Comparative analysis of the Permanent Central Opium Board and Drug Supervisory Body and their functions, on the one hand, and of the future International Control Board and its functions, on the other

Abstract

1. It may perhaps be fairly prophesied that the year 1961 will go down in history as an important year in the field of international control of narcotic drugs. From January to March this year a plenipotentiary conference was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York for the purpose of adopting a Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The conference was attended by the representatives of seventy-three states, by an observer from Ceylon, by representatives of certain specialized agencies - viz., Food and Agriculture Organization, International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Labour Office and the World Health Organization - and of the Permanent Central Opium Board and Drug Supervisory Body, and of certain non-governmental organizations such as the International Criminal Police Organization, International Federation of Women Lawyers, and International Catholic Church. The Director of the Permanent Anti-narcotic Bureau of the League of Arab States was also present, by invitation, in his personal capacity. It was a world assemblage of eminent persons of considerable knowledge and experience, administrative, technical and political, specially qualified and briefed for the task on which they were engaged; and it was not, therefore, a matter of surprise at all that, not-withstanding the admittedly complex and sometimes delicate nature of the problems they had to face, they succeeded, in the comparatively short period of about eight weeks, and in a spirit of goodwill, moderation and amity, in forging the text of an international treaty dealing comprehensively with all aspects of the control of narcotic drugs.

Details

Author: E. S. Krishnamoorthy
Pages: 1 to 9
Creation Date: 1962/01/01

Comparative analysis of the Permanent Central Opium Board and Drug Supervisory Body and their functions, on the one hand, and of the future International Control Board and its functions, on the other

E. S. Krishnamoorthy
Formerly Chairman, Central Board of Revenue, Government of India; Member of the Permanent Central Opium Board

1. It may perhaps be fairly prophesied that the year 1961 will go down in history as an important year in the field of international control of narcotic drugs. From January to March this year a plenipotentiary conference was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York for the purpose of adopting a Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The conference was attended by the representatives of seventy-three states, by an observer from Ceylon, by representatives of certain specialized agencies - viz., Food and Agriculture Organization, International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Labour Office and the World Health Organization - and of the Permanent Central Opium Board and Drug Supervisory Body, and of certain non-governmental organizations such as the International Criminal Police Organization, International Federation of Women Lawyers, and International Catholic Church. The Director of the Permanent Anti-narcotic Bureau of the League of Arab States was also present, by invitation, in his personal capacity. It was a world assemblage of eminent persons of considerable knowledge and experience, administrative, technical and political, specially qualified and briefed for the task on which they were engaged; and it was not, therefore, a matter of surprise at all that, not-withstanding the admittedly complex and sometimes delicate nature of the problems they had to face, they succeeded, in the comparatively short period of about eight weeks, and in a spirit of goodwill, moderation and amity, in forging the text of an international treaty dealing comprehensively with all aspects of the control of narcotic drugs.

2. The Single Convention, as this international treaty is called, represents the culmination of an effort which started many years ago, when the Economic and Social Council, in the course of its seventh session, adopted a resolution directing the Secretary-General to start work on such a convention. All the matters incorporated in the text as adopted at the 1961 conference had time and again been discussed and thrashed out at several sessions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and had passed through the stage of various drafts. The drafts had also been commented on by the governments of the world, and by all the specialized agencies and bodies mentioned above. The final text as adopted thus represents the result of the deep cogitation and unremitting labours of numerous experts, and may reasonably be expected, in the ordinary course, to command general acceptance. Indeed, the text of the Convention has been adjusted and readjusted with the principle of universality always in view.

3. The Single Convention, as already stated, is a comprehensive measure. It deals practically with all aspects of international drug control - from the stage of production up to the stage of consumption. It represents, in some ways, not merely in matters of procedure, but of principle too, a considerable advance on the existing international treaties, which it is intended to replace. For instance, there is provision in it for the control of raw materials - opium, poppy straw, cocoa leaf and cannabis - an objective long sought after and basic to the effective international control of narcotic drugs. It is true that in so far as opium and poppy straw are concerned, the Opium Protocol of 1953 had legislated for their control, and that the provisions in the Single Convention in regard to these items are drawn in large measure from that protocol. On the other hand, however, it has to be remembered that that protocol was forged in a different atmosphere, that it has not yet entered into force, and that it contains some provisions - e.g., "mandatory embargo" and local inspection, which, as experience suggests, have not commanded general acceptance, and which the Single Convention omits.

It is not obviously possible to deal, in the compass of a comparatively short article, with all the features of the Single Convention. I propose, therefore, to confine myself to an elucidation of the position, as envisaged in the Convention, of the International Control Board in the scheme of control and of the differences, if any, which it exhibits in its composition, status and functions from those of the Permanent Central Opium Board and the Supervisory Body, which it will replace when the Single Convention comes into force.

