Multiyear Workplan 2019-2023: Implementation of all our international drug policy commitments, following up to the 2019 ministerial declaration “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”
The provisional agenda for the intersessional meeting is as follows:
1. Thematic sessions on the implementation of all international drug policy commitments, following-up to the 2019 Ministerial Declaration.
a. Thematic focus: “Responses not in conformity with the three international drug control conventions and not in conformity with applicable international human rights obligations pose a challenge to the implementation of joint commitments based on the principle of common and shared responsibility”
i. Thematic Session 1: 21 September 2022
ii. Thematic Session 2: 22 September 2022
2. Other business.
Chair: This is not a formal session nevertheless we have a clear ministerial mandate so I am pleased to see the room full of people. Agenda adopted.
Secretariat: Good Morning. (Covid safety measures)
UNODC ED (Ms. Waly): … In practice, this is not the case for everyone. People who use drugs are among those who cannot access those rights as a consequence of many factors, some directly stemming from drug control measures. (…) It all starts with respecting the well-being of every person. More than 37 million people suffer from drug use disorders and only 1 in 5 receive adequate treatment – with women finding it particularly hard. UNODC found 61% if people incarcerated for drug-related crimes are arrested for personal use – in prison they have less access to treatment, where overcrowding is a problem and use is very prevalent.
Dignity and respect. Prisons should be better equipped to provide care. Alternatives to incarceration should be considered for drug use crimes – as set out in the Tokyo and Bangkok rules.
Women face additional barriers – more than most, they can not access treatment. Half of all amphetamine type users are women but only 1 in 5 receive care. Women are more likely to get arrested than men for minor crimes. Medicines must be ensured especially in low- and mid-income countries. I thank the chair of the commission for overseeing the launch of “no patient is left behind”. 77 countries have alternative punishments, and we continue trainings, dialogues with Member States to advocate for health-based interventions such as community based interventions. Addressing the World Drug Problem (WDP) while safeguarding human rights is an issue of capacities and awareness besides policy. I urge Member States to dedicate more resources to observe our shared commitments. This session brings together important stakeholders from many background – may be differences in perspectives but ultimately we must act on our priorities of well-being of all humans including those whose lives are affected by drugs.
Human Rights Council (Mr. VILLEGAS, President): In 2015, first resolution on drug policy related issues was introduced on the impact of the WDP on the enjoyment of human rights. We prepared a study on the impact of WDP and provide recommendations re needs of persons in vulnerable situations. The study was submitted to the CND and resulted in 15 joint commitments about safeguarding human rights for all.
We are involved in these issues also through various mechanisms such as the expert group on arbitrary detention that presented their findings to the CND – all drug policies must serve a necessary, proportionate and practical aim. The working group called for decriminalization of drug use and prompt release of all persons detained for personal possession. In 2019, the special rapporteur on rights to health discussed the impact of international drug control on the right to health that was presented in front of the general assembly – the working group on discrimination against women continue to address human rights related issues in relation to drug control measures. The universal review of the human rights (council?) provides the opportunity for Member States to get clear on what measures they need to take to ensure their obligations are met. We must engage civil society in the discussion as well as people who use drugs. In conclusion, I encourage Member States to address the WDP to consider the findings and use the findings and mechanisms of the human righty councils to ensure that consistent application of commitments in the treaties are observed equally including those relating to dignity, development, justice and human rights – protect health and observe the SDGs as well as the ministerial declarations and outcome documents.
International Narcotics Control Board – INCB (Ms. PAVADIA, President): Overly punitive and stigmatizing approaches are giving way to focus on social reintegration, rehabilitation, and prevention. The complexities of the WDP have evolved. The flexibility in the conventions to provide tailored solutions in particular to drug use behavior have not been utilized fully. Demand reduction with a health approach. Oversight function is assigned to the INCB in the treaties that has been reaffirmed in the UNGASS outcome document. Prevent illicit cultivation and trafficking while ensuring medical access. Our capacity has expanded and have considered evolving realities and international agreements including the progress made in science … since the conception of the conventions. And technical approaches and new evidence-based approaches. The board is very concerned about a number of significant challenges, namely consistent disparity in availability for medical purposes. The boards perspective on the implementation in particular nonmedical use will be my focus today. I hope insights of today will contribute to the improvement of our commitments and implementation and ultimately achieve our health objectives. INCB stands ready to support this process.
Chair: Thank you. We share the obligation to protect access to all human rights, to accelerate implementation of all commitments. Now handing over to our panel of experts.
(Ms. Me) UNODC Research and Analysis Branch: Let us take a look at what the convention asks signatories to do – from more of a social sciences perspective. All practical measures for prevention of the abuse of drugs, education, punishment. So, who is put in prison? We must ask parties to think about imprisonment as a punishment. All the same provisions are introduced to those who are in prison. This is a big issue. International cooperation is also key – the spirit of the convention is protecting people, that can be done together only. Submitting data is also a commitment – on an annual basis, about the progress of national drug situation, on individual cases. How do we frame the discussion on compliance then? There is a continuum of responses between conformity and nonconformity with the conventions It is never clearly this and that. The punity part is criminalizing drug use, that goes against human rights but if you look at legalization of cannabis representing the darkest red… there is still orange here. The situation is complex. There is no simple answer. The consequences of cannabis legalization depend largely on the way of legalizing. There is a whole chapter dedicated to this issue in the World Drug Report. International cooperation is difficult to measure, there is a huge information gap. It is interesting to see though that compared to other activities, extradition is an outlier – more punitive responses anecdotal information: death penalty is an obstacle for extradition. Submitting data is also a commitment.
In conclusion, public health in the spirit of the conventions. What can we say after so many years. I apologize for my frankness, data may be used in different ways – I want to show you our evidence, read it however you want to read it. Over the years, the best estimates says us that drug use is definitely increasing also the number of deaths are continue to be more harmful. In terms of accessibility there is a huge disparity. Overall, this data in context of other similar challenges such as alcohol or tobacco – the control of drugs is containing the problem. Alcohool and tobacco remain significantly more harmful.
(Mr. TETTEY, Chief) UNODC Drugs, Laboratory and Scientific Services Branch: It is established on Scientific grounds that people need controlled medicines. Essential, useful, and indispensable medicines. Society has established measures for decades for people to enjoy medicines. Objective is protecting the health and welfare of humankind, so the conventions brought together nations – the final key documents reiterate the cornerstones of our regime is health. In our efforts to do that, we pursued timeless science-based approaches in compiling lists and tables with the aim of preventing nonmedical use. The drafters have devised a flexible system of control to review these measures most importantly as knowledge and science evolves. The schedule is informed by the WHO ECDD to balance the prevention of harm and ensure due access. People who need access to medicines are not the only ones who … children and youth. Drug use is connected to many other vulnerabilities. The onset of drug use disorders is associated with a number of risk factors and low protecting factors based in the person’s immediate surroundings. An increase of 26% in drug users around the world has been observed and the number of lives lost is also increasing while treatment numbers remain concerningly low internationally. We urgently need to close the treatment gap. The conventions offer a system that allows us to implement policies to comply with other commitments such as to universal human rights. I conclude with echoing the sentiments of Ms. Waly, let us leave no one behind!
Chair: I open the floor for questions.
