on this, as CND is the main policymaking body in this matter. GA resolution 75/198 requested the Office a chapter on collaboration and coordination within UN system and providing updates to Member States at CND. And CND resolution (…) to regularly update MS on the implementation of drug control policies and interagency collaboration. The work of the Task Team is important and will continue. We encourage the Secretariat to provide similar briefings in future sessions under this agenda item.

Indonesia: Cooperation with other countries and international organisations is required. In the field of rehabilitation, we cooperate with UNODC through treatment network and project programmes. In 2020 a collaboration to create a family intervention model was carried out online because of pandemic. We also cooperate on exchanging data and information on border control. In the future, we expect more cooperation on investigating crimes with other countries. The cross border nature of crime requires it.

Mexico: 25 years ago, the discussions that we’re having today were quite marginal and almost considered radical. Today, we have shifted toward a more human and evidence based approach. In Mexico we are convinced that the best option is prevention. In the absence of that, treatment. In its absence, harm reduction, which is better than nothing. For Mexico, COVID has highlighted importance of multilateral action, which requires more cooperation and synergy. We reiterate the need to implement recommendation of interagency cooperation, including Task Team implementation of the UN System Common Position. Cooperation and coordination of efforts is something Mexico has been also improving on. We have reaffirmed commitment to balanced, multidisciplinary and evidence based approach to drug issues. Health and law enforcement agencies cooperate on supply and demand related issues, placing people and not substances at the centre. Mexico has recently controlled psychoactive substances including 67 precursors and essential chemicals in our control lists, and eliminated controls on naloxone, and reclassified entheogens of natural origins. The most complex endeavours has been regulating cannabis for medical and personal use. In line with report on the reclassification of cannabis, we published regulations on health controls for production, research and medicinal use of cannabis and pharmacological derivatives for mechanisms to ensure access of cannabis for medical use for those who need it and provide procedures for research, recognising the need that the level of control is not an obstacle to research of medical use. Regarding personal use, both chambers of Congress are working hard to produced balanced legislation, mindful of constitutional rights of consumers not to be criminalised, and to protect public health. As other countries have seen, the pandemic poses new challenges to Mexico, such as alternatives to avoid cutting off prevention and care services, and new mental health services to the entire population. IN our prevention strategy “together for peace” with different actors, we have maintained on site services when possible, and provided the Mexican people with telephone and social media services; campaigns with mentoring and training, to close the gap in mental health and addiction services.

Paraguay: (Sound isn’t sufficient for interpretation services).

Morocco: (technical difficulties)

Russian Federation: We support increased coordination between un agencies in combatting drugs in compliance with their mandate and bearing in mind the leading role of CND in this field. The lead role of UNODC and also the role of the INCB as laid down in the conventions and that of WHO too. We commend the activities by the UNODC, including projects carried out with other UN bodies. In strict compliance with instructions by the Commission, the conventions and political agreements agreed by consensus: 2019, 2016 and 2009 documents. We cannot agree either with the content of the document prepared by the UN Secretariat on the Common Position in relation to drugs by UN bodies. From our view, this document does not meet political commitments of states, confirmed in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration. It is a one sided view of medical and other aspects in addressing world drug problem and contains doubtful recommendations that do not have the full support of the Commission. The methods in preparing this document, the work was carried out within a special purpose group. Without a mandate by the CND. Without consultation by MS. If this structure is supposed to improve interagency cooperation, we do not understand why the documents produced by it are being foisted by states in all international programmes as guidelines for cooperation on drug policy. We cannot agree for the use of this document as basis for regional coordinators in un system in combatting the world drug problem.

Paraguay: (Sound isn’t sufficient for interpretation services – Statement delivered in Spanish).

Algeria: I’d like to focus on addiction prevention in education settings. The interventions show both statistics and testimonies, how serious this phenomenon is in schools. Our fight against drugs is a long term effort and faces different challenges at different levels. Treatment and support to addicts. And prevention. We adopted strategies adapted to our national circumstances and based in evidence carried out in consultation with all stakeholders. Prevention action carried at all levels: education system, law enforcement, healthcare, religious affairs and civil society. Prevention works best when it happens early, according to studies. Our resources are developed every year. Minister of Health manages 200 schools. 1 in 4 of our population is in an education setting, which is where we carry our prevention efforts. Parallel programmes to eradicate violence and smoking. Some countries have expressed very important strategies, adapting strategies to age groups and using adapted means of communications. For that reason, it would be useful to share experience between Member States.