5. That two bodies - viz., the Permanent Central Opium Board and the Drug Supervisory Body - should have been entrusted with the administrative side of the international control of narcotic drugs as it exists today is an accident of history. When the Limitation Convention of 1931 met and established the "estimates" system and entrusted the work of preparing "estimates" to a new body called the Supervisory Body, the question of the possibility of invoking for this work the agency of the Permanent Central Opium Board, which had already been brought into existence by the Geneva Convention of 1925, had not been overlooked. There were, however, legal difficulties as the conference which met in 1931 was constitutionally not competent to entrust to the Board functions different from those provided by the 1925 Convention; it would have been necessary for the purpose to amend the 1925 Convention itself. In view of the attitude taken up by a number of governments present at the 1931 conference, it was considered unlikely that the necessary adjustment would have been forthcoming. Moreover, a number of the countries subscribing to the 1931 Convention had not acceded to the Geneva Convention of 1925. There was also the practical difficulty that estimates could reasonably be expected to be efficiently established only by a body on which there was adequate representation of the technical fields, such as medicine, pharmacology, etc., and there was no guarantee that the Permanent Central Opium Board would have such representation. Further, on broad principles, it would have been unusual to entrust the same body with the establishment of estimates and subsequently the supervision of their execution.

6. In the years that have elapsed since 1931, however, the objections set forth above, barring perhaps the constitutional one, have ceased to be regarded as of sufficient importance to override administrative convenience. In actual practice, too, the Permanent Central Opium Board and Supervisory Body have worked so closely together, and their work is so intimately allied both in content and by reason of the same secretariat servicing both these bodies, that it has seemed very natural for these two bodies to be merged into one for the purpose of the Single Convention. There never has been any suggestion from any quarter, as far as I know, that the unification of the two bodies was undesirable in principle or from a practical point of view. It was perhaps in view of the obvious desirability and feasibility of combining the two bodies in any scheme of streamlining and simplification of the existing multilateral treaties that the resolution of the seventh session of the Economic and Social Council, referred to above, stated that in the drafting of the Single Convention, "Provision should be made for a single body to perform all control functions except those which are now or may hereafter be entrusted to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs."

7. For a proper understanding of the functions of the future International Control Board, it is necessary that the composition of that board and its general set-up should be studied, particularly vis-a-vis the composition, etc., of the Permanent Central Opium Board created by the Convention of 1925 and the Supervisory Body created by the 1931 Convention. The organizational side is also important, both to serve as a background for the study of the functions of the body and to appreciate why certain functions have been and could justifiably be entrusted to the Board. For instance, as the future International Control Board will be required to establish the estimates, in the same way as the Supervisory Body does at present, it has been provided in the relevant article of the Single Convention (article 9) that there should be three members with medical and pharmaceutical experience, and these are to be selected from a list furnished by the World Health Organization; it will be recalled that two out of the four members of the Supervisory Body are the nominees of the World Health Organization. Similarly, it is in view of the Board's status as a high international body with semi-judicial functions and composed of individuals independent of governments that a responsibility such as that laid down in para. 2 ( a) of article 24 of the Single Convention has been entrusted to the new Board.

8. The Permanent Central Opium Board, as it exists today, consists of eight members, who, by their technical competence, impartiality and disinterestedness, command general confidence (article 19 of the Geneva Convention). The expression " technical competence" has not been defined, but has been understood to include a thorough knowledge of the economic, social, administrative, fiscal, legal, medical and pharmaceutical problems of the control of narcotic drugs. Since the inception of its work in 1928, the membership of the Board has represented these various skills. The members are now elected by the Economic and Social Council, which is the appointing authority. The membership must include, in equitable proportion, persons possessing a knowledge of the drug situation both in the producing and manufacturing countries on the one hand, and in the consuming countries on the other, and must be connected with such countries. They are appointed for a period of five years, and should not hold any office which puts them in a position of direct dependence on their governments. This latter provision was inserted in order to ensure the independence of the Board in carrying out its semi-judicial functions. In the beginning, this was interpreted to mean that officials in active service of their governments could not be appointed to membership of the Board. But this stipulation was considered likely to create difficulties in view of the changed social systems in many countries of the world. To find men who would be completely independent of their governments and able to attend the meetings of the Permanent Central Opium Board three times a year (as the normal frequency was at the time) without remuneration was not easy. At its sixth session, the Economic and Social Council approved a resolution proposed by the Narcotics Commission to the effect that it was within the meaning of the Convention that men who held government offices in their respective countries could be appointed to the Board provided they resigned their office during their membership, and on condition that they did not receive instructions from their governments. The Council also held that it was possible for professional men who held positions in government-financed institutions to be appointed to the Board, so that there is no objection to a university professor or other academic person being appointed.

9. The Supervisory Body which was created by the Limitation Convention of 1931 is composed of four members, of which one is appointed by the Permanent Central Opium Board, one by the Advisory Committee on Opium and other Dangerous Drugs, one by the Health Committee of the League of Nations, and one by the Office international d'hygiène publique. The Protocol of 11 December 1946 substituted the Commission on Narcotic Drugs for the Advisory Committee, and the World Health Organization for the Health Committee and the Office international d'hygiène publique as appointing bodies. The 1931 Convention does not prescribe the personal qualifications of the members of the Body, but the minutes of the 1931 conference suggest that the framers of the 1931 Convention thought of the Supervisory Body members as independent experts with some of them possessing medical knowledge. Similarly, there was no tenure prescribed by the Convention for the members of the Body. By an agreement between the appointing bodies, it was at first fixed at three years. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs, at its third session, however, recommended that the terms of office of the members of the Supervisory Body should be five years, and accordingly since 1948, the members have been appointed for a period of five years, except the representative of the Permanent Central Opium Board, who has been appointed annually.

10. To ensure the full technical independence of the Permanent Central Opium Board in carrying out its duties, the 1925 Convention lays down that the Secretary-General shall appoint the secretary and staff of the Board on the nomination of the Board, and subject to the approval of the Council. The control of the staff in administrative matters rests with the Secretary-General. But the Economic and Social Council is required in consultation with the Board to make necessary arrangements for the organization and working of the Board. As regards the secretariat of the Supervisory Body, the 1931 Convention provided that the Secretary-General should provide the secretariat, and would ensure close collaboration with the Permanent Central Opium Board. In actual practice, the secretariat of the Permanent Central Opium Board and the secretariat of the Supervisory Body are now a joint one, and there is close co-ordination between the work of these two bodies. In recent years, there have been joint sessions of the Permanent Central Opium Board and the Supervisory Body ordinarily twice a year. The joint meetings are so adjusted that they take place at about the same time that the two bodies hold separately their usual half-yearly meetings.

11. The Single Convention lays down (article 5) that the "Parties recognizing the competence of the United Nations with respect to the international control of drugs agree to entrusting to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the Economic and Social Council and to the International Narcotic Control Board the functions respectively assigned to them under the Convention." The composition of the International Control Board is laid down in article 9. The Board is to consist of 11 members to be elected by the Council, of which three shall be with medical, pharmacological or pharmaceautical experience from a list of at least five persons nominated by the World Health Organization, and the other eight from a list of persons nominated by the Members of the United Nations, and by parties which are not Members of the United Nations. There has been under the 1925 Convention, and it is hoped there will be under the 1961 Convention when it enters into force, a large field of choice for membership of the Board.

12. I have said that the international Control Board is to have eleven members in place of the existing Permanent Central Opium Board with its eight members and the Supervisory Board with its four members. Although at first sight it would appear that the collective strength of the Permanent Central Opium Board and the Supervisory Body is twelve, whereas the future International Board will have only eleven, this is in fact not so. Three out of the present four members of the Supervisory Body are members of the Permanent Central Opium Board, so that there are only nine individuals who between them fill the membership of the Board and the Super-visory Body. In fact, at the time of the last general renewal of membership of the Board in 1957, the Economic and Social Council adopted a resolution (667 H XXIV) in which it invited the bodies entitled to appoint members of the Supervisory Body to consider appointing persons who were members of the Board. In the International Narcotic Control Board, the number of nominees of the World Health Organization appointed is to be at least three. This is because it was felt that, for a combined strength of eleven, there should be at least three with medical, pharmacological or pharmaceutical experience. There is no nominee of the Commission of Narcotic Drugs, as the remaining eight members are to be elected by the Economic and Social Council. There was a proposal during the Single Convention conference that the total strength should be thirteen in view of the accretion to the strength of the United Nations in recent times, by a large number of new sovereign States joining this body, and on the ground that a numerically stronger Board would provide opportunity to a larger number of countries to share in the responsibilities of the international control of narcotic drugs. However, this proposal was not pressed, particularly as there was another section of opinion which was against any increase in the strength of the Permanent Central Board at all, and the smaller number of eleven was finally decided on as a compromise.

13. As regards the qualifications of the members, there is one point which calls for mention. The phrasing of the second sentence of sub-paragraph 2 of article 9 of the Single Convention is quite different from that of sub-paragraph 4 of article 19 of the 1925 Convention. The sentence in question in the Single Convention reads: "During the term of office they shall not hold any position or engage in any activity which would be liable to impair their impartiality in the exercise of their functions.'' The corresponding provision in the 1925 Convention is: "The members of the Central Board shall not hold any office which puts them in a position of direct dependence on their governments." The exact implications of this change from the 1925 Convention cannot be gauged at present. It is quite clear, however, that the language of the 1961 Convention is more flexible. Whether it might be interpreted to render eligible for membership even a government employee on active service, so long as the post he holds or the work he does will not impair his impartiality as a member of the Board, would be a matter for the interpreting body to decide. This would be a considerable departure from the position which obtains at present. This aspect of the matter will doubtless receive due consideration at the hands of the Economic and Social Council at the time of election of the members of the Board. But for the aforesaid difference, there is little change in the matter of qualifications between the 1925 and 1961 Conventions. Members of the Board have to be men of competence, impartiality and disinterestedness and must command general confidence. The expression "technical competence" in the 1925. Convention was replaced by "competence" in order not to restrict the field of choice and to enable the bringing in of any person of eminence, even if he did not possess technical competence. This modification was also regarded as unlikely to weaken the technical expertness of the Board, as there is provision already for the inclusion of at least three persons with medical, pharmacological or pharmaceutical experience, in article 9 of the Convention. The need for ensuring the full technical independence of the Board in carrying out its functions was also recognized, and it is laid down in the Convention that the Council shall in consultation with the Board make all arrangements for this purpose.

14. It is also provided in the Convention that due regard shall be given to equitable geographical representation in selecting the members of the Board, and it is enjoined that due consideration shall be given to the importance of including persons possessing a knowledge of the drug situation in the producing, manufacturing and consuming countries and connected with such countries. This provision is on the same lines as in article 19 of the 1925 Convention.