USA: Re the framework offered by dr. Me about our obligations, can you clarify your view on where the conventions fall in your spectrum on the slide?
Ms. Me (UNODC): that was not an official interpretation of the conventions. It is not as simple as I demonstrated, I just wanted to make the point that we need to look at various factors, not just the known conformity issues. I am not a legal expert though.
Russia: You mentioned trade commodities like tobacco and alcohol – so if there is no decrease in issues, the system is not useful? So if alcohol and tobacco are more harmful, what would happen if the prohibition rules were not in place….
Venezuela: I found it interesting to have this coloring scheme on Ms. Me´s presentation. We hope the information we provide to UNODC is used to provide useful input and support to improve our work. This descriptive use can lead to rankings or listings that we can not accept as it goes against our own sovereignty. So, my question is, how does this presentation help us improve our domestic policies and commitments?
Egypt: Regarding the availability of controlled drugs, they need to be affordable to all countries. How can the commission help this issue? Regarding Ms. Me`s presentation about legalization, we want to know more about the harmful consequences to society. The first preamble of the conventions is concerned with the well-being of mankind, so I think we should keep that in focus.
Ms. Me: The purpose of my showing the data is not at all to compare Member States, you will not find anything like this in a publication. The purpose of this is to stimulate discussion. As to how this evidence can help – I hope it shows that there is not a global fulfillment of all commitments and without pointing fingers, there is still a lot to do for all. So, my point was to show that we need to look at this issue comprehensively and not cherry-pick issues. It is up to you of course to judge whether our output is useful or not. We do not have absolute proof, but on the one side we see an increase in abuse but on the other side, we see that our responses are containing the issue to a degree.
Mexico: (quoting convention) One of the specific commitments is related to the continuous collection of data.
Ms. Me: Rather than offering you a firm conclusion, my purpose was to stimulate discussion. Evidence shows that legalizing has brought more harmful drugs, at least in some jurisdictions. We are also discussing human rights, so when you say protecting society, we need to think more broadly, that is why I mention prison settings a lot. So yes, the issue is very complex.
Mr. Tetty: Regarding affordability, when you look at morphine for example – one of the cheapest to produce. When you have all these regulations to store morphine, by the time it gets to the patient, the price accumulates.
Kenya – on behalf of the African Group (Mr. Okioma, Chief Executive Officer, National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse): inaudible
Chair: Can you give us concrete examples of regional cooperation?
Kenya: African group consortium meetings hosted by Nairobi. Various neighbor partnership mechanisms – mainly about challenges at the borders so focused on law enforcement.
Singapore – on behalf of the Asia Pacific Group (Mr. TAN, Senior Director, International Cooperation and Partnership Division, Ministry of Home Affairs): Good Morning. Our experience in implementing our commitments, our overarching themes are (1) comprehensive and balanced approach to policies – We foster the philosophy that everyone has the right to live in an environment free of drug abuse. (2) Prevention and treatment are priorities – strengthen our laws to better protect youth, (3) Enforcement Strategy – aim: a Singapore without drugs, but rehabilitation is key: drug users who do not have other charges will not be prosecuted (4) We reserve the right of our people to live in a safe, secure and drug-free environment, we hail a zero tolerance to drugs. Before I conclude, I would like to talk about the relaxation of cannabis prohibition. The idea that it is not a harmful substance is false. In our view, these approaches do not help us reach our goals that are enshrined in the conventions.
Chair: I open the floor for questions.
Mr. Tetty: Singapore places huge importance on protecting children. Could you share some more, please?
Singapore: Our drug prevention strategy is community-driven, it is important to mobilize community resources and involve NGOs and the private sectors. We empower youths to champion initiatives to live a drug-free lifestyle. To get our messages effectively across, we adapt our messaging to be appropriate for various age groups, based on research.
Türkiye: We have a high prevalence of addiction. Our supply reduction activities are carried out in line with national commitments. Who is the responsible agency or who manages all these activities, what is the system of coordination here?
Singapore: It is a multi-agency effort (…)
Czechia – on behalf of the EEG (Prof. Viktor MRAVČÍK MD PhD, Scientific Advisor of the National Drug Coordinator and former Head of the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction of the Government Office of the Czech Republic): The increasing body of evidence worldwide supports our strategy that is based on the thesis that prohibition is harmful to all peoples. The scope of control must be understood in a wider context and considered as a tool to protect health and explore our policy options with full respect to human rights, dignity, and freedom. All treaties allow states alternative measures to drug use relate offenses. Some states have implemented decrim and depenalization int heir legal framweorks, for example our nation – we have solid evidence that it has decreased the burden onhealth services and did not lead to an incrwase of abuse. In 2010 we saw a decrease in the onset of cannabis use.a cross-country emcdda analysis shows that decrim/crim doesn’t affect the level of use or the trends of use are affected by many other various factors. We have to understand unrelgulate free martket to full priovision is a huge scale. The remarks earlier about alcohol egulation was an interesting one. It is an extreme case associated with extreme burdens just as certain illegal drugs are extreme. We believe drug policies and their evolution should serve our societies and should include all actors, NGOs, academia, service providers, and people who use drugs. So let us stop fighting with drugs, people who use drugs and let us learn from each other for a better future.
In our view, strict prohibition is harmful. It is time to change
USA – on behalf of WEOG (Ms. PRUGH, Attorney-Adviser, Office of the Legal Adviser, Law Enforcement & Intelligence, U.S. Department of State; Adjunct Professor of Law): Rigid conformity goes against the spirit of the conventions that is emphasizing multilateral approaches and international cooperations. A treaty shall be interpreted in good faith, in accordance with ordinary meaning for being given to the terms of the treaty, in their context, and in light of its object and purpose. Parties to the conventions are sovereign, they can consent to be bound but it must be to the meaning of language. Today´s theme poses the question, of who is to determine whether a national response is in line with agreements. INCB often poses as a quasi-judge, but the treaties do not assign this role at all., INCB is authorized to administer and support, but there is no function to act as a judicial body in interpreting the obligations to the national realities. We fully support the INCB, its work is critically important. However, some seek to narrow the mandate to judgement rather then supporting state parties. This is concerning. Us, the parties, we must ensure we fully understand the full scope, aim and objectives of this mechanism. All members here willingly joined the UN and such undertook obligations. It is a mistake to treat treaty obligations as shackles – it is a tool to, together with UN and NGOs, achieve our goals. Treaties are incredibly flexible but we must refrain from measures that compromises the convention. States in the South are under strain to provide aid for refugees – could there be any better example about dangering the conventions? Our work is founded on the principle of international collaboration.
Venezuela: We would like to deepen our knowledge – What do your comparison indicators compare to? What negative impacts have you found? What are you planning to do about them?
Canada: Legalization vs. criminalized markets – our government decided to regulate cannabis in 2018 and contrary to some voices at the CND, this is not fostering a wild open market. In fact, we have way more regulations than we had before, meaning that the use of cannabis is more controlled than ever. One of the early data points from our policy monitoring is that there is no increase in trafficking for nonmedical use. I suppose many Member States have questions; we are happy to discuss these. Has there been an increase in trafficking that UNODC observed that can be linked to the trend of legalization of Cannabis?
Brazil: Regarding prohibition causing more harm, I am curious how the Czech Republic has dealt with (…) prison overpopulation?
