CND Tematic Discussion / Session 12 – Way Forward

Chair: I am grateful for your cooperation earlier this year. We had previously discussed the Resolution, outlining the review process, and collectively decided to convene before he regular committee session. The high-level segment is scheduled for March 14th and 15th, dedicated to assessing the implementation of international drug policy commitments. During this segment, we aim to articulate a path forward to 2029 in alignment with the 2019 ministerial declaration. The high-level segment will include a general debate and six roundtables for interactive discussions. Both the general debate and roundtables will be open to all UN members, organized according to the relevant rules of procedure for the commission, economy, and social functions. Seating arrangements will adhere to the General Assembly’s protocol, as outlined in the provisional agenda. It is crucial to note that the two roundtable discussions will run concurrently with the general debate, allowing delegations to plan accordingly. The opening ceremony will feature esteemed guests, including the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Executive Director of UNODC, the President of INCB, the Director-General of the age-old, established proxies, and a representative each from the scientific community, the US, and civil society. To facilitate the proceedings, we will invite speakers in the order listed on the screen during the opening ceremony. I appreciate your attention to these details, and I look forward to our collaborative efforts during this significant event.
During the roundtable discussions, we will cover two main topics. The first topic involves taking stock of the work on vacancies up to 2019 (Candidate One), while the second topic explores the way forward, outlining the road to 2029, which is scheduled for day two. All members and observers participating in the high-level segment are invited to attend the roundtables accordingly.Pursuant to Resolution 66 One, interventions by panelists during the roundtables will be limited to a maximum of five minutes and to a maximum of three minutes for interventions from the floor. We strongly encourage interaction, and speakers wishing to contribute may raise their nameplates. Each roundtable will have a designated person nominated by different regional groups, serving as the [moderator]. This individual will make introductory remarks before interventions by the panelists. Please be informed that any nominations for the position should be submitted by 15 February. The co-chairs will share a concise summary of the salient points discussed during the roundtables with the plenary. The Commission has decided to work towards adopting a concise, action-oriented document at the opening of the 67th session’s high-level segment. This document will focus exclusively on assessing the implementation of all existing international drug policy commitments between 2019 and 2022, indicating the work needed to accelerate implementation, and addressing any defaults or denials of these commitments. I would like to acknowledge Ambassador Johnson of Ghana, who will assume the role of Chair of the 67th session, including the high-level segment. I urge all of you to collaborate with the incoming chair. During the high-level segment, there will be an opportunity to organize high-level side events, requiring ministerial-level participation. These events will focus on challenges identified in the Status Declaration, with one event per challenge. Member states are exclusively authorized to organize high-level side events, and detailed guidelines are available on the official website. I conclude my briefing and now yield the floor to His Excellency Ambassador Johnson of Ghana, nominated for the 67th session, for further insights on the work ahead.

Incoming Chair:  Thank you for granting me the floor and entrusting me with the responsibility to initiate preparations for the 2020 review. I have commenced brainstorming sessions with members from various regional groups and eagerly anticipate collaborating with them to negotiate an outcome document in accordance with the modalities outlined in Resolution 66. In today’s meeting, I would like to share information about the Pledge for Action initiative. This initiative, presented during the brainstorming sessions with regional groups, symbolizes our members’ commitment to translating our drug policy commitments into transformative action. It provides an opportunity for member states to lead by example, inspire others, and demonstrate our determination to meaningfully address the global drug problem. I encourage member states to champion these commitments and submit pledges during the general debate or the high-level segment, addressing challenges and collaborating with the secretariat on organizational arrangements to facilitate high-level representatives in making pledges for their countries. The concept is to facilitate pledges in two ways: First, through operational projects where member states commit to concrete initiatives at the national and regional levels, aligning with the 11 challenges. Second, through cooperation and engagement, involving partners and stakeholders in joint initiatives to address challenges comprehensively, and free financial support. I urge member states to allocate resources or pledge financial support to realize specific projects, such as those involving UNODC. The Commission will invite member states to provide regular updates on these pledges from 2024 to 2029, leading up to the review in 2029. This initiative offers us an opportunity not just to talk, but to lead, share successes, and learn from each other, demonstrating our commitment to taking action.I eagerly anticipate the contributions of member states to this initiative in the coming months.

