Home » Round Table – Taking Stock: Work Undertaken Since 2019

Round Table – Taking Stock: Work Undertaken Since 2019

UN Web TV recording

Mexico/Co-Chair: Delegations wishing to take the floor can raise their panels to nominate themselves. Please bear with me if I call on speakers according to the flow of the discussion.  Please focus on the topic of discussion, namely taking stock on work done by CND since 2019. Interventions from the floor should be limited to a maximum of 3 minutes. A summary of the meeting will be presented to the plenary before the conclusion of the HLM and will not be subject to negotiation. 

UNODC: Let me start by putting context on the situation today in terms of the world drug problem. I wanted to share some graphs, data, and to emphasize we are able to do this as a common good from the CND. This data comes from the member states and we are bringing it together, as common knowledge, which can be useful in your deliberations. I wanted to start by saying the situation is not particularly promising. We see continuously more supply of drugs in the market, more drugs, and more harm consequently. The number of people who have used drugs over the years, at least the best estimation of this, has increased. Some of this can be attributed to population increase, but there is also an increase in prevalence. We can see here an index of seizures, and you can see an increase in seizures of synthetic drugs. There is a continued expansion of amphetamine type stimulants, synthetic drugs on the market. New psychoactive substances being monitored has been increasing over the years, with some plateaus but still an increase in drugs on the market. 

When I say more harm, when we have more people using drugs we have an increase in drug dependence, injection. The last estimate we have of injection drug use is 80% more than our previous estimate. Almost half of all injecting drug users are living with Hep C, HIV. Most people who use drugs die from Hep C and HIV which are all preventable. I don’t want to forget plant based drugs – cocaine production is at record high and with opium there has been a sharp decrease in Afghanistan, but still it remains a threat until we see what happens with this context. It is hard to put together a global picture on service delivery, we can say that service delivery is unequally distributed and we can see, for example, that women are underrepresented in treatment and women face much greater barriers than men in treatment. There is a greatly unequal distribution of benefit of controlled drugs for medical purposes, predominantly pain medication. You see in high income countries the availability is much higher than lower and middle income countries. There has been some decrease in high income countries in recent years. In relation to the overall global situation for data – we are confronted with overall complexity of the drug market and an imbalance in access and safety of drugs. How do we allow accessibility where we need it, while ensuring we limit harm? We can also see the perception of risk of drugs is really declining. We see this with cannabis, the psychedelic market. People think drugs are good for everything,that they’re not that risky. We see with cannabis that much fewer young people recognize the risk of cannabis despite much higher potency cannabis on the market. We have a huge threat of synthetic drugs and these are really challenging the traditional responses we have seen for drugs. Synthetic drugs are much cheaper, faster, and can be replicated much quicker by producers. It is much easier to replace shipments that are seized reducing the impact of seizures. We know that synthetic drugs can be manufactured everywhere. We see they are easily concentrated where the rule of law is very low, for example in Myanmar, in Syria and the Levantine region, where there are challenges to do with security so it is much harder to control this. There is also continued innovation through input and output, so controlling substances is much more difficult. The pharmacology of synthetic drugs are much more unpredictable and change how we work to make drugs less harmful, for example through drug testing. We also have unequal data, we can spotlight problems where we have the data. We are all aware of the massive deaths in North America but have no data on Asia and Africa, how can we put the spotlight on areas where we don’t know. To end on some good news – during covid we have seen a lot of service innovation for example having increased take home methadone, pharmacy delivering methadone or naloxone so this gives hope to increase accessibility to services. We have today also more countries reporting on annual report questionnaires. This gives hope that on the next revision in 2029 we will have better data to better assess the problem. 

Czechia (Eastern European Group): The world drug situation is rapidly changing every day with negative consequences for public health and security. Allow me to start positively, if we look at 2019 some positive developments have happened. 109 countries support harm reduction services in national policies, 92 actively apply harm reduction services such as needle and syringe programs, 88 provide opioid agonist treatment, while 17 provide drug consumption rooms. On top of this various measures to strengthen prevention of drug use, such as legal responsible regulation of substances. We need greater data collection to deepen our understanding and design policies to make a better future and improve the wellbeing of societies. But – do we really listen and follow the best scientific evidence? We have evidence that a world without drugs is not achievable. Drugs have been around as long as time itself, since early human species 200 million years ago. We do still need to mitigate risk and move forward. We have to admit the current control mechanisms are not sufficient and often do more harm than benefits. Illegal markets transform rapidly and there will be a panel about emerging challenges. Underline human rights violations according to the 2023 report of OHCHR such as death penalties, extrajudicial killing, disproportionate sentencing, lack of alternative to imprisonment. We can also see that marginalized groups continue to suffer from stigma and discrimination. We can see that there have been several challenges since 2019 which call for immediate action. In Czechia we have expanded collection of data including on new psychoactive substances and addiction technologies. We adopted an addiction policy action plan 2023-25 based on core principles of harm reduction and aimed interalia at improving access and funding for treatment. Harm reduction and prevention programs are sometimes expensive but in many areas it is not only about outward looking initiatives. Within the context of addiction services we have adopted a new system for approving new services available. The policy of abstinence does not aim to minimize harm or risks, in 2022 we also launched a debate on decriminalization for personal use and reduction of penalty for drug offenses. Even though we have decriminalized drug use in 2009 there are still issues within the legal system and we believe we can still fulfill goals of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration such as placing the well-being of society at the center of the efforts. With the influx of substances we have had to change how we regulate less harmful substances, as new substances can often be more dangerous than the regulated substances. We are working on cannabis regulation and the psychomodulatory substance act being discussed currently. These substances are considered less harmful but still have psychoactive properties. We believe combining all mentioned approaches and moving towards a health and human right based approach. Prohibition has an impact on health, society, and security. Must strive to make substances available for medical and scientific purposes and must strengthen partnerships with scientific and CSO communities.

