TWENTY YEARS OF NARCOTICS CONTROL UNDER THE UNITED NATIONS

Sections

I. Introduction
II. Organization and methods of work Establishment
III. The problems in 1946: the first solutions
IV. Implementation of the existing system
V. Illicit traffic
VI. Study of the narcotics problems
VII. Drug addiction
VIII. The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961
IX. Technical co-operation in narcotics control
X. Concluding remarks
Agendas
Council resolution 548 E (XVIII) (12 July 1954)

Details

Pages: 1 to 60
Creation Date: 1966/01/01

TWENTY YEARS OF NARCOTICS CONTROL UNDER THE UNITED NATIONS

Review of the work of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs from its 1 st to its 20th session

I. Introduction

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs first met on 27 November 1946 at Lake Success, New York. It held its twentieth session from 29 November to 21 December 1965 in Geneva. The first meeting, taking place as it did after an interruption of more than six years with the disruptions that the war had brought about, opened on a new world. By now the Commission has met regularly every year, and not only have its technical tenets changed, but also the world around it; from about fifty nations, the United Nations now numbers one hundred and seventeen and its activities practically touch upon all aspects of human life. The history of the Commission and its work is a part of this tremendous development. At the first meeting fifteen countries were represented, whereas if all the States invited by the Commission to send observers to the twentieth session had participated in the proceedings, a total of fifty States would have been represented. About twenty drugs were under international control in 1946; about ninety are now under that control. Six international instruments had then been concluded; ten are now in force. On the other hand, the first session was at the same time an end of the pre-war and war worlds and the beginning of a new era. The twentieth session may be considered in a way as the end of one phase in the work of the Commission, with a number of problems solved but also with new vistas opening on difficult questions : fewer people smoke opium and they are mainly the aged, but many young people have taken to heroin and a disquietingly large proportion of humanity is trying to find, in what has been termed " pharmaco- mania ", a new way of life, away from the difficulties and worries of the atomic age.

It would be quite wrong to deduce from the gap of six years between the twenty-fifth and last meeting of the League of Nations' Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs and the first meeting of the Commission that the new body started everything afresh. In fact it is rather striking to note that a number of people at present engaged in the work of the Commission, as well as in the Division of Narcotic Drugs, had also worked in the same field during the period of the League of Nations. Suffice it to recall that the Chairman of the first session, Col. C. H. L. Sharman (Canada) was present at both meetings, as well as the representative of the Netherlands, Mr. J. H. Delgorge; that the representative of France, Mr. G. Bourgois, had been the rapporteur of the last session of the Advisory Committee and that the representative of the United States, Mr. H. J. Anslinger, had been working in the field ever since he represented his country at the Conference for the Limitation of the Manufacture of Narcotic Drugs, held in Geneva in 1931. The continuity was not only that of men and problems but also of solutions, and it speaks very highly for the wisdom and foresight of the members of the Advisory Committee that a number of the projects undertaken by the Commission, including the Single Convention, had in fact been tackled initially by the Advisory Committee, and that such questions which may have seemed quite new to some of the Commission had in fact been touched upon at the time of the League.

The Commission has therefore not developed ex nihilo but is the successor of a body that had achieved much.

Partial view of the first session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations Economicand Social Council held under the chairmanship of Colonel C. H. L. Sharman, Canada, seated third from right, background, in November/December 1946, at Lake Success, N.Y.

Full size image: 73 kB, Partial view of the first session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations Economicand Social Council held under the chairmanship of Colonel C

Faced with a formidable lot of new problems it has set about to solve them in an empirical way, following the tradition born at the Shanghai Conference of 1909. It has not tried to think out academic solutions but has adapted to the complexity of international relations, to the differences existing between the States, and to the fact that any construction, in order to last, must grow naturally: narcotics control has not been and could not be " prefabricated ". Its record shows that in a world in which opposite concepts of political and social systems do indeed exist, in which the idea of prestige is, if anything, stronger than ever, and in which economic interests have certainly not abated, it has nevertheless been able to steer its course with a minimum of friction. In a body composed of representatives of industrialized countries and of developing countries, in which all parts of the world and all groups are represented, the Commission's main, indeed only aim has been to achieve a balance of thought and action as well as the universality of application of a system which might well set an example for the solution of other more difficult social or political problems.The Commission has never been an exclusive club; on the contrary, it has consistently invited the participation of a great number of observers from all parts of the world and it has held it its duty to make sure that as far as possible the study of a given problem is done in the presence of representatives of the area concerned.

II. Organization and methods of work Establishment

Before the League of Nations formally ceased to exist, the General Assembly of the United Nations meeting in London adopted on 12 February 1946 a resolution in which it stated that it was willing " totake the necessary measures to ensure the continued exercise of these functions and powers " (of a technical and non-political character conferred by certain international instruments on the League of Nations) and referred the matter to the Economic and Social Council.

On 16 February 1946 the Economic and Social Council adopted a resolution which was supplemented by a decision of 18 February 1946.1 The resolution reads as follows:

  1. The Economic and Social Council, in order to provide machinery whereby full effect may be given to the international conventions relating to narcotic drugs, and to provide for continous review of and progress in the international control of such drugs,

Establishes a Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

Resolution of the first session of the Economic and Social Council.

  1. The Commission shall:

  1. Assist the Council in exercising such powers of supervision over the application of international conventions and agreements dealing with narcotic drugs as may be assumed by or conferred on the Council;

  2. Carry out such functions entrusted to the League of Nations Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs by the international conventions on narcotic drugs as the Council may find necessary to assume and continue;

  3. Advise the Council on all matters pertaining to the control of narcotic drugs, and prepare such draft international conventions as may be necessary;

  4. Consider what changes may be required in the existing machinery for the international control of narcotic drugs and submit proposals thereon to the Council;

  5. Perform such other functions relating to narcotic drugs as the Council may direct;

  1. The Commission may make recommendations to the Council concerning any sub-commission which it considers should be established.

  2. The Commission shall be composed of fifteen Members of the United Nations, which are important producing or manufacturing countries, or countries in which illicit traffic in narcotic drugs constitutes a serious social problem. The term of office of members is three years. They are eligible for re-appointment.

  3. The Commission is authorized by the Council to appoint in a consultative capacity, and without the right to vote, representatives of bodies created under the terms of international conventions on narcotic drugs.

  4. The Council requests the following Governments to designate one representative each to constitute the Commission: Canada, China, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom, United States of America, Yugoslavia.