Secretariat: As in previous years, our commitment in 2024 remains steadfast. The Secretariat is dedicated to providing the utmost support to the Chair, the Bureau, and the entire commission. Several key documents, including the biannual report of the Executive Director on implementation, have been prepared. The advanced version of this report is already available to the member countries in session, along with information and assistance regarding organizational arrangements. One notable document is the conference room paper on organizational arrangements, whic h has been made accessible online since the October briefing. In line with established practice, we will assist with the organizational arrangements for various positions. Additionally, numerous documents on drug policy commitments and challenges are already accessible. This includes discussion guides for thematic discussions, offering a comprehensive overview of the commitments outlined in the policy documents. An e-learning tool on commitments is also accessible on our website. Regarding the modalities outlined in Resolution 66 One, we, as the Secretariat, will actively support the involvement of stakeholders, allowing them to submit written inputs, as was the case in 2014 and 2019. We are facilitating a breakfast meeting with UN entities and intergovernmental organizations and exploring the possibility of holding a roundtable with the chairs of other functional commissions ahead of the midterm review. Communication is crucial, and we will utilize the website and social media channels to keep the audience informed about the proceedings. We are fully committed to supporting the Pledge for Action initiative presented by Ambassador Johnson. In conclusion, all pertinent information can be found on the website, and we encourage you to regularly check for updates as information becomes available. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

(…)

Pakistan: Pledges are voluntary, and member states have the discretion to determine the commitments they wish to make. As pledges are received and through advocacy efforts, certain delegations may be encouraged to consider commitments in areas that have not been covered. Pakistan is anticipated to be among the first to present pledges, and we will engage with other delegations to explore additional areas. Notably, there has been a particular interest in addressing diverse delivery challenges. We expect a balanced representation in the pledges, but if any imbalances arise, we will address them accordingly and keep you informed. Thank you.

Mexico: Turning to the issue of balance in pledges, it is essential to clarify whether a pledge pertains solely to future actions or if current ongoing projects are also considered as pledges. This distinction is crucial for a comprehensive understanding. Additionally, there is a concern that wealthier donor countries may often have a larger number of projects to showcase, potentially creating an imbalance compared to developing countries with fewer projects. To address this, it may be worth considering whether there should be a limit on the number of projects presented. Furthermore, clarification on whether current and ongoing projects are eligible as pledges would be beneficial. I believe some guidance on these points would enhance transparency. Thank you.

China: I have a small procedural question – we seek clarification regarding the issuance of passes, specifically for stakeholders.

Secretariat: Your question is valid and was thoroughly explained during the negotiation of the resolution. For CND meetings, the rules of procedure of CND apply, stipulating that NGOs with ECOSOC status are allowed to participate. Consequently, there will be no circulated list. Those participating as stakeholders are typically affiliated with member state delegations, intergovernmental organizations, UN entities, or NGOs with ECOSOC status. This information is generally understood and does not require additional circulation. Thank you.