Chair: Her excellency has to leave now so I am opening the floor shortly. Any question? I see none. We are moving on to our next panelist.

Colombia: We have suffered under the prohibitionist approach – damage to our communities. Commitments on the international level have not been fulfilled. The premise of a drug free world is not realistic. We must offer our people security and well being. I wanted to elaborate on these – regulations need to adapt. Criminal groups adapt. There is still a lack of information. It is essential to overcome problematic consumption, but the range of drugs is extending. The number of NPS is increasing and . However, there is no discourse on the social side of the issue – why are people consuming? And what problems are connected to this use? We have acknowledged that about 40% of women have been criminalized because of drug related offenses. We have started a program based on social services, as an alternative to incarceration. Restorative justice, in our view, could bring better results than simply criminalizing people. Our policies have to be adapted to our populations. We cannot overlook the reports of human rights champions – this belongs to the “world drug problem”. Risk and harm reduction, social inclusion, public health – improving the quality of life, especially for those who use drugs. In our region, we will take big strides forward, with an innovative mindset.

Algeria (African Group): Ambassadors from African countries convened in Vienna last November to review their achievements. The African Union Member States adopted a declaration outlining their unified stance on addressing the drug issue. Collaborating with the UNODC, several African Member States have formulated a shared vision for 2030, focusing on bolstering support to enhance efforts. A recent report has highlighted a concerning surge in drug use and trafficking across Africa, including substances such as cannabis, tramadol, amphetamines, and NPS. Additionally, there has been an alarming increase in new HIV infections within prison populations. To combat these challenges, numerous projects aimed at improving data collection to support treatment have been successfully implemented. This initiative received support from the United States, with 15 African Member States adopting a public health approach. The misuse of opiates poses another significant concern across Africa, with hemp, alongside opiates, cocaine, and XTC, identified as major substances of concern. Seizures of psychotropic substances have also seen a rise. Notable successes in supply reduction between 2019-2024 can be attributed to media campaigns, engagement with treatment and monitoring centers, and anti-drug programs in Ivory Coast. The development of a cyber-crime program at the African level represents a crucial advancement. Efforts to treat addicts and establish hotlines for reporting traffickers have significantly contributed to successes. Monitoring potential clandestine labs using satellite technology has required substantial budgetary commitments. Efforts to improve reporting mechanisms have been initiated, including the assignment of Algeria’s National Council to develop a national report on drug use and prevention. A committee has been established to assess ongoing efforts and contribute to the formulation of a national strategy and early warning system, with a focus on safeguarding youth. In conclusion, addressing the drug problem is tantamount to combating terrorism and other serious crimes.

Malta (Group of Western European and Other States): It is crucial that we confront challenges directly, resolutely, and honestly. I will begin by discussing our efforts to tackle drug use in line with the 1988 convention. In 2015, we adopted the Treatment, Not Imprisonment Act, which has led to a significant decrease in court appearances. This approach has promoted inclusivity in communities and reduced the stigma experienced by people who use drugs (PUD). Interaction with support services has increased, enabling more effective treatment of drug use issues.We have established day and resident programs for minors under 17 and their families dealing with problematic drug use, particularly heroin, cocaine, and cannabis. Referrals to these programs come from the criminal justice system, social services, and families themselves. Our goal is to minimize the impact on the criminal justice system and prioritize the health of our young people. Our framework includes both supply and demand reduction strategies, reflecting our commitment to addressing the problem comprehensively. We have observed a shift from heroin to cocaine as the primary substance of concern among those receiving treatment. There is a pressing need for innovative medications to address cocaine cravings and dependencies. However, we recognize that addressing drug use requires a broader societal approach, characterized by accessible housing, green spaces, and employment opportunities. Enhanced policing plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of neighborhoods and society as a whole.I am pleased to announce that the Permanent Mission of Malta will host a side event on Monday morning to further explore the issues addressed today.

