Skip Page Header

Home > UN assesses progress in tackling world drug problem.

Pike, Brigid (2008) UN assesses progress in tackling world drug problem. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 26, Summer 2008, pp. 25-26.

PDF (Drugnet Ireland, issue 26) - Published Version

Between 10 and 14 March 2008 the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the central policy-making body of the United Nations (UN) in drug-related matters, met in Vienna for its 51st Session.1 A key event at the Session was a thematic debate on progress achieved by governments in meeting the goals and targets for the years 2003 and 2008 as set out in the Political Declaration adopted by the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Illicit Drugs in 1998.2 Broadly speaking, the goals and targets included achieving significant and measurable results in the field of demand reduction; eliminating or significantly reducing the illicit manufacture, marketing and trafficking of psychotropic substances; and eliminating or significantly reducing the illicit cultivation of the coca bush, the cannabis plant and the opium poppy.

 The following is a summary of the ‘salient points’ made in this debate, as identified by the Chair of the Commission:
General comments
°         In the 10 years since the adoption of the Political Declaration, progress had been made; for example, today there is a more structured legal scheme and better tools for the international fight against drugs. However, the objectives established in 1998 have not been accomplished.
°         The quality of the information on which the performance of the international drugs control scheme is assessed needs to be improved.
°         The importance of the principle of common and shared responsibility, as enshrined in Article 2 of the Political Declaration, was a recurrent theme in the debate. Speakers reminded participants that at the centre of the international fight against drugs are human beings.
Demand reduction
°         An evidence-based and long-term sustained comprehensive approach to demand reduction is necessary. This approach should take into consideration the imbalance of resources for demand reduction; the stigma on drug dependent persons; and the need to focus on the reduction of human suffering, including measures to reduce the harm caused by drugs, as one of the main aims of the international drug control conventions.
°         Civil society and the capacity of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) need to be engaged in efforts to reduce the demand for drugs.
Supply reduction
°         As regards the fight against illicit drug supply, the thematic debate recognised the progress made on many fronts including the development of national drug strategies, improved enforcement capacities and regional and international co-operation.
°         At the same time, the debate confirmed that there have been significant changes over the past 10 years in illicit drug supply, including:
o      new trafficking trends
o      diversified sources of production of drugs, including the illicit manufacture and trade of ATS
o      the increasing use of alternative or substitute chemicals that are not subject to international or national control
o      the impact of globalisation in reducing the difference between producer and consumer countries in the production, trafficking and consumption of drugs
o      the ever-growing links between drug trafficking and international organised crime.
As well as the thematic debate, and deliberations on the reports tabled by UNODC and the INCB, the Session also passed 18 resolutions. Among these were the following:
°         Refocusing prevention, education and treatment efforts for young people
°         Reducing the demand for and abuse of cannabis
°         Combating the illicit cultivation of and trafficking in cannabis
Drug users
°         Promoting early detection of drug use cases by health and social care providers by applying the principles of interview screening and brief intervention approaches to interrupt drug use progression and, when appropriate, linking people to treatment for substances abuse
°         Strengthening co-operation between the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and other UN bodies for the promotion of human rights in the implementation of the international drug control treaties
°         Promoting co-ordination and alignment of decisions between the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Programme Coordinating Board of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS
Drug control
°         Strengthening cross-border co-operation in the area of drug control
°         Achieving a balance between demand for and supply of opiates used to meet medical and scientific needs
°         Strengthening international co-operation for the control of precursor chemicals used for the manufacture of synthetic drugs
°         Responding to the threat posed by the distribution of internationally controlled drugs on the unregulated market
°         Controlling international movement of poppy seeds obtained from illicitly grown opium poppy plants
°         Sharing information on the use of non-scheduled substances as substitutes for scheduled substances frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, and on new methods of manufacture of illicit drugs.
1.The CND Report on the Fifty-first Session (Advanced unedited version, E/2008/28; E/CN.7/2008/15) is available at . The report sets out in full the 18 resolutions passed by the CND; summarises the deliberations on the thematic debate together with the Chair’s summary; and provides an account of the deliberations on drug demand reduction, illicit drug traffic and supply, and the implementation of the international drug control treaties. The reports that informed this last series of deliberations are also available on the UNODC website.
2. The Political Declaration is available at
Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Issue Title
Issue 26, Summer 2008
Page Range
pp. 25-26
Health Research Board
Issue 26, Summer 2008
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

Repository Staff Only: item control page