Morocco: I’d highlight the cooperation and coordination between international institutions is crucial to prevent and combat the world drug problem in terms of synergy and complementarity. The ministerial declaration of 2019 reaffirms the principal role of CND in these matters. It further reaffirms the treaty mandated role of INCB and WHO. In this regard, we welcome positive interaction between these three organs and member states. Notably the case with regard considerations on the rescheduling of cannabis, by WHO, based on scientific data, on medicinal and scientific purposes. We encourage this interaction, keeping in mind the mandates of respective bodies. This cooperation should be upheld to avoid overlapping in the implementation of the Ministerial Declaration of 2019.

OHCHR: (Technical issues)

Uganda Green Crescent Society: Success in prevention and control requires teamwork. Together, everyone achieves more. It also means together we are stronger. In practice, it means planning together, doing work together, studying and learning about processes and outcomes together. And acting on findings to improve our work together. Interagency cooperation and coordination of efforts in addressing and countering the world drug problem is not an option but mandatory. Governments, NGOS and faith based organisations must work as a team, each one contributing from their points of strength and comparative advantage. Faith based organisations have faith teaching to prevent and control use among followers. Governments have regulations among citizens. NGOs have a passion for solving the needs of their communities. If these agencies cooperate and coordinate their work, the impact on communities would be much greater than anyone working in isolation. This teamwork must continue at community, family and individual level. We should improve teamwork; this should be our culture, improving communication and reflecting, learning and acting on what we do in order to improve our work. Let us all continuously look out for team members and cooperate and coordinate our activities with them to achieve greater impact in the prevention and control of narcotic drug use.

OHCHR: (Technical issues)

Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales – CELS: Mainstreaming Human Rights and gender dimensions in drug policy requires active inter-agency cooperation. With this statement, I would like to present two examples of the ways in which the failure to mainstream gender dimensions has undermined the human rights of women during the pandemic. First, the UN Common Position encourages ¨the production of more comprehensive data on the impact of drug policies, supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda¨. The Covid-19 pandemic precipitated a series of HR crises. Among them is a dramatic impact on people in prison, in particular women. Unfortunately, data sets fail to capture this gendered-impact. A grave indicator of the lack of consideration for women is that data collected on COVID-19 and prison populations remains gender neutral, failing to provide any representative information or disaggregated data on gender. As a consequence, the response to the crises did not account for specific gender impacts. Second, one of the directions of action pursued by the UN Common Position is the use of inter-agency cooperation to promote ¨alternatives to conviction and punishment in appropriate cases… [and] to address prison overcrowding and over incarceration by people accused of drug crimes¨. Given the dangers of the spread of the disease inside prisons, states attempted to implement measures aimed to alleviate over-crowding. At the beginning of the pandemic, UN agencies recommended policies of excarceration, especially for the most vulnerable groups including women and children. Yet, in some countries, people convicted for drug offences, were excluded from this emergency measure. As a result, the majority of women, who are overwhelmingly convicted due to drug related crimes, did not qualify for alternatives to prison. We see how the absence of data combined with the absence of a gendered perspective aggravated the impact of the pandemic for the 700,000 women who are deprived of liberty today, and the 19,000 children in prison with them. In moments of crisis like today, in the spirit of the UN Common Position and inter-agency collaboration, we encourage this Commission to collaborate with HR agencies in meaningfully mainstreaming gender, collecting data that is sensible to problems like these to better guide member states understanding the gender and HR dimensions related to drug policy. I thank you.

