Home » Round Table 2 – The Way Forward: The Road to 2029

Round Table 2 – The Way Forward: The Road to 2029

Germany/Chair: Hello, welcome to our discussion regarding the way forward in advancing the implementation of all international drug policy commitments in light of the 2029 finally view of certain 2019 Ministerial Declaration in accordance with CND Resolution 66 Adopted by the Commission last March, this roundtable will consist of panel interventions followed by an interactive discussion. I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to our panelists.

Slovenia/Vice-Chair: I have just moderated a side event focused on prevention, which I hope will become a part of our future endeavors. For the interactive discussion, we do not have a predetermined list of speakers. Instead, participants can indicate their desire to speak by raising their nameplate. I will grant the floor to speakers in accordance with standard procedures and practices, as well as the flow of the discussion. Attendees are welcome to either comment on the topic or pose questions to the panelists. Additionally, my colleague will summarize the key points and provide these summaries to the plenary session. Please note that these summaries will not be open for negotiation

UNODC: Yesterday, we reflected on the progress made in addressing and countering the numerous challenges related to drugs. Today, I am prepared to share some insights on how our partnerships and the progress we have achieved thus far can aid the international community in moving forward. In recent years, the World Drug Problem (WDP) has evolved into a dynamic phenomenon. Its impact on individuals has been profound, affecting not only the right to health but also undermining security and development. Synthetic drugs, in particular, are potent, inexpensive, easy to produce, and can be cheaper than a cup of coffee, leading to deaths and drug use disorders at an unprecedented rate. Plant-based drugs also continue to negatively affect societies. Drugs know no borders, and no single country can combat this issue alone. The complexity and global nature of the WDP necessitate information sharing at all levels. Collaboration among domestic authorities is critical to designing appropriate responses. Regional networks that share intelligence contribute to effective responses and keep us informed of new developments and challenges. Multilateralism is at the heart of the United Nations, and working together enables us to discover effective solutions. Generating high-quality data is essential to developing policies informed by evidence and science. With knowledge, we can adapt strategies that leverage intelligence. UNODC’s Synthetic Drug Strategies leverage science and early warning systems to identify and respond to new and dangerous substances. This is vital to protect against emerging synthetic drug crises at all levels. Informed by science and evidence, we need to strengthen our response. Drugs are controlled because their non-medical use is dangerous to health—we must ensure access to controlled substances for medical use. This is the most underfunded part of the response, and we often leave behind children in response. We need to ensure we build resilience of children in regard to this. We thank all partners who have answered calls to this with CHAMPS. DUD are primarily health problems rather than criminal behavior, people with drug use disorder (DUD) can be treated in the medical system. Those that are in the criminal justice system need more attention to ensure they are not left behind. Progress has been made but moving forward we need to work to strengthen existing tools and scaling up interventions. Only with adequate resources will effective policies include a full continuum of care tackling negative consequences of drug use. With adequate resources will effective policies respond to crime, protect law enforcement personnel, stop drugs reaching the market, and end drug related violence. We need to base decisions on evidence and science and couple human rights with peace, security, and development.

Romania: Thank you very much. Good morning, distinguished co-chairs, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. It is an honour for me to be here today as a panellist and representative of the Eastern European group. The drug phenomenon is a threat to our societies, families, and children, both now and in the future. Despite the progress made in implementing drug policy commitments, we continue to face persistent challenges. The increasing levels of drug production and trafficking, developing methods, diversification of the drug market, the rise of new psychoactive substances, and the extremely low access to and availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes in many parts of the world are just a few issues that call for a deep, joint, and honest reflection on our future—because the future truly is in our hands.  A better coordination of efforts at the international, regional, and national levels, including improved cooperation among relevant United Nations bodies and recognizing the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as the leading agency to implement the United Nations common position on drugs, is needed. We must harness the full potential of civil society and the scientific community in our joint efforts, from a law enforcement perspective. Drug trafficking involves violence and serious crimes that require governments and law enforcement agencies to work closely together.  This underscores the necessity of adopting a comprehensive approach and recognizing that the efforts of law enforcement agencies should complement initiatives in education and health sectors. Disrupting criminal networks’ activities is merely one component of a larger strategy. Money generated from drug-related activities is rapidly reinvested to escalate drug operations to new levels and to broaden criminal enterprises. We must take additional steps and ensure we possess the appropriate tools to prevent drug money from being used in this manner. An example of successful partnership is the joint operation of judicial and law enforcement authorities from the Romania Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, who with the support of the Euro just in Europe will dismantle an organised crime group responsible for the protected production and distribution of at least 4.7 tonnes of methamphetamine in Europe. During the joint actions 16 suspects were arrested and over 33. Million tablets containing raw material for production were seized.  I will also like to mention the very cooperation we have with law enforcement agencies from Ukraine. Last year our controls delivered delivery in work conditions in all conditions approximately 200 kilograms of heroin and we are continuing the operational activities with our colleagues from Ukraine to fight drug trafficking. This highlights once more the essential elements for a successful partnership: the willingness to cooperate stands paramount. While technology and material support are important, they can never outshine the dedication and professionalism of our personnel. From a social perspective, there’s also a pressing need to better educate our citizens about the risks associated with drug use, especially among the younger generation. With drug consumption at an all-time high, it’s crucial that our agenda includes more actions and programs targeting children and youth. We need to help them understand the nature of addiction, teach them coping skills for difficult situations without resorting to drugs, and leverage social media more effectively to counter the portrayal of drug use in a positive light.  We’ve observed an increase in drug use among younger ages than previously seen, and evidence has demonstrated the significant influence of social media as a peer factor. This represents an opportunity for us to be innovative and adapt our messages for children and teenagers, using social media platforms to disseminate them in language that is easy to understand.  Of course, the importance of data collection in enhancing our understanding and shaping effective responses cannot be overstated. We must take further measures and ensure we have the right tools to prevent the misuse of drug money. A prime example of a successful partnership is the joint operation by judicial and law enforcement authorities from Romania, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia. With support from Eurojust in Europe, they managed to dismantle an organised crime group responsible for the production and distribution of at least 4.7 tonnes of methamphetamine across Europe. During the operation, 16 suspects were arrested, and over 33 million tablets containing the raw material for methamphetamine production were seized. Additionally, I’d like to highlight the exceptional cooperation we’ve experienced with law enforcement agencies from Ukraine. Last year, our collaborative efforts resulted in the interception of approximately 200 kilograms of heroin under challenging conditions. We are continuing our operational activities with our Ukrainian colleagues to combat drug trafficking. This underscores once again the vital components of a successful partnership: the necessity of willingness to cooperate is paramount. Although technology and material support are significant, they can never surpass the dedication and professionalism of our personnel.We need to know who we are fighting with.  Where we do we need to focus our actions. Synthetic drugs are a great trade because with the right substances they are easy to manufacture..anybody can become a chemist with a minimum investment  of very small quantity in the case of hierarchy of new substances.  We need to focus our efforts on time to get in and reliable data for our experts to analyse resulting in identifying patterns on the drug trafficking and consumptions which are extremely useful in developing strategies, and course of action. These examples illustrate how we can enhance data collection and utilise all available tools in this endeavour. Romania is implementing an innovative, balanced, and evidence-based response to drugs, adhering to the UN drug control conventions and aligning with the youth drug strategy. We are dedicated to continuing the development and consolidation of our actions, both in combating drug trafficking and in preventing drug use.  Ladies and gentlemen, before concluding, I wish to revisit the consultation Romania held recently with the United Nations Office on Drugs in Bucharest in February 2024. This consultation on national anti-drug policies presented the drug situation in Romania from various perspectives, allowing both prevention and enforcement authorities to share experiences and best practices with the United Nations delegation…. Activities like these broaden our horizons and enhance our efforts in the drug field.  Finally, and importantly, I assure you of our strong political will to continue the fight against drugs, focusing on both prevention and the battle against organised crime, drug trafficking, and human trafficking. In recent months, we have launched several significant programs, including the establishment of a task force at the national level under the auspices of the Supreme Council for National Defence, marking the beginning of a long-term effort to eradicate this scourge from our society and protect the younger generation. Thank you very much. It has been both an honour and a pleasure to address you today.

