Special commemorative event at the occasion of the United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and Launch of the 2021 World Drug Report (hybrid event)

Chair: Good afternoon dear colleagues, it’s a great pleasure to welcome you for this very special event, dedicated to the commemoration of the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, and the launch of the 2021 world Drug Report. I would like to extend a warm welcome to our distinguished speakers with us and participants today joining us online and in person and I see a lot of participants, joining us here in person. Thank you very much for this, it’s, it’s greatly appreciated by me personally to see you in person. A very warm welcome to the executive director of UNODC and our panelists, and my good colleagues from the INCB. I also welcome the bureau, the INCB president, the chief of the UNODC research and analysis branch, the director of the division for policy analysis and Public Affairs, the chair of the VNGOC. I also welcome the youth representatives who will address the commission during today’s special session. Before we proceed to the merits of our meeting today I would like to give the floor to the Secretariat to enlighten us a bit about the necessary health related measures in view of the ongoing pandemic.

Secretariat:  [covid measures psa]

Chair: Thank you, Joe. The World Drug Report is the source providing us with a comprehensive overview of the latest developments in the markets and the leading global reference on drugs, presented in five separate booklets. The world Drug Report provides a wealth of information and analysis to support our efforts in implementing our policy commitments, including in light of the COVID 19 pandemic. I’m very pleased that we continue the tradition of launching the world Drug Report with a CND special event on the day we also commemorate the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Over the last year, we have seen that the COVID 19 pandemic put health systems around the world under severe strain and had a negative impact on drug treatment and health service capacities. The pandemic has also brought unprecedented public awareness of health considerations, and the need for scientific evidence in our joint efforts, reliable and objective data are a crucial tool in our joint efforts to effectively address all aspects of the world drug problem – about when, where and why people use drugs are key to develop, implement and monitor effective responses at the national, regional, and global levels, and hence our cornerstone of evidence based policymaking and monitoring the importance of data collection is reflected in the free international drug control conventions which parties are required to annually submit drug related data to the United Nations, and all our policy documents. For example, in the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action, committed to increase our efforts in collecting data on the nature and extent of drug use and dependence, strengthen information and monitoring systems to imply methodologies and instruments based on scientific evidence. The UNGASS outcome document also promotes the value of reliable comparable objective and quality statistics on drugs across all seven thematic chapters in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration, we committed to promoting and improving the collection analysis and sharing of quality and comparable data. Before giving the floor to the distinguished Executive Director of UNODC, let me stress that I’m very happy that we have two youth representatives joining us today for this special event involvement of young people in global process is key contributions of young people to strengthen prevention and treatment in their communities are widely acknowledged our commission is committed to empowering youth and ensuring youth engagement at all levels including the Youth Forum under the UNODC youth initiative that is being held every year in the margins of the regular sessions of our commission – such initiatives are important to connect young people from around the globe, and empower them to become active in their schools, communities, and youth groups for substance use prevention and health promotion. With this, I now have the pleasure to give the floor to miss Waly.

UNODC ED: Madam Chair, ambassadors, Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen. I’m honored to join you today to commemorate the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The 2021 edition of UNODC’s flagship, the World Drug Report comes at a critical juncture. The world continues to deal with the pandemic and its impact on health and livelihoods, while taking the steps forward with recovered corrective measures – these must be based on evidence and solutions backed by science. Earlier this year, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs issues an important joint declaration on the effects of the COVID crisis. This repost is an important contribution to inform actions. The devastating and undeniable impact of drug use affects the lives of people everywhere – half a million people died in 2019 as a result of drug abuse. The same year, 36 million people suffered from diseases prevalent among people who use drugs, particularly those who inject them. The number of people who use drugs reached 275 million in 2019. This is projected to continue worldwide, particularly in low-income countries. That starting point for our responses to drug related challenges, is the fact that only one in eight people with drug use disorders receive adequate treatment; that women have unequal access to such services – we must ensure that they are available to everyone equally and integrate them into healthcare delivery systems. Opioids represent a growing danger in North America and Africa continues to grapple the non-medical use of Tramadol. We must improve drug treatment, care and emergency services… Over the last few years, particularly in Europe as well as in North America, where potency has quadrupled, the percentage of adolescents perceiving cannabis as harmful is declining. We have a collective responsibility to keep the public informed about drug abuse, to make sure we protect young people from harm. Also it is a tragic time for patients with serious illnesses, and unnecessary pain because they lack access to controlled medicines, particularly in poorer countries where the majority of the world’s population lives. In 2019, standard doses of controlled pain medication were available every day for every 1 million inhabitants in Western, Central Africa in comparison to 52,000 doses in North American government heed the call, jointly issued by UNODC, WHO and INCB last year to remove barriers for those in need around the world, including patients of COVID-19. The report has also revealed new realities, the pandemic COVID-19 crisis has contributed to shifts in drug use, markets, some of which may carry forward for years to come. Genomic and social hardships have created conditions more conducive to both drug use and illicit cultivation, contactless methods for drug sales and delivery have become more common. At the same time, the pandemic has prompted innovation in treatment and prevention, yielding promising results that merit further exploration. Using our growing evidence base as a foundation, UNODC is supporting member states. We provided technical assistance on effective and humane drug treatment services with 28 countries, reaching 67,000 People with drug use disorders, including children, women and pregnant women. Our office supported also countries in Africa, Europe, and Southeast Asia, providing comprehensive HIV and hepatitis C prevention and treatment services, including in prison setting. Our container control programme enables countries to make major drug seizures, including the shipment of over 4000 kilograms of cocaine in Panama this year also supported countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Our labratory continued to provide scientific assistance to almost 300 National Laboratories and we remain committed to promoting alternative livelihoods, putting coffee production as a substitute for illicit crop cultivation in Bolivia, Laos, and Myanmar.  The findings of the world Drug Report continue to inform our efforts and policies. It should also prompt us to do more to reduce supply and demand for drugs and to support health with policies based on evidence.