UNAIDS: In 2019 the Commission on Narcotic Drugs noted with concern the lack of health services for people who use drugs, and the continuing high rates of transmission of HIV among people who use drugs. In that year, 690,000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses and 1.7million people acquired HIV. In 2022, our most recent data, AIDS-related deaths stood at 630,000 and 1.3 million new infections. A small decrease, but a decrease nonetheless. However, for people who inject drugs, progress has not kept pace with the rest of the population. As such, in 2022 people who inject drugs made up a higher proportion of new adult HIV infections than in 2010. Among reporting countries, median HIV prevalence for people who inject drugs is 5%, seven times higher than the rest of the adult population. This data hides significant variation. Among reporting countries, HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs ranges from 0% to 51%. Prevalence among men who inject drugs is almost half that of women. Decriminalization, harm reduction and community leadership are having an impact, where they exist and among the populations for whom they are designed. All this means two things. First, change is possible and is happening. Second, it is not happening everywhere or for everyone, not by a long shot. In terms of progress: since 2019 we have seen several countries move towards decriminalization, with some, such as Ghana, decriminalizing all drug use. Others have introduced or scaled up harm reduction programming or ensured its access to marginalized groups. For example, UNAIDS is supporting Brazil in engaging transgender women in harm reduction programming. With the onset of COVID-19 we saw an increase in availability of take-home doses of opioid agonist maintenance therapy, such as in Vietnam. Communities have been central to this progress; in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda peer groups have been instrumental in delivering harm reduction interventions, law enforcement trainings and awareness-raising initiatives, including women-centred harm reduction services in Kenya. Since 2019, governments have also re-committed to a health and rights-based approach. The new Global AIDS Strategy 2021-2026 contains specific targets for people who inject drugs, including on stigma and discrimination, decriminalization and community leadership. These have been adopted by the UN General Assembly in the HIV Political Declaration of 2021. However, the progress we are seeing remains small, restricted to a few countries and cities. Services such as needle-syringe programmes and opioid agonist maintenance therapy, crucial for reducing HIV and other health risks among people who inject drugs, only exist in around 50% of countries. Since 2018 only five countries have reported meeting the WHO and UNAIDS recommended target of at least 200 needles and syringes per year per person who inject drugs. The recommended coverage of opioid agonist maintenance therapy, 50% of people who inject drugs, was only reached in three countries reported 2022. People who inject drugs remain criminalized, stigmatized and discriminated against. 145 countries still criminalize possession of drugs for personal use. In 2022, among reporting countries, a median of 30% of people who inject drugs reported experiencing stigma and discrimination in the past six months and 28% reported experiencing violence in the past 12 months. People who inject drugs are the least likely of any key population to be involved in the development of policies and programmes that affect them. Funding too, is a fraction of what it could be. Across 46 reporting countries, actual spending only amounted to 7% of the estimated resource needs for programmes for people who use drugs. Almost 70% of those funds came from international donors. When it comes to drug policy our collective and overarching goal is the health and wellbeing of humankind. We must be honest as to what has worked and not worked, and redirect investments towards a health-based approach, including scale up of harm reduction and other support programmes. We know that drug prohibition has failed. Punitive drug laws and law enforcement practices create significant barriers for people who inject drugs to access a range of benefits and services, including but not limited to harm reduction services, increasing the risk of acquiring HIV and reducing access to services. We must decriminalise possession of drugs for personal use, we must significantly scale up harm reduction service provision, and we must make sure that communities of people who use drugs are adequately resourced and in the lead.


The current world drug situation poses a critical public policy challenge, with a major impact on human rights. In 2021 over 296 million people used drugs, an increase of 23 per cent over the previous decade. Only one in five people suffering from drug-related disorders receives treatment for drug use in 2021. Nearly half a million people still die every year from drug-related causes, namely viral hepatitis, HIV, overdose, and injuries. The unnecessary and disproportionate use of the punitive approach to deal with the drug situation has led to prison overcrowding and many other human rights challenges. At the extreme, the punitive approach has involved sentencing to death for drug-related offences, in violation of international human rights law, in over 30 countries. As we conduct the mid-term review of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration on persistent and emerging challenges related to the global drug situation, we reflect on past achievements and challenges. This is also an opportunity to set goals towards 2029. I welcome member states’ renewed commitment to uphold human rights in drug policy development and implementation. A robust, human rights-based and sustainable development-led approach is essential to prevent drug control efforts from hindering progress towards the 2030 agenda and leaving no one behind. Turning to the recent OHCHR report (A/HRC/54/53) on human rights challenges related to the world drug problem. It was presented at the Human Rights Council; and shared with the Commission of Narcotic Drugs as a contribution to the mid-term review of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration. The report highlights key areas of concern: Lack of equal access to treatment and harm reduction, overincarceration and prison overcrowding, use of the death penalty for drug-related offences, disproportionate impact of punitive drug policies on marginalized groups youth, people of African descent, Indigenous Peoples, and women, and the “war on drugs” and the militarization of drug control. It is evident that the ‘war on drugs’ is ineffective. However, some countries are making progress in advancing human rights-based drug policies, in the last five years, as highlighted in the report. For instance, Colombia shifted to a human rights and development-focused drug policy, Ghana adopted legislative changes for a public health-friendly drug policy, Scotland established the first official consumption room and drafted a Charter of Rights for those affected by substance use, and several countries, including Pakistan, Malaysia, India, Mexico, Switzerland, and Germany, have made significant legal reforms towards more humane drug policies. The OHCHR report showcases additional examples of progress in human rights-based drug policy. Recommendations of the report: The report provides crucial recommendations on the way forward. Allow me to highlight five key recommendations. It is imperative to shifting away from punitive approaches to address human rights challenges, including exploring alternatives to decriminalization. Such a shift should include gender and age-appropriate programs that prioritize treatment and harm reduction services. Treatment for drug dependence must be voluntary, with informed consent as a prerequisite for any medical intervention. States must ensure equality and non-discrimination in drug policy design and implementation, particularly through a gender-responsive lens. Human rights-compliant law enforcement is crucial to combat the disproportionate impact of discriminatory practices, especially against people of African descent. Addressing underlying socioeconomic factors is paramount in reducing drug-related risks and involvement in the drug trade. Tackling social inequalities, promoting social justice, and advancing human rights are essential. Investing in alternative development and improving living conditions in drug-dependent communities are vital steps. Any financial and technical assistance provided to countries for drug enforcement operations must be tailored to ensure they do not contribute to or risk contributing to human rights violations. Meaningful engagement of civil society organizations, people who use drugs, affected communities, and youth is essential in the design, implementation, and evaluation of drug policies. Their knowledge and experiences must be taken into account to ensure effective policies. In concluding, I invite States, civil society including the community of people who use drugs and other stakeholders to leverage the findings and recommendations of our report. Together let us advance much-needed drug policy reforms and advance the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. I wish you every success in these endeavors.