USA: Many delegations cited synthetic drugs as the most significant threat due to their dangers. Governments and civil society have adapted their responses to address this issue. The EU will soon mobilise its drugs agency to keep pace with the evolution of the illicit narcotics market, building on the impressive work of the EMCDDA. Kazakhstan has instituted a three-year plan, providing investment to assist minors suffering from Drug Use Disorders (DUD). Honduras has brought together military police and prosecutors to legislate against the importation of precursors into the country and has formed a coalition to assess the threat of synthetic drugs. We have spearheaded cooperation with all member states, offering substantial assistance. The UN Toolkit, accessible in the six official UN languages and encompassing 11 specialised modules, is designed to address synthetic drug challenges and has garnered over 60,000 users. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) also provides online platforms for tracking synthetic substances and trafficking, which are utilised by more than 130 countries, demonstrating their significant value to the international community. These tools have led to tangible results, including the seizure of drugs, serving as a robust framework for action. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are also driving innovation – there are too many examples to enumerate, but we acknowledge your hard work and are thankful for it. CSO worked to present their views to the government ahead of this mid term review. CSO involvement remains a priority for the US. The private sector is actively working to prevent the use of its platforms for the sale and production of synthetic drugs. We are dedicated to disrupting online activities and enhancing public awareness about the misuse of synthetic drugs. We have gained substantial insights into what is effective, what isn’t, and the impact of synthetic drugs. Crucially, we translate this evidence into action. Here’s what we understand: firstly, people must be at the core of our efforts. Only 1 in 5 individuals with a Drug Use Disorder (DUD) has received treatment for their condition. We have lost tens of thousands of lives to overdoses. It’s essential to provide a full range of services our citizens need, including treatment, prevention, harm reduction, and recovery support services.HR mitigates negative impacts.To stay ahead of emerging threats and traffickers who continually innovate, we must adopt a similar mindset. By working within the framework of the three control treaties, we need to continuously learn from evidence and adapt our methods to ensure efficacy and responsiveness, always aiming to stay one step ahead of traffickers. Expanding the technical capacity of forensic drug testing to identify emerging threats is essential in this ongoing effort. We must fully leverage partnerships to address all aspects of WDP through a holistic approach. No one country can tackle this threat alone. The challenges we face are evidence of that.Through both new initiatives and longstanding multilateral forums, we can develop a shared understanding of the challenges we face and collaborate effectively to devise and implement responses. Engagement with civil society organisations is an important piece of this cooperation and we need citizens’ input. All member states, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations must redouble efforts to address the most pressing threats we face to take concrete steps and tackle the world drug problem.

Chair: We will have a slight change of order, as the Assistant Secrecraty of State has to leave at 11am, but if you have specific question to these two Excellencies, we can invite you to pledge their state plate nameplate.

USA:  Thank you. I am here to read the joint statement of the participating countries of the global coalition aimed at addressing synthetic drug threats. Mr. Chair, colleagues, it is my honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the U.S. Secretary of State Blinken, with the support of 145 participating countries of the global coalition. This statement, which has been submitted to the secretary, lists all the participating countries endorsing it. It is undeniable that synthetic drugs have significantly proliferated in domestic, regional, and global drug markets over the last decade. According to the UNODC World Drug Report 2023, illegally manufactured synthetic drugs such as fentanyl, ketamine, tramadol, captagon, methamphetamine, and other new psychoactive substances have become entrenched, maximising the profits of criminal organisations, driving overdoses, and causing widespread harm to global health and devastating families and communities. UNODC estimates highlight the severity of these challenges globally. Seizures of amphetamine-type stimulants increased by 212% between 2012 and 2019. There was a reported 631% increase in the number of new psychoactive substances identified between 2009 and 2020. Worldwide, approximately 600,000 deaths in 2019 were attributable to drug use, many linked to synthetic drugs like fentanyl. While we lack complete data on the harms to public health and safety for more recent years, the crisis has only intensified since 2019. The synthetic drug threats we face today are easily manufactured, concealed, and trafficked, produced from precursor chemicals available to the illicit market and often outside the scope of existing international and domestic controls. They are mixed with other substances, can be highly potent, and even deadly. Driven by competition and the desire to maximise profits, criminal organisations creating the synthetic drugs of tomorrow will continue to experiment with ways to make them more potent, more widely available at lower costs, and even easier to manufacture, conceal, and traffic, with deadly consequences.

Committed to stopping this global proliferation of synthetic drugs, the United States convened members of the international community in July 2023 to share national experiences and discuss the current and future threats we face from synthetic drugs. At this meeting, countries and international organisations alike expressed grave concern about the public health and social harms associated with the non-medical consumption of synthetic drugs, the insufficient availability, accessibility, affordability, and quality of drug treatment, recovery and support services, and the security challenges associated with the illicit manufacture, diversion, trafficking of synthetic drugs, and related crimes.  To effectively respond to these challenges, the U.S. and partner countries established a global coalition to address synthetic drug threats, aiming to strengthen the coordinated global response to the public health, security, and safety challenges posed by synthetic drugs through international cooperation. Three working groups are driving action to prevent the illicit manufacture and trafficking of synthetic drugs, detect emerging drug threats and use patterns, and promote public health interventions and services to prevent and reduce drug use, overdose, and other related harms. Seven expert-driven sub-working groups have met monthly since October 2023, identifying challenges and opportunities to expand coordination at all levels. Almost 150 countries and over 1,300 experts and practitioners are participating in this endeavour.

Today, we affirm our commitment to the coalition and to driving forward action based on the best practices identified by the coalition. We will increase our ability to detect and respond to emerging threats, enhance the skills of practitioners, and develop policy and legislation to strengthen global drug policies and laws. We will work in the near term towards actions and commitments domestically or with other countries, organisations, engage with civil society and the private sector in the development of national policies, among other actions to address this global emergency. To that end, we have developed recommendations around key areas of country action. Working together in pursuit of these actions, we will support and draw upon the cooperation, learning, and capacity-building programs offered by international organisations and other partners. Throughout this work, we will consistently be mindful of our obligations under the three international drug control conventions and relevant human rights instruments. This includes ensuring that measures to address synthetic drug threats do not unduly restrict the availability and accessibility of synthetic drugs for medical and scientific purposes, including for the relief of pain and for palliative care.  We reaffirm that synthetic drugs are an urgent international priority and will ensure that the coalition’s efforts will support the existing work of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs. We call upon the CND to intensify global action over the next five years to address, in accordance with the principle of common and shared responsibility, the public health and security challenges they pose while ensuring respect for all human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the inherent dignity of all individuals. We also call upon all relevant stakeholders, including UNODC, WHO, INCB, other relevant UN entities, international and regional organisations, civil society, law enforcement, judicial and healthcare personnel, the scientific community, academia, and the private sector, to contribute to this effort.  We, the participating countries of the global coalition to address synthetic drug threats, reaffirm our commitment to protecting the health and welfare of humankind from the dangers of synthetic drugs. We are resolved to intensify global cooperation against these threats. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak.

Mexico: I am prompted by my colleagues’ presentation, but my comment can apply to any of the panellists. It is a very important statement in terms of underscoring the importance of organising ourselves as states, governments, to combat the threat posed by drugs. Mexico, Canada, and the United States can show what a good partnership can do over a long period of time. It has not always been easy but the political will is there and the need to keep society free from drugs is also there. The US Assistant Secretary of State said we need to work with the flexibility of our conventional frameworks. That is a great challenge, as these conventions came into force in 1961. I have been dealing with these issues since 1998 and it is a completely different situation since then. We have new challenges but old mechanisms and conventions. How can we take advantage of the flexibility? How can we overcome rigidity?

USA: The fact that we are looking at the threat from synthetic opioids today as the game changer that it is calls on us to talk among member states to do everything we can to work together, cognisant of fact that agreements force us to work within certain guidelines that have been committed to over a number of years. They were written by member states, it is up to us to be creative and innovative in how we interpret them to do right by our citizens. This is why governments exist.

Morocco: First of all, I would like to thank the United States for bringing this issue and also preparing this important statement on behalf of the members of the international coalition.Of course, we would like to raise some issue about the follow up of this statement. So with as far as Morocco is concerned, we would like to underline that there is a real need to create a synergy between the coalition and the CND CND as well as with the UN relevant entities to enhance the regular exchange between Vienna, Geneva and New York. and we would like just to ask you, how you see the way forward to 2019. So we suggest that we had last year this resolution which was submitted at the UN we would like Also as a follow up of this, this important statement to submit, maybe a resolution, which will give the mandate to unity C and to this end to make a follow up report within the perspective of 2099 29 conference. Thank you. 

USA: We absolutely agree we called him for in the statement, greater cooperation between our coalition and the CND we fully expect that we will have the opportunities over the summer to discuss this,\, we will also talk about it again at the UN General Assembly in. In the fall of this year.  This is member state driven So I don’t think I’m going to suggest how we should go forward. I think it’s something that we have to discuss together and to  take advantage of the fact that there are so many countries out there that have ideas for how this could work better.  

CHAIR: As you know Germans like to play by the rules, so I would like to come back to the normal procedure to go now to the panellists.