UNODC Research and Trends Analysis Branch: I would like to thank everyone, before anything else, who helped to create this report. I want to also thank the statistics section. We have interesting and accurate analyses: as Miss Wally mentioned, the mismatch between the perception of adolescence on the risk that cannabis pose, and the potency is striking. We have work to do  in combating misinformation. The other finding and is for this report is that for the first time, we have monitored a few key drug markets on the dark net. And we try to understand the evolution and estimate the value of the sales of drugs in the market. As you see in my presentation, the Darknet is extremely volatile. So what we do is we analyze two periods of time between 2011 and 2017, and between 2017 and 2018, and just to see how it looks in the long term. The sales increased by four times, and reaching about 350 millions of dollars in annual sales. So overall, in the long run, sales in the dark net are increasing. The other feature of this report that we have not done is to try to be more forward looking. And so, to try to give an instrument to the international community to think not just to describe the water. How is the drug problem today, or maybe yesterday when we had the available data, but to think about what we  expect the drug problem to be in the years to come. And one of the analysis that we have done here is just thinking about the demographic changes that the world. And so you see that the population,  is mostly increasing in low and middle income countries. So, if we just project, the number of people who use drugs is expected to increase by 11% …. What is also particularly worrying, is that in Africa, this population is projected to increase by 40%. And, with more people using drugs, we need to expect also higher level of manufacturing of drugs a higher level of trafficking. So, this is just the in a way of warning and particularly, also for a continent like Africa. As miss Waly mentioned, we saw a disruption of mental health services around the world – throughout the world, in order to overcome this disruption, technology has been more used for example for online services, or also the delivery of treatment medicines was made more easily. When COVID started, we have seen the world completely changing everywhere in any supply chain so the big question was, has this also fundamentally disrupted the drug trafficking, drug manufacturer as far as this fundamentally change the drug markets? And I think today, we can say after more than one year, that actually it did not change drastically, or does has not changed the patterns, the overall structure and dynamics of drug markets, showing once again how traffickers are actually easy to adapt, and you know how much they are resilient. But what we have seen is that there has been that triggering, or an acceleration of some of the dynamics that were already happening, but maybe at a slower pace and so what COVID did really was: it accelerated some of these dynamics: One is that we have seen traffickers having larger shipments – this is something that all traffickers have adopted to have larger shipments and we have seen record high seizures for example of cocaine or other areas during COVID, but also the increase of private planes, particularly in South America, the increase of waterways. We have also seen acceleration of changing the delivery system of drugs to end consumers: contact less means that the transactions took place without a dealer and drug user having an in-person meeting. So, even if we don’t have global data, and global estimates, I think all the information that is emerging points to the same results. There has been an increase in the use of cannabis, and the increase on the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals, particularly benzodiazepines, as you can see in the graphs of the report. An other interesting thing is the drivers of people with drug use disorders that we have analyzed last year – the risk factors relating to for example, unemployment, low education, poverty, etc… COVID has brought a lot more millions of people into poverty. With millions, hundreds and millions of jobs lost, and billions of students out of school, this is likely to feed that vicious cycle that we see. What you will find in the report also is an update on all the sub regional dynamics, that is an attempt to show to everyone, the problem is a common problem and the fundamentals of this problem are the same for everyone. In the World, Cannabis remains the drugs that is most used the most trafficked, and probably most produced, but I think it is also important to understand that each sub region had specific challenges and threats.
Now, beyond what you don’t see now in your brochure, but you will find in the report, I just wanted to give you a flavor of some of the other field findings on some of the issues that the commission is very familiar with. So where do we stand on the NPS issue… As you know, those of you that were here, maybe four or five years ago the NPS was felt as the biggest threat that we had as a community. Now I think we can say that over the years, there has been a containment on the NPS problem. And so, if we had in 2013 about 160 new substances coming into the market, we have today about 71. Clearly, the speed is decreasing. And so in this is a sign that we were able to contain this threat, but this doesn’t mean that the fight is completely over. And there has been a geographical shift: for example, Western Europe used to be the center for NPS but now they are emerging in other countries. The hope is that, there’s a lot to learn from the countries that were able to contain this problem and so international cooperation becomes even more important. And now another phrase that we see for a region like Europe is cocaine, and you see the long term trend on cultivation and production, and then you see that on cultivation, there is a slight decrease, but the production the manufacturing of cocaine is still going up. Despite the small decree in cultivation and this is because traffickers enter the source countries that become very efficient and so they are constantly the more and more concentrated, and then geographically localized so the traffic is concentrated all the process of manufacturing so they become more efficient. European markets, as a change in terms of the drug trafficking organizations, there are a lot more dramatic organizations that are able to source cocaine directly from the source countries and so this has increased a lot of competition, and so purer cheaper, cocaine reaches Europe. The prevalence of cocaine use in North America is higher than in Europe, but we see that Europe is more and more resembling the US market, so it means that there is a threat of increasing by 0.5%, the prevalence of cocaine users so this is really, again, a fragment if nothing happens if this were the market that is going to Europe. The two markets are really merging in terms of methamphetamine as well, not only because we see the seizure, but we triangulate the information of the seizure, price, and use, clearly there is a sign of expansion. Globally, there is an increase in interception of methamphetamine, but basically the precursors are hardly detected, and this is because international control need more money to be invested in precursor control, not only on the end product like methamphetamine. In terms of opiates and opium production, as you can see, production is still at the high level, and this is definitely, mostly due to a trends in Afghanistan. Now, there is an increased complexity so we still have our at very high level of production that now comes also with an increase in an expanding manufacturer in Afghanistan. The seizures done in the Near and Middle East and Southwest Asia show that methamphetamine seizure has grown – that is also affecting Afghanistan’s young people as well, because the surveys that we have undertaken with UNICEF recently, clearly show that there is a consistent number of young people that are starting not only using traditional substnces, but also synthetic drugs. Next, what has already been mentioned by Miss Waly is a critically low availability of pain medication available. The striking points, if you can see there is that they were in Western, Central Africa, there were four doses a day per million inhabitants. And this compared to about 32,000 in North America. So that’s clearly shows the low availability but in other news, the availability of drug treatment medication, methadone and buprenorphine, has increased globally. Really, this is available in some regions more than others, but at least that is encouraging results that scientifically based treatment is more available today for people with drug use disorders. To conclude, I just also wanted to say that, in the report you will find a lot of new trends about people who inject drugs, people who use drugs, and also the impact of the drug use on health, and then all indicators and numbers on deaths, on disability adjusted life, number of people with drug use disorders, all of these indicators shows that not only we have more people who use drugs, but also there is an increasing harm that is posed by drug use. So, for example deaths have been increasing at a higher speed than the number of people who use drugs. So, this is an indication that drugs themselves are becoming more harmful. And then you see also that we have an update in the report about the people who inject drugs and those with HIV. Thank you.

