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

Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, United Nations Human Rights Council: It is my honor to address the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs to present the study on arbitrary detention relating to drug policies prepared by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at the request of the Human Rights Council and presented to the Council at its 47th Session in July of last year. The Human Rights Council also had requested the Working Group to bring the study to the attention of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs as the policymaking body of the United Nations with prime responsibility for drug-control matters and so I have the honor to address you today. This study by the Working Group aims at ensuring that the absolute prohibition of arbitrary detention, as required by international law, is included as part of an effective criminal justice response to drug-related crimes, and that such a response also encompasses legal guarantees and due process safeguards. In this regard, may I recall and emphasize the commitment by all Member States in accordance with UNGASS 2016 to practical measures to uphold the prohibition of arbitrary detention. In its study, the Working Group notes with concern the increasing instances of arbitrary detention as a consequence of drug control laws and policies and finds that people who use drugs are particularly at risk of arbitrary detention. Especially, the study records the increasingly disproportionate number of women imprisoned for minor drug-related crimes. There is a need for all drug policies to serve a necessary, proportionate and legitimate aim. With this in mind, the Working Group calls for decriminalisation of drug use and highlights that imprisonment for drug-related offences should be a last resort and in principle, should be used only for serious crimes. The Working Group calls for prompt release of all persons detained for drug use or possession for personal use only and review of their convictions with the view of expunging their records. The Working Group also found that despite the evidence in terms of the lack of effectiveness of compulsory treatment, the practice of confining people who use or are suspected of using drugs against their will is still widespread and can give rise to arbitrary detention. The Working Group considers that the shift from punitive to supportive approach should be translated into making drug treatment voluntary and based on informed consent. All compulsory drug detention and treatment centres should be closed and further admissions stopped. Instead, voluntary, evidence-informed and rights-based health and social services should be made available in the community. The Working Group recognizes the important role played by the civil society, including associations of drug users, in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of drug policies. It therefore calls on States to uphold the role of all these stakeholders by enabling them to work without threat of criminalization or other penalties. To conclude, the Working Group welcomes the continued engagement with all relevant actors on this important topic and wishes to especially highlight the importance of collaborative approach to be adopted by the States, the UN agencies, regional and national organizations, and all other stakeholders in furthering the implementation of the recommendations made in the study. The Working Group stands ready to facilitate such collaborations.

European Union: This statement is supported by Member States including  North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Iceland, Moldova, Georgia, Andorra, San Marino. Russia’s unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine in violation of the UN Charter has serious consequences for the CND. In particular, interagency cooperation. Including the work of the UN Task Team in cooperation with other UN bodies. THe EU demands Russia ceases military action and withdraws their troops and respects full territorial integrity of Ukraine and internationally recognised borders. The pandemic has demonstrated the value of multilateralism and interagency cooperation. This combined with trends identified in WDR2021 about the importance of international cooperation reflects why it’s a crosscutting theme of the new EU drugs strategy 2021-2025. The Action Plan pursues the aims of the strategy and underlines strengthening partnership with UNODC, WHO, INCB and all relevant UN bodies including in support for the UN Common Position on Drugs. Highlights engaging regional bodies, organisational initiatives focusing on human rights, health, development and data collection. Linked to that, the EU is taking steps to clarify responsibilities of EMCDDA in the area of international cooperation and enable cooperation with international organisations in line with the Union’s priorities. We affirm the principle role of CND responsible for addressing the world drug problem. And UNODC is the leading entity of the UN system in these matters. Emphasising the need to cooperate with other UN agencies within their mandates in the interest of benefits and synergies, like WHO, INCB, UNAIDS, UNDP, Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women, OHCHR, Children’s Fund. The new Drugs Action Plan highlights the need to accelerate the implementation of multilateral commitments such as the 2030 Agenda and the Outcome Document from the UNGASS 2016. In the context of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration. UNGASS 2016 reflects most comprehensively our commitments to address multifaceted nature of these challenges, including harm reduction, prevention, treatment, care, rehabilitation, reintegration, in cooperation with civil society and scientific community. The UNODC and WHO programme on treatment and care, remains a welcome example of such cooperation, supporting member states through evidence-based and human rights based prevention and treatment approaches and promoting policies that strike the right balance between supply and demand reduction. Collaboration between UNODC and High Commissioner remains central to ensure drug control protects people and promote health and welfare of humankind. The development of International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy Reflects good interagency cooperation. With regard to Alternative development , EU and member states are committed, this is a priority area. Alternative development  contributes to address toot causes of illicit drug economies and contributes to meet the goals Commissioner in SDGS, especially in food security, gender equality, climate action, peace and justice. Coordination between UNODC and UNDP is crucial to respond to challenges of illicit crops fostering security and development. Ensuring synergies through interagency cooperation and engaging other UN bodies, including human rights bodies, is key to strengthening the acceleration of our joint commitments to address the world drug problem. The Chair Rapporteur’s statement here is welcome in this regard after being prevented from doing so at the Reconvened session in December last year. EU and Member States strongly encourage contribution of UN agencies, international financial institutions and relevant regional and financial organisations to the work of the CND to strengthen international cooperation and enhance coherence with regard to the world drug situation.

