Thematic Discussions at the CND

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) organized a series of thematic discussions on the implementation of specific chapters of the outcome document of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna (Austria)

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna (Austria)

By Gisela Hansen – During the 3 days in which the Commission was held, the following chapters of the UNGASS outcome document were developed:

Chapter 1: Operational Recommendations on Demand Reduction and Related Measures, including Prevention and Treatment as well as Other Health Related Issues

Successful rehabilitation programs can only be achieved through an evidence-based support system. We use science practices and recommendations, translating research findings and evidence-based recommendations into policies and programs. The process evaluation guarantees the fidelity in the implementation and guarantees that the practices can be improved.

Achieving a successful rehabilitation and a drug-free society includes employment, housing, and strengthening family relationships. We need to address stigma and social barriers for people returning to society. Beyond the acquisition of skills, it is necessary to work with companies to find jobs and offer greater opportunities. Evidence shows that being employed is a protective factor to prevent relapse and return to the circle of using substances.

Chapter 2: Availability and controlled access to substances for medical and scientific purposes.

International drug conventions understand the importance of health and well-being and recognize medical use to alleviate pain and suffering. Seventy percent of the world’s population – most of them in low-income settings – do not have access to these drugs, which is unacceptable from an ethical point of view. For ten years the situation has improved in terms of access to opiates for pain relief, although with serious challenges in Africa and elsewhere. There is still wide disparity between regions, with Africa and South East Asia being the least accessible to these substances. There are many barriers that explain the difficulty in accessing substances for palliative care: insufficient knowledge and training of medical staff; behaviors related to fear of diversion of substance, abuse and sanctions; inaccurate quantification of the amounts they need by national agencies and weak supply chain systems; as well as regulatory practices that are too restrictive resulting in very few recipes and few facultative ones authorizing access to the substance.

Controlling the trends of these problems since 1995, many improvements have been observed, but problems of supply, training and resources remain precarious. Other barriers to accessing these drugs include: ineffective implementation of national policies, lack of internal resources, insufficient leadership and coordination, and non-evidence-based guidelines.

Chapter 4: Human rights, youth, children, women and communities.

UNODC is committed to promoting the standards of the UNGASS 2016 document. This chapter 4 contains two sets of operational recommendations.

The first recommendation focuses on drugs and human rights in relation to youth, children, vulnerable people and communities. It refers to the need for children and specificities to be considered in criminal justice systems. UNODC has developed a global program on children in the criminal justice system, which involves interventions to support governments in the treatment of children with substance abuse problems when they are into contact with the criminal justice system. This is critical to promoting reintegration and reducing recidivism.

Another recommendation refers to the need to incorporate a gender perspective in drug policies and programs by addressing the protective and risk factors that make women vulnerable to trafficking and drug abuse. On the other hand, the introduction of the gender perspective, in programs that are mostly of androcentric design, will improve the accessibility and permanence of women in the treatments. UNODC has carried out activities that bring together experts to exchange practices and expertise on gender-sensitive criminal justice practices.