Chair: Thank you, it’s always it’s always very nice to watch how passionate you are about drugs. Now I invite the youth representative to take the floor.

“Youth” 1: The pandemic has changed the world. We may witness a loss through the rise of pandemic but also an increase in courageous and heroic people worldwide as well as transnational collaboration. The pandemic will end in the foreseeable future but will also bring long lasting impact. For us, there’s not only a way of studying online, also the way of knowing to test the information makes us more connected to public affairs and allows us to understand the world more objectively. We think about potential solutions that can solve problems, and develop the skills we need then to put those solutions into practice. Written information is important because it is the foundation upon which young people make decisions, they have skills. This severe pandemic provides an opportunity to reflect on the world as a whole, and taking lessons on how to protect our communities. The pandemic has also set a new challenge to drug prevention […] as we do in public health in China involves more than 230,000 schools and 98 million students to acquire the knowledge, again to develop drug use prevention skills. In a world of great diversity, we can learn through the facts and figures. Chine is a role model (?) Drug use prevention among teenagers, starting in fact the base year, supported by scientific research can continue to improve the lives of many and is most efficient together with job guarantee programmes. Drug free world […] I just completed my vaccination last week, and I can sincerely hope to meet in person, very soon. Thank you.

“Youth” 2: Thank you. My name is Sarah and I’m a 21 year old woman from Denmark. Actually in the youth organization, I’ve been working with substance use prevention for seven and a half years now. COVID-19 has taken more from us than we’d like to admit. I live in Moscow in a small dorm room, that turned into place of constant isolation and loneliness. It took a toll on my mental health. The situation affects all ages and I was lucky enough to have a good safety net around and my parents helped me, and I’ve been equipped with healthy coping mechanisms, sadly, is not the case for everyone. Some might not have the support they need or tools to gain strong coping skills. As a result, some have resorted to substance use. But only later, we can look back and do the proper research to see how it has affected our lives and this is why we need to keep focusing on providing people the opportunity to develop resilient, mental and coping emotional coping skills that in the event of future misfortunate situations makes them better prepared to combat the social and psychological repercussions. In my youth organization, we evaluate the Youth to Youth method, ie Youth engage with other youth, talk about prevention. Since COVID-19, we are no longer able to meet other youth, no longer have activities, no longer able to connect with each other. As we have gained a whole new platform, digital meetings is great for most meetings. It’s not the same, I no longer feel the connectedness, I felt when I sat down in a room with other humans, sitting in front of a screen does not engage in the same way. Concentration is not the same. Are we even listening? We need to keep researching to see how digital prevention programmes work, and how the digital school and work-life is. Only then are we able to know where to go from here. We are ready to help creating solutions. Thank you.

(Colombia) 2nd Vice Chair of CND: Thank you very much. I am delighted to attend the celebration of the United Nations International Day Against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. The central focus on this in context to the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to prioritize information based on scientific evidence. This is a constant concern of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which have been reflected in the resolutions approved this year. Member states have to make use of solid scientific data on the effectiveness and efficiency in their policies addressing and counteracting the world drug problem. The importance of evidence has been the biggest issue in areas such as prevention, alternative development. We fully agree on the need to continue encouraging member states to cooperate in the process of collecting these qualitative and quantitative data. The report also reveals a number of important aspects in my region of Latin America and the Caribbean where new psychoactive substances and the increase of new routes have been outstanding but also a decrease in the supply of medicine for pain treatment – especially if we compare the supply of these with other regions. Seizures in our region continue to grow but youth prevalence is low compared to the global average. And regarding opiates, particularly, our region continues to be identified as a player in relation to North America. The report also indicates a change in the manufacturing process, leaving the cultivation countries to transform… we have seen very good diversification of our actors in the cocaine supply chain. The International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is framed within the growing complexity of the global drug market. Consequently, it is necessary to call the attention of all states to the importance of coordinating our efforts to counter the different dimensions and manifestation of the problem, highlighting the value of the vehicle of evidence, and the principle of common responsibility.

(Nigeria) 1st Vice Chair of CND: I’m delighted to be invited to speak. The launch of the world Drug Report is very symbolic that this event is being held on this occasion, the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking where teams share facts on drugs to save lives – it could not be more appropriate in the context of the revelations from the world Drug Report 2021. We need effective and impactful drug policy, that is anchored on scientific evidence and deliberate data collection on all aspects of the world drug problem. The Drug Report has over the years by collected and analysed and shared relevant information provided by Member States, as well as through other credible sources on the prevalence of drug abuse. This year, the world drug report reveals that an estimated 275 million people abused drugs in the previous year. So the projection of a rise in drug abuse in Africa by 40% by 2030 is deeply concerning, especially when compared to the global average of 11%. The 2019 Declaration on strengthening our actions at the national, regional and international levels to accelerate the implementation of our joint commitments to address and counter the world drug problem stresses the importance of data collection, informing scientific evidence-based drug policies. Nigeria has continued to adopt real control policies and strategies to respond to emerging and evolving realities and all of our policy is implemented under the National Drug Control master plan 2021 to 2025. This is an integrated evidence based and balanced policy, which combines law enforcement and the promotion of public health, while employing interagency collaboration and global cooperation in addressing and countering the problem line with the National Drug Control master plan. The drug use survey in 2019, as part of our evidence based approach addressing and countering drug problems, revealed that  several millions abused Tramadol, cocaine and other harmful substances, similar pattern to the 2019 and 2021 drug reports identified cannabis, the most abused substance in the world with this threat to security and health to the global population. The trend has continued as highlighted in the 2021 world report: roughly 200 million people abused cannabis in 2019. It is also troubling to see a decrease of perceived danger among the youth who consider the use of cannabis – we need to provide accurate facts on the harmful effects of cannabis in furtherance of our evidence based national policy. On controlled medicine, we conducted a national survey from 2017 through 2019 to identify our actual needs and ensuring availability and access for medical and scientific purposes. Currently we’re now able to optimize data collection and improve submission of annual requirements to INCB on course to start local manufacturer of narcotic medicines who pre-qualified from pharmaceutical manufacturers with national needs. With resolutions and decision during the 64th session, we took another significant step in addressing the gap in data collection and adverse health consequences of the increasing incidence of pharmaceuticals and new psychoactive substances. We are excited to see more resolutions on UNODC to assist member states developing their capacity, collect data on the harmful effects, including road related death, the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals, new psychoactive substances, enhancing reporting capabilities, … we expect to see a more comprehensive and detailed information on the adverse health consequences of abuse. Nigeria endorses the importance of evidence-based approach. We must all join hands to share facts to save more lives. Thank you