In order to ensure the normal functioning of the system of internationalcontrol, the Secretary-General prepared a draft resolution for submission to the Economic and Social Council, recommending to the General Assembly to take action enabling the United Nations to assume the above-mentioned functions in conformity with an attached draft protocol. On 3 October 1946, the Economic and Social Council approved the draft protocol amending the Agreements, Conventions and Protocols on narcotic drugs concluded in 1912, 1925, 1931 and 1936 and forwarded it to the General Assembly. The General Assembly approved this protocol on 19 November 1946 and it was one of the first acts of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to take official cognizance of the protocol and to express the hope that it would be approved and accepted as soon as possible by the States and Parties concerned. On 3 February 1948, this Protocol, called The Protocol on Narcotic Drugs done at Lake Success, New York, on 11 December 1946, entered into force.

These functions were in fact already carried out by the United Nations since, at the request of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of the League of Nations had transmitted on 26 August 1946 to all governments parties to the narcotics conventions a circular letter asking them to forward henceforth all reports and communications under these conventions to the Secretary-General of the United Nations with the exception of those communications which were to be sent to the Permanent Central Opium Board.

Terms of reference

The resolution of the Economic and Social Council constitutes the terms of reference of the Commission which has two main groups of tasks to perform:

  1. Treaty functions under the narcotics treaties;

  2. " Charter functions ", i.e. functions imparted to it through the above-mentioned resolution of the Economic and Social Council in accordance with Article 62 of the Charter of the United Nations, namely :

  1. to consider what changes may be required in the existing machinery for the international control of narcotic drugs and submit proposals thereon to the Council, since, according to para. 3 of Article 62 the Council "may prepare draft conventions for submission to the General Assembly with respect to matters falling within its competence" and para. 4 "it may call, in accordance with the rules prescribed by the United Nations, international conferences on matters falling within its competence"; and

  2. to perform such other functions relating to narcotic drugs as the Council may direct. This in accordance with para. 1 of Article 62, which states: "The Economic and Social Council may make or initiate studies and reports with respect to international economic, social, cultural, educational, health and related matters and may make recommendations with respect to any such matters to the General Assembly, to the Members of the United Nations, and to the specialized agencies concerned" .

These terms of reference constitute the basis of the Commission's action, and the form this action can take was defined in the "Rules of Procedure of the Functional Commissions of the Economic and Social Council" adopted by resolution 289 (X) of 6 March 1950 of the Economic and Social Council and amended by Council resolution 481 (XV) of 1April 1953. These resolutions gave their final form to the provisional rules of procedure which had been drawn up by the Economic and Social Council for all its commissions and which had been adopted provisionally by the Commission at its first session and finally at its third session.

Amongst these rules of procedure, two are of special importance. The first is Rule 38, which states that "the Commission shall report to the Council on the work of each session ", and the second is Rule 39, according to which "whenever the Commission recommends action by the Council it shall so far as practicable frame its recommendations as a draft resolution of the Council ".These rules have set up a pattern whereby the Commission submits its report to the Council; transmits resolutions in draft form for the Council's adoption; and passes resolutions or makes other decisions for its own action or guidance or as suggestions for action by governments.The distinction between draft resolutions recommended to the Council and other resolutions or decisions of the Commission has not always been perfectly clear.In practice, whenever a proposal of the Commission entailed expenditure of United Nations funds, such proposals were always set out in the form of a draft resolution for the consideration of the Council.In the case of proposals requesting action on the part of a specialized agency also, a draft resolution was submitted to the Council, but in the case of resolutions addressed to governments no fixed pattern has been followed. As a general practice, with a few exceptions, the Commission drafted resolutions for consideration and adoption by the Council whenever it felt that the subject was particularly important or that a new approach was being made on a given problem. The number of resolutions put forward to the Council for adoption has varied greatly from session to session. Nonetheless, it seems that at times the Commission is in need of the higher authority of its parent body to sustain its own actions.

Place and date of sessions

The Commission may make recommendations to the Council in consultation with the Secretary-General on the subject of its place of session. In fact, the Commission did so on several occasions, especially after the transfer of the Division of Narcotic Drugs to the European Office of the United Nations: there had been an understanding that after that move, Commission sessions would alternate between Geneva and New York. Only once, however, did the Commission meet away from the headquarters of the Division, namely, in 1957 for its twelfth session. The first to tenth sessions inclusive were held in New York, the eleventh session and all other sessions apart from thetwelfth were held in Geneva. The periodicity of meetings was according to rule 1 of procedure, namely, the Commission held sessions annually. The question was raised only once, that is; at the eighteenth session in 1963, when atthe request of the Council, in its resolution 936 (XXXV), the Commission had to review the number and timing of its meetings and when it expressed the unanimous opinion that annual sessions of the Commission were essential to the functioning of the international narcotics control system.2As for the dates of the sessions, they have usually been in the spring until 1964, when the Calendar Committee of the Council decided that they should be moved to the latter part of the year. The duration of the sessions varied but was in general about three weeks. There were cases in which the Commission asked the Council for a longer session, especially at the time of the consideration of the drafts of the Single Convention. The nineteenth session lasted only one week, in accordance with a decision of the Council taken as a result of a programme of construction at Headquarters, New York, and due to the several conferences scheduled in Geneva for that year. However, at that session 3 the Commission expressed the view that such a short period made it impossible to do the work properly and expressed the hope that it would not be necessary to compress its session into a single week again.

Officers of the Commission 4

In accordance with its rules of procedure, the Commission at its first meeting each year elects its Chairman, its Vice-Chairman (and its second Vice-Chairman since 1958) and its Rapporteur. Until its nineteenth session, it had been a gentleman's agreement that these officers were, practically speaking, elected for two years. However, at its nineteenth session 5 the Commission decided that thereafter the term of office of its officers would be one year. This was owing to the fact that the membership of the Commission had been enlarged from fifteen to twenty-one members. The officers of the Commission constitute its bureau, with the addition of the Chairman of the Illicit Traffic Committee when the Commission appointed the latter.

Committees

One of the questions which has had some importance in the life of the Commission has been that of committees. According to its Rules of Procedure, the Commission may set up such committees as it deems necessary. In the course of its history, it established a large number of ad hoc committees. One of these was the Committee on Illicit Traffic. It was first set up at the ninth session 6 as an ad hoc committee on seizures. This committee had to meet during the session and it was found that this practice was not convenient because it conflicted with the Commission's timetable. Therefore, at its tenth session 7the Commission decided that it should be established each year and that it should meet for three working days in advance of the Commission's regular session. This duration was later prolonged to four working days.8Then at its eighteenth session, the Commission considered that it might be possible to reduce the duration of its annual session by doing without its Illicit Traffic Committee. That decision was confirmed at the nineteenth session.9

Eighteenth session, para. 300. Reference is made here to the relevant paragraph of the Report of the Commission. The official title of these reports is "Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Report of the ... session (date). Economic and Social Council Official Records: ... session. Supplement No. ...".Such footnotes will hereafter mention only the number of the session and of the paragraph(s).

Nineteenth session, para. 18.