Czechia: I try to compile my answers and be brief – We have published our history of regulation widely and articles in international journals that analyze data. From the beginning of the 90s, drug use and possession were not an offense at all. In ´99 it was established as a crime distinguished by category and amount. Then, we decriminalized again. The consequences of criminalization in ´99 were followed by a massive increase in cannabis use. After the decriminalization order, the prevalence of onset was decreasing. There is no firm correlation between policy decisions and use trends. We documented everything diligently, but I want to stress the causality is not clear. If you decriminalize certain minor offenses, it doesn’t have to mean any increase of drug use for minors, I think that is the main point. I would like to remark on Canada´s intervention – we have recognized your reform model and found your published metrics very useful.
Japan (?): Do you think this policy can be applied in other regions, considering cultural differences?
Burkina Faso: The promotion of accessibility is capital importance for us. Our concern is not about criminalization, but about pharmaceutical regulation and access to medicines. What solution can you recommend?
Czechia: I think there is no “golden way” as to how to set your domestic models. I don’t think any model can be applied universally.
USA: From the treaty perspective, it is up to every state to define its criminal laws and decide on punishment. We understand that the underpinnings of this include international cooperation. A decade ago, it would have been impossible for our colleagues to speak openly about regulation alternatives. Our treaties are not supposed to be constraints, but aids for this collaboration.
Türkiye: What is the understanding of drugs? Is the community aware of the consequences and harms? Does the population see it as something to be punished? Our population sees it as very harmful and as something that should be penalized.
Czechia: When you say drugs, look at the list of substances – there are hundreds of substances, there are different patterns of use, different levels of harm. These should be measured objectively. In my country, we distinguish between risk perceptions – for example, we measure different routes of administration of cannabis. An increasing proportion of the Czech population thinks that responsible cannabis use should not be punished.
GRULAC – no interpretation
VNGOC (Dr Rajagopal M R, Director of WHO Collaborating Centre at Trivandrum and Chairman of Pallium India): I’m very glad to have this opportunity to present to you a problem that is vitally important for our low and middle income countries, particularly the problem that millions have substance use disorder. And at the same time, millions are in serious health related suffering. We have a dual responsibility to prevent inappropriate and non-medical use of opioids, as well as to ensure access to opioids for people in pain because, as the single convention of 1961 points out, the medical use of narcotic drugs continued to be indispensable for the relief of pain and suffering and adequate provision must be made to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs for such purposes. To achieve this, 19 years of efforts culminated in the amendment of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of India by the Indian parliament in 2014, at least some of the provisions which were preventing access were removed. But eight years down the line, unfortunately, more than 96% of Indians continue to have lack of access to pain relief. I believe the problems and the solutions would be slightly different, but vastly similar in most low and middle-income countries, where the balance weighs heavily towards the prevention of inappropriate use so much so that availability of medical use is practically negligible. The Southwestern state of Kerala in India is an exception, where more than 600 recognized medical institutions stock and dispense essential narcotic drugs where low-cost morphine made within the state is available. And where safe access to oral morphine is available for people in pain 16 times more than the national average. That’s a success story. But having said that, we also recognize that still, it is only about 1 in 150 of what we would consider ideal as in the United Kingdom. We need to learn from the successes as well as from the failures and have a plan of action. What worked in Kerala was public awareness, a facilitatory state policy and opioid regulation, and professional education. And looking back what limited further progress was not enough professional education. There is some silver lining in the sky. In 2019, the medical curriculum in India was revised. And this kind of progress should be relevant for much of the world where if we balance the regulations in both equally in favor of the prevention of inappropriate use and availability for medical use, I believe success is around the corner. We need balanced regulations. And that is our ask to CND – Learning from the successes of some countries, if we provide balanced regulations with an implementation framework, I believe a lot of progress can be made with concurrent advocacy and education. Thank you very much
WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (Prof. Jason WHITE, Chair): The implications for ECDD decisions… Our role is to carry out the mandate from the ´61 and ´71 conventions regarding the international control of drugs based on science. It has been said today many times, the main goal of treaties is to protect the health and well-being of humankind. Drugs have the potential to pose a significant public health-related problem. We are weighing the potential harm of every substance under review against its medical potential. Assessment of medications requires evidence and an understanding of their global context.
China: Position number 1: the three conventions are the cornerstones of the international drug control system, non-interference in internal affairs, and ensuring sovereignty while working together is just as important to us as respecting common and shared responsibilities – one Member State imposing on another´s regional sovereignty and territorial integrity is not in line with the conventions. Position number 2: we strongly oppose the legalization of any scheduled substances as it is in breach of our agreements. The legalization of Cannabis has led to an increase of use and health problems. After listening to the discussion before, I understand some colleagues think otherwise. This is for us a red flag. We take serious measures to optimize our prevention and education approaches, particularly to children and youth. Treating and helping people who use drugs follows science-based methods and it results in success for us. Strengthening collaboration with neighbors.
EU and Friends: It is an honor to participate in this meeting and to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. The following countries align themselves with this statement: North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Albania*, Ukraine*, the Republic of Moldova*, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Georgia, Iceland+, Norway+, Andorra and San Marino. At the outset, let me express the EU and its Member States’ full solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. The EU and its Member States condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s unprovoked, unjustifiable and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine. The EU and its Member States demand that Russia immediately cease its military actions, stop its indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. This context must not, however, prevent those States and all stakeholders that remain faithful to the principles of the UN Charter and to international obligations under human rights law, to work together to improve the world drug situation and achieve the international commitments. assessmentThe health, safety and well-being of our societies is our shared concern. Universal human dignity forms the cornerstone of all our joint efforts to address and counter the world drug situation in full conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, including international human rights law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The EU and its Member States stress their concern about the violations and abuse of human rights and fundamental freedoms of humankind and emphasize the need for the full respect, protection and fulfillment of universal human rights in order to improve the well-being of societies globally, including by protecting persons in vulnerable and marginalised groups and communities. The EU and its Member States therefore welcome the thematic focus of this session on the international drug control conventions and international human rights obligations in this field. The principles of the EU Drugs Strategy 2021-2025, which forms the basis of EU policy in the area of drugs, include those of shared responsibility, multilateralism, the promotion of a development-oriented approach, respect for human rights and human dignity and the rule of law. The strategy emphasises among others that the EU’s external relations in the field of drugs are based on the respect for the international drug control conventions. The EU and its Member States continue to strongly support the 2016 UNGASS Outcome Document which has a human rights-centered approach. This document gives us guidance, aiming to support Member States in the implementation of international drug control treaties in accordance with applicable human rights obligations. It also promotes the respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights and the dignity of all individuals in the context of drug programmes, strategies and policies at the national and international level. The EU and its Member States also support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN system common position supporting the implementation of the international drug control policy through effective inter-agency collaboration, and the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy. Those International Guidelines respect the diversity of States and their legitimate prerogative to determine their national policies in