International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC): I speak on behalf of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC): a global network of 190 civil society organisations advocating for drug policies based on human rights and social justice. We drew on a broad range of data and evidence, including the experiences of civil society and community organisations, to produce a Shadow Report which shows that little to no progress has been made since the 2019 Ministerial Declaration was adopted. For decades, the unachievable goal of a ‘drug-free society’ has driven drug policies that are based on criminalisation and harsh punishment. Civil society and community organisations play a central role in bringing forward evidence and lived experiences to inform policy responses to drugs. Member States and UN entities have a responsibility to listen to them and to reflect on how to reform a global system that has so clearly failed. Our Report shows that billions of dollars are spent every year on drug law enforcement, but the illegal drug market is thriving, and militarised responses fuel violence and conflict. Drug-related deaths remain at historical highs – over half a million deaths per year, driven in many places by a deadly and unpredictable drug supply. Access to gender-sensitive and age-appropriate harm reduction and treatment services is grossly inadequate. Access to controlled medicines for pain relief and palliative care also remains low to non-existent in most parts of the world. Our report shows that in all regions, the human rights impacts of drug control have either worsened or remained unchanged. These abuses range from ongoing use of the death penalty, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, mass incarceration, and torture disguised as drug ‘treatment’ or ‘rehabilitation’. There is also widespread discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age and socio-economic status. The good news is that last year, the Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 52/24 on the human rights implications of drug policy. It led to a report presented by the OHCHR in December 2023. We strongly welcome this report and here at the CND next week there will be a programme of 7 side events supported by the OHCHR on the challenges and recommendations in the report, which we invite you to attend. Further, in 66 jurisdictions across 40 countries, the use of drugs and related activities have been decriminalised. Over 300 million people live in legal systems that regulate cannabis for recreational use, which can check the power of organised crime as well as the harms of criminalisation. And at the request of Bolivia, the WHO initiated a critical review of the status of the coca leaf under the drug control conventions – which would end its global prohibition and reinstate the rights of Indigenous Peoples that have used the plant for centuries. In looking ahead at how to achieve a genuine paradigm shift towards drug policies that prioritise human rights and the health and welfare of humankind, we offer 6 recommendations: 1. Member States must promote and protect civil society space at the CND and at the UN in general. 2. As the lead agency responsible for implementation of the UN System Common Position on drugs within the Task Team, UNODC needs to do more to place the protection of health, human rights, equality and non-discrimination at the centre of its work. 3. UN bodies, including the WTO, OHCHR and UNAIDS, should develop evidence-based guidance on how to implement policies that decriminalise and legally regulate drugs. 4. The Human Rights Council should create a special procedure mandate on human rights and the world drug situation – responsible for providing evidence and developing international standards on drug policies. 5. Member States should establish a multi-stakeholder mechanism that includes civil society, academia and relevant UN entities and is responsible for exploring options to review and update the UN drug conventions. 6. Lastly, to ensure that the human rights dimension of drug policy are entrenched in the work of the CND, the Commission should add it as a standing agenda item to its annual sessions. Finally, as we did for the Ukrainian people in 2022, many members in the IDPC network express solidarity with the Palestinian people as they face an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. We urge member states to uphold international law and prevent further bloodshed and destruction, including an immediate permanent ceasefire, effective humanitarian aid, the end of the occupation of Palestinian territories, the cessation of arms transfers, the release of those arbitrarily detained or otherwise deprived of liberty against international law on all sides, and credible commitments toward peace and justice.

Chair: Now I am opening the interactive session of this roundtable. 

We got a lot of food for thought. We have at our disposal almost 2 hours. I invite the participants to pose questions or elaborate on the point of the speakers. Please keep comments short so everyone gets their turn.

