Recognizing Problems to Better Solve Them

The United Nations have begun to review the various challenges of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration to address the world drug problem

Commission on Narcotic Drugs

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs’ thematic session was held on 16th-18th October 2019 – photo: Dianova, licence CC

By Lucía Goberna – The Ministerial Declaration, the highest-level document approved in March 2019, is intended to guide the international community’s drug policies. In the same document, the situation of the last ten years is taken into account and it is explicitly recognized that although some tangible progress has been achieved, some worrisome challenges remain, as reflected in this document.

With an eye on the past to move forward in the right direction, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the central drug policy-making body at the international level, has planned a series of thematic sessions for the 2019-2023 period to review the many challenges and difficulties described in the Ministerial Declaration document and thus be able to make an informed review of the progress made in the implementation of the drug policy commitments by 2024.

On 16th-18th October 2019, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs convened a thematic session dedicated to the following issues:

  • Expansion and diversification of drug markets and types of drugs;
  • Misuse, illicit cultivation, and production and manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, and the illicit trafficking of these substances and their chemical precursors;
  • Increasing risks posed by the abuse of synthetic opioids and the non-medical use of prescription drugs to public health and safety, and the resulting scientific, legal and regulatory challenges, including with regard to the scheduling of substances.

Transcripts of debates on the CND Blog

Each session included experts appointed by the representatives of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and civil society speakers. The Vienna NGO Drug Committee on Drugs received 38 applications, of which 14 were accepted and included in the formal session. For each theme there was a panelist from civil society and speeches from the public or via video. You can access the declarations, presentations and videos of civil society here. Dianova is part of the Board of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs and has participated in the selection of civil society speakers for this thematic session.

It should be noted that civil society was able to: make the voice of a representative of Colombian coca leaf growers heard in defence of voluntary crop substitution programmes; present the work and findings of organizations providing recreational drug control services; present the evolution of heroin markets on the East African coast; and finally, present the consequences of the two crises related to opioids, namely the lack of medical access to these products, and the increase in non-medical uses. The various contributions were substantive and diversified and made it possible to shed better light on these issues.

The next thematic session will take place in the autumn of 2020 and will deal with treatment services, transmission of HIV, Hepatitis C and other diseases associated with drug use, the health risks posed by the new psychoactive substances and the availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes.