A Summary of the Discussions and Decisions of the Economic and Social Council on Questions concerning Narcotic Drugs

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Pages: 43 to 46
Creation Date: 1952/01/01

OFFICIAL

A Summary of the Discussions and Decisions of the Economic and Social Council on Questions concerning Narcotic Drugs

Fourteenth session: 19 May-1 August 1952

The following items concerning narcotic drugs were on the agenda of the fourteenth session of the Economic and Social Council:

I. International limitation of opium production;

II. Report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on its seventh session; 1

III. Date and place of the eighth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs;

IV. Report of the Permanent Central Opium Board to the Economic and Social Council on statistics of narcotics for 1950 and the work of the Board in 1951;

V. Approval of the appointment of the Secretary of the Permanent Central Opium Board;

VI. Date of election of five fixed-term members of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs;

VII. Election of members of the Permanent Central Opium Board;

VIII. Invitation to Libya to become a party to the Protocol of 19 November 1948 bringing under international control drugs outside the scope of the Convention of 13 July 1931 as amended by the Protocol of 11 December 1946;

IX. Communication to governments of findings of the World Health Organization under article 8 of the 1925 Convention, as amended by the Protocol of 11 December 1946.

I

INTERNATIONAL LIMITATION OF OPIUM PRODUCTION

It will be recalled that, at its thirteenth session, the Council had asked governments to send to the Secretary-General their observations both on the draft interim agreement to limit the production of opium to medical and scientific needs and on the principles of the proposed protocol relating to the limitation of production of opium; at the same time, it had requested the Secretary-General to prepare an annotated compendium of such observations as he should receive and to draft the protocol in legal form. These instructions were duly carried out, and when the Council reached this item of its agenda, members had before them the resulting documentation.

Draftresolutions submitted by the Commisssion on Narcotic Drugs in the report on its seventh session to the Council were summarized in the Bulletin, vol. IV, no. 2.

During the first meeting, it became clear that the Council, taking into account the available comments of governments and the opinions expressed by many of its members, was convinced that the scheme proposed by the Commission and embodied in the draft protocol provided at the present juncture the only basis on which a multilateral agreement to limit opium production could be reached.

The discussion accordingly centred around the question whether the Council should decide immediately to convene an international conference for concluding the protocol or postpone doing so until it should have more concrete evidence on the attitudes of governments. The first procedure was favoured by the delegations of Belgium, Egypt, France and the United States of America who sponsored a joint draft resolution which included a provision to that effect. The representatives of China, Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland proposed a joint amendment thereto that the decision to call the conference should be put off until governments had been given an opportunity to furnish comments on the text of the draft protocol, as well as on the general principles. The opinion was expressed that the proposed protocol had "manifest shortcomings" and that the present draft would have to be "revised fundamentally" before it could be submitted to the conference. It was replied that thirty-seven governments, including most of the important producing and consuming countries, had already commented on the principles and that since the idea of holding a conference to limit opium production had been under study for some time and the illicit traffic in opium and its derivatives was steadily increasing, a further delay of the conference for one year could not be justified. The latter view prevailed, and the Council rejected the joint amendment (except for a small change in the preamble).

The Council then adopted the joint draft resolution, substantially as proposed. In addition to the decision to call the conference, it provided for the Secretary-General to set the date of the conference "preferably after the conclusion of the eighth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs", to dispatch the necessary invitations to governments and to the specialized agencies to be represented at the conference table, to prepare provisional rules of procedure for the conference, and to invite governments to furnish observations on the draft protocol by 1 December 1952 so that the Secretariat might prepare a compilation of them to be in the hands of delegates six weeks before the opening of the conference.

The Council adopted a calendar of conferences for 1953 in accordance with which the conference would sit from 11 May to 19 June 1953. It was noted, however, that those dates might have to be changed if the governments concerned could not be ready at that time.

II

REPORT OF THE COMMISSION ON NARCOTIC DRUGS ON ITS SEVENTH SESSION

The Council decided to refer the matter of the time and place of the Commission's eighth session to its Interim Committee on Programme of Conferences (see section III below). The Council acted on the other recommendations of the Commission before taking note of the report as a whole.

The Commission's draft resolutions on international co-operation to control the illicit traffic in narcotics and on the control of synthetic narcotic drugs were adopted by the Council without amendment.