China:In the past five years, we have diligently executed the 2019 action plan, resulting in notable improvements in our domestic situation. Our efforts in demand reduction have focused on enhancing educational initiatives across all age groups to increase anti-drug awareness among the entire population. Additionally, we have continued to operate people-centered rehabilitation centers for drug addicts, providing healthcare at the government’s expense. Approximately 45,000 part-time staff members in the social sector have been employed to support these efforts. Significantly, the number of criminal cases has seen a noteworthy decline, reflecting our intensified control measures on NPS and concerted efforts to reduce drug supply. We have taken decisive action against 280,000 criminal cases related to smuggling and trafficking, including collaborative operations with Laos and Malaysia to dismantle criminal networks. Responding to emerging challenges responsibly, we have newly scheduled fentanyl-type and cannabinoid-type substances, along with their precursors. To enhance our monitoring capabilities, we have identified 37 types of precursors through a newly established information system, rigorously monitoring their use. Furthermore, we have implemented measures to monitor suspicious raw material usage and established an anti-money laundering system to identify and address suspicious transactions, bolstering institutional collaborations. With a commitment to rational policy planning and comprehensive strategies, we recognize the importance of addressing the global drug problem proactively. China has historically played a pivotal role in seeking common ground and sharing responsibilities, and we remain dedicated to collaborating with the international community to tackle global challenges such as drug trafficking and abuse. 

Belgium, on behalf of the EU and Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, Bosnia, Georgia, Iceland, Norway, Armenia, and San Marino: We have eagerly anticipated this exercise. With drug supply at an all-time high, it’s imperative that we assess what has worked and what hasn’t. The EU’s strategy is based on the 2019 declaration, focusing on three policy areas: harm reduction, supply and demand reduction, and cross-cutting issues. I’d like to highlight several specific initiatives. Firstly, investment in prevention, early detection, treatment, and social integration has been prioritized. Many states have expanded their harm reduction policies and strengthened the European multidisciplinary platform connecting Member States and third-country professionals. Recent actions in airports across 36 countries resulted in 46 arrests and the seizure of several kilograms of drugs. Given the diversification of drugs and drug markets, we’ve intensified information sharing and collaborations. In 2022, Europol’s legal basis was reviewed, enhancing its mandate to support Member States in combating serious crime. Our current European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) will be replaced by the EU Drugs Agency with a reinforced mandate to optimize data use and responses. The EU’s Early Warning System has been a valuable tool for over 20 years, complemented by the EU Warning System. We’ve also enhanced the ARQ system. Efforts to reduce the use of modern technology in illegal drug distribution are underway, with engagement with the private sector to counter the use of postal and delivery services. EU foreign policy objectives prioritize the rule of law, human rights, and human dignity, aligning with the three drug conventions. We regret the low access and availability of controlled substances for medical reasons globally and reaffirm our commitment to address addiction issues according to EU guidelines.

Nigeria: My delegation acknowledges the successes we have achieved thus far, as highlighted by the panelists. Our national drug law enforcement agency has collaborated with relevant agencies to combat illicit drug use and trafficking, dismantling cartels and seizing drugs in the process. We are committed to leaving no one affected by the world drug problem behind. To address the issue comprehensively, we have implemented a needle-syringe program and other harm reduction strategies aimed at people who inject drugs, with a particular focus on preventing the spread of blood-borne diseases. Additionally, we have established three additional rehabilitation facilities and three helplines staffed by professionals capable of providing sensitive counseling services. Our capacity-building programs for primary health workers and law enforcement officers have graduated over 2,000 individuals. Furthermore, an evidence-based prevention program has been operating for 14 years, reaching 400 public schools across our country. We have also developed a program tailored for out-of-school youth, including a family component. In collaboration with NGOs and various ministries, we have conducted intensive awareness campaigns to reach all communities and youth. We eagerly anticipate the review of all our international drug policy commitments.

UK: We have achieved notable success in recent years in preventing and treating viral hepatitis, particularly in addressing the high prevalence rate of Hepatitis C. Efforts focused on cost-effective strategies to encourage Hepatitis C testing and treatment, with a key emphasis on involving peers to support individuals throughout their treatment journey. As a result, the number of people living with Hepatitis C decreased by 45% between 2015 and 2023. We are on track to meet the World Health Organization’s goal of eliminating Hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030. However, we face the challenge of transitioning the drug market to online spaces, which are more accessible and appealing to young people. Illicit substances are often advertised alongside legal products on these platforms. To address this issue, we have taken action to shut down UK-based websites selling controlled drugs and introduced legislation holding tech companies accountable for illegal content. Leveraging technology, including AI, we are improving detection algorithms to track and monitor online drug sales, thereby targeting trafficking more effectively. While technology presents challenges, it also offers opportunities for innovation in developing a balanced and effective approach to drug control. By harnessing technological advancements, we aim to mitigate the risks associated with online drug markets while maximizing the potential for positive outcomes in drug prevention and treatment efforts.

