The Fifteenth Session of the Commission on Narcotics Drugs and the Thirtieth Session of the Economic and Social Council

Sections

Technical assistance for narcotics control
Appointment of a new member to the Permanent Central Opium Board
Middle East Narcotics Survey Mission
Exempted preparations
Opium and opiates
The control of poppy straw
Coca leaf
Cannabis
Carriage of narcotic drugs in first-aid kits of aircraft engaged in international flight

Details

Pages: 43 to 46
Creation Date: 1960/01/01

The Fifteenth Session of the Commission on Narcotics Drugs and the Thirtieth Session of the Economic and Social Council

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs met in Geneva from 25 April to 13 May 1960 and the Economic and Social Council met in Geneva from 5 July to 5 August 1960.

The Commission elected as officers:

Chairman: Mr. K. C. Hossick (Canada)

First Vice-Chairman: Mr. M. Ozkol (Turkey)

Second Vice-Chairman: Mr. A. Ismail (United Arab Re-public)

Rapporteur: Dr. J. Mabileau (France)

The Commission and the Council discussed, inter alia, the following items.

Technical assistance for narcotics control

The continuing programme established by General Assembly resolution 1935 (XIV) came into effect as from 1 January 1960. The Council noted that the projects for 1960 included a regional consultative group, assistance to enable the Permanent Anti-Narcotics Bureau of the League of Arab States to invite additional participants to its annual conference, and fellowships in enforcement, in the organization of rehabilitation services, and in determination of the origin of opium, for officials from six countries. The meeting of the regional consultative group for South-East Asia, covering questions of opium policy and enforcement problems, was planned to take place in the last quarter of 1960.

Resolution 1395 also invited the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization to continue to maintain and develop their activities touching narcotics control. The Council noted, as regards the FAO, that the Special Fund project for a survey of the Riff region (Northern Morocco), with FAO as administering authority, would facilitate the replacement of cannabis (kif) culture as part of the general redevelopment of agriculture and of the re-afforestation of the region. WHO had also been able to grant a number of fellowships for treatment of drug addiction. The hope had also been expressed in the General Assembly that governments which wished assistance in the field of narcotics control and were able to do so would use the EPTA; and the Council was glad to note that this had been done in a number of instances.

Preliminary information was also furnished to the Council on projects for 1961. It noted that regional projects were envisaged for the Middle East, on enforcement questions, and for Latin America, on enforcement questions and problems of the coca leaf and cocaine. Applications or preliminary inquiries for fellowships or experts had been received from thirteen countries, in enforcement, in central administrative services concerned with the control of narcotics, and in determination of opium origins. The Council noted that the Secretary-General had proposed 875,000 for this programme in the regular budget for 1961.

The Commission examined the progress made during the last year towards universal adherence to the narcotics treaties. At its twentieth session the Council had adopted, on the Commission's recommendation, resolution 730C (XXVIII) in which it urged governments which had not yet done so to accede within the shortest possible time to the Paris Protocol of 19 November 1948 bringing new narcotic drugs not covered by the Convention of 1931 under international control. The Commission was informed of the acceptance of the 1948 Protocol by Brazil, El Salvador, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Ukranian Soviet Socialist Republic. During the previous twelve months information had also been received concerning the ratification or adherence to the 1953 Opium Protocol by six States.

In general it was found that governments complied with their obligations under the various narcotics treaties to supply information and reports. Several countries and territories, however, had not complied with the provisions of the international treaties relating to authorizations for the export of narcotic drugs. The Secretary-General was requested to remind governments of their obligations in this respect.

Changes in the Scope of lnternational Control

Eight new drugs were placed under international control during the year. The Commission also decided to place under provisional international control, pending a decision of the World Health Organization, a new synthetic drug known as diphenoxylate, which was similar to pethidine, an addiction-producing drug under international control, and might thus be found to be dangerous itself.