15. As regards the terms of office and remuneration of members of the International Control Board, these are prescribed in article 10. The tenure is to be for a period of three years, although members will be eligible for re-election. This is in contrast with the five years under the 1925 Convention in respect of the members of the Permanent Central Opium Board and five years for members of the Supervisory Body (except the representative of the Permanent Central Opium Board on that Body) by virtue of the recommendation of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs already referred to. The three-year period was fixed, as it was felt that an increased frequency of election would afford opportunities to a larger number of States to take part in the Board's work, and that as there was provision for re-election of a member, the services of those specially qualified could always be retained. Provision has also been made that members of the Board should receive adequate remuneration as determined by the General Assembly. The position under the 1925 and 1931 Conventions is that there is no provision for payment of any remuneration. The members of the Board, to begin with, received only expense allowances, although this was not strictly in accordance with the original ideas of the authors of the 1925 Convention. The report of the sub-committee concerned of the 1925 Convention said: "It cannot be expected that it will be possible to obtain the services as members of the Board of persons who possess the qualifications necessary and who will be willing to give the amount of time which the work of the Board will require unless they receive a remuneration for their services. This remuneration will necessarily be at a higher rate if men of the first class are to be secured." At its second session the Commission on Narcotic Drugs recommended that, in view of the increased work-load of the members of the Board, the Economic and Social Council take measures necessary for granting them adequate remuneration during their terms of office. The Economic and Social Council recommended that the Advisory Committee on Administration and Budgetary questions should examine in the light of the recommendation of the Commission the question of the remuneration of the members of the Permanent Central Opium Board. The members of the Board now receive a nominal honorarium, and so do the president and vice-president, although at a slightly increased rate. If and when the convention enters into force, it will be for the General Assembly to determine what the remuneration of the members of the Board should be.

16. There is one other matter about the organizational side which I should like to mention before I go on to deal with the functions of these control bodies. The secretariat services of the International Control Board are provided for in article 16, which reads as follows: "The secretariat services of the Commission and the Board shall be furnished by the Secretary-General." This article does not, however, tell all the story behind it. During the making of the draft of the Single Convention, the question of the organization of the secretariat had been considered. At one stage a proposal was approved, in order to simplify the machinery of control, that there should be only a single secretariat for the future Control Board and the Commission, but later on the matter was again discussed in the Narcotics Commission, and the majority view was in favour of keeping the secretariat of the Board distinct from that of the Commission. Some time before the Single Convention conference, however, the relevant committee of the General Assembly had had occasion to discuss this matter, and there it was strongly felt that, both from the point of view of economy and of administrative convenience and efficiency, a unified secretariat would be preferred, and the Committee had made a recommendation accordingly to the General Assembly that the matter be placed in this light before the Single Convention conference. The General Assembly had endorsed the recommendation of the committee, and the problem came up before the Convention, and was discussed at some length. While it was generally acknowledged that the technical independence of the Board should be ensured - and provision to this effect has been made in the treaty - it was also felt at the same time that the secretariat of the Commission and of the Board could be combined without detracting in any way, either from the independence of the Board or from the efficient conduct of business. Indeed, some overlapping, which was inevitable under the existing arrangement - e.g., in regard to reporting of illicit traffic - could be avoided if the same secretariat serviced the Control Board and the Commission. The language of article 16 ensures the implementation of the idea of a single secretariat. It is, of course, not possible to say at this stage exactly how the new arrangement will operate. The secretariat of the Board has served it with competence and loyalty ever since its creation. Indeed, several members of the staff have, apparently, spent practically all their service in the Board's secretariat. Their valuable experience will doubtless be utilized both in the period of transition and when the time comes to implement article 16.

There is no doubt, however, that there are a great many advantages in the new arrangement of a single narcotics secretariat, and once the requisite psychological adjustment takes place, any doubts or difficulties that may vaguely be entertained now, may prove to be chimerical. I hope it may not be considered out of the way on my part if I also take this opportunity of paying a tribute to the secretariat of the Division of Narcotic Drugs, which I have had the privilege of knowing personally for nearly ten years, when I used to attend the Narcotics Commission as the representative of India, and also when I led the Indian delegation to the Opium Conference of 1953, and again recently in New York, when I attended the Single Convention conference as a representative of the Permanent Central Opium Board. The work they have done in connexion with the Single Convention is monumental, and I feel certain that I shall not be accused of over-statement if I attribute the success of the Single Convention conference in significant measure to the exemplary devotion and assiduity that the staff of the Division of Narcotic Drugs have brought to bear on their work. It is also my conviction that in the circumstances the single secretariat cannot start under better auspices.

17. I shall now deal with the functions, on the one hand, of the Permanent Central Opium Board and Supervisory Body, and on the other, of the International Control Board when the Single Convention replaces the existing treaties. These functions, obviously, are related to the scheme of control and the objectives which that scheme is designed to subserve, as formulated in the international treaties adopted and brought into force from time to time and as further expounded and clarified in the proceedings of the concerned organs of the erstwhile League of Nations and of the United Nations and in the authoritative notes, memoranda, publications, etc., put out by the international secretariat; the functions are also derived from those treaties.

18. On the question of objectives, there has never been, throughout the history of international drug control - since the Shanghai Commission of 1909 - any doubt or conflict; the disastrous consequences of drug addiction to the individual and society were too well-known and realized for any mental reservations on this score. Indeed, the evils of opium smoking in the Far East had precipitated the crisis which led to the convening of the Shanghai Commission; the humanitarian task involved had posed a challenge to the civilized world, and America had accepted it and provided the leadership. The twin objectives underlying international drug control have been - to put them in the simplest words - to control by international co-operation and effort the supply of drugs so as to make them available only for legitimate purposes and to prevent abuse; in treaty language, "to limit the supply of drugs for medical and scientific purposes, and to check illicit traffic."