Indonesia: No country can solve the problems of narcotic drugs alone. In rehabilitation, for instance, Indonesia has collaborated with UNODC through the Treatment networking programme since 2005. Indonesia also contributed to the development of REhabNet, an application by UNODC in capacity building to support tele counselling modules. We also conducted operations in virtual activities to exchange data and information on drug surveillance at the Indonesian border. However, digital technologies create opportunities for criminal organisations to use ecommerce. The world drug problem requires stronger interagency cooperation, international and regional organisations working in supply and demand reduction must work closer to increase cooperation and avoid duplication to design balanced, comprehensive drug strategies. We stand ready to contribute to dialogues that enhance this collaboration. 

Iran: (technical issues)

Republic of Korea: Thank you. In line with the common and shared responsibility to alleviate the world drug problem. As we were elected as a Member State since 2022, we are more committed to our responsibilities and working with stakeholders internationally and domestically. The UNODC reports, such as the World Drug Report, the white paper on narcotics crime, global synthetic analysis and trends. The ROK Gov is committed to this program as a donor country. Crucial forum to support law enforcement officials. Regional drug law enforcement conference annual organised by the ROK police involves the UNODC, INCB and domestic counterparts. We are initiating partnerships with southeast Asia countries. Sharing real-time drug information and detection of illicit drug smuggling. Considering the COVID pandemic, the ROK government commits to expanding partnerships with stakeholders. On behalf of my government I express appreciation for the work of the UNODC.

Cuba: Thanks for this opportunity, the scourge of drugs is a global scourge that generates social exclusion and criminal behaviour. Cuba wishes to reiterate that the stringent approach to tackle the drug problem is essential and this implies that tacking the phenomenon is something that requires addressing the root causes, not just excluding world order. These are some of the root causes that we cannot afford to debate. For Cuba, our firm resolve to adopting a prevention approach is about tackling the WDP and a zero-tolerance approach. Police and customs assistants are some of the positive results and contribute to interagency cooperation and bilaterally too. Our delegation is grateful for the contributions since yesterday meeting. Thank the expert on arbitrary detention, but we would like to make a number of comments. This is undoubtedly and important matter but should be addressed in the HRC itself, not in the CND. If the commission doesn’t not do its work, what is it doing? The HRC should do its own work. The CND discusses the control of drugs, based on the WHO and INCB recommendations. Cuba supports interinstitutional cooperation, however, as we see it we run the risk of a duplication of debates that are in the per view of other fora. Its essential that the CND mandate should be preserved, for a more efficient use of resources, or run the risk of extrapolation of mandates and results that are far removed. Which may lead to political results outside the bounds of the CND.

Pakistan: Multiple streams – growers, traffickers to end users. The report of the working group on arbitrary detention has ignored wider aspects of rule of law and economic progress. Over zealous advocacy has overstepped and needs to focus on law enforcement. HRC should not approach on per view of CND. Pakistan recognises the need to respect human rights of drug users and traffickers, and we take affirmative steps to rehabilitate people for free. Pakistan full committed to all global partners to make the world drug free.