Romania:   My colleagues from Mexico and Morocco, though I understand the question was initially directed at the Assistant Secretary of the United States, I recognize that we have the opportunity to contribute at certain points. Let me share some thoughts about the future, as I believe there is much more we need to do at the national level in each country. We are engaged in complex forms of international cooperation, and it’s crucial that we continue this effort. However, unless we also focus on reinforcing our efforts nationally, these will merely remain as policies. We need to transform these policies from discourse into reality. This means governments must sustain their efforts. Ultimately, it comes down to how many police officers are allocated to this effort, how well they are compensated, organised, and integrated into the force so that the national police, supported by legislation, are protected from the risks they face in combating drug trafficking. This is essential. Without sustaining our efforts on the ground and taking risks, it’s merely a matter of policy and politics, which it should not be.  In terms of protecting the younger generation, we need to intensify our efforts to educate them. Otherwise, our efforts will be continually undermined by the emergence of new individuals addicted to drugs. We should strive to win their minds and souls, convincing them of the dangers of drug use. Regarding our future actions, I wish to highlight that we were among the first countries to join the coalition against synthetic drugs. This issue is of particular concern to us, as we have observed an increase in synthetic drug consumption within our country. Looking ahead, what we require is enhanced intelligence sharing among our law enforcement agencies. It’s crucial to have the information necessary to focus our efforts effectively; otherwise, our efforts will be dispersed in small, less impactful actions. Once we begin to share information within our national police and our forces join together, the effects will indeed be different. The approach of forming joint teams is one we’ve extensively utilised in our region. We’ve worked very closely with our colleagues and friends from the region, and it has shown immediate results. Another crucial aspect is ensuring the alignment and harmonisation within our legislation because the lack of harmonisation among our laws creates opportunities that are often exploited by those involved in drug trafficking. Thank you very much. I hope I haven’t taken up too much of your time.

Chair: We are glad we could arrange this exchange, but I would like to return to normal procedure. 

India:It is an honour to represent the Asia Pacific Group. Yesterday, we observed that significant progress has been made worldwide, primarily through collaboration and meetings. To achieve our goal of a world free from drug problems, we need to strengthen collaboration at all levels and share best practices. This includes collaboration among different sectors within countries. One of the best practices we have adopted is a mechanism for collaboration among all levels of state ministries, which is proving effective even in a vast country like India. We must also engage industry and Civil Society Organizations (CSO). Notably, India has the third largest pharmaceutical and the sixth largest chemical industry in the world. We believe that legislative changes alone are insufficient to address chemical control challenges.. A MoU was signed between national authority and Indian chemical council and the chemical industry is now forced to ensure sustainability and move towards the SDGs. Reliable and auh´tentic data collection is important for evidence based policy. Evidence base is able to form more effective policies. Data is now available at a granular and subnational level which has helped prevention based policies. On the supply side, it has formed specific interventions for law enforcement. MS have their own mechanisms of collecting data and these may not necessarily be in the format of ARQ. At regional level data may be provided in whatever format in order to make estimates based on data. We need to use tech smartly. Use of telemedicine within India during covid became popular and was very effective, though there remains challenges with this. Also necessary to control availability of new technology by drug traffickers. Collaborating with internet service providers to control this is necessary.

Ghana: Thank you chair for the opportunity and to the organisers for having me on this very important high level panel.  Excellencies distinguished delegates good morning.  Mr Chair please  permit me to use examples and case studies of Ghana to support my submission and multistakeholder and multi sectoral approach to tackling the drug situation is crucial.  Ghana acknowledges the need for partnership which is evident in membership of our governing board and the narcotics control commission, where it is key all stakeholders are required in the fight against drugs.  The formulation of drug policy based on inputs from a wide range of stakeholders has paved the way for DRS to establish an effective partnership in tackling the drug situation. The engagement of all stakeholders, including civil society organisations, has enabled Ghana to develop a drug policy that is holistic, centred on the citizen, and respectful of rights. This approach has facilitated the smooth implementation of the policy, with all stakeholders, including the civil sector, actively participating and contributing to the success of the fight against drug trafficking.  On the local front, Mr. Chair, our successful partnerships with security agencies, including the Ghana Navy, Air Force, Marine Police, Port Authority, and National Security, have led to numerous vessel rummaging operations in Ghana’s territorial waters, resulting in several seizures. Collaboration with the Immigration Service and Ghana Airport Authority has also led to the detention of several suspects who have been placed on a stop list. Our partnership with the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General has resulted in successful convictions.  Almost all law enforcement agencies have contributed to the capacity building of personnel and to the fight against drugs within our country. Collaboration at the regional level is crucial for overcoming the drug challenge in our sub-regions. For example, EU regional collaboration and information sharing with our counterpart in Nigeria, the NDA, have on two separate occasions led to the arrest and extradition of fugitives wanted by Nigerian drug law enforcement agencies. With their assistance, security agencies from the South African region were able to dismantle a drug trafficking network operating between Ghana, South Africa, and India. Furthermore, international partnerships, notably with the UNODC and the NCAA, among others, have significantly enhanced the capacity of African drug law enforcement agencies in terms of both infrastructure and personnel. This collaboration has also facilitated the prosecution in cases where mutual legal assistance is required.  Collaboration with these agencies enhances trust and facilitates the sharing of reliable information and intelligence. Strengthening data collection and analysis necessitates continuous specialised training for personnel. This is crucial for improving operational capabilities and efficiency. Integrating state-of-the-art technologies, including advanced data analytics tools and software, will streamline data collection and processing, thereby enhancing analytical capabilities. Implementing standardised protocols for data collection is vital to ensure uniformity and accuracy.  Looking towards 2029, it’s important to enable reliable trend analysis that informs policy formulation to effectively address drug-related challenges. This also involves fostering collaboration with law enforcement agencies, healthcare providers, and relevant stakeholders to establish a comprehensive data set. Cross-sectoral engagement enriches the quality and depth of data collected, enhancing the effectiveness of interventions.  Regular audits of collected data are essential to identify and rectify inconsistencies or errors, ensuring the reliability and integrity of the data. Collaboration with international organisations and neighbouring countries is crucial to share best practices, methodologies, and technological advancements in drug-related data collection and analysis. The implementation of advanced surveillance technologies, such as drone monitoring systems, will enhance detection capabilities and provide real-time insights into illicit drug activities. Ghana has successfully monitored the illicit cultivation of cannabis in remote communities and along our land borders using drone technology. Utilising advanced data analytics to create profiles of drug traffickers and organisations aids in more targeted and effective law enforcement efforts. Establishing collaborative platforms for real-time intelligence sharing among international counterparts will facilitate a coordinated and global approach to combating the world drug problem. Leveraging financial technology to monitor and track transactions related to drug trafficking can disrupt the financial networks supporting illicit activities. Establishing platforms that facilitate collaboration between law enforcement, healthcare, education, and social services is key to comprehensively addressing drug-related challenges.  Mr. Chair, member states can conduct a thorough needs assessment to identify the specific requirements of drug enforcement agencies. This assessment should evaluate existing capabilities, technological infrastructure, and personnel skills. It is also important to designate a dedicated budget for drug law enforcement agencies, ensuring that funds are explicitly allocated for training, technological advancement, and operational requirements. Transparent budgeting procedures foster accountability. Pursuing technical assistance and capacity-building support from international organisations, bilateral partners, and agencies specialising in drug control can complement domestic resources and provide supplementary expertise. Collaborating with private entities and leveraging their expertise, technologies, and resources will significantly aid government agencies in effectively combating the drug menace affecting our continent. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Chile: We believe that Agenda 2030 and the SDGs are a landmark opportunity for LAC as they include issues whose implementation are a great priority for our region. Agenda 2030 focuses on dignity and equality, not the poorest region but we are most unequal. Drug trafficking and related issues delay and question the ability to reach Agenda 2030. More than anything, Agenda 2030 is about inequality. Multiple efforts and strategies worldwide have not proven effective in the realm of drug policy. While progress has been made, our focus should shift toward developing humane and inclusive drug policies, supporting countries, and strengthening institutions to tackle this challenge, particularly in two areas where our region is significantly indebted. Firstly, the disproportionately high number of women imprisoned for drug-related crimes is notable. Evidence from Latin America indicates that most women involved in drug trafficking do so to meet household needs. Rarely involved in violent crimes, these women typically occupy the lowest ranks, making them easily replaceable. Consequently, their incarceration has a limited impact on curtailing the illegal drug market, yet it results in severe consequences for the women, their families, and communities, leading to complex social issues.  Demonstrating the state’s strength involves not just punishment but also protection, empowerment, and support for its people. Secondly, the expansion and enhancement of treatment options based on scientific evidence are critical. In Chile, our 2022 census revealed that 700,000 individuals have problematic consumption of alcohol and other drugs, with only 30,000 receiving treatment in the last year. This scenario is not unique to Chile but common across Latin American and Caribbean countries. Thus, reinforcing the commitment of states and international cooperation to provide more and better recovery opportunities is essential to reduce stigma towards individuals in recovery.  Furthermore, the latest reports highlight that 61% of countries in our region do not implement measures to address stigma and social marginalisation associated with substance use, deterring individuals from seeking or accessing demand reduction services. This excessively high proportion signals the need to prioritise stigma as an area for improvement, urging member states to take decisive action.  We must include care systems fostering social inclusion of people with substance use disorders. Economic problems exacerbate health problems in Latin America and the Caribbean. People in treatment are usually young, the majority under 25 which highlights the need for programmes of social inclusion for these young people. We must foster competencies and support inclusion at work for young people. Focus on community work and strengthen systems of universal prevention especially giving priority to vulnerable populations considering gender, human rights, age and multiculturalism. We have to have a comprehensive approach to synthetic drugs. Emerging trend in synthetic drug market with “Tuci” and in recent years may have reached market in Europe and the US. Composition of the drug is unknown and this provides significant danger. We need to leave behind what divides us and work towards what unites us in what is sustainable for security and equity. These are not easy solutions to these problems but we must work together to offset negative impacts. We must work to reach SDGs by harnessing technology and resources to this end, working together.