It has been felt useful, in view of the difficulty of finding the relevant documents, to make a tabular recapitulation of the life of the Commission, namely, members of the bureau, membership in the Commission, date and place of sessions: this is in the Annex to the present article.

Nineteenth session, para. 190.

Membership 10

In establishing the Commission the Council had requested the following governments to designate one representative each to constitute it: Canada, China, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom, United States of America, Yugoslavia. It should be recalled here that the Advisory Committee of the League of Nations had been composed as follows at the time of its last session: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, India, Iran, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay and Yugoslavia, with the United States of America as observer. The Council decided that the following criteria should apply in the selection of commission members: "Members of the United Nations which are important producing or manufacturing countries or countries in which illicit traffic in narcotic drugs constitutes a serious social problem ". Therefore such fact as geographic distribution did not mandatorily enter into play. The term of office was fixed at three years, members being eligible for re-appointment, and the principle of permanent membership of the more important countries was adopted at its eighth session. On the proposal of the Commission the Council...

Bearing in mind the necessity of ensuring the continuity of the functioning of the Commission itself and of its officers,

Consideringthe special interest in the international control of narcotic drugs by the principal drug-producing and manufactur- ing countries of those countries in which illicit traffic in narcotic drugs constitutes a serious problem,

Ninth session, para. 20.

Tenth session, paras. 312 to 320.

Fourteenth session, resolution 2 (XIV).

Nineteenth session, para. 189.

For details of membership, see Annex.

Realising the importance of the co-operation of all nations in this humanitarian effort, hereby

Amends paragraph 4 of its resolution 1 (IX) of 16 February 1946 to read as follows:

4. The Commission shall be composed of fifteen (15) Members of the United Nations, which are important producing or manufacturing countries or countries in which illicit traffic in narcotic drugs constitutes a serious social problem.

The following ten (10) Members of primary importance in these fields are appointed to membership of the Commission for an indefinite period until such time as they may be replaced by decision of the Economic and Social Council:

...

The term of office of the other five (5) Members shall be three years. They shall be eligible for re-appointment. The following five Members are appointed to membership of the Commission for a period of three years:

...

The term of office of the members of the Commission shall begin on the day of the first meeting of the session following their election and end on the eve of the first meeting of the session following the election of their successors.

Decides that this amendment shall not apply retroactively to those States which are not at present members of the Commission and which were not appointed for an indefinite term, and to extend their term of office until the first meeting of the session following the election of their successors; and

Amends paragraph 6 of its resolution 1/9 of 16 February 1946 to read as follows:

6. The Council requests the following Governments to designate one representative each to constitute the Commission in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 4 above;

...

In 1961, however, the Plenipotentiary Conference for the Adoption of a Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs put forward a recommendation to the Economic and Social Council that the membership of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs be increased. At its thirty-second session in 1961, the Council adopted a resolution 11 in which it decided that the membership of the Commission should be increased to twenty-one, its members to be elected from among the Members of the United Nations and of the specialized agencies and the Parties to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961; that the members should be elected with due regard to the adequate representation of countries which are important producers of opium or coca leaves, of countries which are important in the field of the manufacture of narcotic drugs and of countries in which drug addiction or the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs constitutes an important problem. Two important points should be noticed apart from the increase in the number of members of the Commission. One is that for the first time mention is made of countries in which "drug addiction ... constitutes an important problem". This, as will be seen later on, signified that the international community had become more deeply conscious of the problem of drug addiction per se. Secondly, whereas the first two resolutions mention only Members of the United Nations (as did the Opium Advisory Committee of the League for League members), the new regime provides for the possibility of non-Member countries to be elected. (It should be noted here however that during the time of the League of Nations the United States of America played a prominent part in the Advisory Committee's debates, even though it was only as an observer.) Switzerland was accordingly elected for the first session to be held under the new regime. Another change was in the term of office: all members were to be thereafter elected for a term of office of three years. Another remark of interest, as far as the representation on the Commission is concerned, is that its members are representatives of governments.

Resolution 845 II (XXXII). The resolutions of the Council are published in documents entitled: Economic and Social Council. Official records ... session (date), Resolutions. Supplement No ... The roman number in brackets designates the number of the session.

Method of work: the agenda and its evolution

As is the case for other functional commissions, the provisional agenda for each session is drawn up by the Secretary-General in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Economic and Social Council.12 The content of the agenda did vary during the nineteen sessions according to the urgency of the questions to be taken up for reasons of time. For instance, at the nineteenth session, which lasted only for one week, such items as coca leaf, cannabis or drug addiction were left out. While it would exceed the limits of the present work to go into the details of such changes, a comparison has been made between the agenda of the twenty-fourth session of the Advisory Committee (the twenty-fifth session was held after the beginning of the war and was shorter and, due to circumstances, could not in any way be called a normal session), the agenda of the first session of the Commission, the agenda of the ninth session (a sort of "half-way" session), and the agenda of the twentieth session; these agenda are reproduced in extenso.13

What is most striking is perhaps the increase in the variety of subjects tabled for examination: the agenda of the Advisory Committee dealt with the implementation of the conventions, control in so far as a number of countries were concerned, and contained two items concerning a very technical and relatively unimportant point on prepared opium, namely item XIV, 1, "Investigation into the composition of opium smoke" and 2, "Methods of determining the character of prepared opium dross "; and item X, "Standardization of methods for determining the morphine content of raw opium and the cocaine content of crude cocaine and coca leaves ". It also had an item on drug addiction. It is therefore apparent that the Advisory Committee's debates dealt mostly with enforcement matters. As regards the first session of the Commission, it dealt almost entirely with organizational and administrative questions as could be foreseen, and with questions of implementation and enforcement, although its agenda contained an item on drug addiction. At its ninth session, the Commission examined all the questions that related to the implementation of the conventions according to its terms of reference but the evolution brought about by the "Charter Functions" of the Commission, namely, "Studies and reports ", (also, of course, the preparation of the proposed single convention), is already quite visible. This agenda has twenty-one items, among which are to be found not only the items already mentioned in the two earlier agenda but also the problems of the coca leaf, of cannabis, of synthetic narcotic drugs, of diacetylmorphine, and scientific research on narcotics. Even the use of the word "problem" shows that the Commission was considering itself more and more as a policy-making body rather than only an "implementing" body. Finally, if we consider the agenda of the twentieth session, we see that while the treaty functions are still to the fore, the Commission will also study such items as coca leaf, cannabis, and cannabis research, questions relating to the control of substances not under international control, abuse of drugs (drug addiction), in particular the economic and social aspects, and opium and opium research. The evolution is quite clear: the Commission, while continuing to supervise the implementation of the obligations undertaken by governments under the international treaties, has devoted increasing attention to a number of basic problems which could not be solved by a purely legalistic approach. Then after such problems have been discussed and the Commission has clarified its thoughts, it takes a decision on the action needed at a national or international level. Thus, while the problem of the coca leaf was considered at previous sessions, it was only at the ninth session that it was unanimously declared harmful. From then on the Commission has tried to find ways and means of dealing with a situation which it had thus clearly defined. Although it might be an undue simplification, one could state that the evolution of the Commission was from the law and its implementation to the definition of the object of control and then to the action to be taken in order to remedy a situation which had become better known and better understood.