Colombia: It is fundamental that the discussion on the UN WGAD takes into account pre existing documents. In April 2020, Colombia submitted contributions to the UN WGAD. These were not included in the final report of the UN WGAD presented at the 47 session of the HRC. It is essential that a report of this nature strikes a balance between contributions by competent entities nationally, whose work is supplemented and abides by international guidelines. Contribution of civil society cannot substitute Member States contribution, regardless of their importance. I would underscore the legislative and case law development since 1994 under the principle of the free development of human personality which does not penalise drug use for their personal use alone. We cannot talk about recreational or adult use of these substances because it would require amending the laws, transposing the treaties and legislation adopted under UN Conventions. As a result of the implementation of our policy to tackle the drug problem, we are doing judicial followup as part of the criminal justice system for youth, with alternatives to custodial settings so that they receive comprehensive treatment under strict supervision in order to allow them to live drug free lives and escape from crime. This programme has shaped the lives of 260 young people in our national territory. 223 adolescents have joined the programme. 73 are involved receiving treatment to escape the use of drugs, restorative justice and support of stakeholders. In Colombia, the care and treatment, reintegration, recovery and social reintegration entities address the needs of people who use drugs upholding standards by WHO and UNODC as part of the system of providing healthcare guarantees and services set forth in the health system in colombia. Identifying treatment for the use of drugs taking into account a human rights based approach and public health.

China: We attach a lot of importance to protecting people in detox programmes. Drug addicts are special patients and victims to whom we provide help to get rid of addiction and reintegrate. Given different conditions of countries, ways to reduce demand are very different. There aren’t thoroughly complete measures to address these measures. Member States have the rights to develop drugs framework. China has compulsory detox centres but there isn’t arbitrary detention and we fully respect drug abusers’ human rights. 80% of treatment clients are in community centres. Only a minority are in compulsory centres, to ensure support for patients. Staffed with professional personnel, equipped with physical exercise and medical facilities. During their treatment, patients mantina close contacts with their families and communities. According to available information, in some countries where human rights are talked about every day, annual deaths for drugs is 100,000. No one in our centres dies of drug consumption. You judge which approach protects the life of drug addicts. All countries should learn to understand the specific circumstances and laws of other countries and rationally create very many approaches with respect, including compulsory detention. Support all anti drug efforts instead of accusing in a biassed manner. CND is specialised body to discuss these issues. Let’s avoid politically contentious issues to be introduced here.

Switzerland: Russia’s military attack against Ukraine is a major threat to the European continent. This is concerning. We appeal to all parties to comply with humanitarian laws and human rights. In the UNGASS 2016 Outcome Document, Member states encouraged the commission and UNODC to intensify cooperation with all UN agencies. In 2018, main leaders of UN agencies adopted the Common Position on Drug Policy. Switzerland is confident this cooperation is the way to support member states to focus on sustainable developments and human rights. We urge the Task Team to step up efforts assumed as part of the Common position of 2018. The 2019 Ministerial Declaration encouraged competent UN agencies to contribute to the work of the UN commission. Switzerland fully shares UNGASS Outcome Document and Joint Common POsition and Ministerial declaration that interagency operation is crucial WHO, UNODC and OHCHR and all relevant agencies. We welcome the study by the UNWGAD. Shows how drug control policies can give rise to drug control abuses linked to arbitrary detention. Placing people at the centre of drug policies is not only a mandate but the most effective approach. Thanks to the rapporteur for raising important points that lead to a comprehensive and holistic approach to drug policies.

Kenya: The WDP remains a common and shared responsibility. Collaboration with a view to
We recognise that the world drug problem is complex and requires multidisciplinary efforts and sharing of information and building of states capacity towards demand reduction supply reduction and access to controlled medicines for specific purposes. To effectively address and counter the World Drug Report, enhance political cooperation must occur. I call upon the international community to increase financial assistance to effective address the world drug problem in all its forms. We are open to cooperation for likeminded states and institutions. We enjoy collaborating with the US and UK in build capacity with law enforcement agencies. Kenya has received funds from the UNODC for our initiatives.

