CND Intersessional Meeting

Chair: First and foremost, I would like to welcome you to the first intersessional meeting of a CND during this ssession. To start, I want to ensure that we’re aligned on the significant matters we’ve encountered, particularly regarding the outcome document. First of all though, the floor is the Secretariat’s.

Secretariat:  Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good afternoon, everyone. I’ll keep this brief, especially for those joining us online. If you’d like to participate, please use the meeting chat rather than raising your hand. This helps us avoid overlooking anyone in the video chat. Now, let’s move on to the agenda. The meeting invitation, sent on January 17, 2020, outlined a professional agenda for today’s discussion.

Chair: (…) During the session held on December 7th, 2023, the International Narcotics Control Board presented recommendations regarding the United Nations Convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances of 1988. INCB delivered a presentation on these recommendations and proposed adding certain substances to the convention’s tables.. Additionally, six additional substances of citric acid (?) were suggested. During the discussion, some speakers sought clarification on the methods used by the INCB to gather information on substance use and seizures. The INCB observer provided an oral response. The Secretariat also circulated a written response from the INCB to all permanent missions.Now I give the floor to the chief of the agency to provide further clarification on the recommendations.

(recommendations as per E/CN.7/2023/CRP.19 and E/CN.7/2023/CRP.20)

INCB: It feels much like a Friday afternoon chemistry class, and I’m delighted to see so many of you attending. As Ambassador Johnson mentioned, we’ll be providing updates based on the questions raised during the reconvened session last year. Firstly, let’s provide some background by reviewing the scheduling decisions made over the past decade. In total, over the last 10 years, there have been 10 substances recommended and scheduled. Among these, seven were considered designer precursors with no known legitimate uses. Now, let’s discuss the proposed substances and their timeline. On June 16th, notifications were sent for nine amphetamine and methamphetamine precursors, including P2P methyl glycidic acid and esters. It’s worth noting that two substances were already scheduled in the 1980s convention related to these groups. During the reconvened session, many countries inquired about the methodology applied by the INCB to these recommendations, particularly regarding the responses to questionnaires. We’ve included data from the last decade to illustrate the consistency of responses received. Moving on to specific substances, let’s first address the amphetamine and methamphetamine precursors. Seizures have been reported for some substances, indicating their illicit use. For these substances, individual voting would be required for scheduling. Similarly, for MDMA precursors, seizures have been reported, and individual voting would be necessary for scheduling. Both recommendations reference resolution 65/3 of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which supports the approach to scheduling these substances. Regarding Paragon and its salts and one bulk for preparation, seizures have been reported, and scheduling would involve adding them as individual substances alphabetically. In conclusion, we’ve addressed most of the issues raised during the reconvened session last year. Thank you.

Chair: Thank you. Now I open the floor.

Pakistan: Thank you, Chair, for granting me the opportunity to interact and seek further clarification from the INCB. I’d like to express our gratitude to you and the Secretariat for facilitating this meeting and providing us with the chance to engage directly with the INCB. Additionally, I appreciate the comprehensive written input shared by INCB regarding discretion in recommendations for substances. We have carefully reviewed that document, as we are aware that Article 12, paragraph 4 of the 1988 convention outlines the conditions for assessment of chemicals for possible international control. These conditions stipulate that the substance should be frequently used in the illicit manufacturing of narcotics drugs or psychotropic substances, and the volume and extent of such illicit manufacturing creates serious public health or social problems justifying international action. The entity’s assessment is subject to these conditions. In the current context, the entity has indicated that only five or six substances may fulfill the criteria of evidence of misuse, while the remaining protein substances are recommended as closely related substances in accordance with the CMBS resolution. Therefore, while understanding the well-intended objective to proactively address issues related to illicit drugs, we’re discussing recommendations for the 13 substances without fulfilling the criteria as specified in the 1988 Convention and relying solely on the resolution. This raises a legal question. In that regard, could the INCB kindly elaborate if they have any legal opinion in this regard that could be shared with the member states? This would aid our objective assessment and informed decision-making during these discussions. Thank you for your attention.

INCB: What triggered this move is that we have received comments regarding the substance to be scheduled. But as we need to have a notification the substances to be classified to be scheduled ((inaudible)) notifications were done on June July. So are they going to be a new notification regarding the substance to be voted on.

Australia: We recognize the problem of designer drugs and how clandestine criminal organizations can tweak the chemistry, jumping to another related drug when something is made illegal. Our goal is to prevent this from happening here. So, we strongly support the question: Is this a matter of catching up? Will it decrease over time, or is this the new normal? Will we see lots of these listings every year? Thank you.

Russia: Thank you, Chair. We appreciate the INCB Secretariat for providing detailed information, both orally and in writing. Generally, our country has responded to the questionnaires. There is no legitimate use or excessive presence of the aforementioned substances in the Russian Federation, nor is there any information about seizures. This raises a question about how these provisions correlate with Article 12 of the 1988 Convention. Despite being considered as precursors for producing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, there is no evidence regarding seizures. Therefore, our support in this situation considers the CND resolution as the primary guidance for action. Moreover, we understand that the CND resolution does not specifically request the board to produce recommendations for scheduling, so it’s more a matter of principle. Thank you.

INCB: Thank you both for your questions and comments. Let’s address the last question first, focusing on the new information regarding seizures. This ties in with many of the queries raised by other delegates as well. To understand why this proposal was made, we need to look at how these substances came to INCB’s attention. In 2019, some acidic substances were already under international control, resulting in a drop in seizures of those substances. However, new substances like the ethyl ester emerged, indicating that illicit chemists found ways to evade controls. Alongside this, we noticed illicit chemists using p2p and (some kind of) acid for amphetamine methamphetamine production. This highlights a real threat as traffickers adapt their methods to evade controls. Without international control, governments struggle to prevent their movement across borders or even seize them nationally. This proposal aligns with the call from the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to identify groups of substances targeted for illicit manufacture. Tracking the notifications sent out in detail all 16 substances and the two fentanyl precursors, there’s no need for additional notifications from INCB. Despite Article 12, paragraph four requiring evidence, the commission must decide based on a proven threat. Since the notifications, we’ve seen another substance cluster seized, confirming the ongoing threat. It’s now up to the commission to decide whether to include these substances, but the evidence of their targeting is solid. Regarding Australia’s question, we often see a drop-off in substance use after scheduling, but if we don’t schedule them, chemists continue using unscheduled chemicals. So, while the evidence is consistent, the decision lies with the commission. Now, I yield the floor.

EU: Mr. Chair, thank you for the explanations provided by Mark. The clarifications offered in response to some questions were indeed helpful. I want to express our delegation’s support for this approach, which we’ve advocated for some time. Sometimes, we even call for bolder approaches because we recognize the need to catch up with designer precursors. We need to get ahead of the game again. Thank you for the informative session. We fully support this. Thank you.

Pakistan: Thank you, Chair, for allowing me to speak again. I apologize for the need to clarify further. The Secretariat’s response made it clear that substances without evidence of seizures do not meet the convention’s criteria. Our concern lies in whether it’s the convention or the resolution that should guide us. We seek clarification on this. If it’s unavailable, perhaps INCB could convene an expert group meeting for better assessment. We need more information to make informed decisions. Thank you.

Mexico: We believe that conventions should be interpreted in their entirety, rather than focusing solely on specific articles. We don’t see any challenge to the convention, considering that the board is mandated to make recommendations to the commission, and decisions are made accordingly. While the convention mentions that parties can request permission on upcoming issues, the Secretariat’s attention to national communication doesn’t preclude the possibility of making such a call for action. Therefore, we don’t perceive any breach here. We suggest that the Secretariat produce a leaflet to precisely explain the basis for their suggested approach, as it’s a pertinent and challenging question. This could help address concerns about efficient decision-making processes.

Spain: I have a question to confirm whether the resolutions that serve as a basis for this situation were adopted without any complaints or requests for voting from any country. If they were indeed agreed upon, does the CND also agree with these resolutions? Thank you.