Russian Federation: The global issue of drugs remains one of the most challenging areas in ensuring health and prosperity worldwide. It remains a top priority both nationally and internationally to assess our efforts as of 2019. Upon reflection, we find much to be proud of in our endeavors to combat the drug threat. Through enhanced coordination and information exchange, we have gained a much clearer understanding of the nature of the drug threat. Our concerted efforts have successfully prevented the situation from spiraling out of control in most regions across the globe, with the implementation of the main three drug conventions playing a crucial role in this achievement. However, we remain deeply concerned about the drug situation in Afghanistan, particularly regarding the production of synthetic opioids. To address this issue, we are intensifying our program of assistance to Afghanistan and its neighboring countries. Additionally, we have made significant strides in improving palliative care and engaging with youth to address drug-related issues. While our goal may not be to entirely eliminate drugs, we are committed to tackling the root causes of drug use, particularly to safeguard children and young people. We believe that our response to the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated our adaptability in addressing drug-related challenges. During the 64th session, the adoption of a resolution was a significant step forward in addressing these challenges and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. Remote methods of investigating crimes, which have been necessitated by the pandemic, continue to prove advantageous. Nevertheless, we are concerned about the disparities among states, as some have opted to cease combating the global drug issue and have instead legalized cannabis. Such practices, which contravene UN charters and the spirit of Vienna, are troubling. Moreover, there appears to be a lack of understanding surrounding the importance of drug prevention among youth. Moving forward, we must see tangible progress in bringing people together to prevent drug use. This will require concerted efforts and a commitment to addressing the underlying issues comprehensively.

Interpol: The role of Interpol in aiding member states has been recognized since its inception. We work together to achieve convention goals. We have maintained work to stop the global flow of illicit drugs through targeting criminal gangs. Recent operations have resulted in the seizure of nearly 300 tonnes of precursors and the recovery of 700 million dollars of profits. These have further exposed the interconnected nature of international criminal gangs. From 2021 to 2023, we conducted trainings in 29 countries, allowing the use of our release database to track the source of illicit drug production. In Ecuador, we deployed teams to conduct analysis, which highlighted the expansion of transnational groups linked to crime and money laundering. We hosted the inaugural Fentanyl Impact Group to combat trafficking of fentanyl. We conducted the first global fentanyl survey to assess the threat and enhance countries’ ability to prevent, detect, and investigate fentanyl trafficking. We continue engagement in the global coalition against synthetic drugs and collaborate with the EU and UNODC on various projects, expanding support for law enforcement efforts to combat this global issue. This demonstrates commitment but underscores countries’ commitment to meeting treaty goals set out in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration.

Chair: We want to listen to NGOs too so I ask you to limit your intervention to 3 minutes. 

Thailand:  We are fully committed to fulfilling the commitments in the 3 international conventions. (…) It is my great pleasure to share our successes. Under the guidance of our government, we have intensified our efforts to reduce drug-related problems. Firstly, by ensuring that those who suffer from mental disorders receive support, as drugs can only be defeated with the help of a strong family and community. We have encouraged our population to be active partners in combating drugs. We have sealed the border, cutting off trade routes, and made efforts to ensure there are no corrupt officers in our systems. We appreciate the cooperation with neighboring countries, reducing illicit drug supply by 40%. It is our responsibility to join hands and overcome this global problem, and we have been proactive in building bridges in our region. In conclusion, in the face of emerging challenges, we reaffirm our international commitment to developing better responses to the world drug problem.

India:  India has prioritized the issue of drugs, intensifying efforts to combat the drug menace on both the supply and demand sides over the past five years. Recognizing the necessity for enhanced coordination among various agencies and federal bodies, a joint coordination body has been established to monitor investigations into the movement of large quantities of illegal drugs. In response to the increasing use of the darknet and cryptocurrencies, our efforts have doubled. During the period of 2018-2024, we have seized over 3.5 million kilograms of substances. Additionally, we have successfully eradicated 22,000 hectares of opiates and 50,000 cannabis plants. In 2020, we initiated a new comprehensive program aimed at educating the public, especially youth, about the risks associated with drug use. Substantial funds have been allocated to invest in rehabilitation and harm reduction efforts. Furthermore, we have implemented measures to enhance substance regulation and leverage technology for monitoring production, cultivation, and distribution processes. Collaboration with the UNODC and its local offices remains a priority, and we are fully committed to addressing the issue of drugs effectively.

Canada: The overdose crisis persists, significantly impacting the lives of people living in Canada, representing our country’s most severe public health challenge. Potent drugs like fentanyl are increasingly prevalent in the diversifying illegal market. However, this crisis extends beyond North America; it is a growing concern for the international community. Consequently, we have formed coalitions worldwide to tackle this issue collectively. We welcome the increased attention to this issue within the commission and continue to collaborate closely with our allies. A pivotal aspect of our strategy involves reducing stigma and fostering enhanced global collaboration. We encourage Member States to leverage the various programs offered by the UNODC, including the Global SMART Program, the Container Control Program, and others. Challenges related to substance use persist globally, and Canada remains steadfast in ensuring the well-being and dignity of its residents. However, our toolbox has not kept pace with the evolving landscape of the drug issue. Addressing today’s problems requires innovative solutions that reflect the realities of the current environment, rather than relying on outdated tools.