Singapore: Singapore has made clear our position on arbitrary detention. Singapore believes the greater consideration could have been given in this reports. Subsequent recommendations would then have been more reflective. Singapore has dedicated facilities where abusers are rehabilitated. Recidivism rates have fallen for the 2019 release cohort. The study claims that capital punishment is incompatible by international standards – international law does not prohibit the use of capital punishment. In Singapore capital punishment is government by strict legal safeguards and is part of our comprehensive drug policy. Capital punishment deters drug trafficking in Singapore. Singapore also disagrees with recommendations to decriminalise drug use – it will encourage drug use. Decriminalisation will only widen perception gap and lead to higher levels of drug abuse.

Algeria: My country is most exposed to this global scourge as we share a long border. Major quantities of cannabis come through Algeria from the west and southwest of the country. We seek to strengthen law enforcement. Activities on the ground reduce the number of crimes in this scourge. In a school setting, we have specialised child protection units. We engage children in awareness raising activities.

Netherlands: We align ourselves to the EU statement. Thanks the UN WGAD for the report on arbitrary detention in drug policies as requested by the HRC. Shows the importance of studying and collating data. Sharing this information with the commission of interagency cooperation. It’s indispensable for a balanced, evidence based, human rights response to the drug situation. Unwavering support to the Common Position on Drugs. It provides an excellent expression of cooperation and basis for implementation. Netherlands encourages participation of this Commission, as the policymaking body with primer responsibility, of other UN relevant bodies. Stronger cooperation with WHO and human rights bodies. Welcome the fact that UNWGAD Rapporteur was able to present, contrary to what happened at the Reconvened. Netherlands calls on all states to engage with the study’s recommendations. We finish our statement speaking against the violation of international law of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and call for an immediate withdrawal from the internationally recognised territory of Ukraine. Full solidarity with Ukraine and its people.

Russian Federation: Some delegations, particularly the UK delegate from yesterday, are struggling to find their bearings. They don’t realise which drug control matters are being discussed at the CND. This delegation doesn’t pay attention to your appeal to limit their political statements to the general debate. They continue to reel off politicised and unfounded accusations against us. They ignore the reality and arguments we presented about Russia’s compliance with international law and UN Charter. They should not be calling for compliance with UN Charter, bearing in mind their negative track record of their countries in this regard. Unfortunately, we have the impression that English speaking countries are not interested in addressing drug problems. They tend to bring in matters of secondary importance to the CND. On the agenda, we are in favour of stronger interagency cooperation. Provided that there’s strict compliance with the mandates of CND. And that the polifyromfirng role off CND is strengthened. THe examples presented do not always comply with that criteria. The inclusion in the agenda of information of a UN System Coordination Task Team, for instance, to implement the so-called UN Common Position on Drug Policy. We have reservations about the content of the content and that the Secretariat developed its own position differing from CND obligations and UNGA on the matter. Yet this document allegedly on interagency cooperation is imposed on states as an alternative drug control strategy. This approach among other things diminishes the CND authority and the prerogative of the Secretariat. This document was not mandated by States. This body is self-initiating activities, not a formal mechanism, we cannot accept its recommendations as ‘guidance’ or ‘instructions’. We reject sidestepping of Member States. We want this to be logged. Another example of this ‘do it yourself’ was brought to the Reconvened session in the shape of the UN WGAD. It caused dismay among Member States. 15 states delivered a joint statement disputing the methodology for drafting the report and its content. The text of the statement is available on the site of the Reconvened session. We are bewildered that this discussion was insufficient and that the questionable report is again considered by the CND. The report goes beyond the mandate of the HRC resolution. Along with arbitrary detention, addresses treatment and administration of punishment for drug crimes. It’s not within the remit of this group. This is a CND prerogative. CND wasn’t consulted. It’s a flagrant attempt to rewrite international law to promote liberal drug control policies. They run counter to the provisions of the Convention. In particular the appeal to decriminalise consumption, possession and cultivation of drugs, which flouts the 1988 Convention’s mandate. It promotes opioid substitution therapy. Article 88 of the 1961 Convention calls states to determine their own drug treatment methods. Article 3 of 1988 enables countries to administer punishment for drug related crimes. Pseudo-standards of drug control is an example of interference in domestic affairs of states. While UN WGAD was carrying out its work, Russia provided ample contributions. It was ignored in the report. Instead, Russia’s only information in the report is from an NGO. Cherrypicking is dubious, especially as HRC resolution called on the Group to engage in investigations in close cooperation with states. We have reservations on the competence and working methods of this body. Bewildered, we are considering this report again at CND. I specify that the presentation made by Mme Steinerte – How did the working group interact with states whilst drafting the report? Why does it contain judgements on matters not related to its mandate? We cannot see it as a reliable source of information. I ask the Secretariat to include our position in the report.