INCB:  Thankyou Mr Chair, Madam Chair and distinguished ministers excellentices fellow panellists, ladies and gentlemen it is an honour to participate on this panel as the president of the INCB. The written contribution to the midterm review outlines a path forward to address drug control challenges. The ministerial declaration focuses on advancing effective drug control policy and action in two areas. Firstly, it aims to promote the availability of controlled substances for medical, scientific, and industrial purposes while preventing their diversion to illicit channels. Secondly, it advocates for the adoption of health and evidence-based drug policies that cater to the specific needs of populations, respect human rights, and provide proportionate responses to drug-related criminality that honour due process. There is an urgent need to enhance the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical purposes, including during emergencies. Achieving this requires targeted policies developed and implemented by governments, in collaboration with health professionals, civil society, the pharmaceutical industry, and the international community. Governments are encouraged to report accurate data to the INCB on the illicit cultivation, production, manufacture, and consumption of precursor chemicals, and national monitoring mechanisms need to be strengthened. This includes improving national data collection systems, training staff, fostering interagency cooperation, and collaborating with the private sector. The INCB encourages donors to incorporate data collection and analysis into their assistance programs. Governments are urged to engage in INCB’s capacity-building activities, particularly to enhance the accuracy of national estimates for controlled substances needed for medical purposes and to support the ongoing operation of ICT-based learning.

Additionally, in the realm of education, governments that have not yet done so are advised to introduce mandatory training on pain management and palliative care into the curricula of medical and nursing schools. There is a need for comprehensive and interconnected knowledge networks to address both supply and demand factors, especially concerning drug production, trafficking, and misuse, as well as prevention and treatment services. This need is increasingly urgent given the expanding trafficking and use of cocaine, the proliferation of new psychoactive substances, highly potent non-medical synthetic opioids, and their devastating impact on public health.There is a need to enhance capacity and operational knowledge to prevent the diversion of chemicals to illicit drug manufacturing and to strengthen precursor monitoring systems. The timely implementation of scheduling decisions is critically important for effective global precursor control. Governments should make greater use of the INCB’s limited international special surveillance list of non-scheduled substances and the list of substances not under international control but subject to national control in some countries. The INCB recommends adherence to its guidelines to ensure appropriate responses to the diversion of materials and equipment.  Stopping shipments should be viewed as the starting point for investigations to identify traffickers and uncover new methods of operation, including backtracking. Governments are encouraged to utilise global cooperation mechanisms, to exchange information on precursor traffic and trends. Governments are urged to actively utilise the INCB’s online platforms, such as the PEN Online, PICS, and the systems highlighted by His Excellency, to prevent the diversion and investigate traffic and incidents involving internationally controlled precursors, non-scheduled chemicals, and illicit drug manufacturing equipment. Governments are also encouraged to map their national industry landscapes as an initial step towards engaging with industries on self-protective, proactive strategies aimed at reducing opportunities for infiltration by traffickers.  Ladies and gentlemen, given the evolving threat posed by new psychoactive substances, non-medical synthetic opioids, and related dangerous substances, the INCB also encourages governments to participate in the ICP’s programme activities. This includes the use of its IONICS system, as well as the GRIDS intelligence, strategic and operational, targeted platforms. They also highlight the importance of scanning novel opioids on online platforms, for the detection and dismantling of online vendor marketplaces.  The INCB is facilitating public-private partnerships between governments and industries vulnerable to misuse for trafficking. This includes industries related to the manufacture, marketing, movement, and monetization of these substances. The INCB encourages the use of practical guidelines developed under its precursor control and GRIDS programmes to promote voluntary cooperation with the chemical, express courier, freight forwarding, e-commerce industries, and internet-related services. Governments are encouraged to utilise the INCB’s Opioids Project’s fentanyl-related substances list and the project’s other lists of dangerous substances. This is to encourage industry partners to voluntarily restrict their dealings with these substances to research and analysis. At the same time, the INCB urges governments to harness the potential of the internet and social media to expand the reach of prevention and treatment services.  The right control policies must be designed and implemented in line with international human rights instruments, drug control conventions, the rule of law, and the principle of proportionality. The INCB strongly advocates for the implementation of data- and evidence-based policies or programmes to prevent and treat drug use disorders.  Adhering to international standards for the treatment of drug use disorders and preventing and addressing stigma and discrimination is crucial. Finally, action in these areas is necessary to meet today’s drug control challenges, improve resource allocation, information sharing, and public-private partnerships. Partnerships play a key role in this endeavour.  A good legal framework should put the person at the centre of our policies which is essential to safeguarding health and welfare for the years ahead and thank you.

CHAIR:  I now invite our next speaker on the panel, Dr Yukiko Nakatani Assistant Director General of the World Health Organisation to take the floor. 

WHO: Addressing the World Drug Problem (WDP) requires collective action to tackle challenges in a balanced manner. We must prioritise health and human rights in our response, recognizing health as a fundamental human right for every individual. It is crucial to ensure access to controlled medicines while minimising the risk of non-medical use. Efforts must be made to ensure that all medicines necessary to alleviate pain and suffering in medical conditions are available. The 1961 and 1971 conventions mandated the World Health Organization (WHO) to advise the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) on appropriate levels of control to ensure access but limit harms. We adhere to an evidence-based process and balance the need for these substances for medical and scientific uses. Effective interventions for Substance Use Disorders (SUD), such as Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT) and naloxone for overdose management, Needle and Syringe Programs (NSP) for the transmission of infectious diseases, are implemented. We update the list of medicines every two years to ensure medicines necessary for basic health services are available.  We acknowledge disparities in access to morphine. This year, we will publish initiatives to ensure equitable access to medicines and have issued recommendations to reduce barriers to health among people who use drugs. One recommendation is to review and reconsider punitive laws that criminalise people who use drugs and work towards decriminalisation. An evidence-based and balanced approach is essential to prevent unnecessary human suffering. Approximately 600,000 deaths per year result from drug use. Prevention, treatment, and harm reduction are vital components in tackling the World Drug Problem. We share a common objective to prevent drug use among children and adolescents, which requires not just legislation but also effective prevention efforts. Universal Health Coverage is a key platform to ensure access to healthcare for all people. The WHO stands ready to support countries in relevant initiatives and we recognize that close collaboration is important to address all aspects of the world drug problem. Development of international fora, and public health and human rights should be at the fore of all responses. We ask that we commit to SDGs and ensure everyone has access to quality care to deliver healthy and productive lives and ensure that nobody is left behind.

NIGERIA:  I thank you for the great work you are doing in chairing this roundtable meeting. Let me also thank the distinguished panellists for sharing their thoughts on the way forward to successful assessments and actual realisation of our declaration during the important review in 2029. As we journey towards 2029, allow me to acknowledge that while we have undoubtedly achieved some milestones, there are still significant challenges ahead, particularly with the emergence of new challenges in the global drug pandemic. It is in this context that we commend and laud the Chair’s innovative pledge for action initiative, aimed at mobilising Member States’ commitment towards concrete and impactful actions to address and counter the world drug problem. We believe that this will guide Member States in implementing all international drug policy commitments, as outlined in the 2019 ministerial declaration, as part of our commitment and focus on achieving our objectives. Yesterday, Nigeria committed to initiating an alternative development project in the coming months, with the aim of replacing the cultivation of cannabis with high-yielding cash crops in the country. This alternative development project will provide illegal cannabis cultivators with the opportunity to substitute illicit cannabis with legitimate crops like rice, cocoa, potato and tomato.  It will empower individuals with the desire and ability to transition from illegitimacy to legitimacy, providing freedom from the fear of arrest and dissatisfaction associated with engaging in illicit activities, through government support. Nigeria has also pledged to establish three state-of-the-art comprehensive drug treatment centres dedicated to providing evidence-based rehabilitation and recovery services for individuals with substance use disorder within the next 24 months. These centres will be equipped with inpatient and outpatient facilities, as well as medical, psychological, and vocational training resources to ensure a holistic approach to treatment.  Furthermore, we are committed to establishing and equipping two state-of-the-art forensic laboratories within the country in the next 24 months, complementing the existing one, to expedite the forensic analysis of suspected drugs and accelerate investigation and prosecution of drug-related cases. We will prioritise the care and treatment of illicit drug users while working to ensure the availability, accessibility, and affordability of controlled drugs for research and medical purposes.  Nigeria will also continue to deepen and strengthen collaboration and cooperation with partners and countries based on the principle of common and shared responsibility to combat cross-border drug trafficking. Additionally, we will continue to support the work of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in the implementation of the three drug conventions.  Co-chairs, we are convinced that these measures, along with deepening bilateral cooperation and collaboration with our neighbours, as well as source, transit, and destination countries, will undoubtedly make a difference in our efforts to address and counter the challenges of the global drug problem. These efforts will certainly have an impact during the 2029 review. 