Chair: Any further questions on this agenda item? I see none. I’ll now give the floor for final remarks.

INCB: Let’s move on to the future, addressing Spain’s question first. Firstly, the resolution was adopted without opposition, passed by consensus, as is the usual format for CND. Returning to the question about the legal opinion, if we adhere strictly to the convention’s wording, the decision wouldn’t meet the criteria of Article 12. However, the commission has requested an examination of other criteria as well. Thus, the ball is back in the member states’ court to decide how to approach this issue.

Chair: Let’s commence deliberations on today’s intersessional meeting agenda item and organization arrangements for the high-level segments. I believe the details won’t be necessary for those who attended the previous session, but a briefing may refresh memories on the collective decisions we aim to achieve. The Commission adopted resolution 66, which has been reiterated. Now, the midterm review will be conducted, and a high-level segment is planned for 2020, lasting two days. In addition to the scheduled workflow, there will be roundtables to discuss implementation and determine the way forward, in line with the ministerial declaration of 2018. During the high-level segment, there will be a general debate and interactive stakeholder roundtables. The composition of speakers and order is as shown. High-level representatives will set the tone for the segment’s purpose, followed by consultations with member states. It’s crucial for member states to engage realistically and pragmatically in achievable goals. The pledge for action initiative allows for specific thematic commitments beyond existing ones, encouraging joint initiatives and financial support. Member states interested in making pledges must inform the Secretariat by February 2024. These pledges will be made during the general debate of the high-level segment, followed by a visual confirmation. The commitment extends beyond March, with opportunities for follow-up and joint initiatives.In conclusion, the focus remains on assessing progress and accelerating implementation of existing commitments. Let’s work together to ensure a concise, action-oriented outcome document, focusing on cross-cutting issues. The door remains open for new resolutions and initiatives. Let’s proceed with realistic expectations and commitment to achieving results. Thank you

Secretariat:  Let me provide some updates. Firstly, during the regular session, we shared an advanced version of the biannual report by the executive director, detailing the implementation of commitments. Now, we have the final version ready, based on the information gathered through the ARQs. This will be available alongside other session documentation. Additionally, Ambassador Blanco’s summaries of the dynamic discussions held in October and December will also be accessible on the website. You’ll find a wealth of past documentation there as well. I won’t repeat what’s already been said. Mr. Pastor, we appreciate all the support in involving stakeholders, in line with resolution 66. Lastly, as the Secretariat, we aim to promote our work to a wider audience. Please check out our social media channels for expert insights and short videos. We’ll continue to utilize various communication channels to share information about upcoming events, such as the high-level segment and your pledge for action initiative. Thank you.

Chair: Secretary, I always prefer that Egypt is on the other side or closer to the Pakistan seats. When the two of them come together this week, the force and the pressure that I experienced here is not very interesting (sic). Now that Iran has moved to that direction it’s quite a strong force, you know, so Iran, this time sitting here, I’d like to remind you, again that more details can be found on the website. Thank you for your attention, and I look forward to your support and engagement. The floor is now open.

Sudan:  Firstly, I want to express my appreciation for your leadership and dedication. Your initiatives, especially the short-term commitments, have our full support. Secondly, I urge everyone in this role to cooperate to the maximum extent possible in the coming weeks. We need to finalize outcome documents for the midterm review and resolutions, relying on significant contributions from all parties, especially in supporting places, countries, and capacities in combating the drug problem. Regarding our commitment, we have received all the necessary work from the government, and our embassy is fully dedicated to ensuring its success. Your Excellency, your words are always eloquent and sincere. I believe everyone here listens to you with great respect. Let’s work together to achieve the consensus we need for our shared responsibility. Thank you so much.

Australia: Thank you, Mr. Chair, for outlining the process in such detail. It’s very useful for us. I just have a couple of questions about the pledge. Firstly, will the Secretariat provide the building blocks, or do we need to bring our own? And secondly, I think it’s good that there will be PR opportunities to pose for photos with the pledges and stuff, but will there be a record of the pledges? Will there be a website or a published document with all the pledges so that it’s not just temporary but has a greater lifespan?