Uruguay: Thank you for the report – placing the individual at the heart of policies is aimed at reducing risk and harm reduction. Uruguay underscores that the efforts made by all including civil society reduce stigmatisation. We condemn abuse of human rights in particular in the form of arbitrary detention. Equally we understand the pressing need to eliminate capital punishment.

Mexico: Mexico underscores the importance of inter-institutional efforts to curb the world drug problem. Global challenge needs a comprehensive approach to address the issues. Reponses must be centred on the wellbeing and dignity of people. We are grateful for the valuable contribution by the working group, it is highly necessary. In addition to strengthening the human rights pillar of drug policies.

Iran: Some of our serious observations on this content on arbitrary detention in relation to drug policies. The CND has prime responsibility on drug related matters – in case of decisions for HRC preparing this policy, CND has not been consulted. Some parts of the report have not been based on reliable sources. E.g The working group recommends that states decriminalise personal use of drugs. Legalisation measures that permit the non medical use including cannabis are breaking the convention. Iran in line with commitment to international drug control regime, including health care personal, civil society, NGOs and private sector implements a balanced approach in supply demand and harm reduction for drug addicts. We have blocked trafficking of thousands of tonnes of drugs from the world drug market. We go after every gram of narcotic drugs in the streets. We request our intervention is recorded in the official record.

Canada: Thanks to the working group for its report and bring up these issues. Will continue to study the report. Canada is of the very firm view that that violations of human rights are in opposition to the conventions and must stop immediately. I will speak French – the people of Ukraine, as a sovereign state are free to choose a better future for their children. Canada condemns the unjustified brutal war by Russia and it undermines nations order. Full support for sovereignty of Ukraine while we deplore the current situtation. We require an immediate ceasefire and withdraw of forces.