The Council also considered the Commission's draft resolution on illicit trafficking by the crews of merchant ships and civil aircraft, as well as two amendments thereto proposed by the representative of the United Kingdom, the first being a drafting change in paragraph 2, ( a) (ii) and the second comprising an addition to paragraph 2 ( b) to enable all shipping and aircraft organizations to receive copies of the list of trafficking crew members. The Council adopted the first amendment, with a slight modification proposed by the representative of Egypt, and the second amendment and the entire amendment resolution.

Turning next to the Commission's recommendations regarding scientific research on narcotics, the Council examined a draft resolution proposed by the representative of the United States of America requesting governments "to send to the United Nations research laboratory for analysis samples of all opium seized in the illicit traffic" and instructing the Secretary-General "to study and submit to the Council at its fifteenth session a detailed estimate of the cost of preparing and equipping a laboratory ... large enough to handle the increased research work". The Council adopted this resolution without debate.

At the Council's request, the Secretariat prepared a draft resolution on the problem of the coca leaf embodying the Commission's recommendations on this matter. When this item was discussed, the Government of Bolivia, but not that of Peru, was represented; the representative of Bolivia reiterated his Government's support of the Commission's recommendations and its readiness to continue to suppress the illicit traffic in coca leaves and cocaine. With regard to the draft resolution, the representative of Argentina proposed that the Governments of Bolivia and Peru should not be requested to take the necessary steps or urged to take effective measures (the wording suggested by the Commission), but that the Council should employ the word recommend which was in accordance with Article 62 of the United Nations Charter. The Council adopted this amendment without a vote. The representative of Argentina also proposed deletion of the word immediately in the clause "recommends to the Governments of Bolivia and Peru to take the necessary steps to limit immediately the production of coca leaves to licit consumption and manufacture" (also the Commission's wording) on the ground that it gave the recommendation too peremptory a tone. This amendment was likewise adopted. The Council then adopted the resolution, as amended.

Before taking note of the report, the Council heard statements by the representatives of Pakistan and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The representative of Pakistan urged amendment of paragraph 30 thereof pointing out that it referred to Jammu and Kashmir as if they were states of the Indian Union, despite the fact that the political status of those areas was still on the agenda of the Security Council. With regard to the Commission's query in paragraph 31 as to why the production of charas was prohibited in Pakistan while that of ganja and bhang was authorized, he pointed out that bhang was a species of Indian hemp which grew wild and the cultivation of which was not authorized; "ganja" was merely the name given to the young shoots of the bhang plant.

The representative of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics proposed the deletion of paragraphs 56-59 from the report on the ground that they contained slanderous allegations against the People's Republic of China. He read a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China denying that the Republic was engaged in the illegal sale of heroin to Japan and asserting that a policy of strict prohibition of opium and other narcotic drugs was being "resolutely pursued". The representative of the United States of America replied that the paragraphs in question merely reflected the debate which had taken place in the Commission and to delete them would amount to falsifying the record. The representatives of China and Czechoslovakia also spoke on the subject.

The Council took note of the report as approved by the Commission with the representatives of Czechoslovakia, Pakistan, Poland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics casting negative votes.

III

DATE AND PLACE OF THE EIGHTH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON NARCOTIC DRUGS

The Interim Committee on Programme of Conferences proposed to the Council two alternative periods for the eighth session of the Commission - 30 March to 24 April 1953 or 11 May to 5 June 1953. The Council decided upon the first of these alternatives, stipulating also that the session should be convened at Headquarters.

IV

REPORT OF THE PERMANENT CENTRAL OPIUM BOARD TO THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ON STATISTICS OF NARCOTICS FOR 1950 AND THE WORK OF THE BOARD IN 1951

The Council heard statements by the representatives of India and Iran with respect to certain criticisms that the Board, in section III of its report, had directed towards some of the statistics furnished by the governments of those countries, as well as the rejoinders which Mr. May made in each instance on behalf of the Board.