(Kyrgyzstan) Rapporteur of CND: I’m very glad to see you all of you in person. Thank you very much for inviting me to speak today. I would also like to thank you the Statistics branch for preparing such a comprehensive report. We know that while there have been many achievements in addressing the world rock problem, challenges still remain today. In particular, this year’s report looks at the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the drugs market. We have learned that while markets were temporarily disrupted, during the first phase of the pandemic have recovered quickly, once again demonstrating the traffickers ability to adapt quickly to changing environments and circumstances, as highlighted in the Commission’s joint statement. The traditional demand reduction infrastructure, which often requires in person engagement is facing increasing challenges, providing the necessary services, affecting the capacity of drug treatment, and health services. It was noted with concern that member states encounter difficulties in ensuring their continued access to availability of internationally controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes during the pandemic time. We have, however, also observed that the COVID 19 pandemic has led to the development of new and innovative approaches to drug prevention and treatment and related health and social services, resulting in enhanced cooperation between public health law enforcement authorities and other relevant stakeholders of member states at all levels. The report highlights the rising sales of controlled substances over the internet, which can contribute to transforming patterns of distribution and resulting in new challenges for law enforcement and health authorities to address all these challenges, it’s key that we continue to foster international and regional cooperation and intelligence sharing to adequately address issues in a timely response. Effective international cooperation and informed policies need scientific evidence and data, we need to better understand the challenges at hand, and we have committed to promoting and improving the collection, analysis, and sharing of quality and comparable data, and most importantly, to accelerate our joint efforts to implement the drug policy commitments made over the past decades. Your Excellencies, to live up to this commitment, we need international action in the spirit of common and shared responsibility, and it goes without saying that learning from each other, discussing the challenges faced success achieved and lesson learned is crucial. I’m convinced that the findings of the report will support our discussions in the period ahead and enhance our understanding of global trend, when formulating action oriented interventions. During the thematic discussions in October will be our next opportunity to exchange on how we can jointly address some of the key challenges we have identified in the 2019 ministerial declaration. Thank you very much.

INCB President: It is an honor to meet with you to commemorate the 2021 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking – the timely and appropriate facts on drugs, save lives. I would like to congratulate the UNODC on the 2021 World Drug Report – it is a valuable tool for better understanding the ever-changing world drug situation and the INCB is committed to continue cooperation with UNODC to ensure that the support provided to member states, within our respective mandates, results in the maximum possible benefit to those we serve. Evidence-based drug policy is a prerequisite for to ensuring health and wellbeing, contributing to the achievement of the SDGs, particularly goal three, and above all, saving lives. The pandemic has demonstrated the need for universal access to health care, including access to medicines, containing controlled substances and uninterrupted prevention and treatment services has also highlighted the need for reliable factual information which is accessible. The sharing of facts about drugs also extends to ensuring accurate perception of risks and INCB calls  on governments to ensure the provision of evidence based prevention services, in which we recognize the valuable role civil society plays. The system of international drug control, established by the drug control conventions, has proven to be effective in ensuring the continued international trade in controlled substances, industrial, medical, and scientific purposes during the pandemic. INCB convened an expert group meeting, facilitating timely supply and access to controlled substances during emergency situation – this highlighted the need for governments to exercise flexibility in implementing the simplified control measures, so as to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance, save lives. The systems largely functioned to ensure a global response and the INCB has assisted via learning projects. Comprehensive data is also key to developing effective treatment and rehabilitation programmes; in some countries and regions, this data remains virtually nonexistent. INCB has been falling on governments to improve data collection, facilitate the design and adoption of evidence-based policies and the provision of appropriate prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation services. This is particularly important as the drug control conventions, at the heart, have the main objective of safeguarding the health and wellbeing of all people. So, obliged parties must take measures for the prevention of illicit drug use, as well as medication aftercare, rehabilitation and social integration, the safeguarding of human rights. The right to health should form the basis for the humane treatment of people who use drugs, recognizing that if certain drugs are becoming more prevalent in some communities, there needs to be strengthened cooperation on adding protections. The rights of children: to be protected from the illicit use of drugs and from involvement in the illicit production and trafficking of drugs. There is an urgent need to overcome stigma associated with drug use, so to ensure that all people, including women, minority communities can access prevention and treatment services without discrimination. Human rights protections also need to be strengthened in addressing illicit drug use and trafficking, and in any criminal justice responses to drug use. This includes respect for the rule of law, presumption of innocence, prohibition of arbitrary arrest and detention, right to a fair trial and protection against all forms of cruel and inhumane punishment and, at the same time, criminality must be addressed. World Drug Report shows how drug sales of the dark web have increased, especially in countries where control systems may be weaker. INCB continues to promote partnerships among governments, international organizations, and the private sector to prevent an interdict sale of NPS non-medical synthetic opioids or other dangerous substances. In closing, many lives can be saved by the implementation of the provisions of the drug control conventions, supported by the sharing of facts and data on public health and wellbeing, contributing to SDG3.