Appointment of a new member to the Permanent Central Opium Board

Following the resignation of General Ibrahim El Tersawi, former Chief of the Anti-Narcotics Administration and the Ministry of the Interior, United Arab Republic, the Council elected Mr. E. S. Krishnamoorthy, Chairman of the Central Board of Revenue of India, who has been the Representative of India to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1960, as well as the leader of the Indian delegation to the United Nations Opium Conference in 1953.

In its annual review of the illicit traffic situation, the Commission was aided in its task by the Committee on Illicit Traffic and was also, as usual, assisted by observers from a number of governments and organizations. Amongst the conclusions reached by the Commission in its review of the illicit traffic were the following:

The main drugs in the illicit traffic continued to be opium and the opiates, cocaine and cannabis. The sources of the international opium traffic were located in the Far East and Near and Middle East. The traffic in opiates had wide international ramifications and there appeared to be a growing use of and traffic in diacetylmorphine. There was a substantial traffic in cocaine in South America where there was widespread illicit traffic in cocaine, mainly in Bolivia and Peru. Cannabis (marihuana, hashish, etc.) traffic was heavy and widespread. Seizures of other "natural" drugs and of synthetic drugs continued to be relatively insignificant.

The international illicit traffic was higly organized and could only be combated by close international co-operation. The Commission welcomed the conclusion of the recent Turko-Iranian border pact and hoped that the spirit of co-operation shown therein would also be emulated by the countries of the Far East and South America, in which drug traffic was rife. The attention of governments was also drawn to the benefits resulting from close direct contacts between the authorities entrusted with controlling international traffic.

Inter-country Regional Meetings

During the year, inter-country meetings on the control of illicit traffic have taken place in South America: a meeting on the illicit traffic in cocaine and coca leaves was also held at Rio de Janeiro from 21 to 25 March 1960. A meeting of enforcement officers in the field of drug traffic was held at Lahore, Pakistan, from 18 to 23 January 1960 under the aegis of the ICPO-Interpol. Also, a conference on narcotic drugs of the League of Arab States took place in Cairo from 7 to 10 March 1960. The Council was in full agreement with the Commission's view that such regional conferences were important and useful and hoped that there would be further developments in that direction.

Middle East Narcotics Survey Mission

The Commission was informed of the work done by the Survey Mission, and of the report made by it and also, orally, by the Chairman of that Commission, Mr. L. H. Nicholson. It was generally remarked that the Commission had accomplished an arduous task in a commendable manner and that its report should be of great help in dealing with the traffic situation in the Middle East and other regions similarly affected. On the recommendation of the Commission, the Council adopted resolution 770 C (XXX) in which it thanked the members of the Survey Mission for their excellent work; drew the attention of the governments concerned to, and invited their consideration of, the specific recommendations contained in the report; drew the attention of governments to their obligations in the international narcotic treaties of combating the illicit traffic; drew the attention of governments in the region to the facilities available for technical assistance in the field of narcotics control; and requested the Secretary-General to study and take such steps as are feasible to simplify the current system of reporting on the illicit traffic.

The Commission made its annual review of the problems of drug addiction, paying particular attention to the question of statistical information and of scientific research. It noted that more data were available than in previous years and that although the different practices of governments regarding case finding, registration and reporting of addicts meant that figures on addiction were not necessarily comparable statistically, the data at hand made it possible to draw conclusions, however tentative, on the incidence of addiction and of the degree of seriousness of problems of the abuse of drugs in most countries and territories in the world.

The Council expressed its appreciation of the assistance given to the World Health Organization Expert Committee on Addiction-producing Drugs, and to the Commission in their work on drug addiction by the United States of America, especially through the controlled clinical research on the properties of narcotic drugs and in particular of new drugs. It was thought, however, that means should be found to expand research activities in this field and in various parts of the world, and, upon the Commission's proposal, the Council adopted resolution 770 D (XXX) inviting the World Health Organization, the United States of America, and other countries equipped to do so, to study the possibility and advisability of giving assistance in this field of research to such countries as might desire it; interested countries were also invited to consult the WHO; and the WHO was invited to consider the possibility of preparing a code of practices by which at present the addiction producing properties of drugs are established.

