Coming into force of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961

Abstract

On 13 November 1964 Kenya became the fortieth country to accede to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, by depositing its instrument of accession to the Convention at the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs. According to its article 41, the Convention, as a consequence, came into force thirty days later - that is, on 13 December 1964.

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Creation Date: 1965/01/01

Coming into force of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961

On 13 November 1964 Kenya became the fortieth country to accede to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, by depositing its instrument of accession to the Convention at the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs. According to its article 41, the Convention, as a consequence, came into force thirty days later - that is, on 13 December 1964.

This represents the completion of an undertaking which has occupied international organs since 1948, when the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Economic and Social Council successively approved a resolution requesting the Secretary-General to begin work on the drafting of a new Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. This resolution directed that the new convention should replace the existing treaties in the field, provide for limiting the production of narcotic raw materials, and simplify the international control machinery by replacing the Permanent Central Opium Board and Drug Supervisory Body by a single organ.

After comprehensive discussions during several sessions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the Economic and Social Council decided in 1958 to convene a Plenipotentiary Conference for the adoption of the treaty.

This Conference based its work on the final (third) draft prepared by the Commission and on the comments on this draft received from governments and organizations. The Conference was held in New York from 24 January to 25 March 1961. Seventy-four governments participated in its work, as well as a number of international organizations. The Conference completed its work with the adoption of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, and five conference resolutions incorporated in a Final Act.

A single instrument was judged to be necessary because of the historical development of international narcotics control: at the end of World War II, such control was governed by six treaties, and three more protocols were adopted under the aegis of the United Nations. While such gradual development had been unavoidable, it led to obscurities and inconsistencies, and the international control machinery had become more complex than was either desirable or necessary.

In addition, some provisions of the existing treaties were adopted at a time when a number of parties were not in a position to use narcotics exclusively for medical and scientific purposes and, therefore, the treaties reflected past historical conditions and contained gaps which were no longer necessary. In fact, the practice of most States was more advanced than was required under the narcotics treaties. This was especially true in the case of plants grown for the production of narcotic drugs, although when the 1953 Opium Protocol came into force in 1963, the production of opium - though not of coca leaves and cannabis - was limited, and its use restricted to medical and scientific needs.

The new instrument has, to a great extent, fulfilled the original aims set for it by the Economic and Social Council; it will lead to a simplification of international law and administration in the field of narcotic drugs; there will be only one treaty instead of many (with the exception of part of the 1936 Convention); one organ, the International Narcotics Control Board, will replace the two existing organs (the Permanent Central Opium Board and Drug Supervisory Body); the international control of narcotics will be strengthened and extended; the restriction of narcotic drugs to medical and scientific uses will be extended to all narcotic drugs and, after a transitional period, also to raw opium, coca leaves, cannabis and cannabis resin (hashish, etc.).

Thus, opium eating and smoking, coca-leaf chewing and cannabis consumption will finally be outlawed throughout the world. These are the main results to be achieved, and this Convention thus represents a major step in the struggle of mankind against one of the most insidious and destructive of all evils - narcotics abuse.

In addition to Kenya, the following States have ratified the Single Convention or acceded to it: Afghanistan, Argentina, Brazil, Burma, Byelorussia, Cameroon, Canada, Ceylon, Chad, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dahomey, Denmark, Ecuador, Ghana, Hungary, India, Iraq, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Mali, Morocco, New Zealand, Niger, Panama, Peru, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Ukraine, U.S.S.R., United Kingdom and Yugoslavia.