Jamie Bridge, VNGOC:  Thank you, Ambassador, for inviting me to speak today on behalf of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs. For those who may not know us, the Vienna Committee comprises more than 300 non-governmental organisations from around 70 countries. Our mandate is to ensure and support civil society engagement in drug policy discussions here in Vienna – including with CND, UNODC and the INCB. So I want to start by thanking the CND Secretariat and UNODC, especially the Civil Society Unit, for giving NGOs a space around the virtual table at today’s event – and also for ensuring that the event is being webcast. As Angela Me mentioned, there is also a launch event taking place in New York later today, at which the New York NGO Committee on Drugs will be making a similar statement to this. I also want to echo others in congratulating Angela and her team for delivering this latest World Drug Report. It is a massive undertaking, and it remains the main tool that we have for understanding and analysing the world drug situation. The Vienna Committee looks forward to co-hosting two webinars with UNODC next month, for NGOs to discuss the Report in more detail. The World Drug Report has become even more comprehensive and robust since the revision of the Annual Report Questionnaires, or ARQs, in 2020. However, important gaps remain – not least because a significant number of countries are still not fully completing the ARQs. So we echo calls for governments to “Share facts on drugs” and to provide the most accurate and reliable data possible. UNODC’s theme this year – “Share facts on drugs, Save lives” – is also a timely reminder of the importance of combating misinformation. As you all know, we live in a world where misinformation can spread fast and wide. Scientific data are obscured by so-called ‘fake news’, and it’s becoming perilously difficult for many people to disaggregate fact from fiction (perhaps even more so during the pandemic). Not only must we ensure that we gather, use and communicate the best evidence – we also need to ensure that we are collecting all the available evidence, that we are asking the right questions, and that we are consistently basing our statements and discussions on facts here at the CND. Transparency is also key. For example, it has often not been possible to see the drugs data that has been submitted by governments, even when an ARQ has been cited as a reference in the Report. Future World Drug Reports should be complemented by other research and analysis collected by academia, civil society, communities and UN agencies. This will help to provide an even fuller picture and greater
context – especially when it comes to human rights and the realities on the ground. Several other UN entities, for example, already formally invite and reflect NGO inputs and shadow reports. So UNODC and the CND could consider similar mechanisms here in Vienna. And, of course, NGOs must also hold ourselves to the highest standards in terms of the quality and transparency of the evidence that we generate and use. Finally, given today’s theme of “Save lives”, one of the key headlines that I take from the World Drug Report is that drug-related deaths have nearly doubled over the past decade. As we have heard already, in 2019 there were half a million deaths from hepatitis, overdoses, poisoned supplies and the like. We have to do better. We have to create environments where people can be informed, supported and protected. As always, civil society is able and willing to work with all of you, in both sharing facts and saving lives. As the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs, we look forward to being part of the solution. Thank you for your attention.

Chair: Thank you very much for your contribution, and now I have the pleasure to open the floor for questions and comments.

Costa Rica: Our community has demonstrated its commitment over the table. The COVID-19 pandemic affected our life, our science, and the increase of inequality, unemployment and poverty has increased mental health as factors that may drive personal use and abuse of drugs. There is an increased need to work together to reverse these ill-effects.  We continue our commitments made in the outcome document of UNGASS. Thank you.

Jordan: We welcome what is shared on drugs and we emphasize the need for international cooperation to counter the abuse worldwide as it impacts health, governance, and security. We continue to promote coordination and cooperation with all stakeholders, particularly in the fields of education and law enforcement. Public Security authorities in Jordan seized drugs coming through Jordan and found a laboratory in 2018, which was considered significant – frankly, Jordan is developing a strong national legislative package aimed at strengthening the drug control through the development of a comprehensive national framework. My government has recently approved amendments to the national Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances laws, in order to overcome common problems. On the other hand, this is meant to adjust the legal provisions related to technical and chemical developments, drug trafficking, manufacturing and the changes in the market. We support for the UNODC in carrying out its mandate.

Belgium: We are pleased to the see the launch of the World Drug Report as it is a very useful document to better understand the world drug situation. Effects of COVID-19 on this situation requires also appropriate responses. The report points to some areas of concern but also notes improvements, such as innovative solutions to continue treatment for drug users. In Belgium, the seizure of drugs, especially cocaine but also heroin, are at a record high. Dismantling of laboratories that manufacture synthetic drugs remains a priority due largely to a better coordination between national authorities, but also thanks to improved national international cooperation and accelerated exchange information at multiple levels. With the support of other countries we are stepping up our actions to improve access to controlled substances for scientific and medical purposes. It is however very concerning to see that the “pain divide” has not decreased: Some patients have an easy access to such essential medicines in some parts of the world while others are totally lacking such access. There are countries where less than 1% have adequate access which is disproportionate to high income countries and is generating needless suffering. Lack of access often drives people towards falsified medicines and illegal markets for their own supply, raising the risk of the use of illicit drugs, ie synthetic opioids, also increasing the risk of developing dependency. During the pandemic, access decreased dramatically, causing even more issues to be addressed. We sincerely hope that such a situation in the future can be avoided by having better estimates of the needs and preparing for better distribution; by training health personnel; by raising awareness. We are pleased that the report highlights the patients’ wellbeing as a key issue. Hope research will expand on this field. Therefore, we encourage all member states to provide UNODC with sufficient data, using the improved Annual Report questionnaire and we encourage the INCB and the WHO to share their knowledge on a timely basis. Thank you.

Singapore: Hi, good friends. Due to our national policy, we place high importance on research. Thank you.

Colombia: Thank you very much, Madam Chair. My government is grateful to UNODC for this new version of the report, and in particular for the data recorded from Columbia’s integrated illicit drug managing system. My delegation identifies three important messages set forth in this report. First one:  in recent years, the trend to reduce the area of illicit drugs in Colombia has been maintained. Second: criminals have been adopting quickly and managed to enhance productivity. Third: criminals have been trying to improve productivity within the reduced cultivation area […] Columbia is making a great effort in resource introduction so they can divert from this area in the fight against money laundering.  All states are affected by the manifestation of the drug problem, and we remain committed: the implementation of drug prevention campaigns should raise awareness of the dangers and the welfare of our communities. I would like to highlight the principle of common and shared responsibility, our base instrument when we face the world drug problem. Consequently, we expect stronger measures to be taken by all the states against this issue. Thank you very much.