Brazil: UNAIDS pointed out the growing difficulty related to controlled substances. Maybe you can comment whether that is a lack of policies or a lack of funding. We have funding being designated to drug fighting, but more to repression than to treatment. Can you please give us a view on what is better or worse. 

A second comment on Colombian intervention – they highlighted many aspects that affect LA countries such as rise in violence by criminal groups which affects security and threatens democracy itself as well as growing impact on the environment. This is a growing problem not only in the region and not only from drugs, but drugs and related crimes. Colombia have tried to address the needs of specific groups of marginalized groups, challenges which are not specific to Colombia or LA, but they are global challenges. It is difficult to see both the challenges and the responses of our countries represented here in the CND. 

Finally I want to thank the intervention from Gloria Lai and want to reaffirm our support for civil society.

UNAIDS: I think it is both policies and funding that is standing in the way of countries doing better. As the UN Joint Programme on AIDS we are doing very poorly on 10/10/10 goals to address policies standing in the way of HIV treatment and prevention. We have a long way to go to make these policies work better for us and make sure we are reaching commitments to the right to health. Want to thank those of you who have commented on the right to health and health aspect of the world drug problem. When I noted in our remarks we need to be honest, we need to have a conversation about money flows and what money is going into drug control programmes.

Morocco: We have made significant efforts to address the global drug problem at national, regional, and international levels. We continue to conduct training programs aimed at strengthening our capabilities in combating drugs and crime. Additionally, the public prosecution has organized training sessions specifically focused on dealing with drug addicts who are HIV positive. Guidance has been provided on the search and investigation of drug trafficking and money laundering crimes. Through our joint global program, we are working to enhance capacity in investigating drug trafficking and organized crime. Our approach in the social field is balanced and integrative, emphasizing mental health promotion, early detection and prevention of drug use disorders, risk reduction associated with injecting drugs, and the protection of the rights of individuals suffering from addictive disorders. We aim to provide addictology services across all health regimes, with the number of specialist centers now totaling 24.

Australia: It is evident that there are still significant barriers and gaps in implementing international commitments. We continue to encounter challenges in adapting to the evolving landscape of this issue and in fulfilling joint commitments. We recognize the launch of the UNODC synthetic drug strategy and the UN toolkit on synthetic drugs as valuable resources in this regard. Additionally, we appreciate the assistance provided by the UN early warning advisory on new synthetic substances. International collaboration facilitated by UN laboratories operating worldwide has been observed. Recent scheduling decisions made by the CND and member states, including the establishment of early warning systems and access to naloxone, have had a critical impact. The global disparities in access to medicine remain a concern, particularly in the context of pandemics, conflicts, and other barriers. We welcome the INCB joint global program and the efforts of UNODC to ensure that member states have access to up-to-date information. We would like to express our gratitude to those who work tirelessly in this field, including law enforcement, civil society, academia, and volunteers. We remain committed to collaborating with partners to fulfill our commitments.

Norway: I had intended to discuss our recent studies, but if anyone has discovered the winning recipe for combating stigma, please share it with us. In 2022, we initiated a study focusing on the use of punishment in response to abuse and legal protection for people who use drugs. The findings from this report reveal persistent human rights challenges that demand attention.  Another report titled “You Don’t Belong Here” was a sobering wake-up call. Respondents emphasized the crucial need for legal protection against prejudice, underscoring the necessity for heightened awareness. The stereotypes and discrimination faced by PWUD pose significant barriers to their full enjoyment of human rights. We are currently working on a new report to address these issues head-on. Additionally, we have undertaken two further studies on drug use disorders, recognizing the critical importance of scientific evidence in this area. The burden of disease associated with amphetamine addiction, encompassing cardiovascular and psychological aspects, underscores the inadequacy of our current health responses. Furthermore, we are examining the prescribed daily use of benzodiazepines, focusing on aspects such as quality of life and access to care. This study is particularly significant as the evidence base for benzodiazepine treatment is also lacking.

Algeria: Thanks to the panelist for their contribution. We have heard panelists encouraging new approaches, less coercive, based on respect for human rights, especially decriminalization of minor drug related offenses. My question is, would this not have a negative impact? As in encouraging young people to consume? We will share our innovative approach towards addiction at our upcoming side event, focused on prisoners. 

Chair: we will collect a few comments now and then answer questions in bulk. Any more comments?

VNGOC video message: TBA

VNGOC video message: TBA

VNGOC video message: TBA 

Pakistan: Since 2019, our notable achievements include the adoption of a zero-tolerance approach towards illicit drugs. We have consistently taken proactive measures to counter illicit drugs in the most effective manner possible. As the highest contributing country in terms of seizures, we value collaboration and shared responsibility in this endeavor. Pakistan has played a significant role in initiating some of the most impactful resolutions in this regard. Through collaborative efforts, we have made substantial progress in dismantling criminal groups and uncovering new trafficking routes. This year, we have achieved an unprecedented level of seizures. As key players in international policymaking, Pakistan reaffirms its unwavering commitment to combatting the world drug problem and strives towards achieving a drug-free world.