Mexico: Thank you, Mr. Chairperson, for facilitating this crucial discussion, and our appreciation extends to the Secretariat for organizing it. With the midterm review just three months away, it appears there is a lack of consensus on the specific agreements we should be reaching regarding the way forward. Recalling the commitments made in 2009, the political declaration outlined that CND would conduct a midterm review in 2014, ECOSOC would dedicate a high-level segment to the issue, and the General Assembly would hold a special session. While CND did convene a special session in 2016, the joint statement in August 2016 provided no clarity on the expected developments in 2019. The subsequent policy documents did not address the follow-up to the 2016 special session until the adoption of Resolution 61/10, providing a comprehensive approach toward the 2019 midterm review. The modalities resolution adopted in March, reflecting the mandate from the 2019 ministerial declaration, serves as an operational refresh. It emphasizes the need to enhance efforts in implementing commitments from 2009, 2014, and 2016. The resolution aims to accelerate the implementation of operational goals and recommends inclusive discussions with stakeholders such as law enforcement, judiciary, healthcare, civil society, academia, and relevant UN entities. It is crucial to underscore that the 67th CND, as per the ministerial declaration of 2019, is tasked with a midterm review in 2024 and a final review in 2029. The outcome should reflect efforts between 2019 and 2023 and organize the work of CND from 2024 to 2029. In light of these considerations, our delegation believes that we do not need to take additional actions beyond the commitments outlined in the ministerial declaration of 2019. We strongly oppose any attempt to turn this into a political document akin to those of 2018 and 2016 or to introduce new commitments during the review. Political commitments, if any, should be presented in appropriate forums, such as the general debate, review segment, or regular sessions of the 67th CND. Initiatives or priorities should be advanced through draft resolutions, following the established practice since 2014. In conclusion, we express our opposition to the Secretariat’s efforts regarding the participation of the Statistical Commission.

EU: We aim to direct our focus on assets and expedite the implementation of existing drug policy commitments, specifically those outlined in the 2016 UNGASS outcome document, leading up to the review in 2029. The envisioned outcome document should emphasize existing commitments and propose strategies for their continued attention until 2029, maintaining a comprehensive, integrated, balanced, and multidisciplinary approach. It is essential that the outcome document stresses the obligation of UN member states to adhere to international human rights law when designing and implementing drug policies. Compliance with human rights instruments is crucial for the effective implementation of the three international drug control conventions. This includes promoting equality, preventing discrimination against people who use drugs, prohibiting arbitrary arrests and detention, ensuring the right to a fair trial, and protecting against cruel and inhumane punishment. The document should conduct an assessment of successful and unsuccessful approaches, particularly considering the current peak in drug supply and demand. Flexibility in our approaches is imperative to align with international drug conventions. We advocate for continued collaboration in an inclusive, transparent, and open manner, ensuring meaningful participation from diverse stakeholders, including international and regional organizations, UN bodies, academic and scientific communities, civil society, and, where applicable, the private sector. Strengthening interagency cooperation within the UN system, as exemplified by positive initiatives like the joint UNODC and WHO program on treatment and care, should be further pursued. Additionally, the outcome document should incorporate alternative development to align with the sustainability goals of Agenda 2030, acknowledging its role in guiding international drug policy towards achieving the SDGs and effectively addressing the global drug situation. Finally, we propose designing a comprehensive multi-annual work plan alongside the outcome document, organizing intersessional meetings from 2024 to 2029. These meetings should be inclusive, transparent, and comprehensive, allowing all relevant stakeholders to contribute meaningfully to the discussions. In conclusion, the EU remains committed to supporting the Chair, the future Chair of the CND, and their team in achieving a meaningful outcome for the midterm review. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

USA: Thank you, Chair, for your exemplary leadership during the 66th session. Our gratitude extends to UNODC and the INCB for their continuous support as we gear up for the upcoming midterm review, just a few months away. We want to underscore our firm commitment to engaging all member states at the 67th CND, fostering an open dialogue to assess where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re headed. Our delegation draws key insights from the recently concluded 11 thematic discussions. Firstly, it’s evident from government, international organization, and civil society interventions that we’ve fallen short of many commitments outlined in the 2019 ministerial declaration. The challenges persist and have, in some cases, intensified or spread. This underscores the need to realign our focus, ensuring a balanced approach to both public health and security concerns as we prepare for the midterm review. On a positive note, there is a surge in energy and commitment to advancing human-centered and health-focused areas, including prevention, treatment, recovery support, harm reduction, and access to controlled substances. Numerous effective tools, such as the UNODC World Drug Report, early warning systems, and the UNDD Synthetic Drug Strategy, have been highlighted. Member states are investing more in prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, signaling a shift away from the “War on Drugs” mentality. However, these sessions have highlighted that much more needs to be done to achieve the fundamental aims of the three international drug control treaties, emphasizing the complexity of challenges and the necessity for a flexible approach. We call upon the CND to recommit to comprehensive and meaningful policies, reinforcing international cooperation through the CND and other diplomatic, public health, and law enforcement mechanisms. A shared concern emerged during these sessions—synthetic drugs pose the greatest drug-related threat to our generation. The United States urges the CND to urgently prioritize efforts to address this global threat through cooperation and emphasize this in the outcome document. We appreciate the Chair’s briefing on the midterm review and high-level segment and support the effort to collect feedback from regional groups. The United States is dedicated to ensuring the outcome document is meaningful and reflects global health and security priorities, guiding our work for the next five years. We recommend an outcome document describing 2029 goals based on the 11 pillars, addressing challenges identified in discussions, and outlining an operational pathway to realization. In conclusion, we express our commitment to collaborative efforts with member states, international organizations, and civil society to ensure the CND remains at the forefront of addressing drug-related challenges globally. Thank you, Chair.