SINGAPORE:  Thank you, Madam Chair. Singapore emphasises the ongoing relevance of the challenges outlined in the 2019 ministerial declaration and stresses the importance of evaluating progress in international commitments on drug policy by 2029. We express deep concern about the significant toll exacted on individuals, their families, and society as a result of the global drug problem. We believe that this problem is exacerbated by policies lacking robust scientific and medical foundations that promote the recreational use of harmful drugs.  For example, drug legalisation policies not only violate international drug conventions but also perpetuate misconceptions that substance use causes minimal harm. This is troubling, as lower perceptions of substance use risk have been associated with higher rates of substance use. Furthermore, evidence suggests that the legalisation of cannabis has not achieved its intended objectives. Instead, it has failed to deter youth usage and has led to increased medical emergencies, traffic accidents, and cases of cannabis addiction.  To reverse this alarming trend, it is imperative to collectively take more evidence-based actions within the international drug control framework in conformity with the three international drug conventions. We should aim to prevent the proliferation of harmful drugs in the first place and therefore urge all Member States not to limit their efforts to merely reducing the harms related to drug abuse, illicit drug cultivation, production, manufacture, and trafficking.  To this end, Singapore strongly advocates for focusing on preventive drug efforts to strengthen the resilience of our youth, helping them to stay drug-free and bridging the gap between perception and reality by educating the community on the harms of drugs.  Singapore also recognizes that the lack of available and reliable data remains a key limiting factor in formulating evidence-based drug policy. We therefore hope to play a more active role in enhancing our collective understanding and better equipping ourselves to address the global drug problem by supporting research-related initiatives and sharing our experiences and best practices on data research and analysis related to drug policy formulation.  In conclusion, Singapore reiterates our commitment to accelerating the implementation of our joint commitments to address and counter the world drug problem. We actively promote a society free of drug abuse, where people have the right to live in safety, security, health, dignity, and peace.

China: The world drug problem is of global concern. The 2019 Ministerial Declaration highlighted numerous challenges that persist, including worsening drug problems and the emergence of new drugs. Currently, over 100,000 New Psychoactive Substances have been reported, with the vast majority not yet scheduled. Additionally, there is a growing trend of prescription drug abuse, along with the diversion of unscheduled chemicals. The proliferation of drugs has been exacerbated by the dark web. The authority of drug control conventions has been questioned, particularly with the legalisation of cannabis. There is a pressing need to enhance the capacity of all countries, as there is a relative lack of technology and resources. We hope that all parties will make more active efforts in addressing these challenges. It is imperative to firmly uphold the cornerstone of drug control conventions, fostering solidarity while respecting differences. Cooperation on common ground is essential, while remaining flexible in responding to new challenges. Emphasis should be placed on reducing both supply and demand. We urge all countries to intensify efforts and explore initiatives at all levels, focusing on education and effectively combating the abuse of opioids and NPS to protect society. Innovative approaches and methods are crucial in addressing drug problems, which often coincide with technological advancements. The scheduling of fentanyl-like substances and synthetic cannabinoids should consider the needs of the international community, and we encourage the sharing of best practices. We hope that UNODC can continue to play a coordinating role in providing technical guidance to member states, facilitating the exchange of experiences and results. It is essential that we work towards achieving the goals outlined in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration.

Russian Federation: Today, we gather to discuss the most effective strategies to address the global drug crisis by 2029. The Russian delegation wishes to highlight three crucial aspects. Firstly, the pervasive influence of powerful drug cartels poses a significant threat to our collective security and development. Consequently, some nations are considering the legalisation of drugs as a solution, further challenging the efficacy of global drug control measures and the enforcement of existing conventions. Secondly, illegal drug markets thrive through integration with criminal networks, forming a cohesive system of supply, financing, marketing, and money laundering. This interconnectedness exacerbates the challenges we face in combating the drug trade. Lastly, the proliferation of synthetic drugs presents a growing concern, with new substances constantly emerging and evading regulatory measures. This dynamic landscape requires innovative approaches to regulation and enforcement. In light of these challenges, it is imperative that we strengthen international cooperation and develop comprehensive strategies to counter the multifaceted nature of the global drug problem. Therefore, we can only oppose drug criminals via decisive measures, and bonafide cooperation between all countries. Prevention of the laundering of proceeds of crime together with other forms of crime such as terrorism and violence. An effective example of such cooperation is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and its anti drugs measures also, exchange of information was encouraged and cooperation between Russia and drug control bodies If we have dispersed government action. Failure to exchange information, and all of this, against a political backdrop that will only encourage drug crime. Thirdly, our collaborative efforts must be rooted in the principles of equality among states, mutual respect, and trust. Effective national strategies, particularly in areas such as drug treatment and the prosecution of drug-related crimes, should consider the unique characteristics of each locality. The conventions acknowledge the jurisdiction of states in these matters, recognizing the distinct historical, cultural, and social contexts of each country. Therefore, we firmly believe that external interference or the imposition of specific approaches is counterproductive. Our shared objective is to safeguard our citizens from the dangers of illegal drugs, ensuring their right to life and the opportunity to raise their children in a drug-free environment. Achieving this necessitates concerted efforts to combat drug trafficking and abuse, if today we refuse to have a common understanding of our objectives that in five years time, we will be falling into a true drugs tsunami.To prevent such a scenario, we must mobilise greater resources and efforts. The Russian Federation assures everyone that it will continue to take all necessary measures to address the global drug problem. This commitment includes full compliance with international conventions at the national level and fostering cooperation in regional and international forums. Additionally, we are committed to providing targeted technical assistance to countries in need upon their request.

Canada: I want to express my gratitude to the panelists for their insightful presentations. Canada is fully committed to addressing the challenges we face. Synthetic drugs pose a significant threat and have led to alarming rates of drug poisonings. We are proud partners with UNODC on several key programs. Indigenous peoples are disproportionately affected by these issues, exacerbated by historical trauma, lack of access to housing, and ongoing colonization. Recognizing the complexity of intersecting issues, tailored approaches have a higher chance of success compared to one-size-fits-all solutions. Ensuring the availability of controlled substances is essential. We must also prioritize efforts to combat drug trafficking across borders by equipping law enforcement agencies with the necessary resources and tools. Adopting innovative and proactive strategies is imperative. It is crucial to ensure that individuals at risk have access to resources to prevent harm and seek voluntary treatment and recovery. We must also focus on addressing new developments that have emerged since 2019, acknowledging that the challenges faced today may differ from those when the conventions were established. Addressing the new global market for illegal drugs requires a shared responsibility. This necessitates engagement with stakeholders, civil society, NGOs, and individuals with lived and living experiences. We must be sensitive to gender considerations and uphold human rights throughout these efforts.

UNITED STATES:  Thank you, Madam Chair, and may I say how delightful it is to see you in the chair and have you back in Vienna again. We did not have a prepared statement because we obviously had the opportunity for Assistant Secretary Robinson to speak about our experiences. But there were some questions that were asked of him and there have also been some comments in the room that we would like to contribute to, so one of the questions that was asked was about the flexibility of the treaties and how can we say that the treaties are flexible when we’re dealing with treaty language. And I think this really gets to a core problem that we have and one that we have to address. And that is how we view these treaties. Do we see them as a straight jacket That tells you you must do this and you cannot do that? or do we view them as guidance built upon some common understandings and objectives, to help us achieve the aims of the convention. And we hear repeatedly, you know, calls for strict compliance with the treaties and yet, compliance is not a word that’s used in the treaties. And when the treaties refer to action to be taken out of concern. It’s out of concern for achieving the aims of the convention. And when we look at the various provisions of these conventions, particularly the single convention and the Convention on psychotropic substances. We see that member states have obligations, but those obligations take into consideration the constitutional framework, the legislative and administrative measures of a particular state. So with only three minutes I can’t go into great detail, but just I would suggest that we start looking at the treaties, and we look at them objectively and try to step away from the various myths that have consumed us for years. And, you know, I heard that legalisation of drugs leads to greater consumption by youth. I must say, in my country where we are gathering data on the various ways our individual states approach certain substances. We are not finding evidence of that theory. Our evidence debunks that theory. The notion of a drug-free society versus harm reduction. These are words we struggle with in the commission, and they mean different policies for my country. The notion of a drug-free society suggests a rigid and firm enforcement-based policy, and we are heading towards the people who suffer from drug abuse. So, if there is a way forward here, perhaps one way is for us to stop and start diving deep down into our policies to understand what are the concerns we really have? Let’s use the commission more effectively as a tool to interpret the treaties and guide us. And again, getting to the question of flexibility. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs is not just a UN policy body, It is also a treaty body or as my Mexican colleagues would remind me, it was not created by a treaty buddy it was created to create the treaties that we now have. so it has a very special rule. And those of us who are members of the Commission, the 53, it is our responsibility to interpret those treaties and guide the rest of the world on the policies coming from those. So thank you very much for this opportunity to speak, and look forward to reading the summary of this report. Thank you.