Document E/2425.

See Annex.

As far as the contents of the Commission's agenda were concerned, few difficulties were ever encountered.

However, one should be mentioned here because it raised a very important matter of principle. The question arose at the thirteenth session, during the discussion of the subject of khat,14when it was argued that, unless khat leaves had been proven to have the properties of narcotics, the basis of the Commission's jurisdiction in the matter would not be clear. At the seventeenth session also,15the question of the competence of the Commission to discuss barbiturates under its terms of reference was raised. It was maintained that the Commission had consistently interpreted its terms of reference as giving it authority to deal with all substances which it considered liable to a form of abuse more or less similar to that of drugs under international control. It was stated that the Council, to which the Commission reported annually, had never objected to that interpretation. As a result of this discussion, the Chairman proposed that a vote should be taken to express formally the Commission's point of view that it considered itself competent to deal not only with drugs under international control, but also with substances which were considered to have dangerous properties more or less similar to those of drugs already under such control. On a roll-call vote, this motion was carried by 13 votes to none with 6 abstentions.

The Commission's action

This action takes several forms: first, the Commission reports to the Council; secondly, the Commission addresses to the Council draft resolutions which are addressed by that body or other UN bodies to governments; thirdly, the Commission acts directly, either under the international treaties or in conjunction with its Charter powers; thus, for example, it appoints one member of the Drug Supervisory Body,16designates a member of the body of three experts which has to take decisions on the question whether a drug not capable of producing addiction but convertible into such a drug should fall under sub-group B of Group I or under Group II, as defined in article 1 of the 1931 Convention.17The fourth and most common mode of action of the Commission is to address resolutions directly to governments. At most of its sessions, the Commission thus adopts resolutions in which it may invite countries to take measures in a given field or to study a given problem, etc. The Commission may also request the Secretary-General to communicate with governments or to take such action as might be necessary on a given point. Finally, the Commission may communicate with specialized agencies, etc., in which case it may either recommend to the Secretary-General to contact such bodies or address them directly itself.

Thirteenth session, para. 381.

Seventeenth session, paras. 198-201.

1931 Convention, article 5.

1931 Convention, article 12, para. 4.

Co-operation and liaison

The Commission seeks the co-operation of all States and maintains liaison with many international bodies. It has invited an increasing number of countries to send observers to its meetings: five did so at the fifth session - the first at which observers participated - 13 at the eighteenth session, and, at its nineteenth session, the Commission invited 29 governments to be represented by observers at the twentieth session, and 21 governments did so. Furthermore, the Commission has always made it a rule to associate governments with its work by asking them, for instance, to provide information sought through special questionnaires (e.g. the questionnaire on drug addiction which was sent out to government in 1947 18) or by country surveys (as was the case for the country studies on cannabis) or by asking for comments on drafts before finalizing them (e.g. the drafts of the Single Convention, the draft of the Administrative Guide to the Single Convention, etc.) and, finally, by asking them for information of a general or technical nature (a case in point being the question of drug-taking and road accidents).

The Secretariat. In its work the Commission is naturally assisted first of all by the Secretary-General, which means in practice mainly the Division of Narcotic Drugs of the Secretariat. The Division prepares the main documents on which the Commission bases its action. The documents dealing with the implementation of treaties are drafted or compiled by the Division and the Commission scrutinizes them in detail. For the preparation of new instruments, the Commission has also worked in very close association with the Division. For its studies and research, the Commission indicates to the Division the field to cover and then appraises the documents produced and takes action accordingly. Finally, in the field of technical assistance, the Commission receives a report by the Secretary-General and gives its views on the way in which the programme is carried out.

The Commission has also, in the course of its work, to enlist the help of a number of other Divisions or services of the United Nations Secretariat, such as the Legal Office, the Office of Conference and General Services, etc.

The Commission has also co-operated with other organs of the United Nations such as the Trusteeship Council19 the Transport and Communications Commission,20 and the Social Commission.21

Second session, chapter 14.

Permanent Central Opium Board and Drug Supervisory Body. Of the other bodies with which the Commission is in contact, none have been closer than the Permanent Central Opium Board (PCOB) and the Drug Supervisory Body (DSB). These bodies were created by the 1925 Convention 22 and the 1931 Convention, respectively, and have played a very important role in the international control of narcotic drugs. The present review does not deal with their history or their work but only with their relationship with the Commission. Council resolution 9 (I) quoted above states that "The Commission is authorized by the Council to appoint in a consultative capacity, and without the right to vote, representatives of bodies created under the terms of international conventions on narcotic drugs". In accordance with that resolution, the Commission decided to extend, at its first session,23 invitations to the Permanent Central Opium Board and the Drug Supervisory Body to send representatives to attend the meetings of the Commission in a consultative capacity. Mr. Herbert May duly attended in his capacity as President of the Permanent Central Opium Board and member of the Drug Supervisory Body. Since then, such representation has been constant as also, conversely, that of the Secretary-General to the Board's sessions. In addition, the Council invited the Commission to advise it on the procedure to be followed in making future appointments to the PCOB. As a result, the Commission has adopted an interpretation which the Council has followed 24 in making appointments to the PCOB. At each subsequent session, representatives of the PCOB/DSB presented the Report of the Board and the Statement of the DSB for consideration to the Commission and the Commission never failed to help the Board whenever it was found that such help might be useful. For example, at its ninth session, the Commission, having been informed that some States transmitted to the Board incomplete statistics or none at all, presented a draft resolution for adoption by the Council:

  1. calling upon all governments to transmit complete statistics to the Board regularly and promptly;

  2. recommending that governments of countries producing opium indicate how they calculated the amount of production, exports and stocks as regards the establishment of morphine content and if possible water content;

Third session, chapter 16.

As per Council resolution 379 E (XIII).

Tenth session, para. 230.

The complete titles of the international treaties dealing with narcotic drugs are given in the Annex. Throughout the Review, titles of Conventions, Protocols and Agreements have been abbreviated as indicated in the Annex.

First session, Section 6.

Resolution 123 D (VI).