MS: this marks my first intervention in this meeting. I am pleased to reiterate the significance of the strategic cooperative relationship between the UNODC and member states in addressing the global drug problem. The forthcoming midterm review offers an opportunity to assess actions taken since the 2016 UNGASS and its work plan, fostering substantive exchanges on future actions. Acknowledging the pandemic’s adverse impact on the world economy and global trade, we must recognize its peculiar effect on the drug trade. The illicit drug business thrives, leading to elevated rates of illicit crop cultivation and drug production, contributing to transnational crimes, corruption, and environmental degradation. Illicit drug trafficking poses a serious threat to human rights, democratic governance, and national security. It is essential to understand the economic dynamics between global drug demand and its impact on drug supply. Effective cooperative public policies and incentives must be developed, considering the principle of common and shared responsibility. External pressure from global demand significantly influences drug production in affected regions. The national anti-drug policy of my country emphasizes a balanced, comprehensive approach, respecting human rights and international drug control policies. Our focus includes addressing main cocaine production areas, improving socio-economic situations, reducing illicit drug production and trade, and mitigating drug use among vulnerable populations. In the face of the drug problem’s multifaceted dimensions, we have implemented various actions, such as establishing a legal framework for the use of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes and improving access to essential medicines for low-income individuals. As we discuss the way forward, it is crucial to move beyond political debates and focus on pragmatic and concrete solutions. We need to motivate the collective will of states and institutions to find common solutions to this persistent global challenge.

Canada: After these thematic sessions, it is evident that the world drug problem is evolving, demanding concerted efforts to catch up with the current environment. The surge in people with drug use disorder, reaching almost 40 million globally, represents an 85% increase. The shift from plant-based drugs to synthetic drugs is a significant global trend, contributing to a rising number of deaths and overdoses. The use of information and communication technologies has added complexity, with cyber-enabled drug trafficking disrupting the market. Simultaneously, technology, as demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, provides new opportunities for promoting citizen health through prevention, treatment, and recovery services. Marginalized communities, especially indigenous people, continue to be disproportionately affected, both by substance use and overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. Stigma and fear of criminalization further compound these challenges, leading to hidden drug use and increased risks, perpetuating marginalization. From these discussions, it is evident that drug policy approaches should be comprehensive, compassionate, and balanced, addressing both drug demand and supply while protecting and promoting human rights. Member states, UNODC, and INCB should consider innovative approaches to tackle emerging challenges collectively at the midterm review. Looking forward, enhanced data sharing is crucial, recognizing drug issues as a common and shared responsibility. Canada advocates for strong international cooperation, evidence-based best practices, gender-responsive policies, and respect for human rights. Existing tools like early warning systems should inform our approaches.b To reduce discrimination faced by people who use drugs, addressing substance use-related stigma is paramount. Inclusivity is vital, and Canada recommends incorporating diverse voices of those with lived experience and civil society organizations in drug policies. For the intersessional meetings (2024-2029), Canada proposes updating the list of challenges to align with developments since 2018, incorporating principles of racial justice, equality, non-discrimination, indigenous peoples’ rights, and UN guidelines on drug regulation in harmony with health, human rights, and development. The new list should align with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2024 midterm review document should integrate inputs from member states, UN agencies, the private sector, academia, and civil society. Emphasizing human rights, health, quality, and non-discrimination as overarching objectives is crucial, replacing drug eradication goals with sustainable development contributions. The document should also recognize normative developments and explicitly support harm reduction, environmental policies, evidence-based racial discrimination approaches, and alternative development principles. Ensuring meaningful engagement is vital, involving civil society, individuals with lived experience, and marginalized communities, both in-person and virtually, with proceedings publicly available. UNODC, as part of the UN task team, should collaborate with other bodies to evaluate progress since 2019, seeking contributions from all relevant stakeholders for a comprehensive review. As we anticipate the upcoming review, fruitful and collaborative discussions on the path forward are essential. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thailand: As we all know, the world drug problem continues to pose challenges to the health and safety of people worldwide, including Thailand. Acknowledging the persistent threats associated with the increasing prevalence of synthetic drugs, Thailand expresses its support for a comprehensive, integrated, multidisciplinary, evidence-based approach to drug control programs. Thailand recognizes that addressing the global drug issue is a shared responsibility and emphasizes the importance of working collaboratively, centering on the well-being of individuals and leaving no one behind. Adopting an approach that views drug addiction as an illness is critical for ensuring community safety and the welfare of its people. The Thai government has intensified efforts to reduce illegal drug activities by implementing nationwide drug prevention programs and strengthening law enforcement along targeted areas at the borders. Aligning with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Thailand is committed to embracing challenges beyond traditional crop cultivation settings. Thailand engages with the implementation of United Nations guidelines on alternative development to ensure the dignity, security, and prosperity of its people. Thank you.