19. The development of the control has been gradual and its scope has increased with every treaty and with the changes in the drug habits of the world population. Gradualness has been inevitable in view of the need for universality. The machinery for implementing control has also been built up from scratch in the inter-war period, for The Hague Convention of 1912, while it contained a number of general principles which still remain as the foundation and main-spring of all drug control, suffered from the defect that it created no machinery for implementation of the agreed principles. The Opium Advisory Committee (the predecessor of the Narcotics Commission) came in the wake of the Versailles Treaty and the League of Nations, and the Permanent Central Opium Board and Supervisory Body followed the 1925 and 1931 conventions respectively. With the establishment of the United Nations and adoption of the Protocol of 11 December 1946, the machinery of control, as we know it today - viz., the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and Permanent Central Opium Board and Supervisory Body - emerged with the nomenclature in the existing treaties, suitably adapted to take account of the dissolution of the League and its replacement by the United Nations.

20. The work of international drug control is by and large shared among the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the Permanent Central Board, and the Drug Supervisory Body. The Commission is principally a policy-making and advisory body, although it has certain duties of a supervisory character to perform also. The Permanent Central Opium Board and Drug Supervisory Body, on the other hand, are largely administrative bodies with their duties, responsibilities and powers defined by the international treaties. Some of the duties are admittedly judicial in character for example, action taken by the Board under articles 24 and 26 of the Geneva Convention is in the nature of judicial proceedings.

21. The treaties which set out the functions of the Permanent Central Opium Board and Drug Supervisory Body are:

  1. The Geneva Convention of 19 February 1925 as amended by the Protocol of 11 December 1946;

  2. The Limitation Convention of 13 July 1931 as amended by the Protocol of 11 December 1946; and

  3. The Protocol of 19 November 1948, bringing under international control drugs outside the scope of the 1931 Convention.

It is necessary very briefly to study the broad features of these treaties and of the Single Convention of 1961 before undertaking a comparative analysis in rather greater detail of the functions of the Permanent Central Opium Board and Drug Supervisory Body, on the one hand, and of the International Control Board, on the other. The study will, however, be confined to the points relevant to the aforesaid analysis - i.e., to outlining the scope of the control instituted by each treaty and the nature of the duties, etc., entrusted to the control bodies.

(1) The Geneva Convention of 1925

The principal features of this convention were: reiteration of the principle already embodied in The Hague convention that manufacture of drugs should be limited to legitimate needs; addition of coca leaves, crude cocaine, ecgonine and Indian hemp to the list of drugs already specified in The Hague Convention of 1912; provision of machinery for adding to this list in the future any habit-forming drug that may be brought to notice; tightening up of the system of voluntary control by transforming it into legal obligation; institution of control of international trade by a system of import certificates and expert authorizations; the creation of the Permanent Central Opium Board and definition of its supervisory and enforcement powers, including the so-called recommendatory embargo on the basis of the statistics supplied to it and information in its possession regarding international trade; institution of a system of statistics in regard to production, manufacture, consumption and stocks and the exclusion of government stocks from statistical control. (The framers of the 1925 Convention had actually set out with the intention of limiting the production of raw materials and the manufacture of narcotic drugs; but they had had to abandon it, and were obliged to concentrate on the control of trade and commerce.)

(2) The 1931 Convention

The purpose of this convention was to render effective, by international agreement, the limitation of the manufacture of drugs to the world's legitimate requirements for medical and scientific purposes, and to regulate their distribution. The scope of the Convention was confined to the phenanthrene alkaloids of opium and the ecgonine alkaloids of the coca leaf, and to such products obtained from these alkaloids as might be added subsequently under a procedure set out in article 11 - a procedure similar to that laid down in article 10 of the 1925 Convention. The drugs were divided into two groups known as group I and group II, the former covering all natural and artifical alkaloids known at the time to be habit-forming or to be convertible into habit-forming drugs, and the latter containing codeine and dionine which, although convertible into habit-forming drugs, were being increasingly used for medical purposes, and justified their subjection to less rigid control. The other features of the Convention were the institution of the "estimates" system, under which parties to the Convention and non-parties, also, were required to furnish to the Permanent Central Opium Board the quantities of drugs required by them for the coming year; the creation of the Supervisory Body with the responsibility cast on it of vetting the estimates in consultation with the governments concerned and of framing estimates for countries failing to furnish estimates; and of issuing a statement of the world's requirements of narcotics before the middle of December of the year preceding that to which the estimates relate; the making of provision enabling the Permanent Central Opium Board to receive annually from the governments statistics of the production of raw opium and coca leaf, of the manufacture of drugs, of stocks held for other than government purposes, of consumption, of the amounts seized from illicit traffic, and also quarterly statistics of imports and exports; the responsibility thrown on the Permanent Central Opium Board to prepare an annual statement showing for each country, in respect of the preceding year, its estimates of the amount of drug consumed, manufactured, converted, exported, imported and used for making preparations not requiring export authorizations - in other words, "a centralized system of world accountancy", in regard to narcotic drugs and its audit; the power to the Permanent Central Opium Board to ask for explanation from a contracting party if it has failed to fulfill its obligations and to publish this explanation with is own statement and to initiate an embargo against countries whose imports and exports exceed their estimates; power to require that exports of group 1 drugs to countries which are not parties to the Conventions of 1925 and 1931 be submitted for prior approval if the quantity involved is more than 5 kg and be intimated if the quantity is less than 5 kg.