Namibia: Thank you and congratulations on this very detailed report. I would like to note the efforts made by the UNODC in assisting member states to address COVID related challenges. Madam Chair, voting on the recommendations on cannabis and cannabis related substances in December 2020 concerns us. We have recorded [a rise in the rate of use since]. Africa’s development means growing population, therefore there is a constant issue in addressing these alarming trends. Namibia seems to have been much less interesting and is slowly turning into a trans-consumer country. To address this challenge last year, we have been in collaboration with law enforcement. Madam Chair, the only way forward if through the promotion of international cooperation and regional support. Namibia remains committed to supporting the UN and continue to attempt to counter the world drug problem. We ask: how I can Namibia better address social problems resulting from drug abuse? Thank you Madam Chair.

Uruguay: Madam Chair, we are grateful for this event. Evidence is of utmost importance to us and we thank the work of the UNODC – we need sustainable access to reliable and verifiable information to address this world wide public health issue. It is necessary to proceed nationally for increase in social inclusion and incorporate harm reduction and prevention. We are strongly committed to counter organised crime and  criminal activities related to the world drug problem. Manufacturing […] sexual exploitation of women, girls or boys and the diversion of chemicals are among our top concerns. We trust that we’ll be able to address this challenge by international cooperation and contribute to the 2030 agenda. Our way is that all drug policies must be based on evidence with a public health and human rights perspective, with respect to gender equality and the [reducing of] criminalization. Thank you Madam Chair.

Turkey: Thank you for organizing this special commemorative event. The increasing problem of abuse and misperceptions regarding drugs, become more serious than ever. This is rightly mentioned in the World Drug Report. The report also highlights the increase in cannabis use, the most used drug in the world. The report also mentions the use of cannabis products such as CBD of great concern in non-medical use.

Canada: […] We are committed to contribute to the ongoing dialogue with international partners as the body of evidence grows. Canada’s approach is focused on improving public health, ensuring the safety of Canadians, especially youth. We do not, however, advocate for cannabis regulation for other states – we remain committed to an approach that balances law enforcement and policy tools closely with international partners, frontline service providers, as well as civil society and people with lived experience. We advocate for solutions that save lives. Thank you.

Russia: Madam Chair, the covid19 pandemic has exacerbated vulnerabilities and we increased our efforts to address the impact of the pandemic on the world drug problem, particularly in line with the statement by the UNODC trend analysis team. We have seen an increase in criminal misuse of virtual platforms and drug trafficking. Our competent authorities have focused on online drug sales, the dark web […] As for the priorities of my country, we do not share your thoughts on harm reduction. The use of harm reduction in Russia was justified given decision of the European Court for Human Rights. The region’s situation in Afghanistan is a matter of more and more serious concern. It requires both actively reinforced international effort building substantially enhanced capacity building […] Commonwealth of Independent States … finding adequate solutions in this area. Note reports analysis on the negative impacts of the cannabis legalization. This is a sad reality nowadays and is very worrisome. While cannabis products are more potent, our youth no longer see any harm in them. This remains the most abused drug in the world and we think it would be appropriate to place cannabis on the same shelf with article 10 of the 1871 convention which already imposes a ban on advertisement of controlled substances, including THC. Yes, simply restrict its visibility to the general public, as the rescheduling can lead to dangerous confusions and misinterpretations… misunderstood as a sort of acceptance of its recreational use.

Mexico: In the interest of time, we will just thank you for the presentation.

Guatemala: Madam Chair, thank you so much for giving me the floor; my delegation would like to thank all of you who have done a great job to gather us both online and in person in the room, and for Angela and her team for the report and briefing. Guatemala welcomes the report of the world drug problem 2021 as we believe it’s a report that will help authorities understand a little bit better, that the actual and the current situation of the world drug problem is. Madam Chair, through the Ministry of Interior, the National Police and Executive Secretariat of the Commission Against Addiction, and Illicit Trafficking of Drugs have made different programmes and projects to combat the world drug problem within our region, and therefore we want to call upon other Member States for increased cooperation so that through the UNODC, we can keep on tackling this important issue as this prevents our societies to develop and those hamper the possibilities to achieve the 2030 agenda. Madam Chair, we do believe that countering the world drug problem requires a collective and joint effort through integration cooperation and through observing international legislation, agreements and political commitments. During the last few years, we have achieved certain amount of consensus, including the UNGASS outcome document and the 2019 ministerial declaration. Aside from those many other resolutions that have been adopted through the CND, se Guatemala calls upon all delegations and all member states to bear in mind those resolutions as it cannot happen that on one year we adopt an X amount of resolutions, and a few months later, that we’ve seen member states were trying to say that that was not a great language or that those things are not affecting the world anymore… […]

Brazil: Good morning everyone. It is my honor to be here for this special event, commemorating the International Day Against drug abuse on this interesting launching day of the WDR 2021. The World Drug Report is currently experiencing an important moment regarding their growth. A new drug policy, and a new drug law in our country show new directions for the federal government of Brazil and for the Brazilian society both concerning drug supplies and drug demand reduction. These new regulations of the government have taken more forceful and harsh actions to fight against drug trafficking, Brazil has been achieving several records in putting drug leaders (?) maximum security prisons, working on countering criminal organizations. Our resources are focused on policies against drugs and on reducing drug demand. In Brazil, we created a national drug system for normative action that allows the realization of several provisions .. community services, hospitals, therapeutic communities … Our government is also working to avoid drug legalization per country… caring for people … society free of drugs.