Russia: Firstly, we express gratitude to the Chair of the 66th session for guiding us toward the midterm review. The session skillfully fixed the main parameters of this important event and conducted a comprehensive stocktaking of the implementation of existing drug policy commitments, showcasing skilled leadership and impartiality with equal attention to diverse national views. This legacy lays a solid foundation for the successful midterm review. We fully support the roadmap presented by His Excellency Ambassador Johnson for drafting the outcome document and its main messages. The Russian delegation believes that the midterm review is not intended to renegotiate existing drug policy commitments, which have been formulated and extended until 2029. Our main task in 2024 is to assess progress, identify gaps, and redouble efforts for practical action. The key preconditions for accelerated implementation include the political will of member states, official resources, effective international cooperation, and robust capacity building provided by UNODC, with primary attention to the needs of beneficiary countries. We advocate for the inclusion of children and youth in the outcome document, as they are particularly vulnerable to drug initiation and illicit activities. The document should be balanced, addressing both supply reduction and demand reduction, with a focus on international cooperation. To turn commitments into practical measures, we support Ambassador Johnson’s initiative “Pledge for Action” and seek clarification on whether one country can make pledges in several areas. Thank you for your attention.

Japan: The fight against the illicit drug problem is a crucial initiative for ensuring public safety, preventing health hazards, and combating criminal organizations. Member states have implemented diverse measures to address the global drug problem, emphasizing the need to tackle both the supply and demand sides of the issue. On the supply side, there are emerging threats such as the expansion of synthetic drugs, the use of social networking services, encrypted messages, and cryptocurrencies. These developments contribute to sophisticated and anonymous drug trafficking, posing challenges for law enforcement agencies in each member state. To effectively counter these threats, member states must actively share national experiences, best practices, and strategies—both successful and less effective. Additionally, leveraging innovative technology, including artificial intelligence, becomes crucial to address human resource shortages in many countries, including Japan. Cooperation and capacity building at regional and international levels are imperative due to the transnational nature of illicit drug trafficking. Ensuring access to prevention and treatment services globally is essential, with a particular emphasis on drug prevention for children and youth, recognizing their vulnerability to influence and the importance of healthy development. Japan looks forward to making a meaningful contribution to the upcoming discussions in 2021.