(3) 1948 Protocol

This protocol was designed to bring under speedy control addiction-producing drugs not covered by the 1931 Convention. This was rendered necessary by the rapid growth of the synthetic drugs industry and the harm that could result from the dilatory procedure envisaged in article 10 of the 1925 Convention, and article 11 of the 1931 Convention. The immediate point of interest for present purposes is that the Board has to be kept informed of the action initiated and the measures taken from time to time under this procedure.

22. The Single Convention of 1961, being a consolidating convention, contains all the features of the control envisaged in the earlier conventions. The important points to be noted at this stage are the re-enunciation of the principle of limitation of supply of drugs to medical and scientific purposes; the application of this principle to raw materials such as opium, poppy straw, coca leaf and cannabis, and the institution of measures to achieve this; the establishment of the International Control Board to replace the Permanent Central Opium Board and Drug Supervisory Body, and a more rational division of the drugs to be controlled by including them in four separate schedules, together with speedy machinery for effecting changes in the scope of control.

23. It is now possible to proceed to the detailed comparative analysis alluded to above, but one or two preliminary points need to be got out of the way. One is the designation as "special stocks" for "special purposes" in the Single Convention of what, in the conventions of 1925 and 1931, were referred to as "government stocks" and "government purposes". The discussions in the Single Convention conference over this apparently small matter of nomenclature were lengthy, but for all practical purposes special stocks may be taken as synonymous with government stocks. The other is about the most convenient way of presenting the comparison. A narrative form has its limitations in that if the powers of the Permanent Central Opium Board and Drug Supervisory Body were described first followed by the corresponding powers of the International Control Board and then by a commentary on the differences, if any, in scope and detail, it would almost certainly not make for convenience of reference, as the number of the detailed powers to be discussed is large. On the other hand, a tabular form showing the position under the earlier treaties and under the Single Convention, although most desirable from the point of view of convenience, is more suited for a "schedule" than for the body of an article like the present one. I propose, therefore, to follow a method which would combine the advantages of the two systems without the disadvantages thereof. The functions of the Permanent Central Opium Board and Drug Supervisory Body and of the International Control Board can be broadly described as "supervisory" and "enforcement", and listed as such. There is one item relating to the obtaining of prior approval of the Permanent Central Opium Board for the export of a group I drug to a country not party to the 1925 or 1931 conventions if the quantity was more than 5 kg (see article 14 (1) of the 1931 Convention), but this is a solitary item of executive control, and may be ignored; in any case, there is no corresponding provision in the Single Convention where the 1931 grouping of drugs has in fact been obliterated. I propose to deal with the individual functions under these broad heads of "supervisory" and "enforcement", and to state the position in regard to each function first under 7the 1925 and 1931 conventions, as the case may be, and then under the Single Convention.

24. The functions of the Supervisory Body being strictly limited may be disposed of first. They are to furnish estimates of the medical and scientific needs of narcotic drugs which fall under the 1931 Convention or will fall under the 1948 Protocol for each territory whether that territory is subject to the 1931 Convention or not. If estimates are supplied by the government or the territory, they are scrutinized by the Supervisory Body and amended where necessary with the consent of the governments concerned. The same procedure is adopted in regard to supplementary estimates too. The Supervisory Body then prepares and sends to governments through the Secretary-General an annual statement of estimated world requirements in narcotic drugs for scientific and medical purposes containing estimates for each individual territory and drug. The statement contains also, where necessary, an account of the explanations given by governments, and observations which the Supervisory Body may desire to make. The position under the Single Convention is almost identical and is stated in article 12 of that convention. The differences, if any, are minor and are consequential to the International Control Board taking over the functions of the Permanent Central Opium Board and Supervisory Body. The dates by which the estimates are to be submitted to the Board by the governments of countries and territories, or the date by which the annual statement should be issued are, in contrast with article 5, paras. 4 and 7 of the 1931 Convention, not specified in the Single Convention, but left to be fixed by the Board. It is also provided in article 12 (3) of the Single Convention that where the International Control Board establishes the estimates of a country which has failed to submit estimates, it shall do so in co-operation with the government concerned to the extent practicable. The effect of the provision obviously is that the Board still has unfettered powers in respect of a country which does not furnish an estimate, but where co-operation can be obtained by persuasion, efforts should be made to that end.

25. THE FUNCTIONS OF THE PERMANENT CENTRAL OPIUM BOARD

I. Supervisory

Under the 1925 and 1931 Conventions and the 1948 Protocol, the Board is entitled to obtain information on various matters which are all specified in the treaties. These are dealt with below and the corresponding provision in the Single Convention is also given under each.

( a)Governments send to the P.C.O.B. in a manner to be indicated by it annual statistical reports,

  1. On their production of raw opium and coca leaf (see article 22 of the 1925 Convention) and also on the manufacture of crude cocaine and ecgonine, morphine, diacetylmorphine, cocaine and their respective salts and of any other narcotic drugs to which the application of the 1925 Convention has been extended by virtue of article 10 of the 1925 Convention, or which fall or may in the future fall under the provisions of the 1931 Convention or of the 1948 Protocol (article 13 (1) of the 1931 Convention).

    The position under the Single Convention is the same (see article 20) read with articles 13 and 2, and schedule 1 of that convention.