USA: The United States supports UNODC’s World Drug Report (WDR) and the Research and Trends Analysis Section that produces it. The World Drug Report is a critical tool to spot new drug use and trafficking trends and helps us more effectively combat the world drug problem.  The Report best assists Member States when it directs our attention to pressing issues that require collective Member State partnerships and international action.  We welcome UNODC’s findings on the necessity of international cooperation; whether through forging new partnerships with the private sector to remove advertisements for illicit substances on the internet and increase detection of diversion of precursor chemicals or enhancing communication between Member States to share best practices.  As the Report highlights, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated changing trafficking dynamics, such as increased use of land or waterway routes and utilization of mail for delivering drugs to consumers. These findings will be invaluable as the United States continues to adapt to these new realities, including by bolstering the capacity of postal officials worldwide to detect illicit goods transiting through mail systems.  It is clear this constitutes a global crisis – one that none of us can effectively face alone; responding to these rapid changes requires working together to exchange intelligence and best practices.  We also welcome UNODC’s findings on the necessity of scientificevidence-based prevention treatment and services as a cornerstone to addressing rising global drug use. We agree that as we begin to shift to post-COVID-19 planning, prevention, treatment, and recovery support services should be prioritized and the innovative actions taken to increase access to these services during lockdowns, such as telehealth services, should remain available.  We are concerned with the reports that indicate precursor chemicals, especially for methamphetamine, are largely undetected, especially as traffickers can easily change the synthesis of the precursor chemicals. Again, international cooperation is paramount.  Finally, as the report made clear, opioid use continues to account for the largest burden of disease attributed to drugs. This is certainly true in the United States and North America, but elsewhere as well. A holistic -2- approach, driven by prevention, treatment, and recovery support services, and coupled with increased international cooperation to dismantle criminal groups and stop illegal manufacturing is necessary.

Ghana: The theme for today’s event, is saving lives with an evidence-based approach and addressing the drug problem as a shared collective responsibility. The report presents evidence-based information to aid our collective fight against the global drug menace. Ghana acknowledges the impact of the word drug problem on governance, democracy, rights, and public health. We believe that sharing information, in country specific pieces will lead to successful interventions. The African Union called for scaling up of evidence-based services, address social impacts, implement provisions for alternative to incarceration, we also has a specialized technical committee. Besides the need for international collaboration in implementing the drug convention conventions by ensuring that there’s availability and access to controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes, while preventing their diversion, our emphasis is on removing barriers that suppress disability, medicines, including for the relief of pain and suffering, as well as reducing non-medical use of medicines. Let’s focus in on the wellbeing of individuals and society, address the country’s drug challenges, whilst ensuring a holistic balance and multidisciplinary approach towards minimizing drug use. Our approach will promote the detection of dramatic drug use treatment, rehabilitation, social and reintegration by patients affected by drug use. Our approach is also aimed at minimizing stigmatization, discrimination and promoting tolerance in society by allotting sufficient resources to drug treatment and harm reduction. Madam Chair, in conclusion, Ghana is committed to strengthening efforts to reduce trafficking, and organized crime through joint efforts and collaboration. Thank you.

Morocco: We welcome this special event in commemoration of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and we also welcome the important theme “saving lives” that indeed refers to one of the fundamental components of the global fight against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Cooperation and data sharing are at the heart of our collective effort to properly tackle the word drug problem. Information sharing between all relevant international or regional entities and between countries especially neighboring countries is a crucial asset for a better updated understanding of the drug problem, so that there be no loopholes for the traffickers to take advantage of. It bears security consequences, given the confirmed connections to armed and terrorist groups, among others. Information sharing should be continued to be promoted and significantly encouraged in the context of monitoring the evolution of the global drug traffic and information sharing should be appraised all regions and sub regions of the world. Morocco suggests we might examine the extent to which it would be useful to set and develop specific indicators that would make it possible to identify the lack of cooperation. Morocco is fully engaged in the global fight against drug trafficking as can be seen from the figures related in the world drug report concerning the drug seizures undertaken by the National anti-drug trafficking authorities Thank you.

Austria: The World Drug Report continues to serve as an important tool for developing effective evidence-based policies to address the challenges of the global drug situation. We commend you and especially the statistics team as well as the research and trend analysis branch for the excellent work. We are committed to contributing to this process through the Annual Report questionnaire. The facts show that the COVID 19 pandemic continues to have an impact on world drug trends. Austria is concerned to learn from the report that certain drug trafficking dynamics have been accelerated during COVID-19, such as largest shipment sizes and increases in contactless methods of delivery. For Austria, there is no doubt that fostering international cooperation is key to respond to these evolving trends, prevention and the protection of vulnerable and marginalized groups are a long-standing priority for us. The expected long-term consequences of COVID-19 on drug patterns are very worrying and we recognize the importance of effective addiction prevention policies and treatment services for the post pandemic period. In conclusion, we want to thank Executive Director for your opening remarks, and we congratulate you, Ambassador Cruz for successfully chairing the Commission. Thank you.

Argentina: First of all, my delegation would like to thank you and the Secretariat for convening this special event to commemorate the National Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and for the preparation of the World Drug Report 2021. Argentina has sent a note verbale before the publication of the report containing some concerns and observations from our government that we expect to be addressed soon. Thank you.

Venezuela: Thank you, the continuous and growing challenges to health and security posed by illicit trafficking on our borders, demonstrates that the drug market has been increased by the COVID pandemic. My country is not exempt from the effects of the main global cocaine production enclave – Venezuela is not a country producing illicit substances or narcotics, striking up in the midst of the difficulties, being solved by illegal unilateral coercive measures have made it for us to continue with our anti-drug policies. Venezuela undertakes any operation necessary to prevent and combat illegal drug activities in accordance with national commitments within the framework of the international obligations. We have issues with criminal groups, as well as cross-state entities from neighboring countries, especially the western border of Venezuela, where local authorities had seen a huge increase compared to 2019. We welcome the 2021 edition of the World Drug Report, we highlight the value of multilateral issues, encourage increasing awareness and coordinated action among the countries.

