Ann Fordham of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) delivered the NGO Statement to CND Plenary under Item 8: Preparations for the high-level review of the implementation by Member States of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an integrated and balanced strategy to counter the world drug problem.
I am giving this statement on behalf of Drugscope and the International Drug Policy Consortium. The International Drug Policy Consortium is a global network of 98 civil society organisations working together to promote open and objective debate in drug policy.
With reference to resolution number 13, we welcome the mid-term review of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action in 2014 and the UN General Assembly Special Session in 2016 as crucial moments of reflection and evaluation of the international drug control system.
Both review processes are important in terms of finding ways to improve the effectiveness of the current system. These reviews will be different from the previous ones given that many member states have clearly raised the need to consider alternative approaches that would be more effective in reducing the harmful consequences of the global drug market.
Several member states have already begun experimenting with new approaches to preventing drug related health problems, to tackling organised crime and violence, or responding to the proliferation of new psychoactive substances. The global system needs to embrace and incorporate these different approaches, rather than continuing to assume that one solution fits all.
In particular, the current proposals for the regulation of cannabis signals that the status of cannabis within the treaty regime requires urgent review. The mandate of the World Health Organisation to make recommendations as to appropriate scheduling must be fully recognized. The WHO should be given adequate financial support for this important task. It will also be important to clarify the limitations of the mandate of the International Narcotics Control Board in this regard.
As we go into this period of review, we call upon the member states and UN agencies involved to:
• Approach the discussions in a spirit of enquiry and openness. There is no simple answer to the challenges posed by drug markets and drug use. So the evaluation of existing and alternative responses needs to be undertaken in line with scientific evidence and the effectiveness of outcomes according to the principles of human rights, public health and sustainable development.
• Avoid the simplistic polarization of complex issues. Drug control is not simply about being tough or soft on drugs, or about uniform policy solutions but the development of a range of health, social, development and criminal justice policies that best manage the harms of the global drug market.
• Ensure the broad and active participation of the UN family in the UNGASS process given the cross-cutting nature of the drugs issue with respect to human rights, health and development. While the CND will play its leading role in this process, WHO, UNDP, UNAIDS and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in particular should also play a substantive role.
• Meaningfully involve, and take seriously the information and expertise provided by civil society organisations. Civil society engagement is an established part of special sessions and high level meetings in other parts of the UN, and needs to become institutionalised within drug control debates.
• Support and encourage the growing trend towards the removal of criminal sanctions for drug use and possession for personal use, which as noted by the UNODC and INCB, is permissible under the existing treaty framework.
• Ensure that development policies for alternative livelihoods is prioritised and that there is no forced eradication against illicit cultivation at the subsistence level. Instead, priority should be given to development support for equitable rural development.
We cannot afford to miss the opportunity to take stock of the negative consequences of the current system and to ensure that the drug control treaties remain ‘fit-for-purpose’ in the coming decades.
IDPC will continue to play a strong role as these reviews proceed – bringing together our members and partners to promote debate towards a global drug control system that facilitates rather than inhibits the development of effective drug control policies.
Thank you Chair.