  2. On the amounts of any of the drugs falling under the 1931 Convention or under the 1948 Protocol which were used by manufacturers and wholesalers for the compounding of preparations, whether for domestic consumption or for exports, for the export of which export authorizations are not required, together with a summary of the quarterly statements of manufacturers (containing the amount of raw materials and of each of the drugs received by them, the quantities of the drugs produced, quantities of raw materials and manufactured drugs disposed of, and quantities in stock at the end of each quarter).

    The position is the same under the Single Convention (see article 20) read with articles 2 and 13, and schedule 1 of that convention.

  3. Statistics on stocks - held by wholesalers or by the government for consumption in the country for other than government purposes - of raw opium, coca leaf, medicinal opium; crude cocaine; and ecgonine; morphine, diacetylmorphine, cocaine and their respective salts; all preparations, officinal and non-officinal (including the so-called anti-opium remedies) containing more than 0.2% of morphine or more than 0.1% of cocaine; all preparations (extracts and tinctures) of Indian hemp and of any other narcotic drugs to which the Convention has been extended by virtue of article 10, or which fall or may in the future fall under the 1931 Convention or under the 1948 Protocol.

    The position is the same under the Single Convention, and is provided for in article 20 (1) (f). The stocks are specifically stated in the treaty to be as at 31 December of the year.

  4. Amounts of narcotic substances (falling under the 1925 or 1931 Convention or the 1948 Protocol) confiscated on account of illicit import or export, and the manner of their disposal;

    The position is the same under the Single Convention, and is provided for under article 20 (1) (e).

  5. Quarterly statistics of imports and exports of narcotic substances covered by the 1925 and 1931 Conventions and by the 1948 Protocol;

    Article 20 (1) (d) of the Single Convention read with article 20 (2) makes an identical provision. The returns are to be submitted within 30 days (in the 1925 Convention, it is 4 weeks) of the end of the quarter.

  6. Annual statistics of manufacture of prepared opium, and of raw materials used for such manufacture.

    The position under the Single Convention is the same; opium in schedule 1 of that convention includes opium for smoking. Even otherwise the point is covered (see article 20 (1) read with schedule 1 and the definition of "preparation" in article 1 of the Single Convention).

  7. Annual statistics of the consumption of prepared opium.

    This is covered by article 20 (1)(c) of the Single Convention.

(b) The governments also undertook, when forwarding the annual statistics, to give the Permanent Central Opium Board reasons for eventual excesses over their estimates (see article 6 (2) of the 1931 Convention).

Under the Single Convention, no special provision exists like article 6 (2) of the 1931 Convention, but this is implicit in article 19 (3) of that convention read with article 20.

(c) The Permanent Central Board may also obtain from governments information on any matter which seems to require investigation; it is "the friendly right" of contracting parties to call the attention of the Board to such matters (article 25 of the 1925 Convention).

The Board is under an obligation to ensure that the information and explanations it receives shall not be made public in such a manner as to facilitate the operations of speculators or injure legitimate commerce.

There is no specific provision under the Single Convention corresponding to article 25 of the 1925 Convention, but the terms of article 14 of the Single Convention would appear to be wide enough for the purpose, for governments can communicate to the Commission, whether the country or territory is a party or not in any matter which requires investigation and the Commission can in turn pass it on to the International Control Board when the latter would be able to take action, under article 14.

(d) The Permanent Central Board receives information within the framework of the estimate system. The estimates received under article 21 of the 1925 Convention are not of much value, as they are not binding and they are now of only historical interest. The estimates under articles 2 and 5 of the 1931 Convention and under articles 1 and 2 of the 1948 Protocol are required to be furnished to the Board (for subsequent vetting by the Supervisory Body) for each terrotriy and for each drug, whether the country or territory is a party or not. Supplementary estimates are also received by the Board. These estimates are binding when they have been scrutinized and passed by the Supervisory Board.

Under the Single Convention, the position is the same (see article 12, read with article 19 of that convention).

(e) The Permanent Central Board will receive notification:

  1. Of findings of the World Health Organization on the addiction qualities of a drug falling under the 1948 Protocol, and on the regime under which this drug is to be placed;

  2. Of the provisional measures taken by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, pending such a decision by the World Health Organization.

Similar provision exists in the Single Convention (see article 3, para. 7 and article 3, para. 8 (c), where the Economic and Social Council's decision in review is also to be communicated to the Board).

II. Enforcement functions of the Permanent Central Board

26. The so-called embargo provisions are contained in articles 24 and 26 of the 1925 Convention, and in article 13 (1) and 14 (3) of the 1931 Convention. The Board is charged with the responsibility of watching the course of international trade, and if the information at its disposal leads it to conclude that there is excessive accumulation of drugs in a country or that there is danger of that country becoming a center of illicit traffic, the Board is entitled to ask the country concerned for an explanation, and if the explanation is not given within a reasonable time or is unsatisfactory, the Board has the further right to call the attention of the governments of the contracting parties and of the Economic and Social Council to the matter and to recommend that no further exports of drugs shall be made to the country concerned until the Board is satisfied as to the situation in the country, in regard to the drugs in question. The Board is also required to notify the government of the country concerned of its recommendation. The country affected is also entitled to bring the matter before the Economic and Social Council. The government of an exporting country which is not prepared to comply with the recommendation of the Board can also bring the matter if it so desires before the Economic and Social Council, and if it does so, it should inform the Board that it is not acting on the recommendation and state, if possible, why it is not so acting. The Board is entitled to take the same measures even in the case of a country which is not a party to the 1925 and 1931 Conventions and the 1948 Protocol. The embargo action can be taken in respect of drugs falling under the 1925 Convention and group I drugs of the 1931 Convention or the 1948 Protocol. So far as action under article 14 (3) of the 1931 Convention is concerned, the procedure followed is the same, except that the reason for initiating such action is that the annual statement to be prepared by the Board under section 14 (3) of the 1931 Convention (and which the Board is bound to prepare) indicates that a party to the said convention or to the 1948 Protocol has failed to carry out its obligations under these two treaties. The drugs involved in such cases are those falling under the 1931 Convention for parties thereto.