OHCHR: The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) continues to build a constituency to advocate for a human rights-based approach to drug policy, as provided for in the United Nations system common position on drug control policy and continued actively participate at the UNODC-led task team. OHCHR contributed in the development of strategic communication to United Nations resident coordinators to encourage a United Nations coordinated approach to the drug problem at the  in line with the Common Position. It aims to supporting Member States in the implementation of international drug policy commitments through effective interagency collaboration. OHCHR also contributed in the development of the joint document to serve as guidelines, for the United Nations Country Teams to conduct a Common Country Analysis and develop country strategies, including those are related to human rights and drug policy. Dear Chair, 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 dissemination implementation of the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy, which was launched in March 2019 in Vienna. Much regional and national work has taken shape to operationalize the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy since the 64th session.  In partnership with governments, civil society, and  National Human Rights institutions, a judicial training, national dialogue, and a third regional dialogue took place.  Courts, government officials, and community-led civil society networks have used the Guidelines to support more humane approaches to drug control in law, policy, and practice. The United Nations agencies and human rights bodies also recognized the importance of the  International Guidelines.  For example,  the  recent Study of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which was presented today by the Chair of the Working Group recommended to formulating human rights compliant drug policy, including the prohibition of arbitrary detention,  take into account of the international guidelines on human rights and drug policy and the UN Common Position. Chair, OHCHR also appreciate that, in the spirit of the UN Common Position on drugs, our office, UNODC and other UN partners jointly supporting several countries on human rights issues related to the drug problem.  In particular, pursuant to the Human Rights Council Resolution 43/1, our  Office together the UN Country team and the Government of the Philippines is currently implementing  a joint program on human rights, which includes a component on the development and the implement human rights based drug policy. The UN System Common Position also provides us a framework to work together to ensure that no one is left behind, including in the drug control context. Within the framework of the UN Common Position, we must continue to work together to support States for the realization of human rights of people, including those who use drugs.  As our former High Commissioner for Human Rights stated   people do not lose their human rights because they use drugs. In the UN System Common Position, we committed to assist Member States in implementing non-discriminatory policies, including with regard to ethnicity, race, sex, language, religion, or other status; and we also committed to promote measures aimed at reducing stigma and elimination of discrimination. In this regard, let me briefly mention about one particular group, i.e.  Indigenous People. We must strengthen our work with States, indigenous community and other stakeholders for the realization of the right of Indigenous People who use drugs. In this regard, OHCHR recalls that in the UNGASS 2016 Outcome Document , all member States of the United Nations committed to respect fundamental human rights, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and international laws,  while taking, measures to prevent the illicit cultivation of and to eradicate plants containing narcotic and psycho. In this regards, OHCHR recalls that that UN declaration supports the right of indigenous people to use controlled crops, such as coca leaf, in their traditional, cultural and religious practices. Dear Chair, In 2021, in the spirit of inter-agency cooperation, UN system prepared and published the UN Common Position on Incarceration, which was presented at 30th session of the Commission of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Various aspects of the UN Common Position on Incarceration are relevant for drug policy discussion, and will assist States and other stakeholders implementing relevant human rights commitments of Chapter 4 of the UNGASS Outcome document. In particular, those related to addressing prison overcrowding, promoting alternative to incarceration, prohibition of arbitrary detention, commitments to implementation of the Bangkok Rules and the Nelson Mandela Rules. OHCHR stands ready to work with UNODC and other UN partners in the implementation of this common Position in advancing the UNGASS 2016 commitments. In the conclusion, OHCHR emphasizes that in the Common Position on Drug Policy, 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, but we need to protect them, and ensure that they can work without any threat, harassment and persecution.
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Ann Fordham, International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC): Distinguished Chair, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delivering this statement on behalf of the International Drug Policy Consortium, a global network of more than 190 NGOs that promote drug policies advancing social justice and human rights. With the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs, the international community put forward an ambitious vision of a global drug control regime grounded on the principles of human rights, community leadership, and sustainable development. Achieving this vision requires the mobilisation of the whole UN system to understand and reverse decades of harm brought about by the so-called ‘war on drugs’. Drug policy does not operate in a vacuum and Vienna-based bodies must acknowledge and welcome the input and expertise of other specialised UN entities and experts. In fact, Member States recognised this in the 2016 UNGASS Outcome Document which provides a clear and explicit mandate to increase the unity of action and purpose of the UN system with regards to drugs. It is in response to this mandate that the UN Chief Executives Board adopted the UN system Common Position on drugs, and created the UN system coordination Task Team, which is the designated inter-agency mechanism for coordination on drug-related matters. But after a breakthrough start in 2019, the wealth of expertise and knowledge gathered in the Task Team has remained largely under utilised. Chair, We warmly welcome the latest report of the Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and her participation here today. The Working Group’s study on drug policies includes urgent recommendations, including the decriminalisation of people who use drugs, and of subsistence farmers involved in drug crop cultivation.  The report further recommends the urgent closure of compulsory drug detention centres – echoing a strong call made by 13 UN agencies, including UNODC, UNAIDS and WHO in 2020 at the start of the covid-19 pandemic. In September 2021, the Human Rights Council established a new international investigative mechanism on the human rights violations inflicted by law enforcement on people of African descent.  For the next 3 years, this mechanism will open a necessary discussion on racial justice and drug policies. The CND must welcome this urgent and necessary discussion here in Vienna. Also adopted in 2021, the Global AIDS Strategy and the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS reaffirm the urgent need to remove the laws and policies that punish, criminalise and stigmatise people who use drugs. This urgency was reinforced in this session’s opening plenary by the welcome participation of Ms Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of UNAIDS. To ensure that the CND remains relevant amidst these developments it must urgently take the following actions; First, ensure that the forthcoming thematic intersessional on human rights – and all future CND sessions – include robust, open and meaningful discussions with the involvement of all relevant UN human rights experts, civil society, and communities. Second, ensure that the Task Team has the appropriate resources and leadership to act as the key mechanism for cross-UN cooperation. Lastly, we look forward to UNODC’s increased leadership in the promotion of rights-affirming policies such as the decriminalisation of people who use drugs and the promotion of harm reduction, as it is mandated to do under the UN Common Position and the 2021 HIV/AIDS Political Declaration. Finally, we stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, with Ukrainian people who use drugs, with civil society, and with those who are courageously providing harm reduction services even as war and catastrophe unfold. We welcome the robust stance taken by member states at this CND to uphold the UN Charter and international law, and we hope that a similar unity and strength can be found in the advancement in the respect for international human rights law in future sessions of this Commission. Thank you very much.