CO-CHAIR: Thank you. I thank you very much for your comments. I do remember that actually from the Mexican delegation. The question was directed to all panellists. So if you would like to answer later on when we finished with our contributions from the floor, I would be happy to hear that as well. Now I would like to pass the floor to the distinguished representative of the United Kingdom to be followed by South Africa. 

United Kingdom: We understand that successful partnerships are essential in addressing challenges. With this in mind, we have initiated a new program to test a locally focused and place-based approach in the 13 hardest-hit areas of England and Wales. The pilot aims to test innovative and multi-agency approaches, including coordinated law enforcement activities and diverted programs that enhance treatment and recovery, encompassing housing and employment support. The goal is to reduce drug-related offending and prevent harm and deaths. Between January and September, nearly 12,000 community resolutions were undertaken, leading to an increase in treatment numbers and a reduction in organized crime. Collaborative efforts at the local level can make a tangible difference. Coordinated action involving police, schools, health services, and broader support services is essential, involving a wide range of organizations in formulating plans. We have learned valuable lessons from this pilot and have implemented it nationally, extending it to every area of England and bringing together relevant stakeholders. Partnerships conduct local analyses to develop plans addressing drug-related harm. Delivery is enhanced when clear, designated individuals can take local initiative, typically the director of public health or law enforcement, who will report to the authorities. The number of people in treatment has increased, and we have observed a rise in the number of service workers. We are fully committed to working at all levels to address drug-related challenges.

COCHAIR:  I thank you very much distinguished delegates of the United Kingdom and I pass the floor now to the distinguished delegate of South Africa to be followed by Thailand, South Africa, you have the floor.

SOUTH AFRICA:  Thank you for giving us the floor, Madam Chair.  I request that the video message from the Minister of Social Development of the Republic of South Africa be played.
The current drug problem across the globe, particularly within Africa, demands our urgent attention, as evidenced by the increasing number of people injecting drugs and living with HIV and hepatitis C. This midterm review thus provides a timely opportunity to assess the progress achieved, identify gaps, and chart the way forward. To take practical actions, we need to first acknowledge the complex and diverse challenges faced by many countries, especially those with middle and low incomes. The kinds of drug problems vary, and the interconnected nature of these challenges mandates a common but nuanced approach, with shared responsibilities.  The current drug problem, with its interconnected challenges, mandates a common but nuanced approach with shared responsibilities. The global prevalence of drugs and substance abuse is fast becoming a public health crisis. Africa has not been spared, as it is rapidly becoming a trafficking hub – a point of origin and destination. Many adolescents and young people are consuming a wide range of illicit substances, including new psychotropic substances, which places an additional burden on the economy, the fragile healthcare system, and society. If not decisively addressed, we run the risk of facing an emerging pandemic.  The outcome document is critical in addressing the world drug problem. We must take practical actions at the national level, coupled with strengthened regional and global coordination, to reduce the supply, demand, and harm caused by the abuse of drugs, as identified in the 2019 ministerial declaration.  In charting the way forward, South Africa is mindful of the socio-economic burden African countries face when seeking access to the availability and affordability of controlled substances for pain relief and palliative care. We should be attentive to the needs of all people by adopting a human rights approach in line with our political commitments. South Africa has prioritised the following:  One, we are reviewing our current legislation to address the persistent and emerging challenges of drug use disorders. We aim to align our national response with international standards and commitments, including the review of the National Drug Master Plan for 2019-2024. Two, we are committed to coordinating our national response on cross-cutting issues in countering the drug problem.  Three, we pledge to upscale drug treatment and health services to enhance accessibility, affordability, and availability of treatment services for people with substance use disorders. This includes enhancing treatment capacity, providing training, and expanding the prevention and treatment workforce.  We recognize the importance of gathering data to implement regional and country-specific interventions. Therefore, we are working on implementing a substance use electronic system to provide comprehensive data on current drug trends. This will inform policy decisions and facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the problem.  In conclusion, Chairperson, we must acknowledge that the world drug problem is multifaceted and requires enhanced collaboration, especially through regional efforts to address complex and region-specific challenges. We need to adopt a people-centred approach, which encompasses evidence-based, human rights-sensitive, gender-sensitive, and law enforcement outlooks, to ensure that no patient is left behind.

CO CHAIR: I thank South Africa for this contribution and I will now pass the floor to the distinguished delegate of Thailand to be followed by Switzerland.

THAILAND: We reaffirm our support for a comprehensive response to the World Drug Problem (WDP). Addressing the WDP is a collective responsibility, and it is crucial to prioritize the well-being of individuals and communities by placing them at the center of our efforts. We advocate for an approach that treats addiction as an illness. Thailand has intensified its efforts by urging countries to address Drug Use Disorders (DUD) and by strengthening law enforcement along borders to prevent the entry of illicit drugs into the country. To further progress towards the goals set for 2029, we align ourselves with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Agenda, emphasizing the significant role of Alternative Development. This approach aims to address not only illicit crop cultivation but also all aspects of drug production. Thailand encourages member states to engage in partnerships and support the UN Guiding Principles on Alternative Development, ensuring that all people can live in health, security, and prosperity. We are ready to share our best practices and collaborate with others in this endeavor.

COCHAIR: Thank You very much to the distinguished delegate of Thailand.  I now pass the floor to the distinguished delegate of Switzerland followed by Pakistan.

SWITZERLAND: Thank you, Madam Chair, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates. Five years have passed since 2019, and as we have seen, we are far from having achieved the objectives set forth in the ministerial declaration. If we want to remedy this, it is high time that we implement the recommendations of civil society and other UN specialised parties, such as UN Women, UNAIDS, and human rights bodies. We need to be pragmatic and admit that drugs exist and will continue to exist in the future. Harm reduction is therefore an indispensable tool if we truly want to respond effectively to the health risks stemming from drug consumption, whether it be HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, or overdoses.  In Switzerland, measures have been undertaken and have proven their worth. We have seen an 83% reduction in new users of heroin between 1983 and 2002. Additionally, there has been a 50% reduction in mortality related to drug use between the 1990s and 2004, and the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS is among the lowest in Europe.  Today, we need to overcome ideological disputes and acknowledge that harm reduction is a reality in many countries. We must step up the implementation of these programs and, above all, balance out financing between suppression, treatment, harm reduction, and other approaches. Denying the reality of harm reduction ultimately undermines its effectiveness in combating drug-related issues.  Distinguished delegates, today, more than ever, we need to ensure that our policies on drug control do not cause more harm than the solutions they intend to address. Human rights must be our compass in terms of protecting life, prohibiting torture and inhumane treatment, eliminating discrimination, and upholding the right to life and health. These are the fundamental challenges we face within this forum.  Otherwise, we risk implementing solutions that worsen the problem. We must bring to bear all of our energy and experience to secure a drug policy that is anchored in human health rights. Thank you.

COCHAIR: I thank you very much ambassador. I would now like to pass the floor to the distinguished delegate of Pakistan to be followed by distinguished delegates of Australia. 

PAKISTAN: We appreciate the adoption of the outcome document of the mid-term review of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration, as it provides a roadmap for scaling up all commitments. We share the concerns of the international community and recognize the collective wisdom needed to address shared challenges. We are committed to making every effort to tackle this problem through joint endeavors and a common, shared responsibility. In light of the ongoing transformation in the illicit drug market and the emergence of new dimensions of illicit drugs, we believe that demand and supply reduction should remain a priority area for collaboration. No single country can overcome this challenge alone. It is essential to focus our efforts and tailor global responses through transnational and regional collaboration, as outlined in the UN charters, to bring us closer to our goals. I would like to highlight some of our initiatives, including the establishment of a national counter-narcotics control center, which will oversee counter-narcotic efforts at all levels. This center will house representatives from all key agencies and task forces, equipped with the latest drug detection equipment and staffed by border guards. We are also strengthening our approaches through operational outreach and human resources, as well as augmenting treatment facilities by establishing rehabilitation centers in all major cities. We are committed to continuing our efforts across all fields of counter-narcotics approaches.