Transnational Institute – TNI: Thanks, madam chair, for giving the Transnational Institute the opportunity to speak. In the course of the 25 years in which we have participated in CND sessions, we have witnessed very slow progress with regard to strengthening inter-agency cooperation and UN system-wide coherence. A siloed culture has long dominated in Vienna resulting in tensions rather than collaboration with other parts of the UN family.  The adoption of the UN System Common Position on drug policy and the establishment of the inter-agency Task Team have been unprecedented milestones in this regard. The UN Common Position was elaborated under the guidance of the Secretary-General, with the full support of the heads of all UN agencies, including UNODC. The Common Position provides ‘authoritative guidance’ to all UN agencies to develop and promote a truly evidence- and human rights-based drugs policy, in support of the overarching Sustainable Development Goals. UNODC has a key role in the implementation of the Common Position, as it is mandated to lead the UN system Task Team. It is therefore highly disappointing and worrying that the new UNODC Strategy 2021-2025 does not mention or refer to the Common Position or to the inter-agency Task Team that UNODC is meant to lead, not even in the section on UN system coordination. Furthermore, many of the key directions for action included in the Common Position, from promoting the decriminalisation of people who use drugs to gathering evidence on new approaches to drug control, including cannabis, are absent from the Strategy. If the now reached Common Position fails to deliver and the Task Team is unable to operate, one of the logical conclusion would be revisiting the role of UNODC, and for the SG’s Executive Committee to lead the Task Force instead. After all, UNODC’s ‘leading role’ within the system was always meant to be a lead coordinating role in close collaboration with other UN agencies and governing bodies. The UN Common Position and the Task Team are hard-won achievements that provide authoritative guidance for the entire UN system on drug-related matters – to be implemented on the ground through the resident coordinator system and promoted at the global level to overcome the siloed approach. We call on Member States to actively support the work of the Task Team, to promote drug-related issues on the agendas of other UN forums, and to ensure that all relevant UN entities—including UNODC—actively promote the UN Common Position.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner (OHCHR): The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) continues to build a constituency to advocate for human rights-based approach to drug policies, as provided for in the United Nations System Common Position on drug control policy with regard inter-agency collaboration. In the spirit of inter-agency cooperation, OHCHR is collaborating with UNDP, WHO, UNAIDS and the International Centre at the University of Essex to support States and other stakeholders for the implementation of the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy, which was launched in March 2019 in Vienna. We seen examples of positive impact of our joint efforts in the promotion and the implementation of the Guidelines at national and international levels. For example, in two separate rulings in 2019, the Constitutional Court in Colombia has cited the Guidelines to clarify State obligations to respect the rights of people who use drugs to consume drugs in public spaces;  and on rights related to a healthy environment and ruling for strict conditions on the use of the herbicide glyphosate to eradicate drug crops. At the regional level, two dialogues were organized on the Guidelines in the Americas and Asia regions  in 2020. The EU Drugs Strategy for 2021-2025 recognizes “the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy are important guidelines for international drug policy.” In its resolutions on “Drug policy and human rights in Europe”, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe welcomes the publication of International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy. In 2020, OHCHR, UNDP, WHO and UNAIDS, partnering with several States and other stakeholders, organized an event in Geneva, Switzerland to introduced the Guidelines at the margin of 43rd session of the Human Rights Council. The Guidelines were also introduced to the UN Human Rights Committee and to several special procedure mandate holders of the Council. Since 2019, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights referred the Guidelines in its recommendations to a State party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.   UN special procedure mandate holders, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health  and the discrimination against women in law and practice, also referred the Guidelines in their reports and deliberations. Madam Chair, The UN System Common Position provides a framework for coordinated support to States in drug related matters, and to work together to ensure that no one is left behind, including in the drug control context. As example, OHCHR  wishes to refers to it recent efforts in the Philippines where, pursuant to the Human Rights Council’s resolution 45/33 adopted last October, the design of a UN joint programme on human rights is currently being finalized. Developed jointly with UNODC and other UN partners, it includes a component on human rights-based approach to drug control and draws on relevant guidance set out in the Common Position. In the UN Common Position, all UN agencies committed to promote the active involvement and participation of civil society and local communities, including people who use drugs, as well as women and youth. In this spirit, we are engaging with civil society organizations throughout the world who have also played a leading role in strategizing about Guidelines implementation and have used the Guidelines in their advocacy and litigation efforts.

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