line with applicable human rights law. They also recognise the potential tensions between drug control and human rights obligations but clearly state that parties to the international drug control treaties are bound to implement their obligations arising from those treaties in full respect for their other obligations under international law, including human rights law. They also state that nothing in the international drug control treaties may be interpreted as implying for any State, group, or person the right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at or having the effect of violating rights and freedoms guaranteed in international human rights instruments or limiting these rights to a greater extent than is specifically provided for in those instruments. It is of great importance to continuously consider international human rights obligations in the implementation of international drug control conventions in order to improve the health, safety, and well-being of our societies. The respect for human rights and a people-centered approach are at the heart of the EU Drugs Strategy and Action Plan 2021-2025, with an evidence-based, integrated, balanced and multidisciplinary approach to drugs at national, EU and international level. The three equally important pillars of the Strategy are drug supply reduction, drug demand reduction and addressing drug-related harm. One of the key elements is ensuring voluntary access to treatment and care services. The availability, accessibility and coverage of risk- and harm-reduction services need to be maintained and, where needed, improved for women and men who use drugs and with drug use disorders, as well as for girls and boys. It is necessary to further prevent and treat blood-borne infectious diseases, such as HIV and Hepatitis C. Also, we have to reach persons in vulnerable and marginalised situations and put them in touch with care and other support services. The EU and its Member States are committed to reduce stigma linked to drug use and drug use disorders. Stigma may have a detrimental effect on the mental and physical health of people who use drugs and could also act as a barrier when seeking support. Gender equality should not be treated as a specific track but as an integral part of all drug policies. The EU and its Member States are also committed to the prevention of, dissuasion from and disruption of drug-related crime, in particular organised crime. Actions are taken to reduce the illicit availability of drugs and to disrupt the illicit supply channels of drugs. Such actions must be targeted towards illicit trafficking and we reiterate the EU and the Member States’ attachment to ensuring a balance in policies applicable to controlled substances: it is essential that access to quality-assured medication, including medicines containing internationally controlled narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, is ensured for patients around the world. Throughout these actions, the EU and its Member States are strongly committed to adhere to international human right standards and obligations in global drug policies. This includes upholding and promoting the principle of an adequate, proportionate and effective response to drug-related offences. The EU and its Member States strongly and unequivocally oppose the use of the death penalty under all circumstances, including for drug-related offences. Finally, the EU and its Member States recognize that civil society and the scientific community play a crucial role in assessing and addressing the world drug situation by providing accurate information and reflecting the broadest possible range of perspectives and groups involved, including affected populations. With the mid-term review of progress in implementing all our international drug policy commitments in the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2024 approaching, the EU and its Member States are fully dedicated to their implementation and count on the resolve of all parties to maintain collective efforts in accelerating the implementation of joint commitments at national, regional and international level. The EU and its Member States also encourage sharing of good practices and experiences as well as fully support the CND efforts in this respect, keeping in mind applicable international human rights obligations and shared principles that should form the basis of drug policies worldwide so that we can move ahead in an accelerated pace.
Ghana: (…) Committed to our common and shared responsibilities.
Switzerland: We condemn Russia´s military action violating Ukraine in the strongest terms. On the topic of discussion today, human rights commitments are enshrined in the conventions. Human rights enjoy a critical place in all our documents, the INCB has stated Member States have the obligation to place human rights as a priority in crafting drug policies. We are convinced of a holistic approach that looks at both human rights and health perspectives. We call for the inclusion of specific chapters in the World Drug Report on human rights. Switzerland started promoting harm reduction interventions more than 30 years ago, such as syringe exchange programs. At the time of the introduction of these measures, we came under harsh criticism. Now we are role models as we have succeeded in pushing back the prevalence of diseases. The conventions refer to the WHO many times – they fulfill an important role.
Pakistan: Illicit poppy cultivation and abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropics in one of our neighboring countries has been an issue for the last 40 years. A substantial percentage of opiates and amphetamine-type stimulants are routed through our country. Even though we are maintaining a poppy-free zone in our country, these challenges pertain. We need to affect this issue more effectively. Let me assure the commission, we are ready to cooperate with any country on any field. Our strong resolve against illegal drugs includes establishing oversight mechanisms, interagency task forces, and a robust precursors regime. Our policy is a testimony to our resolve to the 2019 ministerial declaration. We need to enhance our technical capacities and step-up international collaboration. My government realizes increasing links between drug trafficking and various forms of organized crime, in some cases even terrorism. So, this remains a key challenge for us. Today remarks an important juncture in our work.
Belgium: We are aligned with the EU statement. Russia´s aggression left many Ukrainians without access to essential medicines. The importance of human rights at the heart of our policies … UNGASS outcome document. We welcome further engagement with the human rights council as Member States must be guided by these values. We urge all MS to abolish the death penalty. We urge a dedicated section on human rights in the World Drug Report. Access for medical and scientific purposes is a fundamental core of access to health and is not yet a reality. Additional efforts are needed. During our last session, a series of awareness raising campaigns to leave no patient behind have been conducted and we thank the UNODC for that. We are looking forward to the special day in October. Chair’s One-Day Special Forum on Availability and Access, BR-B, M-Building, Vienna International Centre and online Stigma towards people who use drugs is highly present and go hand in hand with exclusion and thus constitute a major obstacle to access to basic human rights and even opportunities, especially for women.
Chair: We break for lunch.
Malta: In alignment with the EU statement. We have heard about the compatibility of the declaration on human rights and our conventions several times during today´s panel discussion. It is high time to have a frank discussion about intersections. Human Rights should be at the center of our policies in order to prevent discrimination and provide life saving treatments. We celebrate Switzerland´s suggestion to include a section in the World Drug Report dedicated to human rights. We have introduced a strategy that prioritizes harm reduction and treatment over punishment. Our efforts to advance our policy framework is guided by evidence based decision making. Resopnsible use of Cannabis 2021 seeks to regulate realities on the ground in the most effective and transparent and responsible way.
Chile: Public policies should be founded on scientific evidence. We recognize all treaties, especially those that are priority aim is to protect the welfare of humankind, … prioritize human rights with a particular focus on women and children. Access to medicines, particularly opiates, is guaranteed in our policy system in Chile. We have placed a strong emphasis on the public health dimension in the measures we take and tailor them to those most vulnerable. Personal drug use is not a criminal offense in Chile. In 2014 we have drug treatment courts and lowered sentences for drug-related crimes with more emphasis on treatment. Since 2012, treatment has been available on probation as an alternative to incarceration and recently parole also includes treatment. The world drug report should include a chapter on human rights, and it should cover the protection of children specifically.
Netherlands: In line with the statement by the EU, I would like to highlight a few things. I will not mention Russia´s aggression on Ukraine but you know our stance. State parties to international conventions must place human rights at the center of drug control policies. It is not optional. I thank the INCB for an excellent paper on this issue. It also states that Member States that violate human rights regulations in the name of drug control measures are in violation of the treaties. Evidence-based harm reduction policies will lead to fewer fatalities and will effectively prevent problematic use. Excessive drug control measures, such as torture, killings, and arbitrary detention are not evidence-based or effective measures and should be avoided. As we are approaching the mid-term review, these are extremely important and as Ms. Waly said, we need a more open debate. We support the addition of a chapter to the WDR on human rights.
Chair: We have 14 requests from the floor. We will have to cut the afternoon program short. I ask for your indulgence.
Ecuador: Our geographical reality … increased violence. We declared drugs as a threat to the internal security of the state and peace. We recognized a need for strict regulation of substances and control in compliance with international drug conventions based on common and shared responsibility. Computer systems are set up to support this control framework and reporting, especially when it comes to controlled medicines. The changes on the scope of control should reflect regional realities. We have implemented a national watchlist for substances that are not prohibited but are at risk for being abused. Finally, we reaffirm our commitment to our international commitments enshrined in the three conventions.
Austria: We align with the statement made by the EU, including about Russia´s aggression on Ukraine. In a constantly evolving drugs market, constantly increasing demand and supply demands coordinated action regionally and internationally. Concerning trends are included in the WDR. Austria is fully committed to strengthening efforts. We have to keep in mind the multifaceted nature of the world drug problem – an effective response has to be holistic as well. We distinguish between consumption and drug-related crime, Addiction is an illness and trafficking is a crime – for example. Compliance with conventions can lead to direct and positive fulfilment of human rights standards, so we have a strong support the human rights-focused approach of the UNGASS outcome document and agree with the idea to include a human rights chapter in the WDR.
Brazil (Mr. BRITO, Policy Specialist and Head of the Service Unit of the National Secretariat of Drugs Policies and Assets Management, Ministry of Justice and Public Safety): Efficient asset management includes recovery of criminal assets. We set up a center that just in 2 years have achieved some success in multi-lingual inter-agency cooperation. The modernization of forensic services is a project throughout the country. Forensic Criminal Expertise focuses on chemistry and toxicology in the frameworks of a project called MINERVA (…)
Mexico (Mr. DEL CAMPO, National Psychiatric Institution): As a former member of the INCB and researcher in drug demand policy, I am honored to openly speak about INCB – the board has increasingly promoted implementation of the conventions with respect to human rights. The universal declaration of human rights is a fundamental basis of the united nations that is underpinned by multiple conventions, including the ones steering the international drug control system. In the preamble, the single convention states that it is concerned with the health and welfare of mankind, suggesting a public health context in which treaty provisions should be understood. There are several documents that are very useful in this integration. I would like to highlight a few points: (1) drug dependence treatment – a right to health means access to evidence-based dependence treatment on a voluntary basis. States must ensure acceptable, evidence-based, good-quality treatment services and make them accessible for vulnerable and marginalized groups. Confidentiality, the right to privacy – release people in involuntary hold (2) children and the general population have the right to access correct and scientific information, evidence-based and human rights compliant education – do not exclude people from education based on their drug use behavior (3) harm reduction – right to health includes access to harm reduction facilities. State parties should ensure that UN technical recommendations are observed, and these services are funded appropriately. (4) data collection (5) access to controlled medicines. I am running out of time so I will finish with mentioning decriminalization of consumers and possession and that these measures are absolutely in line with the drug control conventions.
OHCHR: People who use drugs live in every city, every country and ever region despite harsh legal threats. Drug-related deaths are preventable. Women are underrepresented in treatment. We urge an analysis to ensure women are safe and not stigmatized and are supported appropriately. In 2016, we agreed to recommendations that are essential … I am pleased to see some Member States changing their policies from punitive to a human rights-based approach. The war on drugs is a war on people. Punitive measures have failed. It is a core minimum requirement in to provide access to essential medicines. All humans, regardless of gender, sexual identity, other states including drug dependency deserve health, privacy, peace and dignity. The legal framework of global drug policy has been tilted towards repressing the illegal market with severe negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of humankind as is set out by the conventions. We need a clear agenda for transformative change. (FULL STATEMENT TBA)
INCB (Ms. PAVADIA, President): The use of controlled substances for nonmedical uses is in breach of international conventions. Reporting requirements. Legal obligations – Legalization carries a significant threat particularly of reducing the perception of risk among young people. The legalization of drugs gravely undermines the consensus the conventions represent. According to the fundamental principles of international law, any deviation undermines the agreement. We will dedicate a chapter to this in our annual report. There is a widespread consensus on some of our main challenges, such as access to essential medicines while preventing diversion. Other challenges, in particular legalization, are more complex and are threatening the consensus in the commission.
WHO: Key populations and their partners account for 70% of new infections. 50% of all people who inject drugs are estimated to be infected by viral Hepatitis C. WHO Global Health Strategy submitted a report on … including the right of old people. We continue to summarize and synthesize… (TBA)
Chair: Now we will open the floor for Member States who have not yet intervened.
Uruguay: Thank you for this diverse panel. During the 2019 declaration negotiations, we insisted on including some references to the failures on the failures of our policy approaches so far. We strongly support the inclusion of a chapter on human rights in the WDR. We understand that drug policies should have a holistic interdisciplinary approach based on science with a human rights and gender perspective, placing people at the center of our efforts. Drug control and human rights are not disconnected and should not be considered independent on each other. Only through dialog with the scientific community and civil society can we be more efficient in achieving our goals.
Sweden: We fully support the statement made by the EU. We condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia´s aggression on Ukraine. The main focus of our drug policies is to contribute to better equity in health – applies to everyone regardless of drug use status. Prevention of including children at any point in the supply chain is a priority so the Right of the Child is a priority issue for us. It is of great importance to us to mainstream a gender perspective. Compliance with the drug control conventions should not lead to violations of human rights. We encourage UNODC to further develop resources on this issue, maybe including the WDR. We believe drug policies must be fully consistent with international commitments.
Germany: I will not deliver a national statement, but I have some brief remarks. Thank you to the panelists. The discussion so far has been very open and constructive – my delegation really appreciates this and hopes to continue in this fashion. In formal discussions, we noticed doubts about the interconnectedness of drug policies and human rights. Today we heard that marrying the two is more than possible. We are grateful for that. We support the proposal by Switzerland to dedicate a chapter in the WDR to Drug Policies and Human Rights.
UK: We call on Russia to stop their illegal war on Ukraine and retreat immediately. We appreciate today´s session. We strongly support the principle to place human rights at the center of drug policies. It is not optional; people are at the core of our policies. We agree with Ms.Waly that a person-centered approach is key. We support the Swiss proposal of adding a human right focused chapter to the WDR. We have a saying, “What gets measured, gets done”.
Algeria: I would like to present my country´s effort in fighting drug risks. Due to our geographical location, we are a huge cannabis seizure spot. My country is actively engaged in the regional and international levels – within the framework of UNODC and INCB. The significant efforts made by Algeria is above all to protect young people and the general population.
Belarus: Law enforcement, all narcotics are banned in Belarus and people are held accountable. Our national strategy proved successful in restoring health and psychological situation of people with drug use issues. Our approach has been the same for the last 10 years.