Ailish Brennan, Youth RISE: Thank you. It is an honour to have been selected by the Vienna NGO Committee to speak today at the launch of the latest edition of the World Drug Report, especially under the theme of this World Drug Day ‘Share Facts, Save Lives’. As an organization led-by and working with young people who use drugs we know the value of sharing information and the importance of ensuring that information can reach as many people as possible. For young people who use drugs, these facts can unfortunately be quite difficult to access. Engaging with young people who use drugs in order to provide them with information can be challenging. We are a diverse group who often face multiple forms of discimination, not least due to our age and drug use. While these facts are being shared online and in education settings this can often lead to young people who use drugs slipping through the cracks as they have dropped out of formal education or may not have regular internet access. Facts about drug use are often also shared in harm reduction services, however for young people who use drugs accessing these services is not always a possibility. To begin with, only 1% of people who inject drugs live in a country with high-coverage of harm reduction services, meaning for many young people who use drugs services are simply not available. Where services are available, young people are often unable to access them due to age of consent laws or other age-related barriers, including the simple fact that many services aren’t able to meet the specific needs of working with young people. Young people who use drugs are not a homogenous group and it is vital we are sharing information in such a way that we are reaching all young people who use drugs, and we are providing services able to reduce harms associated with drug use for all people regardless of age, what drug they are using, or any other factor.

Dr Odette Spruijt, Australasian Palliative Link International: Ensuring adequate access to essential controlled medicines, namely opioids, is a legal obligation under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, whose 50 th anniversary we celebrate today. The WHO, UNODC, and INCB also call it an ethical imperative. And yet, 50 years after your governments ratified the Single Convention, more than 70% of the world lacks access to these medicines. In the early 1990’s, as a palliative care doctor in training, I collected patients’ unused analgesics, including opioids, obtained custom’s declarations and legally mailed them to palliative care colleagues in SE Asia who were unable to access these medicines for cancer patients in need. Thirty years later, the situation is much the same. Only 5% of palliative care providers in that country, in 2020, report having an uninterrupted supply of immediate release morphine for their patients. The COVID pandemic has weakened global pharmaceutical supply chains. Colleagues in the LMI world, including in our own Western Pacific region, report shortages and stockouts for pain management. Member states need buffer stocks for emergencies and should consider investing in regional manufacturing and procurement hubs. The UNGASS outcome document and CND resolutions commit member states to educate health care professionals to prescribe opioids, strengthen supply chains, and review their annual estimates with INCB We NGOs can assist, because we know that change requires personal connection and engagement. Unrelieved pain shortens life. Access to controlled medicines to relieve pain improves quality of life. I am proud that Australia has led funding of the Joint Program on Opioids at UNODC but many of the low-income countries in our region need so much more technical assistance. Member states must allow clinicians to discharge our duty of care to relieve the pain and suffering of our patients, your people. I thank you.

Oriol Esculies, Association Proyecto Hombre:  Mr/Madam Chair, Excellencies, Colleagues,
I speak on behalf the Association Proyecto Hombre which is a civil society organization working
on drug prevention, treatment, and social reintegration in Spain. Based on the World Drug Report trends and the UNODC campaign just presented, we hereby reaffirm, now and after the pandemic, the necessity to face drug-related problems with a comprehensive, science-based, health-centered approach. First, to foster the future of our next generation by investing in quality drug prevention based on efficacy standards. It is worth mentioning the collaboration with the Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Sector of UNODC in a joint large longitudinal study for evaluating
prevention in Spain. Second, to reduce the suffering of those affected and their families by expanding accessible, bio-psycho-social treatment and social reintegration services, especially available and tailored for vulnerable groups such as women, children, ethnic minorities, people with multiple disorders or in prison. Third, to destigmatize people who use drugs and decriminalize the use of drugs by embedding human rights in drug policies at all levels. Alternatives to incarceration, access to controlled substances, or abolition of death penalty must be promoted. And fourth, to raise awareness about drug-related causes and consequences, as well as actively involve all relevant stakeholders in reaching sustainable solutions, without forgetting the irreplaceable role of Civil Society Organizations. As one of many examples in the world, our organization publishes annual reports from the Observatory Proyecto Hombre, identifying the characteristics of people with Substance Use Disorders. From there arises the knowledge that leads to the improvement of the interventions according to their needs. In conclusion, we acknowledge UNODC and the Commission for undertaking this necessary World Drug Report that undoubtedly helps guide the action of organizations worldwide, and our deepest appreciation for giving room to civil society to participate in the ‘World Drug Day’. Leave no one behind!

Ecuador: Ladies and gentlemen, Ecuador welcomes the celebration of this special event on the “United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking”. On this occasion, Ecuador reiterates its decisive and unwavering commitment to the fight against drug abuse and trafficking, which has determined the Ecuadorian implementation of public policies to address
this challenge in the fields of health and security. This implies coordinated work between public and private institutions and civil society. I would like to express Ecuador’s special gratitude to UNODC for the “World Drug Report 2021”, a highly valuable tool for the International Community. In this context, it should be highlighted that the systematization of information is an important cornerstone which enables states to adopt adequate measures to combat the origin and the effects of the scourge of drug abuse and illicit trafficking. In this sense, the “World Drug Report 2021” not only presents information, but also includes analytical elements to support the international community in the implementation of the commitments regarding drug policies. Without doubt, it is essential to rely on data on illicit drug-use-growth. It is also relevant to have a global picture of trends and estimates of drug supply and demand to visualize the progress made in the implementation of the policies. The information provided by this document is very valuable. It allows States to define and improve their efforts which must be adjusted to new and changing realities in the drug markets. The adaptive capacity of this illegal market and the use of the internet in the drug trafficking market are regrettable facts demonstrated during the pandemic through stimulated supply and demand. This points out the need to address this problem in a comprehensive and global way involving all countries. Ecuador would like to take this opportunity to reiterate its commitment to contribute to finding alternative solutions to this problem, which affects all humanity, and calls for promoting regional and international cooperation as a fundamental element for capacity building, exchange of experiences and mutual support, aimed at providing an effective response of the states and addressing the world drug problem. Thank you.

Chair: Thank you. I think it’s time to leave this place. Thank you all for your tremendous efforts. I wish you all a wonderful evening and enjoy your weekend.

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