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    Press Release No:  UNIS/NAR/680
    Release Date:  2 March 2000
     Commission on Narcotic Drugs to Hold Forty-third Session 
    In Vienna, 6-15 March 2000
          
    To Discuss Follow-up Action to General Assembly Special Session: 
    Drug Demand Reduction, Eradication of Illicit Drug Crops, and World Drug Abuse Situation
     

     VIENNA, 2 March (UN Information Service) – Progress in reducing illicit demand for drugs and in eradicating illicit drug crops will be the key focus of attention as the United Nations` principal policy-making body on drug control meets here from 6 to 15 March. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs during its forty-third session will review the steps taken by Member States to implement the action plans and measures adopted at the Twentieth Special Session of the General Assembly, and will also look at ways and means to enhance international cooperation to counter the world drug problem.
     
     At the Special Session in June 1998, countries agreed to take concrete action in combatting illicit drugs setting target dates by which measurable results are to be achieved. Member States agreed that by 2003 they would:

    • have comprehensive drug demand strategies in place;
    • set up or strengthen national legislation and programs to combat the illicit manufacture, trafficking and abuse of amphetamine-type stimulants as well as their precursors;
    • adopt national money-laundering legislation and programmes.

    By 2008 the countries agreed to:

    • eliminate or significantly reduce the manufacture and trafficking of psychotropic substances and diversion of precursors;
    • achieve significant and measurable results in reducing illicit demand;
    • eliminate or significantly reduce the illicit growing of the coca bush, cannabis plant and opium poppy.

     At the upcoming session, the Commission will review  progress achieved by Governments  in  meeting those goals and targets giving highlighted attention to implementing the Declaration on Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction and measures taken to enhance international cooperation on the eradication of illicit drug crops and on alternative development.  Apart from assessing what has been achieved, delegates are expected to consider the establishment of common, more comprehensive indicators that would make reporting easier to interpret.  

     Few Governments have comprehensive demand reduction strategies and programs in place, and many countries lack the capacity to assess their drug abuse problem through a systematic collection and analysis of information.  To help countries reach specific drug control targets agreed at the Special Session, the Vienna-based United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) has drawn up business plans, as part of a broad strategy to globally reduce the illicit demand and supply for drugs by the year 2008. 

     The Commission at its current session will review a report containing an assessment of how the UNDCP, particularly through its network of field offices, could support the implementation of the Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction adopted at the Special Session, to fight the abuse of illicit drugs, particularly among children and youth. The two principal goals for UNDCP are to provide guidance and assistance for the national information systems and for the development of demand reduction strategies; and to facilitate the sharing of information on best strategies in a number of areas.  
     
     The Commission will also review recent progress in international cooperation on the eradication of illicit drug crops and on alternative development. The UNDCP in 1998  initiated a four-year global programme for alternative development aiming to monitor illicit crops and support government actions against the cultivation of illicit crops.  In the past year progress has already been made through projects in such areas as credit schemes in regions affected by illicit crop cultivation, income diversification and rural development activities to support specific target groups such as women. 

     In the field of crop eradication another major development under review will be the on-going programme for the monitoring of illicit crop cultivation through space-based technologies as well as aerial and ground surveys. UNDCP, with the support of the European Space Agency will provide technical assistance and cooperation to the countries in which the bulk of world illicit crop cultivation occurs namely Bolivia, Colombia the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Peru and possibly Afghanistan.

     The Commission, in its capacity as the governing body of UNDCP, will also review the overall activities of the Programme for the past year and provide policy directives and guidance to UNDCP. As the international reference point for drug control, UNDCP in 1999 was a catalyst in stimulating action at  the  national, regional and  international  levels  through a portfolio of technical cooperation programs supported by a network of field offices located in key regions and countries. It strengthened  its presence in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation, South Africa and the States of Central America.

     The Programme not only  initiated measures  to promote judicial cooperation, but it also helped Governments draw up drug laws aimed at precursor control and combatting money-laundering.  A new initiative known as the “Offshore forum” involves an action-oriented approach to fight money-laundering through offshore facilities.
        
      During the past year UNDCP furthered bilateral cooperation and direct consultations between Governments and mobilized special agencies and other entities within the UN system, the international financial institutions, other intergovernmental organizations and civil society, particularly non-governmental organizations.

     The Commission will also examine how to strengthen the overall United Nations machinery to combat drug trafficking and abuse including innovative means of increasing the resources for drug control programmes.
     
     The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) will present its report on the worldwide drug situation in 1999 to the Commission. The Board is mandated to monitor the implementation of the drug control Conventions. The Board conducted an assessment of the precursor chemical norephedrine in 1998 and found that the substance is frequently used in the illicit manufacture of amphetamine, and that the volume and extent of the illicit manufacture of amphetamine creates serious public health or social problems, so as to warrant international action. The Commission will vote whether or not to include norephedrine in Table I of the 1988 United Nations Convention against  Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. 

    World Drug Situation

     The current session will consider  the world drug situation with regard to drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking. Based on an annual questionnaire submitted by 112 countries, thirty-one countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe reported increased abuse of heroin and thirty countries reported the growing abuse of amphetamine-type stimulants. A source of considerable concern is the rising trend in the abuse of methamphetamine in south-east Asia in general, and in Thailand in particular.  Increasing abuse of amphetamine is also reported in many countries of the European Union.

      According to a report on the international drug abuse situation, developing countries have become highly vulnerable to drug abuse, which puts a heavy burden on their already fragile health and social infrastructures. The paper also points out that there is a critical need to ensure a full understanding of the patterns and scale of the global problem of drug abuse. To facilitate this, the Commission is expected to initiate the development of standardised indicators for assessing drug abuse trends and will also promote capacity-building exercises in developing countries. 
     
     The participants will also consider the world situation with regard to illicit drug trafficking. According to a report to be reviewed by the Commission,  the global supply of cocaine remained stable in 1999. Heroin production increased substantially because of the large increase in opium production in Afghanistan. Trafficking patterns and trends, as reflected in the annual reports up to 1998, indicate an increase in the interdiction of cocaine, heroin, cannabis resin and amphetamine-type stimulants. Most of the increase relates to the established producer, transit and consumer areas, rather than to emerging markets for illicit substances.

     The Commission will also review the recommendations and conclusions targeting illicit drug trafficking emanating from the regional meetings held in 1999 of the heads of national drug law enforcement agencies (HONLEA). 

    Membership of Commission 

     The 53 members of the Commission include Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cote d`Ivoire, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Republic  of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Switzerland, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay  and Venezuela.

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