A plenipotentiary conference for the adoption of the draft Treaty will take place at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York during the period January to April 1961. In order to facilitate the work of the conference, governments and international organizations have been asked to forward comments on the third draft of the Single Convention to the Secretariat. As of 31 July 1960, 44 countries and 16 organizations had forwarded such comments.

Exempted preparations

Under the existing narcotic treaties there are two principal groups of narcotic drugs-one, generally referred to as group I, containing the more dangerous drugs, such as morphine; and the second, referred to as group II, containing the relatively less dangerous drugs, such as codeine. The main difference between control applied to group I and that applied to group II is that the retail distribution of drugs in the latter group is not subject to control. Moreover, preparations of drugs of group II "adapted to a normal therapeutic use" are exempted from the bulk of administrative control provisions.

This broad description of exempted preparations of drugs of group II has, in practice, been differently interpreted by different governments. As a consequence, administrative difficulties have arisen such as those encountered in the application to such preparations of the import certificate and export authorization system- e.g., an exporting government considering a particular preparation to be "adapted to a normal therapeutic use" and thus to be exempted, the importing country, however, holding a contrary view.

The Commission studied the possibility of solving these difficulties under the existing treaty system by inviting the WHO to consider the possibility of adopting a procedure whereby this organization would receive suggestions from governments as to which particular preparations of drugs of group II should be exempted from control and of recommending, on the basis of such suggestions, particular preparations or groups of preparations for exemption as preparations adapted to a normal therapeutic use ". The Commission hoped that it would thus enable governments accepting the recommendations of the WHO to adopt a more uniform practice. The provisions of the third draft of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs on this matter are nearly the same as those of the existing treaty system. Under this draft the present drugs of group II would be listed in a schedule II and all exempted preparations in a schedule III. The Commission envisaged that the plenipotentiary conference to be called under Economic and Social Council resolution 689 J (XXVI) might decide to include in schedule III, on the basis of such recommendations by the WHO as those referred to above, individual preparations of drugs in schedule II, or closely defined groups of preparations of such drugs, rather than limit itself to including in schedule III such a general entry as "preparations adapted to a normal therapeutic use ".

The Council, while taking note of this action of the Commission, felt it would be helpful to the delegates to the plenipotentiary conference if they had specific instructions from their governments on this subject, and that it would to this end be necessary that the technical services of the governments concerned be given an opportunity to consider the matter in sufficient time before the conference. The Council accordingly unanimously passed a resolution requesting the Secretary-General to invite governments to provide the WHO, before 15 October 1960, with a list of such preparations which they considered should be exempted from control. The WHO was invited, in the light of these suggestions, and in time, if possible, for circulation to governments before the plenipotentiary conference, to compile a list of preparations whose exemption it recommended. If the recommendations of the WHO were accepted by the conference, these preparations would be included in schedule III of the Convention.

It was the understanding of the Council that this resolution did not affect the Commission's action relating to the study of the possibility of making more uniform the practice of States in this connexion under the existing treaty system.

Opium and opiates

Scientific Research

The number of authenticated opium samples of the United Nations laboratory had substantially increased; however, samples were still lacking from certain regions. It was easy to understand the difficulties of the countries concerned, but the collection of authenticated samples could be completed only if the authorities in the regions or countries where illicit traffic originated were to make even greater efforts to seize illicit crops, authenticate them, and send samples of the opium produced to the United Nations laboratory.

The Commission took note of the great progress made by the United Nations laboratory in the development and application of simple methods for the determination of the origin of opium. Experiments made by the laboratory, and by the collaborating government laboratory in Yugoslavia, had proved the high degree of reliability of these methods. At the request of several governments the laboratory had determined the geographical origin of many samples of opium seized in the illicit traffic.