VNGOC (Turkish Green Crescent): Today we would like to talk about how responses not in conformity with the three international drug control conventions pose a challenge to the implementation of joint commitments based on the principle of common and shared responsibility. As threats to a rules-based international order have become all the more prevalent today, the need to respect the rule of international law has become even more important and urgent, as well. Also, in order to strengthen multilateralism, “respect for accepted norms and standards cannot be ambiguous or selective”, as clearly stated by former President of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremić. In other words, countries cannot pick and choose which international laws to follow without potentially encouraging others to do the same. However, the recent legalization trends of cannabis observed at national and sub-national levels continue to push the legal limits currently prescribed by the drug-related treaties. State parties are increasingly experimenting with their national drug control policies that challenge traditional interpretations of their international obligations, especially over the past few years. Moreover, regarding cannabis, we see that this experiment of legalization has a wide range covering the nonenforcement of existing criminal laws on drug possession and use, the diversion of offenders to noncriminal channels, and the recent legalization of cannabis at sub-national and national levels. While the trend of liberalization of cannabis is certainly not limited to legalization, it has particularly pushed the legal limits currently prescribed by the three international treaties. We have to underline the fact that respecting the rule of international law is especially crucial to keep the delicate balance of peace, order, and stability offered by international treaty law. Therefore, it must be emphasized that while international treaties are indeed integral to world peace and order, their effectiveness hinges upon the good faith cooperation of all parties. Additionally, the unprincipled interpretation of provisions undermines the delicate balance that was just mentioned. Consequently, we kindly ask CND membership to carefully evaluate their stances on their drug policy responses when tackling the world drug problem, especially that of cannabis. We also kindly ask the membership to consider global peace and security for all while doing so.
OHCHR: Thank you for inviting OHCHR to participate at this intersessional session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.In the thirtieth special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem, held in 2016 (UNGASS2016), all Member States of the United Nations reiterated their commitment to respecting, protecting and promoting all human rights and fundamental in the development and implementation of drug policies. This was also reaffirmed in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration on the world drug problem.Critically, in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration, all member States acknowledged that responses not in conformity, inter alia, with applicable international human rights obligations pose a challenge to the implementation of joint commitments based on the principle of common and shared responsibility.From human rights perspectives, this acknowledgement is important since efforts to respond to the drug problem may have a direct impact on the respect, protection, promotion and exercise of human rights.In assisting States and other stakeholders, for the last several years our office and special procedure mandate holders of the Human Right Council prepared several reports (e.g. A/HRC/39/39; A/HRC/31/45; A/HRC/47/40; A/65/255) on drug policy and human rights, highlighting the impact of drug policy measures on human rights.We are also implementing capacity building and technical cooperation programme on human rights based drug policies, in cooperation with UNODC and other UN agencies; as well as with the partnership with civil society organisation (e.g. A/HRC/51/58).We have brought good practices, lessons learned and challenges- with regard to ensuring drug policy measures compliant with States’ obligations under international human rights -treates to the attention of Member States and other stakeholders.Upon the request from the Human Rights Council, those reports also shared with CND on various occasions, including ahead of UNGASS 2016 and the 2019 Ministerial High Level meeting of thus Commission.We are pleased to see outcome documents of these high level events included human rights language albeit some limitations.Furthermore, the progresses are made in some countries in the implementation of UNGASS 2016 operational recommendations on human rights. They have transitioned from a punitive drug control approach towards human rights and public health-based drug policy. Importantly, some countries have decriminalized drug use aiming to address stigma and ensure treatment and services without any fear and intimidation, which is critical in the realization of the right to life, the right to health, the right to privacy and many other rights.However, as the former High Commissioner for Human Rights stated , challenges persists. Many operational recommendations of UNGASS 2026 related to human rights still yet to be implemented.In this respect, CND can play an effective role, as it did before.For example, let me refer to CND’s 2018 resolution on removing stigma as a barrier to the availability and delivery of health, care and social services for people who use drugs. The key aspect of this resolution is clearly based on human rights principles and inspired by recommendations of various UN human rights mechanisms and the Outcome Document of the UNGASS 2016.Several other operational recommendations of the Chapter 4 of the Outcome Document of UNGASS 2016 on human rights- requires further attention, discussion and action by CND, member States and other stakeholders.For examples, operational recommendations on addressing prison overcrowding, promoting principle of proportionality and alternative measures to incarceration, the prohibition of torture and arbitrary detention, addressing impunity – need further attention. All these recommendations are relevant in th realization a range of human rights.The last year’s study of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention made several practical recommendation to address these issues. We hope that this Commission can further reflect on findings and recommendations of the report by using its various tools, such as convening an expert group meeting on these issues.The UN System Common Position on drug policy, adopted in 2018, provides a framework for coordinated support to States in drug related matters. It aims to ensure that such supports are evidence, human rights and public health based; and gender sensitive.In the spirit of the UN inter-agency cooperation as discussed in the Common Position, our Office partnered with UNDP, WHO and UNAIDS, the International Centre for Human Rights and Drug Policy and other stakeholders; and with the support of Germany and Switzerland, in the development of the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy.The International Guidelines is the best tool at our disposal to support States in the implementation of their human rights joint commitments of the Outcome Document on UNGASS 2016, and the 2019 Ministerial Declaration.There might be different views and ideas around the table, but as the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health stated today, countries must engage in dialogues to move forward. If necessary, through reforms, they must ensure that implementation of three drug conventions are compliant with obligations under international human rights treaties.Thank you.
Pompidou Group, Council of Europe (Mr. KATTAU, Deputy Executive Secretary): Today is a landmark event for us as we are able to contribute to the progress of Human Rights in Drug Policy by introducing this self-assessment tool.
OAS, Organization of American States, CICAD (Mr. NOBLE, Chief of the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM) Unit, Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission): In 2020, Member States approved the plan of action and strategy. In this document, we recognized important efforts already done and acknowledged the need to strengthen our policies and actions. As Member States reiterate commitments to policies and programs, conventions and other relevant instruments, Member States also commit to taking gender-based aspects into account and adapting to the changing realities of our environments. Strengthening international cooperation is more vital than ever. The multilateral mechanisms as part of our work are essential to monitoring our progress. Mutual legal assistance in accordance with international legal instruments on drug-related offenses. National legislation should be taken as appropriate locally but in full observation of the drug control commitments. Evaluation of thematic areas and reporting is key to us, this year we are focusing on supply reduction. Our reports are publicly available on our websites.
France: This is not a national statement, we align with the EU´s statement, but we would like to contribute to the debate – the respect of human rights in the implementation of drug policies is of key importance, in particular, we call for the abolition of the death penalty. We support the addition of a human rights chapter to the WDR.
Australia: Russia´s invasion of Ukraine is a reminder to all of us that some MS disregard human rights as it is now, mainly the protection of human life. According to WHO, 550 direct attacks on health care facilities have taken place in Ukraine already. We call on Russia to immediately stop this. We will provide further comments on human rights tomorrow – for now, we support the proposal of Switzerland about the human rights chapter. Access is one of the fundamental principles of the drug control conventions while preventing their diversion. Increasing availability is concerned with the promotion of health and safety. However, balance must be found. The global disparity in access persists and we must acknowledge the effects of the COVID19 pandemic. Challenges are disproportionally experienced by low- and mid-income countries so we must come together and scale our collaboration. We encourage other MS to assess INCB´s tools to assess needs and possible avenues for ensuring access to controlled medicines while avoiding their diversion to illicit channels.
Finland: We are fully aligned with the EU´s statement. In our national capacity, we only have a few remarks: the importance of human rights can not be understated. It is enshrined in all agreements. We have repeatedly reaffirmed our commitments. The message is clear: all drug policies must be implemented in full observation of human rights. We support the Swiss proposal.