Brazil: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I want to congratulate you for your excellent leadership in this process. It’s clear that the midterm review should not be politicized, and we should focus on implementation. We should aim for a balanced approach to the challenges of the world drug problem, addressing both supply and demand aspects. Brazil will pay particular attention to the social effects of the drug problem, including factors such as deforestation, high transmission of diseases among people who use drugs (including HIV and hepatitis C), stigma and discrimination, harm reduction policies, and the compatibility of our work with human rights and short-term development. Thank you.

Singapore: Thank you, Chair, for your leadership in the brainstorming meetings leading up to the midterm review. Recognizing the critical time in our efforts to combat the world drug problem, Singapore notes the worsening and increasing complexity of the issue, with different perspectives on effective approaches. As discussions move forward on the midterm review and drug policy for the next five years, Singapore emphasizes the need for a balanced discourse grounded in evidence. It calls for continued engagement among member states and civil society, including those with differing views, to find areas for collaborative action. The outcome should reflect a consensus among member states on achievements, commitments, and opportunities for tackling the world drug problem. Singapore stands ready to contribute fully to the midterm review and beyond in 2024. Thank you, Chair.

Ecuador: Thank you to the Secretariat for the presentation of the midterm review and the next steps that we have to follow. For Ecuador, international cooperation is crucial in these negotiations and in the process of the midterm review. International cooperation must be a cross-cutting theme that addresses all the areas under discussion, as we recognize that solving a global problem requires a comprehensive approach. Ecuador supports an approach where human beings are at the center of organizations, and the dimension of security is vital for our country, given the societal problems and violence linked to drug trafficking. Discussions should be evidence-based, and the high-level session outcomes need to be concise and action-oriented. Ecuador supports more ambitious results, including regular stocktaking of the process, acknowledging that practical resources and a basis in the principle of solidarity and international cooperation are essential. We are committed to contributing to the midterm review and promoting equality in this process. Thank you.

MS: We reiterate our strong urging for members to uphold the UN conventions, the cornerstone of the international drug control system, and appreciate the work done in this regard. The alarming current developments related to the world drug problem represent a global drug crisis. In the upcoming midterm review, we aim to identify commonalities with concerned states and are confident in reaching consensus on the outcome document. We urge member states to set ambitious goals beyond reducing harms related to drug abuse and address the root causes of the world drug problem through concerted international action. It is crucial to ensure the availability, affordability, and accessibility of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes while preventing diversion, trafficking, and abuse. Responding to challenges posed by increasing interlinkages in drug trafficking is urgent, and achieving consensus remains the ultimate objective. We appreciate Ambassador Johnson’s interesting initiative. Thank you.

South Africa: The current global drug situation, particularly within Africa, demands urgent attention. The rising number of individuals living with HIV and hepatitis C underscores the gravity of the situation. The upcoming midterm review in March 2024 offers member states a timely opportunity to assess progress and determine the way forward, translating our discussions into practical action, as reiterated by several delegations. It is imperative to recognize that the challenges posed by the drug situation affect not only specific countries but also middle-income and low-income nations. Given the interconnected nature of these challenges, a unified yet differentiated and shared responsibility approach is necessary. As we chart the way forward, collaboration among all states and stakeholders, with a particular emphasis on enhancing regional efforts, is critical, as highlighted in today’s presentations. We advocate for a people-centered approach that leaves no patient behind, echoing the sentiments expressed by Dr. Galla in his statement earlier today. A globally oriented strategy, encompassing a spectrum of treatments from rehabilitation to harm reduction when needed, is essential. Africa, in particular, demands careful consideration regarding the availability, accessibility, and affordability of medicines for pain relief, emphasizing our commitment to alleviating the suffering of our people while upholding global standards. As we strive to address the world drug problem, we must be proactive and balanced in our approach, ensuring that our actions do not exacerbate challenges and hinder individuals’ access to a healthy socioeconomic life. Taking an evidence-based approach is crucial in tackling the complex issues at hand. South Africa looks forward to contributing constructively to the upcoming midterm review. Thank you very much.

