© Photo: UNODC
Vienna (Austria), September 23, 2022 – On September 21-22, 2022, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) held its thematic talks on the implementation of all international drug policy commitments following the 2019 ministerial declaration.
This year’s discussions focused on the need for drug policies to be consistent with both international drug control conventions and human rights obligations – a challenge identified by United Nations (UN) Member States in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration.
The fundamental aim of the international drug control conventions is to protect the health and well-being of mankind, with the intention of making essential medicines available to relieve pain and alleviate suffering, while protecting people, especially the most vulnerable, from the potentially dangerous Effects of Controlled Substances. Drug policies that are inconsistent with conventions or human rights obligations will leave people suffering and left behind – and undermine the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to improve lives and prospects for all, everywhere.
The intersessional meeting was chaired and moderated by the Chairman of the CND at its sixty-fifth session, HE Mr. Ghislain D’Hoop of Belgium, and opened with a high-level opening with the participation of the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ms. Ghada Waly , the President of the Human Rights Council, HE Mr. Federico Villegas of Argentina, and the President of the International Narcotics Control Board, Mrs. Jagjit Pavadia. Her participation underscored the importance of putting human rights at the heart of the drug policy debate. Addressing the meeting, Ms Waly noted: “Drug control obligations and human rights obligations are compatible, complementary and mutually reinforcing. What Member States must strive for is to meet these obligations in a coherent manner, without losing sight of the ultimate goal.
The meeting was held in a hybrid format that combined in-person attendance at the Vienna International Center and online participation to facilitate participation from experts and relevant stakeholders around the world. There were around 700 registered attendees, with the meeting also being webcast to a global audience. On both days, presentations were made by around 40 experts from Member States, United Nations agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society, underlining the relevance of the topic and its unifying nature. In particular, the meeting demonstrated cooperation between agencies across the United Nations system with the participation of a number of United Nations bodies including UNODC, the World Health Organization and its Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, the International Narcotics Control Board, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS and the United Nations Development Programme.
The head of UNODC’s research and trend analysis department, Dr. Angela Me, gave introductory presentations prior to the discussions on both days, outlining global developments and trends related to the challenge. This was followed on the first day by a basic introduction by Dr. Justice Tettey, Head of UNODC’s Department of Drugs, Laboratory and Scientific Services, and Ms Valerie, Head of UNODC Lebaux’s Department of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, on day two.
The experts covered a wide range of issues including, but not limited to, access to controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes; health protection through material planning; protecting children and young people from substance use; prevention and treatment of drug use; alternatives to conviction and punishment; alternative development; and the importance of international cooperation in combating drug-related crime.
The meeting was closed by the CND Chair and the Director of UNODC’s Treaty Affairs Division, Mr. John Brandolino, both of whom commended the commitment and quality of the discussions. He encouraged stakeholders to continue to unite on this challenge, to accelerate the implementation of all international drug policy commitments and to ensure that no one is left behind.
The CND is the United Nations policy-making body with primary responsibility for drug-related matters and a governing body of UNODC. The Commission is the forum for Member States to share knowledge and best practices in addressing and tackling all aspects of the global drug problem.
You can find out more about the work of the CND here.