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    Press Release No:   UNIS/NAR/683
    Release Date:   17 March 2000
    United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs Concludes
    Forty-third Session in Vienna, 6 - 15 March
     

     VIENNA, 15 March (UN Information Service) -- Governments agreed to intensify efforts in implementing effective strategies aiming at achieving measurable results in the reduction of both demand and supply of illicit drugs during a meeting of the United Nations’ principal policy-making body on drug control which concluded here this afternoon.

     To underscore the importance Member States attach to the global problem of drug abuse and illicit trafficking, countries attending the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, agreed to invite the General Assembly of the United Nations to include the topic amongst the agenda items of the Millennium Assembly and the Millennium Summit which brings together heads of State and Government on 5 and 6 September 2000.

     To keep the political momentum, the Commission also decided to convene a high-level ministerial segment in 2003 and 2008 to coincide with the target dates to meet the specific objectives agreed at the General Assembly Special Session two years ago. At the current session, participants  assessed  progress in the field of reducing illicit demand for drugs and in eradicating illicit drug crops by  reviewing  the steps they have taken to achieve those goals. Governments, together with the Vienna-based United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) also agreed on measures that should ensure clear directions and a more focussed approach in meeting the targets set by Special Session. 

     “Success is possible in drug control”, stressed Pino Arlacchi, the Executive Director of UNDCP in his statement to the Commission as he gave concrete examples of reductions in coca cultivation in Peru and Bolivia and opium poppy cultivation in Pakistan and the Lao PDR. He went on to stress that implementation of the strategies to reach the Special Session targets was achievable.

     In their work, Member States will be assisted by a UNDCP which, as Mr. Arlacchi said, was improving its productivity and becoming  more dynamic. In this regard, delegates expressed support for UNDCP’s overall vision and accomplishments in international drug control, especially for the considerable improvement in the rate of project implementation and for achieving a 35 per cent increase in the income of the Fund of UNDCP.

     The Commission continued to view national monitoring  as the backbone of an international network to put an end to illicit crop cultivation. The UNDCP was asked to continue to provide financial support and technical assistance to countries that have eradicated  illicit crops and  seek to avoid their relocation, through the implementation of alternative development programmes.  
     
     Delegates appreciated the activities of the UNDCP in support of capacity building to collect comparable and reliable data through a global drug abuse assessment programme. They encouraged the UNDCP to use information technology to assist countries with more efficient submission of information on drug abuse. They also called for appropriate resources to be made available to allow the data to be analysed in a more meaningful manner.  

     In the area of demand reduction, delegates agreed that, when needed, the UNDCP should continue to provide guidance and assistance to Member States for the development of demand reduction strategies and programmes and to facilitate the sharing of information on best practices. In order to build up demand reduction programmes the UNDCP has increased the resources allocated to demand reduction by 40% in its budget for the 2000-2001 biennium.

     The Commission agreed also on the need for timely action to protect children from drug abuse at an earlier age. Delegates, in a resolution called on all States to implement national prevention programmes  and treatment  projects targeted at young people and especially  children in difficult circumstances.

     The UNDCP was requested to submit, at its next session a report on the implementation of the present resolution, as well as on the situation with regard to drug and inhalant abuse among children, indicating global trends and containing proposals for international cooperation aimed at prevention.
     
     Delegates also discussed  the issue of the use of government-sanctioned drug injection rooms – so called  “shooting galleries” – by addicts in some countries. Most of those who spoke expressed deep concern over the establishment of drug injection rooms and agreed with the position of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) as reflected in its 1999 Annual Report that such establishments are not in accordance with the provisions of the existing international drug control conventions. Others stressed the need to provide effective assistance to drug abusers who  had not yet been reached by existing services. 

     Recognizing that millions of people worldwide are abusers of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, delegates asked Member States to develop services for effective prevention and early intervention, counselling, treatment, aftercare and social integration and to ensure that these services  are widely available for those in need.  

     Turning to the issue of drug trafficking, delegates declared  the case of Afghanistan  especially worrisome. According to the UNDCP 1999 annual survey, opium  harvest in Afghanistan was more than double of the previous year.  More than 75 per cent of the world`s illegal opium is now produced in that country. 

     Mr. Arlacchi reported to the Commission that the Group of “Six plus Two” on Afghanistan convened a meeting on 8 February in New York, addressing the problem of opium and heroin production and the threat this poses to the country`s neighbours. The group, which includes all countries that border Afghanistan and the Russian Federation and the United States, endorsed the concept of a security belt around that country and also recognized the close link between the drug problem and peace and security in the region.       
                 
     Recognizing the continued advertising, sale, abuse and trafficking of controlled pharmaceuticals and precursor chemicals throughout the world via the World Wide Web, the Commission called on Member States to cooperate with each other. Countries were requested to more rapidly exchange data and investigate information related to the misuse of this emerging communication technology for the proliferation of drug abuse. Delegates also agreed that States should form joint police, customs and regulatory task forces and work in close cooperation with the World Wide Web and pharmaceutical and chemical industries to curb the trafficking of controlled chemicals via the Internet.

     Due to the increasing prevalence of illicit traffic of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances by sea, the UNDCP was asked to encourage regional agreements worldwide. In particular, UNDCP is to  provide the necessary support to the process of negotiating a regional agreement concerning maritime counter-narcotics cooperation in the Caribbean. The Programme was also requested to convene an open-ended working group to discuss practical ways and means to improve international cooperation in maritime drug law enforcement.

     Alarmed by the high probability that amphetamine-type stimulants may become a drug of choice among abusers in the twenty-first century, participants invited the UNDCP to expand and strengthen further its regional projects related to synthetic drugs and their precursors. UNDCP is to assist Member States in establishing a system or mechanism to collect data to enable the assessment of trends of both the nature and magnitude of drug abuse, including synthetic drugs in particular.  
     
     The tracking of precursors -- chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of drugs -- continued to be a key issue of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Potassium permanganate, one of the key chemicals used in the clandestine manufacture of cocaine, has been successfully tracked and intercepted in a new international cooperative venture, known as “Operation Purple”. This venture, undertaken by sixteen Member States with the assistance of the INCB, received praise at the session of the Commission. Delegates also gave support to similar actions, especially as regards the tracking of acetic anhydride, a chemical used in the  illicit manufacture of  heroin.

     In other action, the Commission, based on the proposal of INCB -- which is mandated to monitor the implementation of the drug control Conventions -- decided to place the precursor chemical norephedrine in Table I of the 1988 United Nations Convention against  Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. The decision was based on an assessment of the Board in 1998 which found that norephedrine 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 and social problems.

    General Assembly Special Session

     At the Twentieth Special Session of the General Assembly in June 1998, countries committed themselves to attain measurable results in combatting illicit drugs. By 2003 they would: have comprehensive drug demand strategies in place; set up or strengthen national legislation and programmes 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 Member States 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.

    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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