  1. referring to the additional work which would fall upon the Board and the Supervisory Body as a result of the coming into force of the Opium Protocol of 1953 and expressing the hope that the action regarding the remuneration of members and strengthening of the staff of the Board and the Supervisory Body would be completed early.25 The substance of this draft resolution was incorporated into three resolutions adopted by the Council at its eighteenth session.26

At its tenth session again the Commission noted that, as regards the strengthening of the joint secretariat of the two bodies in favour of which it had made recommendations, a post of deputy-secretary had been granted on a temporary basis and it suggested that it should be made permanent. The Commission recommended once more to the Council a resolution asking governments to comply with their obligations, namely to transmit to the Board complete and accurate estimates and statistics and also to accompany them with explanations of the methods employed to calculate the quantities involved. The substance of this draft resolution was incorporated into three resolutions adopted by the Council at its twentieth session.27At each subsequent session, the Commission has kept on its agenda the Report of the Board and the Statement of the DSB and has always expressed its appreciation for these documents, and there have been close relations between the Commission and these bodies.28At its twentieth session, the Commission took note of the fact that the Perma-nent Central Opium Board had decided to call itself as from 1965 the Permanent Central Narcotics Board.

World Health Organization. Amongst the specialized agencies of the United Nations family, one stands out as far as narcotics control is concerned because of the functions assigned to it by the narcotics conventions: the World Health Organization (WHO). The Commission and WHO co-operate very closely on all problems arising in connexion with the placing of drugs under control (or the exemption of drugs from control), etc. But apart from this purely technical co-operation - important as it is - there have been, since the Commission's fifth session, at which WHO was represented for the first time, frequent demands on its technical knowledge. This was done in two ways: first of all a co-operation in the writing of documents on questions pertaining to the field of competence both of WHO and of the Commission, such as synthetic drugs, khat, etc. This form of co-operation will be recorded in the subsequent relevant chapters of the present review. Further, a closer co-operation was maintained during the meetings themselves between the Commission and the representative of WHO, when his opinion was sought during the dis-cussions on a number of points, particularly on drug addiction. It was not, however, until the thirteenth session that the report of the Expert Committee on Addiction-producing Drugs of the WHO was placed formally on the agenda of the Commission. The reports of the Committee and other technical reports of WHO have at subsequent sessions been introduced by the representative of that body and discussed by the Commission.

Ninth session, para. 53.

Resolution 548 B, I, IV and V (XVIII).

Resolution 588 B, II, III and IV (XX).

Eleventh session, paras. 88 and 89.

Food and Agriculture Organization. With the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Commission had dealings whenever it needed technical advice or help on agricultural subjects. At the fourteenth session of the Commission, the Secretary-General, after consultation with FAO (and WHO), submitted to the Commission a report setting out in detail prospective requirements of technical assistance as well as assistance already given. FAO has given assistance in connexion with crop substitution for the opium poppy, the coca bush and the cannabis plant, for example, to Iran when that country decided to suppress poppy cultivation, Bolivia for crops to be substituted for the coca leaf, Morocco for cannabis substitution, etc.

International Civil Aviation Organization. The Com-mission has co-operated with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), especially on the subject of carriage of narcotic drugs in first-aid kits of air-craft engaged in international flight. This question will be examined later on.

Universal Postal Union. With the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the Commission, through the Council, recognized the need for close co-operation. At its eighth session, it considered the various questions relating to the control of the international shipment of narcotic drugs by post. It expressed the view that the international shipment of narcotic substances by post should be per-mitted in certain cases and recommended to the Council a resolution which recognized the need for close co-operation and requested the Secretary-General, inter alia, to compile and transmit to the International Bureau of the UPU semi-annual reports on any seizures of narcotics shipped by post, that may have been made, for transmission to the members of the UPU.29 At its tenth session, the Commission decided that the Regula-tions of Execution of the Universal Postal Convention which provided for publication of "a list of prohibited articles" by the International Bureau of the UPU should contain an express provision that the list should include all drugs notified by the Secretary-General to the Bureau as falling under international control, and that the provision prohibiting the international consignment of narcotic drugs to post office boxes (and banks) need be included only in the Single Convention and not also in the postal treaties.30 At its eleventh session, the Commission finally approved draft amendments to the postal treaties similar in substance to its proposal,The provi-sion, according to which exports of consignments to a post office box or to a bank to the account of a party other than the party named in the export authorization shall be prohibited, was introduced in the Single Conven-tion as paragraph 8 of article 31. The Universal Postal Congress, which met in Ottawa in 1957, adopted these amendments, and the list of prohibited objects published by the International Bureau of UPU therefore includes "the narcotic drugs covered by the multilateral treaties".

Resolution 505 D (XVI).

International Criminal Police Organization (INTER-POL). Another body which, through the years, has been closely associated with the Commission is the Interna-tional Criminal Police Organization/INTERPOL (ICPO) or, as it was called until a few years ago, the International Criminal Police Commission. At its third session, the Commission examined a request from that body for an observer to attend its meetings and was informed that the Council had not approved consultative status for that organization. However, by its resolution 214D (VIII) of 16 February 1949 the Council granted consul-tative status (category B) to ICPC. Therefore, it received the Commission's agenda and was entitled to be repre-sented by an observer at the Commission's meetings. Such representation began at the fifth session of the Commission. The Commission, at its fifth session,32decided to record its appreciation of the offer of co-operation extended by the ICPC and stated that it would be happy to accept it as likely to contribute to the achievement of the aim of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, namely to suppress the illicit traffic in narcotics. Since then, the ICPC, then the ICPO, has regularly attended the Commission's meetings and has prepared for the sessions a memorandum on the illicit traffic which has greatly helped the Commission in its work on that subject. At its fifteenth session,33the Commission urged all governments in the Middle East and other interested governments as appropriate to co-operate with the ICPO and to submit to it dossier sheets of important known and suspected international traffickers operating in that region, and suggested that the ICPO assemble this information into an appropriate document for circulation to all governments in the Middle East and other interested governments. Again, during that ses-sion, the Commission recorded its appreciation of the services rendered by the ICPO in the international campaign against the drug traffic. Since then, the ICPO has continued to participate in the meetings and has invariably been commended by the Commission for its contribution.

Tenth session, para. 28.

Eleventh session, paras. 66-70.

Fifth session, para. 58.

Fifteenth session, para. 64.

Other non-governmental organizations. A large num-ber of other organizations have sent observers more or less regularly to the Commission's sessions without, however, participating in the debates. As the Commis-sion generally holds public meetings, any organization can attend. A few of them attend regularly, in particular such non-governmental organizations in category A or B as the World Federation of United Nations Associa-tions (category A), the World Federation of Trade Unions (category A), the International Federation of Women Lawyers, the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations, the International Conference of Catholic Charities, the World's Alliance of Young Men's Chris-tian Associations, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the World's Women's Chris-tian Temperance Union, the International Council of Nurses, etc.