Médecins du Monde / International Network of People who Use Drugs: Excellencies and distinguished colleagues, I am making this intervention today on behalf of the International Network of People who Use Drugs, who are part of the delegation of Medecins du Monde. I first express our solidarity with the Ukrainian people, especially people who use drugs who find themselves at great risk of withdrawal, overdose and other harms due to disruptions to opioid agonist therapy and other harm reduction programmes. We appreciate the neighboring countries who have accepted refugees and call on them to ensure open access to harm reduction, HIV and TB services, and call on all UN agencies and Member States to ensure our community in Ukraine is not left behind amidst the crisis response. According to UNAIDS, people who inject drugs make up close to 10% of new HIV infections globally and are 35 times more likely to be living with HIV. The criminalisation of drugs, along with associated stigma and discrimination, is the primary driver of this problem. Harm reduction interventions proven to reduce the spread of HIV, such as opioid agonist treatment or needle and syringe exchange programmes, are often limited or unavailable. Funding for community-led and community-based prevention and treatment is shrinking even as services remain impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new Global AIDS Strategy, as well as the 2021 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, lay out bold new targets which call for the repeal of punitive laws and support interventions which combat stigma, discrimination and gender inequality. They also include targets that urge  funding for community-led HIV responses, which are proven to have the greatest impact on HIV prevention and treatment. These are targets which Member States must seriously consider within national HIV and drug policy strategies. Using drugs does not forfeit human rights, yet many States continue to enforce drug laws which impede the right to health for people who use drugs. Approaches committed towards the health and human rights of people who use drugs are urgently needed. Member States such as the Netherlands, and UN agencies   such as UNAIDS, OHCHR and UNDP have done good work towards aligning human rights and drug policies, often in partnership with the community of people who use drugs. We call on all Member States to acknowledge and embrace the targets set forth in the Global AIDS Strategy and Political Declaration as key components for informing health and rights-based drug policies. Coordination between all global stakeholders, in partnership with the community of people who use drugs, is the best path forward towards ending AIDS and achieving health and human rights for all.