27. Another and difficult kind of so-called embargo is permitted by the 1931 Convention and the 1948 Protocol. Under section 14 (2) of the 1931 Convention, if the Board finds from the quarterly import and export returns at its disposal, or from the notifications made to the Board on exports of drugs of group I of the 1931 Convention or the 1948 Protocol, to territories to which neither the 1925 nor the 1931 Convention applies, that the total amount of a drug which had been or was authorized to be exported to any country or territory exceeds the estimates for that country or territory plus amounts shown to be exported from such country or territory: and if the drug concerned falls under group I of the 1931 Convention or of the Protocol of 1948, the Board is bound immediately to notify the fact to all the contracting parties to the 1931 Convention and the 1948 Protocol who are bound not to authorize during the currency of the year in question any new export of the drugs concerned to the country involved. As long as the embargo lasts, a contracting party may permit exports only in exceptional cases in which it considers such exports to be essential in the interest of humanity or for treatment of the sick. Exports can also be permitted after supplementary estimates have been furnished by the country under embargo, to cover the excess import, or any additional quantity required. The embargo under 14 (2) of the 1931 Convention is not a mere recommendation, unlike the embargo under article 24 of the 1925 Convention.

28. In the Single Convention, the enforcement provisions are set out in article 14 thereof and are substantially the same except that the Board is to initiate action because "on the basis of its examination of information submitted by governments under the provisions of this convention or of information communicated by the United Nations organs and bearing on questions rising from those provisions, the Board has reason to believe that the aims of this convention are being seriously endangered by failure of any country or territory to carry out the provisions of this convention." It will be seen that the language used is more general, flexible and comprehensive than in article 24 of the 1925 Convention or article 14 (3) of the 1931 Convention. The rest of the procedure is practically the same, except that the recommendatory embargo applies "to the import of drugs or the export of drugs or both from or to the country or territory concerned etc ...."(see para. 2 of article 14). This is clearly an improvement on the provision contained in the 1925 Convention, as the prohibition of import from a delinquent country would lay open to action large manufacturing countries whose commerce could be quite seriously affected by the Board's action.

29. Provision corresponding to article 14 (2) of the 1931 Convention is also contained in the Single Convention in article 21, paras. 3 and 4.

30. There are also some new responsibilities thrown on the Board.

31. With the inclusion of provision for production control in respect of raw materials, the Board's supervisory functions naturally will expand when the Single Convention comes into force. Article 25 (2) read with article 20 of the Single Convention requires that import and export returns of poppy straw should be submitted to the Board.

32. Again, under article 24, which deals with the limitation of production of opium for international trade, it is laid down that any country which as of 1 January 1961 was not producing for export and desires to export opium which it produces should seek the approval of the Board if the quantity to be exported does not in the aggregate exceed five tons annually.

It is open to the Board either to approve the request or to recommend against it.

33. Under article 49, which deals with transitional reservations, a party is enabled at the time of signature, ratification or accession to reserve its right to permit temporarily in any of its territories the continuance of the use of certain drugs covered by the Convention for a limited period under certain conditions. Separate estimates under article 19 and statistical returns under article 20 in respect of the reserved activities are to be submitted to the Board in such manner and form as the Board may prescribe. These estimates or statistics are to be submitted to the Board within a period of three months of the dates prescribed under articles 12 and 20 respectively, and if there is failure on the part of a party to comply with these requirements, the Board is required to notify the party of the delay and to ask for submission of the information within a period of three months, and if the party fails to comply again with this requirement, the reservation ceases to be effective.

34. I have had the privilege of being associated with the work of narcotic drugs control both in my own country and in the international field for some years. The scale of illicit traffic in the world is still alarming, and there are many reasons for this, which it is hardly possible to discuss here. But international co-operation and effort have achieved a great deal, and it is shuddering to think what would have been the state of drug addiction in the world without the concerted effort of the last fifty years and more.

35. There is a section of opinion which has been pressing for more stringent treaty provisions, for more drastic penal action. Their impatience may well be justified, but they overlook the fact that achievement in the international field, even in the justest of causes, is at best slow; the variety of interests to be reconciled, to put it at the lowest, and the insistent claims of a multitude of problems of all kinds on the limited resources of nations stand in the way of rapid progress. And yet it cannot be gainsaid that we have travelled a considerable way in the field of narcotics control. The Single Convention, in my opinion, is a step forward in the journey: the goal may be distant, but it is worth trying to reach, and the results of the last fifty years are, except to the cassandras, quite heartening. From the point of view of the administration, I hope and trust and, indeed, feel sure that the future International Control Board will continue to enjoy the same position of strength, prestige and dignity as its predecessor, and will continue to attract persons of the right type - persons of "competence, impartiality and disinterestedness, who will command general confidence."