AUSTRALIA:  Thank you very much, Chair. I’m delivering this statement on behalf of my Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and Rural and Regional Health, and she regrets that she cannot be here today. Australia is very pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to this important high-level round.  We acknowledge that the world drug situation remains complex and multifaceted. Global drug challenges persist, evolve, and adapt. While it has been promising to hear that progress has been made in improving aspects of the world drug situation, the global community still has work to do.  According to the 2023 World Drug Report, drug use contributes to around half a million deaths each year. Reducing harms associated with drug use is one of our joint commitments highlighted in the 2019 ministerial declaration, where member states reiterated their resolve to strengthen effective, comprehensive, scientific evidence-based initiatives and measures aimed at minimising the adverse public health and social consequences of drug use.  Work undertaken towards fulfilling this commitment will be critical if we want to make significant progress over the next five years and beyond. We call on member states to develop, implement, and/or expand domestic harm reduction services, utilising the latest scientific evidence and taking into account relevant WHO and UNODC resources such as the “Stock Overdose Safely” initiative, the International Treatment Standards, and the HIV Treatment and Care Technical Guides for people who inject drugs and people who use stimulant drugs.  There is a global unmet need for treatment services and one in five persons with a drug use disorder receiving the treatment that they need. This should be a concern for all of us. And we reiterate the importance of reducing stigma and discrimination associated with drug use and blood borne viruses. Well known barriers to accessing treatment and support services. On this note, we acknowledge the value of community led responses and involving those impacted by drug use in policy design, implementation and evaluation. Ensuring initiatives are effective and tailored to achieve positive outcomes for individuals, families and communities. Existing challenges gaps and barriers and the resultant impacts harm and harms only perpetuate existing health and social inequities and disproportionately impact those persons subject to socio cultural, systematic, systemic and structural inequalities. We encourage measures and services that are gender responsive to the needs of populations. Finally, we return to synthetic drugs and new psychoactive substances are propelling the global overdose crisis and causing severe harms. We call on Member States and the international community to continue working together to address these threats, including through the establishment of early warning and drug surveillance systems that provide timely alerts and information on dangerous and emerging substances to reduce their associated harms. As we work towards 2029. We must consider our international drug policy commitments, human rights, obligations and commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to be compatible, complementary and mutually reinforcing in every instance, with the health, welfare and human rights of all people at the forefront. We must also work collaboratively with all stakeholders including the broader UN system, international partners, civil society organisations and community to effectively address the global drug situation. Australia looks forward to working constructively with partners throughout CND 67 and beyond to progress our shared commitments and respond to existing and emerging challenges ahead of the 2029 review. Thank you. 

INTERPOL: As the world evolves so does crime faced by nations. Over last few years we have seen record seizures by governments. This led to creation of a database of illicit pharma seizures and database on new trends in trafficking and manufacturing of drugs. Market for synthetic drugs is expanding in multiple regions through seizures of drugs containing fentanyl. To counter trafficking we have developed 6 year global drug programme leveraging our tools and expertise. Our IRAID programme addresses emerging challenges posed by synthetic drugs. We have developed an integrated approach around pillars of enhancing intl collaboration, exemplified by recent teams sent to IReland and Ecuador. Capacity building and training and strengthening partnerships with local stakeholders to foster collaboration with EUROPOL and UN. Targeting money laundering by targeting criminal groups involved in these activities. The power of our intl collaboration has üproved invaluable. We have recently recognized that crime cannot be fought alone and we must recognize our role in the fight against synthetic drugs. As we look forward to 2029 review we reaffirm our commitment in the three drug treaties and will continue to support states in addressing the threat of drugs.

Associacion Proyecto Hombre:  Thank you, Chair. I am speaking on behalf of my organisation, Solutions from Spain, but today I am representing the 930 organisations from 98 countries, including federations and networks, who support the Global Initiative on Drug Use Prevention. Effective and evidence-based prevention policies are increasingly proving that a significant portion of drug-related problems is preventable.  Last June, national and international experts convened in the beautiful city in Spain, for a consultation to explore effective strategies for preventing drug use aligned with international scientific standards. Stemming from that consultation, the Declaration was adopted with the involvement of more than 200 experts and translated into 20 languages so far. I am very pleased to share with you the title of its 10 proposals for action, which call for countries to dedicate at least 25% of their Drug Demand Reduction Strategy and Policy budget to prevention by 2030. Promote an approach to prevention targeting all ages of development and favouring early prevention. Also, prioritise research and evaluation to avoid ineffective and counterproductive prevention strategies.  The focus should shift from drugs to the individual and the community, mainstreaming intersectional approaches for implementation for all populations at risk. Establish multi-stakeholder prevention systems and document effectiveness and cost-effectiveness when implemented globally. Additionally, provide universal coverage in prevention with a continuity of care by prioritising action in low and middle-income countries.  Importantly, empower current and future generations of prevention professionals working on the ground worldwide. Lastly, monitor the status of prevention policies through accountable surveillance. Complete information on each proposal and the list of supporting organisations are available online. We strongly welcome the initiative on prevention led by civil society organisations, which can provide support on the ground. After grappling with very complex drug-related problems, we believe it is crucial to incorporate and invest in evidence-based prevention in drug policy. Thank you very much.

INPUD and LANPUD: My name is Jessica Morales and I am making this intervention on behalf of the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) and the Latin American Network of People who Use Drugs (LANPUD). We are global and regional entities representing the voices of people most impacted by drug policies.

It is indisputably clear that the current international drug control system, mandated through the three drug control treaties, impedes, and obstructs human rights; the right to life, right to health and right to freedom from discrimination, being a chief few that are consistently denied people who use drugs the world over. Over time, it has become more evident that the war on drugs also undermines indigenous and cultural rights, as well as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

It is time for the global community to be honest about our failures. The war on drugs fuels racism, oppression, and neocolonialism. I come from a region that continues to be plundered of its resources and where our people have continued to witness rampant violence and enforced disappearances by a system that has continued to traumatize generations since colonial times and will continue to do so. All over, the imperative to control and punish drug use, which has always been a part of the human experience, is creating new threats and challenges, such as a poisoned drug supply and exponential increases in drug overdoses. Lives are being lost every day, lives that have value, loss that could have been prevented. Our fight is for life, for its preservation, for everyone.

The Way Forward: the Path to 2029 must entail a paradigm shift, where the human rights and dignity of people who use drugs must be placed front and center. It is our communities who are being decimated, our communities who are grieving, and our communities who are at the frontlines of mitigating the damage caused. The global architecture on drugs should not primarily entail reporting back on military and police crackdowns, arrests and violence, but focus on righting the wrongs. To this end, member states should work on full decriminalisation and responsible regulation, drawing from community, indigenous and cultural knowledge and practices and ensure people who use drugs are meaningfully involved every step of the way.

SSDP: According to the CND Resolution 66/1, civil society organisations including youth organisations were invited to participate in consultations to share their contributions to the challenges identified in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration to inform the preparatory process in the lead-up to March 2024. For the first time, some Member States have highlighted the importance of putting youth at the centre of drug policy discussions. Considering this, the Paradigma Coalition has developed this Common Position on Drugs, which seeks to capture young people’s concerns with the current drug policy regime and its unintended consequences, and  on youth. It also lays out our commitments and actions for meaningful engagement of young people as we work towards the 2029 final review forging a plan of action. Finally, we provide recommendations to Member States, relevant entities of the United Nations system, relevant international and regional organisations to address the challenges in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration.

We, the Paradigma Coalition

ACKNOWLEDGE the efforts being put in place by the UNODC in partnership with its Member States in response to the world drug situation and efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the commitments made in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration.

ALSO ACKNOWLEDGE that the three international drug control conventions that are currently key pillars of the international drug control system were created without the appropriate or meaningful participation of affected groups and priority populations; including young people and other affected groups, people who use drugs, and with no specific consideration for children or young people. This includes recognising that young people’s experiences are highly diverse and intersect with factors such as, but not limited to race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, religion, nationality, region, socio-economic status, as well as disabilities. Therefore we REQUEST for their full review of the three international drug control conventions with the meaningful participation of affected groups; applying an intersectional lens to elevate the perspectives of those most harmed by the international drug control regime; including but not limited to children, young people, people who use drugs and indigenous peoples; in the spirit of centering the health and wellbeing of all humankind to address the world drug situation.

FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGE that The Convention on the Rights of the Child creates an obligation to take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from drug-related harm. EMPHASIZE that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has interpreted that appropriate measures must be rights-compliant, and effective, and include the development of accessible and child-sensitive harm reduction services and drug dependence treatment, providing accessible, appropriate, and evidence-based information to children about drugs, and refraining from criminalising children because of their drug use or possession of drugs for personal use. NOTE WITH CONCERN that certain interpretations of Article 33 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC) have caused significant harm, and that Article 33 must be interpreted within broader human rights law and other articles of the UN Convention on the Right of the Child. 