Youth RISE Ltd: Thank you Mr. Chair for allowing me the time to speak today. Youth RISE has been engaging in advocacy with various UN agencies, including the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention who I was delighted to see speaking in the Plenary earlier today, as well as with UNAIDS in the development of their new Global AIDS Strategy. The experiences of youth organisations’ participation have been very successful for all parties, with suggested language on youth engagement and ensuring young people are not left behind in the HIV response being adopted in the Global AIDS Strategy. The UN System Common Position on drugs promotes the active engagement of civil society and local communities, including people who use drugs, women and youth. Unfortunately, the engagement of UNODC with community organizations, and in particular young people, has so far fallen short of what is needed to reach the ambitious targets set out in the recent Global AIDS Strategy. While the issue of lack of representation and diversity within the Youth Forum has been raised a number of times by our friends and colleagues in other organizations, I would like to express the urgent need for more youth engagement with the UNODC and at CND. In particular, cooperation with UNAIDS to maximize youth engagement, as proven to be a productive tool in reaching vulnerable populations of young people, including young people who use drugs. Young people, and in particular young people who use drugs, are experts in the issues facing them related to criminality and healthcare. Young people deserve to be treated as valued, active and knowledgeable participants in policy making processes. Their expertise should not be wasted, and certainly not while we see progress lagging for our community in regards to the HIV response. Youth RISE has, for a number of years, been attempting to create a guideline on best practices for service provision for young people who use drugs. This guideline, which would outline the specific and nuanced needs of young people who use drugs in relation to life-saving service provision, has been stalled by a lack of inter-agency cooperation at the UN level. I call on the UNODC to work closely with other UN agencies, including UNAIDS and UNICEF as being particularly relevant to this issue, to increase and improve youth and community engagement in line with best practices currently being implemented by other UN agencies. I would like to end by extending my love and solidarity to the people of Ukraine and all people impacted by Russian imperialism and war around the world. It is vital that we ensure access to harm reduction and other related services for people who use drugs and all key population groups within Ukraine. We also must ensure the safe passage of key population groups out of warzones while ensuring continued access to healthcare. We call on all parties of the war, and UN agencies, to ensure the safe passage of key populations out of Ukraine, and safe passage of humanitarian aid into warzones. Thank you.

The Organization for Poverty Alleviation and Development (OPAD): Thank you Mr. Chair, The adoption of the UN System Common Position on drugs in November 2018 presents a strong commitment to strengthened cooperation in order to promote evidence- and human-rights based drug policies within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. I want to use this statement to highlight the importance of gender-sensitive drug policies and improved inter-agency cooperation as a crucial tool to counter gender-based discrimination and violence in drug control. Resolution 59/5 of the CND “requests the [UNODC] to continue to mainstream a gender perspective in all its practices, policies and programmes related to the world drug problem”, and the inclusion of human rights and gender as a pillar of drug control has been praised as historic broadening of the drug control system. The time to act upon these important commitments is now. However, the reluctance of Member States to collect gender-sensitive data presents a major impediment to a more nuanced understanding of gendered dynamics in the drug economy. People who use drugs continue to be discriminated, stigmatized, incarcerated and killed. We know that women in particular are disproportionately affected by the harsh penalties for minor drug-related offences in many countries around the world that continue to take punitive approaches. Nonetheless, more gender-aggregated data is needed to design evidence-based interventions that promote harm reduction, sustainable development and peacebuilding. The UNODC gender strategy states that “Gender equality and the empowerment of women are integral parts […] in making the world safer from drugs, crime and terrorism”. As conflict fuels the drug trade as well as gender-based violence, these discussions necessarily belong together. Bodies like the UNODC have a normative function and can drive policy change on the national and regional level. Improved inter-agency cooperation is urgently needed in order to achieve these goals. Drugs are more than a threat to national security. Drugs are a health issue, a human-rights issue, a development issue and an environmental issue. We need to change not only the way we debate about drugs, but also the way we position them in the international framework and address the global challenges they pose. In this regard, a commitment to gender mainstreaming and gender sensitivity is not only about adding gender topics to the discussion, but about reflecting how policies differently impact marginalized groups. The UNODC as the leading entity in this endeavor must honor the important commitments made at the 2016 UNGASS and the UN System Common Position on drug policy by promoting drug-related issues in all UN forums to strengthen system-wide coherence and drug policies grounded in human-rights and social justice that take lived realities as well as gendered impacts into account. Thank you for your attention.

Center for Innovative and Pragmatic Development Initiative: We believe that interagency cooperation is imperative and rather than reinventing the wheel, we encourage member states and civil society to collaborate in partnership to address this problem. From what we see, the problems are almost the same everywhere you go. Young people are suffering. And people in rural communities. Those in rural communities do not get support needed. Which is why support is needed. Thank UNODC for their work in Africa. More can be done.

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