The control of poppy straw

Morphine can be extracted either from opium or poppy straw. In the third draft of the Single Convention there are provisions which would subject poppy straw destined for such manufacture to about the same measures of control as those proposed for opium. However, a number of governments felt that the risk involved in poppy straw does not justify such rigid measures. Since many countries do not cultivate the opium poppy and have no experience in this matter, which will constitute one of the principal unresolved questions before the plenipotentiary conference, the Council felt that an independent study on the possibility of the misuse of straw for illicit purposes and the degree of such risk would facilitate the work of delegations to the conference. Accordingly the secretariat was requested to arrange for the preparation of such a study, if possible in time for it to be circulated to governments for their consideration before the conference.

Coca leaf

It was noted that the First Inter-American Meeting on the Illicit Traffic in Cocaine and Coca Leaves (Rio de Janeiro, March 1960) recommended inter alia the control of the licit cultivation of the coca leaf and the abolition of the habit of coca leaf chewing at the earliest possible date, and drew attention to the importance of technical assistance from the United Nations and specialized agencies.

The Commission also noted that coca leaf chewing was reported as decreasing in Bolivia, where the young people did not seem to be attracted by this practice; that production of coca leaves in Peru had slightly decreased; that in Colombia there remained only about 500,000 coca bushes in existence and the Government was considering their purchase in order to proceed to their destruction. On the other hand, the problem was still serious and the countries concerned had indicated their interest in obtaining technical assistance to help them, inter alia, in the determination of addiction incidence, in establishing and maintaining efficient control measures, and in carrying out crop substitution and health education campaigns.

The Commission expressed the hope that in future years complete production and consumption statistics for the coca leaf would be made available by all the countries concerned.

Cannabis

The Commission was gratified to learn that the prohibition of the production of cannabis had now been extended to the whole of Morocco, and that the government of that country envisaged measures to replace its cultivation by other crops.

In accordance with a resolution taken at the fourteenth session of the Commission, a study had been made on the ways to identify cannabis. Reactions used for this identification had been checked for their specificity. Also, an investigation of the microscopic characteristics of cannabis had been carried out together with a study of the method of identifying it by means of its absorption characteristics in the ultra-violet region of the spectrum. Several representatives stated that their countries were either engaged in research akin to that done in the laboratory or considering the possibility of doing so.

The Commission studied up-to-date information on synthetic and other new narcotics, including statistical data on the consumption of a number of natural and synthetic narcotics, expressed in terms of doses consumed per thousand of population This study revealed a considerably varied range of consumption rates, even in groups of countries with similar economic, social and climatic conditions and equivalent medical services.

The Commission also reviewed the problem of identification of new narcotics, mainly synthetics, by enforcement officers. Replies to a recent questionnaire sent out to governments members of the Commission and interested international bodies and organizations, as regards the proposal to add to the designation of these drugs, reference numbers which would refer to an official list of narcotic drugs under international control, were examined. No definite conclusion could be drawn from those replies as to the extent and nature of the difficulties experienced by enforcement officers, but the Commission decided that its members might wish to give more thought to the matter and decided to consider the question further at its next session.

Carriage of narcotic drugs in first-aid kits of aircraft engaged in international flight

In 1957 the International Civil Aviation Organization requested the United Nations and the World Health Organization to study the legal and medical aspects of the carriage of narcotic drugs in first-aid kits of aircraft engaged in international flight, because some of its members had reported difficulties arising from differences in national regulations governing that carriage. The study was to insist on the safeguards against abuse of such narcotics and the establishment of uniform principles under which the drugs might be used and carried. As a result, the Secretary-General, in co-operation with ICAO and WHO and in consultation with the ICPO-Interpol, prepared a set of essential requirements to be recommended to governments as a basis for control of narcotics so carried. The Commission had to take into account the need for measures against the abuse and theft of the drugs and the need to interfere as little as possible with the efficient operation of the aircraft. It also felt that uniformity of measures of control by various countries could be obtained only on general principles and not in matters of detail. On the recommendation of the Commission the Council adopted resolution 770 E (XXX), which contains recommendations to governments set out in broad general principles and also some detailed proposals which might be useful to governments in implementing recommendations.