Anti-Narcotics Bureau of the League of Arab States. A body worthy of special mention is the Permanent Anti-Narcotics Bureau of the League of Arab States in Cairo. This body has no special status with the Com-mission but, at its tenth session, several representatives suggested that it should be represented at the sessions and the Commission decided to request the Secretary-General to invite its Bureau to attend the eleventh ses-sion. The Director of the Bureau consequently attended the Committee on Illicit Traffic and the Commission's eleventh session, and the Commission expressed the hope that a representative of the Bureau would be able to attend regularly in the future. This was the case, but a difficulty arose at the thirteenth session when the question was raised in the Committee on Illicit Traffic whether the reports of the Bureau were founded on official information from the countries concerned. Some representatives were reluctant to accept the idea that information concerning their country should be gathered from other than official sources and stated that countries which did not belong to the League of Arab States should have an opportunity of checking the accuracy of all reports which concerned them directly. The Commission finally adopted a resolution in which it ( a) invited the League of Arab States (Permanent Anti-Narcotics Bureau) to be represented at forthcoming sessions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs;

  1. recommended that all facts reported to the Commission should be based on concrete evidence; and ( c) that comments directed at a State belonging to the League of Arab States should be approved in advance by the government concerned if it had so requested. This put an end to the controversy.34 The representative of the Bureau has attended all subsequent meetings.

III. The problems in 1946: the first solutions

In order to attempt an assessment of the work done and the evolution which took place since the Commission first met in November 1946, it is first necessary to ascertain what the narcotics situation was at that date. Three elements have to be taken into consideration: the first is the legal basis of the control, i.e. the international treaties then in existence. The second is the disruptions that the war had caused, and the third is the changes which occurred in the world during and immediately after the war. The Commission could not tackle these tasks one after the other and it had to work on all of them simultaneously. Still, it may be stated that, generally speaking, the task of bringing the narcotics situation of the world back to normal was the first undertaken. This occupied part of the first few sessions of the Commission. The Commission was, however, aware of the fact that it was not just taking over directly from the League of Nations, since there lay a six years' gap in between. It had therefore to assess the changes which made it necessary to adapt the treaty system to the demands of the international community and to work out improvements to that system (through interim measures before addressing itself to the long-term exercise of drafting a single convention).

The treaty system in 1946

In 1946, the international control of narcotics was regulated by six treaties: the International Opium Convention signed at The Hague on 23 January 1912; the Agreement concerning the Manufacture, Internal Trade in and Use of Prepared Opium signed at Geneva on 11 February 1925; the International Opium Convention signed at Geneva on 19 February 1925; the Convention for Limiting the Manufacture and Regulating the Distribution of Narcotic Drugs signed at Geneva on 13 July 1931; the Agreement for the Control of Opium-Smoking in the Far East signed at Bangkok on 27 November 1931; and the Convention for the Suppression of the Illicit Traffic in Dangerous Drugs signed at Geneva on 26 July 1936.

The Hague Convention formulated the basic principles for the international control which have retained their validity to the present day. The two Agreements on opium smoking were very limited in scope and in fact had very little influence in terms of actual control.

Thirteenth session, Annex 2, resolution IV.

The 1925 Convention introduced a system of licensing and recording of transactions in narcotic drugs and required governments to furnish detailed statistical information on narcotic drugs while establishing the Permanent Central Opium Board to audit that information, thereby watching over the course of the international trade. It also provided for a system of estimates of requirements which was very limited and was not legally binding. Moreover, the decisions of the League of Nations&rsquo Health Committee to place new drugs under international narcotics control were not only time-consuming, but also binding only on such governments as expressly accepted them.

The 1931 Convention introduced a new estimates system in an effort to carry out the principle of limiting the manufacture of and trade in narcotic drugs to medical and scientific purposes. Each country was to furnish annual advance estimates of the narcotic drugs needed for these purposes. These estimates were binding and determined the maximum amounts to be manufactured or imported in any given year. They were to be examined by the Drug Supervisory Body, which would publish an annual statement of estimates and was authorized to establish estimates for those countries which failed to furnish them, no matter whether or not they were parties to the 1931 Convention. The Permanent Central Opium Board was called upon to request estimates for countries and territories to which the Convention did not apply. It has been stated in this connexion that the estimate system introduced for the first time into a general convention the essential principles of a planned economy on a world scale for a particular industry.

The Convention of 1936 for the Suppression of the Illicit Traffic tried to obligate the Contracting Parties to adopt in their penal systems principles aimed at deterring the most dangerous criminals in the international traffic, namely, those who do not handle the drugs but instigate, organise and direct the operation. The idea was that all countries should impose penalties having a deterring effect, particularly prison terms rather than fines; punish all kinds of participation in these criminal acts such as conspiracy, attempts and preferably also preparatory acts; apply the principle of universality in their criminal law dealing with narcotics offences, i.e. punish persons, whether nationals or foreigners, who commit those offences in any part of the world and also consider offenders as subject to extradition in appropriate cases. In view of the differences in national characteristics, social and economic circumstances and criminological theory, however, it was not possible to reach that aim and the 1936 Convention limited itself to the formulation of general principles. Some States refused not only to ratify the Convention but even to sign it, whereas some other States felt that that instrument could play a useful part in the struggle against the illicit traffic.35

It should be understood that such a system has not only developed during a long period of time but also contained loopholes, e.g. in respect of substances like the coca leaf, cannabis and poppy straw, which were left aside deliberately in order to secure the adherence of countries which otherwise might not have been willing to become parties. In other words, this system represented an agreed minimum rather than a maximum and it was, of course, always possible for any government to devise for itself a more stringent legislation.

The system had shown its value but it contained a number of weaknesses. A number of governments were not fully able to implement their international obligations, either because they were faced with a particularly difficult narcotics situation, or because they could not establish an adequate national control machinery, or did not exercise effective authority in all the outlying parts of their territories. Besides, the system did not provide for control of the production and domestic trade in the vegetal products (opium, coca leaves, cannabis) which, with poppy straw, constitute the raw materials for all narcotic drugs known before 1931 - generally referred to as "natural narcotic drugs." While it limited the use of manufactured narcotic drugs to medical and scientific purposes, it did not prohibit nonmedical uses of opium, cannabis and coca leaves, such as opium smoking and opium eating, smoking cannabis cigarettes, drinking cannabis infusions, eating cannabis products and chewing coca leaves. Moreover, when the pre-war treaties were drafted the discovery of synthetic narcotic drugs was not anticipated and this new problem could not satisfactorily be handled within the framework of the pre-war system. In addition, the international control machinery built up between the two world wars was considered by many to be too complicated.

Repairing war damages

The Advisory Committee of the League of Nations held its last session in May 1940. It was aware that the war would have very deep repercussions on the working of that system. To begin with, the Committee was prevented from meeting any more. On the other hand the PCOB decided to remain active, and so did the Drug Supervisory Body. They transferred their activities to Washington, D.C., and kept up a modicum of statistical control during these years, but obviously most of the countries in the Far East or Europe had no possibility of implementing their international obligations. The military situation immediately after the war complicated the matter since there existed stocks of narcotics in the custody of the armed forces of the occupied countries.