Egypt: Thank you, Chair, for the presentation on the organization format of high-level segments. If we could go back to the slide regarding the introductory statements, please. In the presentation, we’ll find that the introductory statements are going to be made by the Secretary-General and the Executive Director of the UNODC, the President of the INCB, and the Director of the WHO, followed by representatives of the scientific community and youth and civil society. Chair, if we can go back to Resolution 66/1, the last one, okay, over here in 3B, Roman. It’s after the introductory statements. After the introductory statements made by the Secretary-General, the Executive Director of the UNODC, the President of the INCB, and the Director of the WHO, the floor would be given to the high-level representatives of the member states. So I think here, in the introductory statements, after that should go to the high-level representatives, and then the heads of entities of the UN, and then the intergovernmental organization and non-governmental organizations. I think this is what we agreed upon in Resolution 66/1, but I just want clarification about the opening representatives of scientific certainty. Is it in the right place or what? Just seeking some clarification about this issue because I think we didn’t agree on it.

Chair: … and that is why I told you to be sitting where you are sitting.

Czechia: Thank you for giving me the floor. Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for this very concise and comprehensive presentation. I have just one practical question regarding the high-level roundtables. I understand that it’s supposed to be at the ministerial level, but what happens if a member state nominates a minister and then, as we know, ministers sometimes cancel last minute? Can the delegation send someone else from the same delegation who is not a minister, or is that something that needs to be addressed within the regional group or are there specific rules for that?

Secretariat: So, to address the first question from Czechia, if all of a sudden there is a change, who will be the head of delegation for the general assembly? It makes a difference, because if a minister cannot attend, then you will be given the available slot on the day itself. As for the roundtable discussions, past practice has shown a mixture of delegations with high-level delegates, including ministers, and others sending different representatives. Ultimately, the decision on panelists nominated is up to the regional group, not the Secretariat. Regarding high-level events, considering the limited availability of slots, it’s fair to everyone if the minister’s absence results in another representative participating. It’s important to ensure that the events are well-attended. We don’t want delegations to feel bad about not having their ministers present, so having other countries support in the absence of a minister could be an option to address this issue.

Chair: We don’t want delegations to feel disappointed if their ministers can’t attend, as it’s important to have key representatives present. If a minister is unable to come, it would be helpful to have support from other countries. For instance, if Ghana, Sudan, and Egypt could participate, it would be appreciated. We hope for understanding in this matter, as it would be beneficial if the Egyptian minister could attend, rather than having all 444 ministers present. This way, we can ensure that important events have strong participation, which could also help resolve Turkish-Egyptian concerns.

Secretariat: Thank you. As mentioned earlier, this presentation follows the same format as those shown in October and December. The details were discussed and agreed upon during the extended Bureau session, as well as during the reconvened meeting. It aligns with the organizational arrangements outlined in 2014 and 2019, including brief statements from representatives of participating entities such as the scientific forum and the Vienna NGO committee during the ceremonial opening. This approach has been consistent with past events and was confirmed during discussions in both the extended Bureau and the commission itself. I hope this clarifies that there are no new developments, and we are simply following established practices. Thank you.

Member State: I believe that we have to submit the name of our head of delegations in order to be in the drawing of blocks on the 29th Does this apply to for the representatives of the regional groups do they have to submit by the 22nd would like to speak and another question is if member states which are not the usual five un regional groups who would like to speak as well?

Australia: Chair, just a reminder that I am awaiting answers to my questions.

Chair: Your questions were too simple so they got forgotten. We will collect the questions first and then the Secretariat will deal with it.

Egypt: My question was simple: during the discussion of the modalities or resolutions, it wasn’t explicitly stated that every state, or even the Secretary, or even the Chair, should follow this particular notion. While this issue was discussed, it wasn’t clearly addressed in the modalities or resolutions. I just wanted to highlight this discrepancy, acknowledging the discussions that took place. However, we did agree on the format as per CND Resolution 66/1. So, if the past practice was in 2019 and 2014, we may consider what will happen.