WELCOMING the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights’ 2023 Report on Drug Policy and the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy, developed by UN member states, WHO, UNDP, UNAIDS, and human rights and drug policy experts. Particularly paragraph 17: “Children have the right to protection from exploitation, including in the illicit drug trade. States shall take appropriate measures to protect children from exploitation in the illicit drug trade through preventative and remedial measures.”

FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGE that the United Nations System Common Position recognizes that the three international conventions “allow for sufficient flexibility for countries to design and implement national drug policies according to their priorities and needs”, which can include but is not limited to “the decriminalization of drugs for personal use”. 

NOTE WITH CONCERN what the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) referred to as the “unintended consequences“ of drug control: the exponential growth of illegal drug markets, policy displacement away from public health and human rights, geographical displacement (including to new regions and countries that are ill-equipped to deal with these challenges), substance displacement (variety of substance availability), and the perception of people who use drugs (including poor communities, women and young people) as people with deviant and criminal behaviour;

TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION rising trends such as youth bulges across Global South contexts, as well as climate change, urbanisation, inequalities, the upward trend of drug use among young people, and the negative social, health and human rights impact of punitive drug control regimes which disproportionately affect the health and well-being of young people across the world. Conjointly, we ACKNOWLEDGE associated risks of youth unemployment, high rates of poverty, and an increased risk of overdose that affect young people and young people who use drugs globally, and must be addressed by Member States. We  REITERATE the importance of prioritising structural transformation for inclusive and youth-friendly, people-centred drug policies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

NOTE WITH CONCERN/RECONGNISE  that the control of coca under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is currently in conflict with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly harming Indigenous Peoples’ right to their traditional medicines and to maintain their health practices, including the preservation of their vital medicinal plants (Article 24(1)) and their right to develop their own economic and social institutions (Article 20). FURTHER RECOGNIZE that as has been documented in the Supporting Dossier for the WHO Critical Review on coca and the academic literature, that the scheduling of coca was part of done under a colonial history.

We, as Paradigma Coalition youth organizations and youth whose work relates to drugs, therefore recommend that:

Member States must prioritise evidence-based public health and human rights approaches for drug policies, in alignment with SDG 3 ‘ensuring good health and wellbeing’, SDG 10 ‘reducing inequalities’, as well as SDG 16 which aims to provide ‘access to justice for all’, to drug policy over punitive repressive responses. to drug issues Policies should shift their focus away from criminalization toward peer-led prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and social integration services. 

Youth-led organisations should be meaningfully engaged and have decision-making powers in development, implementation and evaluation of all drug-related policies, programs and interventions. Creating opportunities for young people who use drugs to vote, decide and speak in key meetings and events without fearing negative consequences following participation, this will help create policies that better serve young people who use drugs from diverse backgrounds at all levels of consultation.

UNODC and its Member States ought to support youth capacity building on drug issues and meaningfully include the youth voices of young people, in all their diversity, in international drug control forums and debates, providing a balanced space that considers initiatives and responses based on both prevention of drug use and harm reduction for young people who use drugs. Including, but not limited to, all perspectives at the Youth Forum, as well as, ensuring that youth delegates have a meaningful place to engage with international drug policy stakeholders while at the CND and other youth forums alike. 

More resources from the international drug control budget must be reallocated to support community-based organisations providing harm reduction, treatment and social services to impacted populations such as youth, farmers and Indigenous communities.

Comprehensive data on the impacts and unintended consequences of current drug policies need to be collected, including on disproportionate effects on marginalised communities. Data collection teams should work closely with community-based and civil society organisations to and it must inform reforms that mitigate human rights violations and environmental damage.

Decriminalisation of drug use, possession, and sharing and other alternatives to punitive law enforcement such as legal regulation models must be considered to reduce harms from unregulated drug markets, according to scientific evidence and countries’ human rights obligations, including, but not limited to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. 

Address the missing link between drug policy and climate justice, considering the impact on young people and future generations. Consider that drug prohibition drives organised crime, corruption and state capture in ecological fragile regions, such as the Amazon. Consider and address three main issues: (1) that prohibition pushes criminal activities and organised crime to key environmental frontiers; (2) that drug profits end up funding environmental destruction in sensible environments; and (3) that drug prohibition and lack of regulation destabilises societies and obstructs efforts to mitigate climate change. 

Youth-friendly and evidence-based, as well as peer-led, drug education focusing on harm reduction ought to be recognized and supported as crucial components of public health policy at schools and in communities, in alignment with SDG 3 ‘ensuring good health and well-being’ and SDG 4 ‘access to quality and equitable education’. Abstinence-only approaches must be abandoned, and access to good quality drug education that benefits youth as a whole must be implemented, as well as be accessible to those who want it. 

Member States should guarantee barrier-free access to comprehensive, youth-friendly healthcare and harm reduction services for all young people regardless of age, gender identity, sexual orientation or behaviour. This includes removing all legal, policy and practical barriers that currently restrict access, such as removing laws criminalising drug use and possession for personal use and sharing, eliminating age restrictions and parental consent requirements, as well as decriminalising behaviours and identities. Crucial services like opioid substitution therapy, naloxone access, supervised consumption facilities, drug checking, STI testing/treatment, holistic mental health care services, and culturally appropriate holistic healthcare tailored to the specific needs of young people who use or are otherwise affected by drugs key populations should be universally available without fear of legal repercussions.

Member States and UN Agencies should ensure that all drug policies and related interventions respect the privacy and confidentiality of young people. This includes safeguarding their personal information, medical records, and any data collected during the provision of healthcare, harm reduction, and support services. Additionally, policies should be in place to protect young people from unwarranted surveillance, discrimination, and stigmatisation based on their drug use or seeking of related services.

CO-CHAIR: Do we have any questions? If not, I would like to give the last moment to each of the panellists who has remained to conclude our discussion for today, and I will start in reverse order, if I may, and give floor to Dr Caitlin Hughes.  

ISSDP/CAITLIN HUGHES: Thank you, everyone, for your contributions today and the very useful discussion. I think it’s important to reinforce that the midterm review has highlighted the challenges we’ve faced over the last five years. These challenges include issues with both the supply and demand of drugs, as well as the persistent gaps in access to drug treatment and controlled medicines. Additionally, we continue to see harms being experienced, particularly by those who are most marginalised.  With that in mind, there is a strong need for more investment in drug treatment and harm reduction responses. This includes measures like alternatives to arrest that need to be expanded. It’s crucial that our efforts are in line with the requirements outlined in the international drug control conventions, while also involving civil society and affected communities in the design, implementation, and evaluation of these initiatives.  Lastly, I’d like to reiterate that we have a wealth of knowledge about what works, but we also need to think differently and explore new approaches to address these challenges. By expanding the evidence base and approaching these issues from different perspectives, we can make significant strides in the next five years and improve the situation by 2029. Thank you very much.

Chile: I am thinking of consumption as a public health issue and focus on prevention, treatment and social reintegration. There aren’t many effective programs and it is left in the hands of women, carers, and reduces opportunities for women. I would like to ask member states and NGOs to see how we can have accessible, evidence based systems.

INCB :  Thank you, Chair. The discussion during this session has been wonderful and fruitful, with a diverse range of views from both organisations and member states. The way forward from 2024 to 2029 appears to be more challenging than the previous five years. However, with the help of this collaborative decision, we hope that the INCB will be able to meet the requirements and fulfil the commitments made in the 2019 document. Thank you very much.

Romania: I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity to offer a few concluding remarks following the interventions of my minister. It has been a pleasure to participate in this meeting, and the discussions have been both informative and constructive.  Our conclusion is that we need to maintain a balanced approach between drug demand reduction and drug supply reduction as we strive to fully implement the goals for 2029. All policies and actions should prioritise human rights, protecting welfare, and ensuring the future of our communities. The concerns raised today have one clear solution: international cooperation focused on preventing drug trafficking and increasing the resilience of all nations.  Thank you. Thank you very much.

CO-CHAIR: Thank you very much. I have prepared a summary following the completion of the presentations by our panelists and the discussion among all EU member states. We have heard about various national approaches, experiences, pilot projects, and initiatives from both intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. There have been proposals for the way forward, emphasizing evidence-based interventions and drug policies.  Before we adjourn the meeting, I would like to highlight our agreement to prepare a non-negotiated summary of the most salient points from our roundtable discussions. This summary will be presented to the plenary before the closure of the high-level segment.  I want to express my gratitude to all of you for your active participation and engaging discussion. It has been a pleasure to co-chair this meeting with my colleague. With that, I would like to thank once again all the panelists and everyone present in this room. The meeting is adjourned.

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