This analysis of the treaties is based on the article by Mr. H. L. May entitled "The evolution of the international control of narcotic drugs ", Bulletin on Narcotics, Vol. II, No. 1.

The circumstances of the war affected national control in a number of countries. In some, this control ceased to function whereas others were not in a position to communicate with the international control organs. Therefore, the Commission at its first session had to deal with the re-establishment of national control and resumption of the furnishing of information. The Commission decided to request governments to furnish as soon as possible information on conditions during the war, and on the present state and functioning of their national narcotics administrations; to ask them to resume at the earliest possible date collaboration with the international organs of control in accordance with the narcotics conventions to which they were parties; and to offer them such technical assistance as they might require with a view to re-establishing their national controls at pre-war levels (in some countries, for instance, all statistical records, archives, etc., relating to drug control had been destroyed).36

In a special category were the countries under military occupation. The Commission learnt that in Japan and Korea the United States occupation authorities had established a strict centralized supervision of narcotics. It decided to approach the competent US authorities at Pacific Headquarters with the request to supply to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and through him to the Parties to the narcotics conventions, the reports and other information to be furnished in accordance with these conventions. It further noted that, as a result of a request made by the PCOB, full reports had been received in respect of Japan and the part of Korea occupied by United States military forces, covering all aspects of the narcotics situation in these countries.

In respect of Germany, the Commission adopted a resolution in which it requested the Economic and Social Council to urge the Governments of France, the USSR, the UK and the USA to recommend to the allied control authority to take the necessary measures at the earliest possible moment for the establishment of an effective control of narcotics in the whole of Germany. In point of fact, the Commission was informed that a Narcotics Control Working Party had been established on 23 September 1946 with representatives from each of the four zones of Germany to study the question of collecting studies on narcotic drugs for submission to competent authorities designated by the United Nations.

First session, section 16.

At its fourth session, the Council adopted a resolution in which it recommended to the governments responsible for negotiating the peace treaties with Japan that provision should be made in them for the most stringent control, in the period after the conclusion of the treaties, of all transactions concerning narcotic drugs in Japan, and that to ensure effective operation, this control should be under the supervision of such control authorities as might be established by the peace treaties and the United Nations, whose expert bodies would be available to furnish the information and advice that would be requested.37The Commission continued to keep watch on the situation in Germany and Japan in which, for a number of years, the illicit traffic was fed by former military stocks.

As has been seen above, the Commission was faced from its inception with interlocking problems posed by the development of new situations during the war years and by the gaps which existed in the pre-war system of control. The Commission dealt with all these problems at each of its sessions. Two problems will now be reviewed which, while they form part of these broader aspects of the Commission's work, were tackled first because they resulted directly from the war.

Abolition of opium smoking

The first of these problems was opium smoking in the Far East. This problem is, of course, part of the more general problem of suppression of the nonmedical consumption of narcotic drugs. The gradual suppression of opium smoking was established as a treaty obligation in the Convention of 1912, but before World War II, progress was very slow and no agreement could be reached on a definite date of prohibition of smoking. The new situation brought about by the war resulted from the fact that the US Government had instructed its armies in the Far East, while occupying territories previously under Japanese control, to suppress Completely the smoking of opium. The Governments of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France had agreed to adopt a policy of complete prohibition of opium smoking in their Far East territories immediately on the release of those territories from Japanese occupation. The Government of Portugal had abolished the opium monopoly in Macau in 1946. Therefore, a new situation had been created in which very few States continued to permit opium smoking, and the Commission adopted, at its first session, a resolution in which it recommended that the Economic and Social Council urge all countries which still legalized the use of opium for smoking to take immediate steps to prohibit the manufacture, internal traffic in and use of such opium.

Resolution 49 (IV).

Opium smoking and opium eating are now illegal practically everywhere in the world with minor and transitory exceptions. The opium pipe in this picture now has mainly a curiosity value. The other paraphernalia consists of a lamp a head-rest, a can containing prepared opium, scissors, needles for rolling the opium pellet, and a piece of raw opium.

Full size image: 68 kB, Opium smoking and opium eating are now
                                  illegal practically everywhere in the world with minor and transitory
                                  exceptions

From then on the Commission reviewed the progress made in the policy of suppression. At its seventh session, it recommended to the Council a resolution inviting all countries in which opium smoking had been at any time prevalent, to adopt a policy of suppression; requesting the governments which had declared their intention to effect that suppression and to report to the Secretary-General; requesting them to prohibit the import of raw opium; and recommending that export authorizations be not issued for the export ofopium to countries where opium smoking was still prevalent. The Council adopted that resolution at its fourteenth session.38At its eighth session, the Commission recommended to the Council a resolution in which, after noting the legislative and other progress made in certain areas towards the abolition of opium smoking, and repeating its invitation to all countries in which opium smoking was still practised to suppress it, the Council requested governments to include information on that subject in their annual reports. The Council adopted that resolution at its sixteenth session.39 Since then, the Commission and the Council have kept the problem under review. Public opinion has played its part, helping to strengthen the hand of the administrators to withstand the demand for return to pre-war conditions, in order to escape the formidable difficulties of implementing a policy of prohibition. When in 1959 Thailand joined those countries which had prohibited opium smoking, the practice became illegal throughout the world with minor exceptions.

Resolution 159 II B (VII).

Resolution 505 B (XVI).

Synthetic narcotic drugs and the 1948 Protocol

This subject forms part of the general problem of control; it will be dealt with firstly in outlining the action taken by the Commission to place these drugs under international control and, later on, in connexion with the questions which arose after the principles and practical rules of that control were embodied in a special international instrument.

The first synthetic drug, pethidine, appeared in 1939. At the first session of the Commission, reference was made to a previous communication which had been addressed to governments on that subject by the League of Nations.

The basic question raised by the appearance of synthetic drugs appeared to be: "Why create synthetic narcotics when &lsquo natural &rsquo ones do exist, thus increasing considerably the risk of illicit traffic and drug addiction?" The answer was threefold: first, during the war, certain States did not have access to raw materials or were afraid to get out of stock and, therefore, wanted to develop synthetics; secondly, it was thought that a drug could be found which would have the beneficial properties of morphine without having its dangerous potentialities; and thirdly, it is impossible to put limits on scientific research.