Chair: Regarding the approach taken, flexibility, as advised by the Chair, was the approach taken. However, we utilized the guidance of Resolution 66/1, which is not as flexible as an accordion. While I’ve consistently emphasized this guidance, there are occasions where adjustments must be made. Let’s ensure we all agree on the way forward.

Secretariat: I apologize for any confusion. There’s no need to bring the block with the flag of the country; we will take care of this. However, to facilitate arrangements during the day and ensure the blocks are in the right order, we kindly ask everybody to inform us by the first of March if they will be making a pledge. This will allow us to take care of the logistics. Rest assured, we will ensure that everyone has a block. Additionally, we echo the sentiment expressed by the Chair that it would be very beneficial for the commission if many member states participate in this initiative. And what was the other question? Records? Will there be a photo taken? Will it be made available on the event website? The Chair expressed a desire for the pledges to accompany the commission during the period 2024 to 2003. So, we will ensure this facility is provided. Additionally, the blocks will remain available as a reminder of all the pledges.

Chair: We eagerly await the Australian pledges, which are anticipated to be significant.

Egypt: It’s crucial that we address persistent issues rather than treat them as trends. Cherry-picking parts of resolutions can indeed be problematic. Your statement was clear, and it’s significant that it wasn’t addressed in resolution 66/1. Your input will certainly be considered in our negotiations going forward.

Netherlands: Upon reviewing resolution 66/1, it appears that it aligns with our previous decisions. The resolution outlines introductory statements followed by national statements, which are distinct categories as presented. This structure is consistent with the practices and decisions made during the session and extended period Bureau. Therefore, I believe deviating from this approach would not only contradict previous decisions but also the resolution we agreed upon last year.

Chair: (…) Egypt…? Do you have a new question? Do you insist on taking the floor?

Egypt: … about the introductory remarks…

Chair: (cutting Egypt off) … so Egypt aims to provide transparent clarity on our remarks to ensure there is no ambiguity. If there are any points that need clarification, please let us know, and we will address them promptly. Now, the floor is yours.

EU: The question raised by Thailand needs addressing, and I believe there’s no contradiction with the terms outlined in the resolution. Furthermore, we have always adhered to the established practice from 2019 and 2014. Deviating from this now would create systemic issues. I fully support your approach, and I’ll refrain from further elaboration as this discussion has already consumed considerable time. Thank you.

Member State: …about the deadline for submitting explanation about medications. I am just wondering whether we need to do the same for regional groups and also the non usual five regional groups.

Secretariat: So the meeting will be conducted in a manner consistent with the norms of the commission. Typically, the five regional groups, namely the Group of 77 and China, GRULAC, the Asia-Pacific Group, the Africa Group, and the Eastern European Group, along with others, will have the opportunity to speak at the outset. These groups, often referred to as “copes,” will provide their statements before individual interventions. Unlike the countries participating in the green fields, these groups are not required to submit information by the 22nd of February.

Singapore: So regarding time, I’m just wondering, in the high level segment, is there a provision for a grouping like that to speak or would they simply be speaking in the capacity of the country who is delivering that statement in that speaking order, or would they come individually?

Secretariat: So, in recent years, the country holding the presidency of a specific group typically integrates their group’s statement into their national statement when addressing the commission. For example, if the ICR were delivering a statement on behalf of ASEAN, they would incorporate it into their national statement. This process aligns with the established practice regarding speaking at the beginning.

Iraq – Chair (cutting off MS): Every member state has the right to ask questions and speak, as this process is member-driven. However, when there’s an issue likely to create divergent opinions and become contentious, it’s my responsibility to resolve it. I want to make it clear that I don’t expect everyone to agree, but I’m making efforts to ensure this matter doesn’t escalate. Please allow me to handle the issue. You have the right to speak, but I want to emphasize the importance of coming together to resolve issues. My goal is to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control. I’m not trying to silence anyone; I want to find a resolution. If we can’t resolve it, then we can’t.