Colombia: Ladies and gentlemen, It is essential to stress that international drug conventions need to be adapted to the evolving world. Our commitments, as evidenced in the intersessional meetings, have fallen short, not just in controlling drug production and consumption but also in regulating the market for controlled substances used for medical purposes. Colombia can no longer wait for the world to acknowledge the failure of a drug regime that disproportionately burdens us. International organized crime persists in Colombia, as we give oxygen to communities involved in coca cultivation. Our efforts have resulted in significant achievements, and I’d like to share some figures from November 1st: 699 cocaine laboratories, 950 tons of coca leaf, 378 tons of cannabis, and the destruction of 4,800 coca base labs. However, this progress comes at a cost, with 79 soldiers losing their lives. Our belief is that national drug policies must be people-centered with a human rights approach. Colombia supports making this a part of the policy debate on the national drug policy agenda. The cultivation of coca bushes and aerial eradication has led to significant environmental damage in Colombia, the second most biodiverse country globally. Colombia emphasizes the need to integrate drug policy with development policies under the Sustainable Development Goals agenda. We have spent $76 billion in the past two decades on drug policy, but alternatives development alone will not solve the global drug issue. As the world moves towards drug regulation, harm reduction becomes crucial. Colombia calls for an outcome document that takes stock of the advances since 2016, prioritizes human rights and the right to health, adheres to scientific evidence, and acknowledges harm reduction as the best alternative. Colombia insists on using language in the document that aligns with agreed principles. As we approach the midterm review, let’s not oversimplify the principles that bind us but fill them with content adjusted to the times. In conclusion, the roots of natural drugs are in the rural world, represented by peasants who should not be seen as a burden but as individuals contributing to impactful change. Let us work together for a better future. Thank you. 

Australia: In our discussions, we have identified challenges, barriers, and significant gaps, particularly in dealing with opioids, synthetic drugs, and new psychoactive substances, fueling a global overdose crisis. It is imperative that we equip ourselves to proactively address these challenges, drawing on expertise, lessons learned, and best practices. The progress made by member states, international organizations, and civil society in implementing measures is promising. The focus now should not be to forget or move on from the challenges but to renew our energy and commitment in addressing them. In shaping our responses, we must ensure cooperative balancing, with a focus on demand support, harm reduction policies, and equitable access to prevention services. Key actions include coordinating public health and other services, promoting initiatives that prevent and reduce drug-related overdoses, building capacity for law enforcement and scientific experts, and advocating for greater access to controlled medicines while preventing their diversion. Strengthening human rights approaches to drug policy, reducing stigma, and actively working towards global hepatitis elimination targets are essential components. Collaboration, coordination, and information sharing are crucial. Australia is committed to working constructively with partners to refine the outcomes of the midterm review, establishing a strong foundation for collective action. We look forward to continued collaboration to address all aspects of the global drug situation effectively.

VNOGC: Thank you, Chairman. As the chair of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs, representing nearly 400 organizations engaged in drug-related issues across 100 countries, I’m honored to address the 2024 midterm review. Through collaborations, including with the New York NGO Committee on Drugs, we have gathered insights from over 200 locations in Africa, online globally, and upcoming consultations in Europe and America. The key points from these consultations, summarized in a consolidated report, will contribute to the preparations for the midterm review. Here are some highlights: Inclusive Participation: We emphasize the involvement of member states, UN agencies, and affected communities such as people who use drugs, indigenous people, racial minorities, women, workers, youth, and key populations in all drug policy processes—from design to implementation and evaluation.  Human Rights-Based Approach: We advocate for a human rights-based, non-punitive approach to drug policies, promoting access to person-centered services across all settings, including marginalized communities and prisons. Barriers Removal: We call on member states to eliminate barriers to accessing evidence-based prevention, harm reduction, treatment, recovery, and HIV/hepatitis services, particularly post-COVID. Addressing the intersection of substance use and mental health is critical at all policy and intervention levels. Essential Medicines: There is a strong call for improved access to and availability of essential medicines. Data Strengthening: Member states are urged to enhance data collection and build the capacity of key stakeholders, especially in regions and services where data remains insufficient. Investment in Interventions: Increased investment in evidence-based interventions, acknowledgment of civil society efforts and expertise, and enhanced education and training programs for professionals in drug policy are emphasized. Updating Challenges: Beyond existing challenges, civil society organizations propose updating the challenges list, adding indicators in areas like prevention, recovery, and public health. Importantly, this updated list should align with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and UN goals. We appreciate your attention and look forward to further discussions. Thank you.