The representatives of Belgium, France and the United States of America submitted a joint draft resolution noting the inadequacy of national controls over the production of opium and coca leaves and urging producing countries to take effective measures to control such production in order to prevent those substances from entering the illicit traffic. Those producing countries that had not already done so were also urged to report to the Board their full production, stocks and exports of opium and coca leaves for the year 1950. At the President's suggestion, the Council decided to add a preamble to this resolution taking formal note of the Board's report.

Certain representatives thought that the draft as it stood placed too much of the responsibility for the illicit traffic in narcotics on producing countries, especially in view of the fact that a large part of that traffic involved manufactured drugs. The delegations of Pakistan and the United States of America accordingly drew up an amendment to the draft resolution providing that producing countries should be urged to take effective measures to control the distribution as well as the production of opium and coca leaves and adding a new paragraph urging all governments to take additional steps to tighten their control over the import and distribution of those raw materials.

The Council adopted the entire resolution, as amended.

V

APPROVAL OF THE APPOINTMENT OF THE SECRETARY OF THE PERMANENT CENTRAL OPIUM BOARD

The Council approved unanimously the appointment of Mr. L. Atzenwiler as Secretary of the Permanent Central Opium Board. In taking this decision, the Council had before it a background memorandum prepared by the Secretariat.

VI

DATE OF ELECTION OF FIVE FIXED-TERM MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION ON NARCOTIC DRUGS

The Council considered whether the term of office of the five members of the Commission - Egypt, Iran, Mexico, Netherlands and Poland - whom it had appointed for a three-year term on 5 August 1949 would expire on the eve of the first meeting of the Commission's eighth or ninth session, i.e., in 1953 or 1954. A background memorandum prepared by the Secretary-General was used as the basis for discussion.

Since the term of office of the five members mentioned above had not begun until 1 December 1950 (i.e., the first day of the first session of the Commission following this election) and since the specified length of the term was three years, the Council decided that the term should not expire until the eve of the ninth session of the Commission and accordingly postponed until next year the election of the five members.

ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF THE PERMANENT CENTRAL OPIUM BOARD

The Council decided to appoint a working party to study the qualifications of the thirty-six candidates nominated by governments for membership on the Permanent Central Opium Board and to recommend for election sixteen of those candidates. The representatives of Belgium, Canada, Iran, Mexico, the Philippines and Sweden were appointed to be members of this group.

The Working Party, after studying the biographies of the candidates, submitted to the Council a report recommending sixteen nominees for appointment to the Board.

When the Council considered that report the representative of the United Kingdom, drawing attention to an expression of regret by the Working Party that some governments had not given sufficiently comprehensive information on the qualifications of their nominees, proposed that consideration of the item be deferred until the session was resumed at the end of the year and that meanwhile the Secretary-General invite the governments concerned to furnish supplementary information as soon as possible. This proposal was submitted in the form of a draft resolution but was rejected.

Following this decision the Council proceeded directly to the election. During the course of four ballots, the following candidates were chosen to be members of the Permanent Central Opium Board: Messrs. F. Abou-Zahar (Lebanon), E. D. Espinosa (Philippines), H. Fisher (Switzerland), Sir H. Greenfield (United Kingdom), H. May (United States), M. E. Rehman (India), P. Reuter (France), and Sanchez (Chile).

VIII

INVITATION TO LIBYA TO BECOME A PARTY TO THE PROTOCOL OF 19 NOVEMBER 1948 BRINGING UNDER INTERNATIONAL CONTROL DRUGS OUTSIDE THE SCOPE OF THE CONVENTION OF 13 JULY 1931 AS AMENDED BY THE PROTOCOL OF 11 DECEMBER 1946

The Council examined a memorandum prepared by the Secretariat proposing that Libya be invited, in accordance with article 5 of the Protocol of 19 November 1948, to become a party to that treaty at an early date; the Council adopted unanimously a resolution to that effect.

IX

COMMUNICATION TO GOVERNMENTS OF FINDINGS OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION UNDER ARTICLE 8 OF THE 1925 CONVENTION, AS AMENDED BY THE PROTOCOL OF 11 DECEMBER 1946

The Council examined a memorandum by the Secretariat which proposed that the Secretary-General should be empowered to act in behalf of the Council in transmitting to governments the findings made by the World Health Organization under article 8 of the 1925 Convention as amended, since the task was purely administrative in character. The Council agreed to the proposal and adopted the necessary enabling resolution.