Iraq:One point I’d like to address is that we’re here as experts to engage in constructive dialogue, not simply to argue back and forth. While it’s true, as you mentioned, that this doesn’t contradict what we agreed upon in resolution 66/1, it also doesn’t align with our established practice, which remains valid until we reach a new consensus. I wanted to highlight these key considerations. We need to find a way to resolve this issue without marginalizing those with differing perspectives.

Ghana: (inaudible)

Egypt: Back to the introductory remarks. The Secretary has clarified that this has been a common practice since 2014. However, it’s important to note that this practice wasn’t explicitly written in resolution 66/1. So, for colleagues who argue that it’s obvious or implied, I would suggest a careful review. I’m not looking to reopen the discussion on the modalities resolution, but I do want to emphasize this point and seek clarification for any lingering concerns or criticisms.

Chair: In resolution 66/1, I also highlighted the aspect of established practice, as was the case in 2014. We, as human beings, can be rigorous in our approach. If something in a document seems inconsistent with past practice, the bureau consistently works to resolve it. I urge you to trust those leading the process to manage any discrepancies that arise. My aim is to ensure that we handle any deviations from the norm appropriately. Everyone has the right to voice their concerns, but reopening this discussion now could lead to division and loss of control. Let’s not retracing. If you need further clarification, feel free to approach me or others involved. Only a handful of individuals have raised this issue, and I’m willing to provide more details on how we arrived at our decision. At the same time, I ask you to trust.

Egypt: Chair, I’d like to address the recent clarification, which unfortunately turned into an argument, though I’m unsure why. It was a simple request for clarification to the secretary, and they responded affirmatively. We didn’t make any further comments or indicate any intention to take action. It’s worth noting that in Resolution 66/1, the matter wasn’t as clear, but now it seems clearer to us after the secretary’s explanation. We sought clarification, not to reopen the discussion or engage in debate, but simply to ensure clarity on the issue. As members, it’s our right to seek guidance and understand past practices. Our aim was not to exacerbate the problem but to gain  clarity.

Singapore: I asked this question, but I apologize. I forgot to ask when the group statement is being made, what would the time limit be? Would it be a five plus five for the National statement would that be added on because it is quite important for us to know at this point.

Secretary: In the past, there has been some flexibility regarding speaking time for the chair, particularly as the CND doesn’t encompass as broad a range of regional groups as some other bodies do. However, there is flexibility in allowing parts of the national statement to be spoken on behalf of a group of countries during the national statement. I hope this clarification helps to ease any concerns or questions. If there are any further inquiries, please feel free to ask.

Netherlands: I just want to thank my colleagues for the very clear explanations – especially Egypt and the Secretariat.

Secretariat: Thank you very much. I’m aware that many of those present here also participated in the interactive dialogue with the Executive Director, which was initiated by a question from the Africa Group seeking clarification on the liquidity crisis. Both Mrs. Worry and Mr. Dennis, Director for Management, explained the severity of the liquidity crisis, highlighting that the allotments received by the Secretariat thus far have been much lower than usual, necessitating cost-saving measures. Traditionally, 53 Member States of the Commission have received financial support for travel, primarily covering plane and train tickets, ensuring that delegations without the means to participate can do so. This support was never intended for all 53 members, but rather for those who require assistance. However, it’s worth noting that an increasing number of Commission members have been requesting this assistance. Under normal circumstances, travel exceeding nine hours is entitled to a higher class, but due to financial constraints, we are compelled to provide only economy class travel for those among the 53 requesting assistance. This decision stems from the current financial limitations, as we simply lack the funds to accommodate higher-class travel. I appreciate your understanding and support in this matter, and I hope this clarification addresses any concerns raised following yesterday’s discussion. Additionally, I’d like to draw attention to the briefing on digital services conducted by my colleagues yesterday. During this briefing, detailed information was provided regarding registration on the CB gifts list, the journal, and the new module for tabling and updating resolutions. This information has been circulated in a specialized manner, and our team remains available to assist with any further inquiries regarding these digital services. Once again, thank you for your attention, and we encourage all delegations to make use of these digital resources for smoother and more efficient proceedings.

Chair: Thank you for your participation, everyone. See you soon. Meeting adjourned.

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