Home > Ministerial segment of 62nd session of Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

Dillon, Lucy (2019) Ministerial segment of 62nd session of Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 70, Summer 2019 , pp. 5-6.

[img]
Preview
PDF (Drugnet Ireland 70)
1MB

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is the governing body of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Essentially, it is the central drug policymaking body of the United Nations (UN). It aims to provide member states and civil society with the opportunity to exchange expertise, experiences, and information on drug-related matters and to develop a coordinated response to the drug situation. Membership is made up of representatives from 53 UN member states, allowing for a spread of geographical representation. Ireland is not currently a member.

 

In March 2019, representatives from UN member states and civil society met in Vienna for the 62nd session of the CND. As well as plenary sessions, there were approximately 100 side events held.1 However, a much-anticipated two-day ministerial segment took place at the start of the session; it is this element of the session that is the focus of this article.

 

Ministerial segment

The Political Declaration and plan of action on international cooperation towards an integrated and balanced strategy to counter the world drug problem was adopted by CND in 2009.2 The Political Declaration includes measures to enhance international cooperation, identifies problems and areas requiring further action, as well as goals and targets in countering the world drug problem. The year, 2019, was set as the target date for member states to ‘eliminate or reduce significantly and measurably’ five target areas: the illicit cultivation; illicit demand; illicit production, trafficking and use of internationally controlled substances; the diversion of precursors; and money laundering (p. 14).2 The two-day ministerial segment, added to the regular CND session, was convened to take stock of the implementation of the commitments made in that declaration. It included a general debate as well as two interactive, multi-stakeholder round table meetings that were conducted in parallel. One focused on the question of taking stock of implementation, by analysing existing and emerging trends, gaps, and challenges. The other focused on strengthening international cooperation, including means of implementation, capacity-building, and technical assistance, on the basis of common and shared responsibility.

 

A ministerial declaration was agreed as part of the segment, ‘strengthening our actions at the national, regional and international levels to accelerate the implementation of our joint commitments to address and counter the world drug problem’.3 It is beyond the scope of this article to detail the wide variety of commitments made in the declaration but, broadly speaking, it does not represent any fundamental change in UN drug policy from that which has emerged over the last decade. It makes an ongoing commitment to achieving the ‘operational recommendations and aspirational goals’3 set out in the 2009 Political Declaration, the 2014 Joint Ministerial Statement on the review by CND,4 and the 2016 UNGASS outcome document.5 It also commits to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

 

The declaration presents a bleak picture of the ‘persistent and emerging challenges related to the drug problem’, noting, for example, ‘record levels’ in the abuse, illicit cultivation, production, manufacture and trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. While these persistent challenges are seen by many commentators as an indication of a failure of the current policy framework to achieve the goals set out in the 2009 document, the members make an ongoing commitment ‘to actively promote a society free of drug abuse’.3 There is also a pledge to review progress in implementing the international drug policy commitments in 2029, with a mid-term review in 2024.

 

Responses to the Political Declaration

The declaration has drawn criticism from civil society stakeholders. It is seen to represent some progress towards a more health and human rights-based approach, especially in its commitment to the UNGASS outcomes document and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. However, it is not deemed to have gone far enough in that direction and away from a more punitive approach. The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) sees this and the ongoing commitment to the ‘damaging drug free goals’ to mean the declaration ‘has once again stifled progress in UN drug policy’.6 The Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) expressed concern that by continuing to focus on a ‘society free of drug abuse’, this will result in the ongoing ‘persecution of people who use drugs’ and is incompatible with ensuring basic human rights.7 The lack of any ‘genuine and honest evaluation’ of the impact of international policies on delivering on the targets as laid out in the 2009 Political Declaration was also heavily criticised.6 This was seen as indicative of a lack of willingness on the part of member states to admit that punitive and repressive policies have failed in the attempt ‘to eradicate the global illicit drug market’.6

 

1    A blog of many of the sessions is available at: http://cndblog.org/; the full programme for the session is available at: https://www.unodc.org/documents/commissions/CND/2019/2019_CND_PROGRAMME/Programme_CND_2019.pdf

2    United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (2009) Political declaration and plan of action on international cooperation towards an integrated and balanced strategy to counter the world drug problem. Vienna: UNODOC. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/30219/

3    UN Economic and Social Council (2019) Draft ministerial declaration on strengthening our actions at the national, regional and international levels to accelerate the implementation of our joint commitments to address and counter the world drug problem. Vienna: UNODOC. https://undocs.org/E/CN.7/2019/L.11

4    UNODOC (2014) Joint Ministerial Statement. 2014 high-level review by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs 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. Vienna: UNODOC. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/24407/

5    UNODOC (2016) Outcome document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem: our joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem. Vienna: UNODOC. Available online at: https://www.unodc.org/documents/postungass2016/outcome/V1603301-E.pdf

6    International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) (2019) The ‘Vienna consensus’ stifles progress on UN drug policy: Statement from the International Drug Policy Consortium. London: IDPC. Available online at: http://fileserver.idpc.net/library/Public-IDPC-statement_FINAL.pdf

7    Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) (2019) Not learned lessons: 10 more years to be left behind. Vilnius: EHRA. Available online at: https://harmreductioneurasia.org/not-learned-lessons-10-more-years-to-be-left-behind/

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 70, Summer 2019
Date:September 2019
Page Range:pp. 5-6
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 70, Summer 2019
EndNote:View
Subjects:MM-MO Crime and law > Substance use laws > Drug laws
MP-MR Policy, planning, economics, work and social services > Policy > Policy on substance use
VA Geographic area > International aspects
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

Repository Staff Only: item control page