Slovenia: We fully subscribe to the statement delivered by the EU and we demand Russia immediately seize their military actions. In Slovenia, we believe in shared responsibilities, we support extensive international cooperation, scientifically proven data from all across the world. For us, drug supply reduction and demand reduction, including harm reduction policy, are the main pillars of our national strategy. I am proud to say, we systematically invest into integrated demand reduction, including treatment recovery harm reduction and reintegration including substitution and needle exchange programs. Our data shows the number of HIV positive injecting drug users is minimal. Our comprehensive and balanced development of programs and activities contributes to our success. One of our main aims is ensuring human rights can be enjoyed by every single person regardless of drug use status. Drug use is complex that stretches across borders.
Iran: The tree drug control treaties are binding Member States to prohibit nonmedical use and the increasing number of countries that lax their regulation is concerning to us. The conventions state exclusively medical and scientific use is to be tolerated. To limit the use of drugs to medical and scientific use is an absolute priority – as INCB has stated, legalization compromises the integrity of the global drug control system and have negative implications on the public health care system as well as on various societal levels.
VNGOC, Tranform: My name is Steve Rolles, I am the senior policy analyst for Transform drug policy Foundation, a UK-based charity and NGO seeking more just and effective drug policies in the UK and around the world. Thank you for this opportunity to address the CND today. More and more jurisdictions are implementing or actively exploring the legal regulation of cannabis markets for nonmedical or recreational adult use. For the UN drug control institutions, this is not an issue that can be marginalized or ignored any longer as somehow being the action of a rogue jurisdiction. Such reforms are now being implemented or actively explored in multiple jurisdictions and member states, on every continent. We are now approaching half a billion people living in jurisdictions with legally regulated cannabis markets for non-medical adult use. Certainly, this raises important questions; about what best practice regulation should look like, and how we can learn lessons from alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical regulation. It also raises important questions about international trade and sustainable development, and of course, it raises a series of questions about the future of the UN drug control treaty framework. The global consensus around the prohibition of cannabis for non-medical use is now decisively fracturing. The trend towards formally regulated markets is accelerating – as more and more jurisdictions critically evaluate the failings of the past and growing evidence that responsible regulation can help deliver on the treaty aspiration to protect and enhance the ‘health and welfare´ of humankind. It is this inescapable reality of accelerating change in approaches to cannabis regulation that must be the basis of discussions in high level multilateral forums moving forward. Certainly, the cannabis debate remains challenging and contentious – often characterised by strongly held and polarised positions. But if the CND, and other relevant UN entities, cannot meaningfully engage with the reality of change already happening across the world, then they will forfeit their ability to influence and guide the reform process in ways that can support our shared aspirations of the UN charter, and of the sustainable development goals. As the UNODC has noted, the drug treaties are not ‘written in stone’. A range of mechanisms exist for treaties to evolve and modernise in response to changing circumstances, new evidence, and shifting political realities. That there is a need for such evolution and reform of the treaties could hardly be clearer than on this issue – where many member states have already felt compelled to move, albeit reluctantly, into situations of technical noncompliance with specific treaty obligations. The possible pathways for such a modernisation process have been detailed by numerous civil society voices and reports. They include options for individual member states – such as withdrawal from a treaty, or withdrawal and re-accession with a reservation. Options for a group of member states such as inter se treaty modification, or, Options based on consensus within existing multilateral institutions such as treaty amendment, treaty modification, or replacement of the current treaties with a new and more flexible treaty framework that is fit for purpose in the modern era. In what are uncharted waters in the history of international drugs control – it is not clear which path to modernisation we will ultimately adopt. But, if the CND does not engage with this vital discussion, and instead continues to entrench around inflexible and condemnatory positions of the past that no longer meet the needs of growing number of member states, the international drug control system risks drifting slowly into irrelevance as more and more member states unilaterally, or acting in concert, distance themselves from its rigid rules. On the important drug related issues of the day, citizens and member states look to the CND and UN institutions for normative guidance. This much needed leadership cannot be achieved through entrenchment and finger wagging. It requires an open minded and pragmatic dialogue between relevant stakeholders; member states, UN institutions, and civil society expertise – including the voices of people who use or produce illegal cannabis. This is the only way that challenges such as this can be resolved, and the exacerbation of existing tensions be avoided. We hope that the upcoming midterm review of the 2019 drug strategy can provide a moment of reflection on this issue – given the dramatic changes that have occurred in the intervening years. As always – the voices of civil society look forward to supporting this dialogue.
Brazil: We are concerned with the increasing flow if illicit product through our territories. Our seizures have skyrocketed. The three conventions and the outcome documents from 2019 and 2016 consist of a cornerstone. The major goal of our federal police is to command seizures. We also pay attention to supply reduction. Both through community care and rehabilitation, we also attend to demand reduction to. We also believe national regulations must be in line with international obligations.
Egypt: The three conventions are the cornerstones in addressing the world drug problem. Policy measures to monitor illicit production and manufacture of substances and precursors, (…) We welcome the presentations about effective implementation of commitments. We are concerned with the legalization of drugs for nonmedical and nonscientific purposes. This is compromising our global control system. In the convention´s text, possession is exclusively limited to medical and scientific purposes and any measure allowing such use is in clear violation of the treaty. We call upon the INCB, the monitoring body, to ensure full implementation across signatories.
Mexico: We fully back the importance of human rights when implementing our international drug control commitments. In this context, we identified about 50 specific commitments in the policy documents that we all keep reaffirming our commitments to. We listened to the opening statement today very carefully and we would like to enhance the communication between the Human Rights Council, UNODC and INCB… but also other relevant agencies. We have to pay much more attention to the facts presented to us – liberalization is not a suit that fits all, but where it was implemented, data is promising. We support the Swiss recommendation.
USA: Unfortunately, our discussion today is overshadowed by Russia´s unlawful and unprovoked aggression towards Ukraine that accelerated many problems that are on our tables today as well. There will be increases in PTSD and substance misuse. Russia´s war against Ukraine will make people more vulnerable to drug use problems. The current situation also left thousands without access to essential medicines. The three conventions form the cornerstones that fostered unified action for many decades – the treaties obligate us to protect the health and welfare of humankind, but it also obligates us to collaborate. This requires flexibility. Our overdose problem is related directly to synthetic opioids and fentanyl. This issue is very personal, at this point, to every American. The issue permeates all communities and doesn’t seem to be going away. This is a truly global epidemic – one that we in this room will have to fight together. The commission has been exemplary in its efficiency to schedule dangerous substances –international scheduling is an important tool, among many to address these issues. International cooperation is at the heart of every countries drug policies and we are committed to working together.
Türkiye: I would like to underline the fine line between uncomfortable actions and the actions that are taken as drug control measures. Regardless of CND´s vote for Cannabis, there is an obvious social perception shift on the risks associated. Recreational use is rampant. Today, it has been almost 3 years since the WHO recommended Cannabis and resin to be removed from Schedule IV. When we look at the actual reflection and results, it is still the most abused and most seized illegal drug in the global context – so it is the biggest challenge. The question is, are these responses to CBD in conformity with the conventions? I kindly request all stakeholders to develop a clear view on cannabis-related issues. Our commitment to all efforts to counter the world drug problem stays intact.