Chair: I am now giving the floor to the panelists to respond to the comments and questions from the floor.

Norway: I still believe the most important part is how to deal with people who got into the problem and, as we hear, the level of stigmatization makes it harder for people to reach treatment. This is why I emphasized this important part. This is why we speak about dealing on a national level even though supply is an international problem. Synthetic drugs are coming in waves and we always need to combine what is dealing with narcotrafficking and the people who fall into drug related troubles. We need to take steps towards dealing with the social part of the problem.

Malta: Overwhelming agreement that we need to reduce supply. We have heard that people who use drugs are the least involved in forming policies that affect them. This means that here in this room we have an essential role to keep the wellbeing of the people and ensure human rights and human care are prioritized to reduce risks and harm for all members of society.

OHCHR: We appreciate Norway´s reporting and their national human rights institution has been an important partner to us. In response to the questions directed at me, we reiterate the need to shift away from a punitive drug policy model. We need to move towards policies that promote health. In that respect, I would like to announce our side event that explores exactly these key topics – next week Monday.

UNAIDS: I wanted to reiterate one comment which is that we need to thank the MS that have spoken on the right to health. We need to look at what we are providing in terms of prevention services, needle and syringe programs etc, but also whether people are accessing these services. Less than 1% of PWUD live in countries with recommended coverage of prevention services. We need to think about how far we have come to reach these goals. It is important to not only think about whether the services are there but also if people can access them, and we know that people are not accessing services because of stigma. We estimated that we need $2 billion a year for harm reduction services, now we have around $200 million a year, so this is a huge gap and we know we don’t have the right resources available.

IDPC: When discussing stigma, it’s important to recognize that one of the primary drivers behind widespread prejudice is the labeling of people who consume drugs as criminals. Significant resources are allocated to law enforcement for conducting raids or detaining individuals, often resulting in forced urine tests and the incarceration of vulnerable people. Unfortunately, this often leads to greater difficulties in finding employment after release from prison. This is why our primary advocacy message revolves around decriminalization. While we acknowledge the concerns raised by Algeria and others, our ultimate goal is success. If success is defined solely by the elimination of drugs, it’s evident that we are not achieving it. Instead, our focus should be on improving people’s lives, health, and overall well-being. If we genuinely care about the welfare of young people, we should invest in providing them with care and support rather than subjecting them to detention and limiting their opportunities due to their records. Even within various forms of treatment, including non-detention approaches, people who use drugs may perceive and experience it as punishment. Therefore, it is imperative that we explore alternative approaches to address drug-related issues and move away from punitive measures.

Algeria: The issue of drug addiction was mentioned in the room by several delegations and I may share Algeria’s experience here. A drug user who has been arrested for possession, once they are processed if they are able to prove they are a drug user and would present a medical cert to that effect, the judge would no longer be able to prosecute that individual and anyone working for the judiciary would be obliged to transfer the individual into treatment. Methadone is provided in penitentiary centres and we have established an external authority for when a detainee has completed their prison term they are transferred for treatment for six months before they are released. We also attempt to send social services into detention centres to identify alternative treatment and training for individuals who will soon be liberated. We also hope to involve families who will be able to support the detainee.

USA: We take the floor to address the concerns raised today regarding harm reduction. At the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), we have grappled with this term for the past two decades. We are proud to sponsor a resolution focusing on overdose prevention, in which we have utilized the term “harm reduction,” albeit recognizing its contentious nature among many Member States. We urge you to move beyond semantics and join us in exploring compassionate approaches that do not rely solely on criminal justice responses to drug use. Within the framework of the drug treaties, our primary focus remains on protecting the health and well-being of humankind. However, the challenges we face today are more complex than ever before. Therefore, we call upon the CND to recommit to developing comprehensive and meaningful policies to address these challenges. During our meetings, Member States, the UNODC, the INCB, the WHO, and civil society have all highlighted synthetic drugs as the greatest threat to our generation. The dangers posed by these substances are unparalleled and are reshaping drug markets worldwide, posing significant risks to our societies. The United States reaffirms its commitment to the three conventions that serve as the cornerstones of international drug control, along with other policy commitments. Additionally, we believe it is essential to acknowledge the references to economic measures during the stocktaking session. We were surprised by this inclusion. However, we are not alone in supporting this practice, as it serves as an effective tool for Member States to exercise their autonomy. If we closely examine the 1988 convention and its emphasis on our financial markets, we will understand that it is a landmark document that recognizes money laundering as a significant issue. Therefore, it is not unusual for us to prioritize the protection of our financial markets. We disagree with the notion that sanctions do not fall into this category.

Chair: I want to use our time to the maximum, especially in financially difficult times to the UN. One announcement to recall we will make a summary of the most relevant points of this round table.

Bangladesh: Some of the key points from my perspective have been: the challenge of synthetic drugs and varied access to services and treatment, gender barriers to accessing services, access to medically supplied drugs. Thank you all for a lively discussion. Session adjourned.

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