Home > Commission on Narcotic Drugs meets for 56th Session.

Pike, Brigid (2013) Commission on Narcotic Drugs meets for 56th Session. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 46, Summer 2013, p. 4.

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Between 11 and 15 March 2013 over 1,000 representatives from UN member states and civil society met in Vienna for the 56th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). The CND is the central policy-making body within the UN system dealing with illicit drugs and is the governing body for the work of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which is based in Vienna. The CND provides member states and civil society with the opportunity to exchange expertise, experiences and information on drug-related matters and to develop a co-ordinated response.  

Holding the EU Presidency (see separate article in this issue), Ireland co-ordinated with the European External Action Service (EEAS) the EU input to the Session. The CND adopted a total of 18 Resolutions, five of which were tabled by the EU – forensic drug profiling, HIV/AIDS, Western Africa, an electronic import and export authorisation system and drug precursors. A Resolution on new psychoactive substances tabled by the United Kingdom was co-sponsored by Ireland and supported by the majority of EU member states.1
Preparations were also put in train for the high-level review of the implementation of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem (2009),2 which will be undertaken during next year’s Session. This political declaration and action plan sets 2019 as the target date for member states to eliminate or reduce significantly and measurably the diversion of and trafficking in substances frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Thought was also given by participants to preparing for the Special Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGASS) on the drug problem, to be held in 2016, the first such session since 1998 when the UN resolved to achieve a drug-free world by 2008. It is anticipated that these two reviews will help refine the international community's approach to illicit drugs.
The view from civil society
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) are encouraged to participate in the annual sessions of the CND, both before, during and after the conclusion of the proceedings.3 This year representatives of over 160 CSOs participated. The feedback from two CSOs indicate that there has been a sea-change in the approach being taken by member states with regard to drug policy.
Canadian Drug Policy Coalition:‘As the meeting commenced it became clear that there was something different in the air this year. … My take is that there is an implicit if not explicit recognition that the drug policy landscape is indeed changing, new approaches are being considered, and countries are beginning to demand a wider debate on policy. For the CND to remain relevant these debates should be welcomed as an important opportunity at future meetings of the Commission.’4
International Drug Policy Consortium: ‘These annual meetings have long provided frustration for civil society, which has fought hard to have a voice in the debates. Broadly speaking, however, this year represented an improvement on previous events – a further sign that things are slowly changing within the United Nations drug control structures.’5
1. For Session agenda, reports and resolutions, see www.unodc.org/unodc/en/commissions/CND/session/56.html
2.High-level segment of Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Vienna,11–12 March 2009. Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 2009, Supplement No. 8 (E/2009/28), chap. I, sect. C. available at www.unodc.org/documents/commissions/CND-Uploads/CND-52-RelatedFiles/V0984963-English.pdf
3. Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (2013) The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND): A briefing for NGOs and CSOs. Available at www.vngoc.org
4. From blog ‘Reading between the lines at the 56th Commission on Narcotic Drugs’ by Donald Macpherson, Executive Director of Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, posted on 27 March 2013 at http://drugpolicy.ca/blog/
5. From news alert ‘Feedback from the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs’ posted on 23 March 2013 on web site of the International Drug Policy Consortium at http://idpc.net/alerts/2013/03/feedback-from-the-un-commission-on-narcotic-drugs
Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 46, Summer 2013
July 2013
Page Range
p. 4
Health Research Board
Issue 46, Summer 2013
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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