VNGOC, LEAP: I am speaking to you today on behalf of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership or LEAP. We are a growing movement of police officers and members of the criminal justice system, advocating for drug policy and criminal law reforms based on scientific evidence and policy assessments. A Century of international drug control Conventions has tied governments of the world to a principle of common and shared responsibility of protecting people from the potential harms of drugs. The Conventions commit you to “control” drugs, as their titles state. These treaties give back to governments the sovereignty and control over drugs… including the option of prohibition. But this is only but one option. The real obligation is to control drugs and protect the health and welfare of humankind. Not to prohibit. Likewise, none of the joint commitments taken in 2014, 2016 or 2019 even mentions prohibition. Notably, the option of prohibition [and its legal exceptionalism] has proven, in many instances, to be unenforceable, but also un-agreeable by large parts of the population. However, acceptability by citizens, and enforceability by us –police and justice– are the two legs upon which the Rule of Law stands. Prohibition as a response to drugs, in many aspects, hampers the Rule of Law. Reconciling the law with achievable and agreeable objectives is a necessity to preserve our societies from further harms, violence, and disconnect between law enforcement and the people. Having on our side the law, and the Conventions, is a necessity. Recently, scholarly discussions have concluded that the regulation of cannabis –one of the most pressing needs to address the challenges I just mentioned– is possible in conformity with the drug control treaties, under Article 2 paragraph 9 of the 1961 Convention. This perspective, already embraced by one Member State to date, should be an item of discussion for your Commission, as domestic cannabis laws continue to evolve. – Excellencies, The real challenge to the joint commitments of the international community is the split between the rhetorics of prohibition and its inapplicability on the ground. Prohibition drives us, law enforcement, into a situation where we neither serve nor protect. We can do better. We can differentiate licit from illicit goods, we can regulate instead of banning, we can make the distinction between simple non-medical use and drug abuse –as the Conventions do– and refer the latter to healthcare and social services. These are activities that law enforcement and public servants can, know how, and want to do. This is what the population wants. Protection, not persecution. For the health and welfare of the people. I thank you.
Canada: We condemn the ongoing attack on Ukraine, which is an illegal war, an act of aggression from Russia. We are pleased to take part in these discussions as these exchanges foster the development of balanced and evidence-based policies. We determined that prohibiting cannabis was not adequately protecting our people, so to eliminate harm, especially among youth, we passed the cannabis act. This act reflects our public health approach that invests heavily in an educational approach that helped decrease tobacco use significantly. We support community-based organizations and indigenous organizations. Problematic use pattern has not increased among youth. We want to emphasize that we did not legalize cannabis, but we strictly regulated cannabis and cannabis products. We are a strong supporter of the international drug control system that is underpinned by the three drug control conventions. We are concerned about a few things we heard today, for example, the INCB´s perceived role – INCB has a very important mandate, however, monitoring compliance is not a role of the INCB. States have made a commitment to one another to protect our constituencies. The world drug issue has evolved immensely in the last decade, this challenges us to evolve our responses as well.
Venezuela: My country has a central coordination unit on drug-related matters that includes a specific component on social reintegration, rehabilitation, and treatment. We have devised initiatives targeted at girls and boys. We recognize that no country can tackle the challenge alone. We are happy to announce, we have intensified bilateral collaboration with Mexico and a number of EU states, where we focus on information exchange and capacity building for monitoring. Despite the difficulties we are facing, we are committed to addressing and countering the world drug problem – there is still a long way to go.
Thailand: Let me share some domestic key developments. In line with the UNGASS outcome document, we have put more focus on harm reduction and access to medicines with the intention to improve access to health care and in general, the wellbeing of our people. We have established a narcotic court that is tasked to find a proportionate response to drug-related crimes. By embracing the paradigm shift through our narcotic court, we have renewed our commitment to support the international communities to counter the world drug problem.
Colombia: As stated by our president yesterday in New York, we emphasize the need and importance that people are at the center of drug policies. This would not only support us in reaching SDGs but also ensure we observe human rights. We support the Swiss suggestion about adding a human rights-focused chapter to the WDR.
Russia: I have attentively listened to the opinions of the panelists that are not in conformity with the drug control system. The INCB serves as the guardian of the conventions and brings matters to attention when it is appropriate. There are specific articles in the conventions that refer to this and we welcome INCB´s execution of those functions. The three conventions are the cornerstones of CND´s work – their full implementation is a precondition for effective international action. Any step that endangers shattering this system needs our most urgent attention and response. While some delegations try to divert the conversation to unrelated political topics, the drug situation continues, and the recreational use of drugs is growing, particularly among young people – fueling black markets, violence, and instability. National scheduling by class is our best tool to contain the issue. None of these phenomena existed when the conventions were drafted but their flexibility allows us to adjust to the realities. While some Member States like Canada chose to give up their obligations and give way to the nonmedical use of cannabis, or lift the ban on other substances is similar to legislative experiments that are adopted and discussed across the EU. Such a selective approach goes against the fundamental principles of international law. WHO proposals were rejected except for the one on the limited medical use of cannabis and attempts to justify recreational use by bringing up human rights are not acceptable. Our job is to limit the use of drugs to scientific and medical use. Any other measure is in violation of the treaties. Cannabis legalization had a wide range of negative effects on public health and society. This endangers food security in low-income countries as marijuana replaces essential crops. This is the commercial interest of huge companies and not the interest of people and their well-being. Equally concerning to us: those legalization initiatives send a message to the world that these substances are less harmful, that occasional drug use is acceptable – it is not! Cannabis legalization is a new and geographically limited phenomenon. Still, it poses dangers to future generations. We have always upheld the three conventions and their spirits. We strongly support the INCB learning program and INCB´s Youth Initiative. We appreciate the efforts of the Chair and Secretariat to hold these sessions. As a responsible CND member, Russia has always been respectful and observed rules of conduct – since my country has been named today in several interventions, I will respond now. This approach damages the reputation of this commission. Those delegations who think they have the right to judge others´ implementation of international law, should look at their own drug-related engagement. The blind accusations we heard today are unacceptable since they are based on the misrepresentation of facts.
VNGOC, West-African Drug Policy Network: We have noted with grave concern that, most drug control responses in Africa are not in conformity with the international Drug Control Conventions and they pose serious challenges in the implementation of the joint commitment, based on the principle of common and shared responsibility. One common response is the criminalization of all-drug-related activities, especially drug use and possession. The preamble and Article 4 (c) of the 1961 convention emphasize the importance of narcotic drugs for the relief of pain and suffering and the need to make them available and accessible for medicinal and scientific purposes. Unfortunately, there are barely adequate (policies and infrastructural) provisions to ensure the accessibility and accessibility of narcotic drugs for medicinal and scientific purposes due to the overly criminalization response. Similarly, Article 38 and Resolution II (I) of the 1961 Single Convention, also urged member states to offer drug treatment, rehabilitation, and social reintegration of problematic drug users and addicts, preferably in a hospital institution for an effective outcome. But due to the criminalization response, most problematic drug users and addicts are sent to prison rather providing than health service in hospital institutions for treatment and rehabilitation. This explains the reason for lack of evidence-based drug treatments and rehabilitation facilities on the continent. These nonconformist responses pose serious challenges in the implementation of joint commitments like the: UN Common Position on Drugs; the Sustainable development goal 3; the UNAIDS 90-90-90 treatment target; the Africa Union Plan of Action on Drug Control, etc. We, therefore, call on all Member States to adopt evidence-based drug control response that is in conformity with the letter and spirit of the conventions. Thank you.