IDPC: Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, esteemed civil society colleagues, I present a statement on behalf of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), a global network comprising 190 NGOs from 75 countries united by a mission grounded in human rights and social justice. Firstly, I express gratitude for your ongoing commitment to engaging civil society in this forum. Civil society holds a pivotal role in bringing evidence, lived experiences, and the reality of policy impacts to these discussions. Member states and UN bodies bear the responsibility to earnestly heed the evidence and realities shared by civil society and affected communities, prompting reflection on reforming a global system that has evidently fallen short. Yesterday, IDPC launched a shadow report assessing the progress made by the international community in addressing the 12 challenges identified in the 2019 ministerial declaration, drawing on data from governments, civil society, and academia. The sobering conclusion is that little to no progress has been made, and the situation remains grave, echoing sentiments expressed by several member state delegations in this session. Despite substantial expenditures on enforcement, the illegal market thrives, and militarized responses fuel violence and conflict. Drug-related deaths persist at historical highs due to a deadly toxic and unpredictable drug supply. Access to harm reduction treatment and support services falls significantly short of what is needed. Our report also highlights that human rights impacts have either worsened or remained unchanged globally. On a positive note, some jurisdictions have adopted reforms such as decriminalization and alternatives to punishment. The number of countries adopting harm reduction approaches has increased. Given this situation, the international community must use the midterm review as a pivotal moment to reflect upon, review, and reform the global drug control regime. Our report provides detailed recommendations, and today I will focus on three key points:

  1. Move away from a punishment-based paradigm, establishing a multi-stakeholder initiative to explore reviewing UN drug control treaties to modernize and align them with health, human rights, or development obligations.
  2. Acknowledge legal regulation as a reality, urging UN agencies to provide guidance on its implementation in alignment with health, human rights, development, environmental, and social justice concerns.
  3. For the midterm review, welcome the landmark report of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, incorporating new language on human rights, racial justice, indigenous peoples’ rights, and harm reduction in the debate and outcome document.

In conclusion, the CND must align with the evolving realities of the world drug situation reflected in historical drug policy resolutions. A reconsideration of consensus-based policy might be necessary to truly protect the health and welfare of humankind. The IDPC shadow report is available on our website www.idpc.net. We welcome questions, comments, and dialogue on its findings. Thank you for your consideration.

VNOGC // African Network of People Who Use Drugs:  I represent a community deeply affected by drug policy in Africa and beyond. I ask for your patience as I share our perspective. As we discuss drug policy and reforms, it’s crucial to remember that we, as people who use drugs, are human beings first. Any policy designed for us should involve our input. We, as people who use drugs in Africa and part of the International Network of People who Use Drugs, are dedicated to engaging in this conversation. We hope for the elevation of harm reduction and for our voices to be genuinely heard in decision-making processes. We are committed to contributing constructively to the discourse and to the Ministerial Declaration of 2009. As members of IBC, we strive to ensure that all policies are humane and consider the risks we face. Many of us have succumbed to overdoses, and Africa lacks the necessary labs to test the purity and impurities of drugs like heroin, cocaine, and crack. I urge all delegates and ambassadors to consider the voices of people who use drugs in Africa and globally. Prohibition has harmed us more than it has helped, leading to deaths and violence against women who use drugs. We seek collaboration to design policies that include us as active participants, echoing the principle “nothing for us, without us” from the Vancouver Declaration in 2006. Our commitment is to support the cause, emphasizing that our voices should not only be heard but also incorporated into policies that prioritize human and user-friendly approaches, promoting the health and social well-being of people who use drugs in Africa and worldwide.

Chair: (…) Meeting adjourned.

 

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