The Commission felt that each country should be urged to initiate without delay measures of control for new narcotic drugs within its territories. The difficulty, as far as international control was concerned, was first the difference in chemical structure between natural and synthetic narcotic drugs: whilst manufactured natural narcotics belong to specific chemical groups defined by the narcotics treaties, synthetic narcotics belong to an increasing variety of chemical groups theoretically unlimited; secondly, manufactured natural narcotic drugs are made from opium, poppy straw, coca leaves, cannabis and cannabis resin, which are themselves narcotic drugs, and the control of which is generally practicable, whereas synthetic narcotics are manufactured from chemicals widely used in industry and in general not fully controllable from a practical point of view. Thus, the specific problems posed by the development of synthetic narcotic drugs were the extension of control to synthetic narcotics, the provisional control measures to be taken with respect to synthetic drugs likely to be addiction-producing, prior to the commencement of the procedure to place them under international control, and the problem of defining the groups of drugs to which provisional control measures should be applied.

Article 10 of the 1925 Convention made it possible for all addiction-producing drugs to be placed under international control. This provision could therefore be deemed to apply to natural and synthetic drugs alike. The control measures thus applicable were, however, only those of the 1925 Convention, and decisions or recommendations made under this article were binding only upon those Parties which expressly accepted them. Article 11 of the 1931 Convention established a system whereby any new product obtained from the phenanthrene alkaloids of opium or from the ecgonine alkaloids of the coca leaf could be placed under full international control in a manner binding upon the Parties. The existing conventions, however, provided no way of placing addiction-producing synthetic drugs under full international control with a binding effect on States.

To remedy this situation, the Commission took the initiative which led to the conclusion of the Protocol bringing under international control drugs outside the scope of the Convention of 13 July 1931, signed in Paris on 19 November 1948. At its second session, it recommended to the Economic and Social Council that the latter should request the Secretariat to prepare a draft Protocol based on its studies and on the observations of the Commission on this subject. That resolution 40 requested the Secretary-General to prepare a draft protocol which would be communicated to the governments concerned for their observation and also to WHO. At its third session, the Commission studied the draft and recommended its approval by the Council, and the World Health Assembly approved it also in 1948. At its seventh session, the Council adopted a resolution 41 in which it requested the Secretary-General to circulate to governments the revised draft of the Protocol, to recommend its approval by the General Assembly and to urge universal adhesion.

The Protocol was signed during the third session of the Assembly on 19 November 1948 in Paris. In accordance with its provisions, each Party is obligated to inform the Secretary-General of any drug used, or capable of being used, for medical or scientific purposes and not coming within the scope of the 1931 Convention, which that Party considers capable of abuse. The Secretary-General communicates this opinion to the other Parties as well as to the Commission and WHO. The latter must then decide whether the drug is addiction-forming or capable of conversion into an addiction-forming product. The Secretary-General also communicates this decision to governments and to the Commission, and the States Parties to the Protocol must subject the drug to the appropriate control. Article 2 of the Protocol allows the Commission to take interim measures to place under provisional control, pending the receipt of the conclusions of WHO, a drug considered by a Party to the Protocol as liable to produce addiction or as capable of being transformed into such a drug.

Resolution 86 (V).

Resolution 159 (VII) I.

This Protocol came into force without much delay and thus one of the main gaps in the old system of control by developments in medical and pharmaceutical research was closed.

Limitation of the production of raw materials

As was pointed out before, one of the main gaps in the pre-war treaties was that the raw materials needed for the manufacture of narcotic drugs were not under full control. Provisions for effective control of the cultivation of opium, coca leaves and cannabis were Jacking, even though there was a general obligation in the 1925 Convention to enact laws and regulations to ensure the effective control of the production, distribution and export of raw opium. As far as coca leaf and cannabis were concerned, there was not even such a general obligation. These gaps in the treaties were not due to the authors of the treaties overlooking the problem, but because it is more difficult to subject agricultural than manufacturing processes to close control. The coca bush, the poppy cultivated for the production of opium and the cannabis plant cultivated for the production of cannabis are often grown in territories where government control is not fully effective, for lack of cadastral surveys or on account of their remoteness from centres of governmental power. Moreover, the opium poppy is cultivated in large areas for its seeds, for culinary purposes, while the cannabis plant is grown for its seeds and its fibre and also grows wild in many parts of the world. In most of these areas, the plants are not used for the production of narcotic substances and many farmers cultivating them are not even aware of their narcotic potentialities.

Already in 1932, the Opium Advisory Committee began, in pursuance of a resolution adopted by the League Assembly in 1931, the preparatory work for a conference on the limitation of the production of opium. This work was interrupted by the war, but the Committee had prepared a draft of the main articles which might be embodied in a convention for limiting the cultivation of the opium poppy and the production of raw opium. During the war, in 1944, the US Government approached a number of governments, proposing a conference to draft such a convention, and favourable replies were received from several of them including the most important opium producers.

The general idea was that there should be a convention which would limit the production of all raw materials and the Council, at its fourth session in 1947, adopted the following resolution: 42

The Economic and Social Council,

Having noted the importance of bringing a speedy solution to the urgent problem of the limitation of production of raw materials from which narcotic drugs are manufactured, and

Having noted the preparatory work initiated by the Commission with a view to holding an international conference to deal with this problem,

  1. Approves the issue of the questionnaire on raw opium prepared by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (document E/251/ Add.2), and requests the Secretary-General to transmit this questionnaire to the governments concerned asking them to communicate, on or before 15 August 1947, the information called for therein and any observations bearing on the subject which they may wish to submit, and

  2. Approves the decision of the Commission to draw up a questionnaire on the coca leaf to be considered by the Commission at its next session and subsequently to be transmitted to governments.

It was with this idea of general limitation that the work on the new instrument began, and at its seventh session, the Council adopted a resolution43which requested the Secretary-General to begin work on the draft of a new Single Convention, which would include provisions for the limitation of the production of narcotic raw materials. But the above resolution represented in the opinion of the Commission the long-term programme of work and it was pointed out that any scheme for the limitation of the production of raw materials should be brought immediately to the notice of the producing countries, in order that they might take the necessary steps to secure a smooth transition to the production of alternative crops.

Thus, the Commission decided that since a general convention would not be drafted, adopted and brought into force for a long time, it would be useful to draft as an interim measure an agreement limiting the production of raw opium - the most important raw material in terms of the manufacture of narcotics found in the illicit traffic - and it recommended to the Council a resolution requesting the Secretary-General to initiate studies and inquiries on the desirability of convening a conference of the opium-producing countries and of countries using opium in the manufacture of drugs for the purpose of reaching an interim commodity agreement, limiting the production and export of opium to medical and scientific needs, pending the adoption of an international Convention on the limitation of raw materials used in the manufacture of narcotic drugs.

Resolution 49 (IV).

Resolution 159 (VII) D.

At the fourth session of the Commission, a Sub-Committee was appointed to consider the desirability of convening such a conference. That Sub-Committee agreed that an interim agreement was necessary and proposed as a first step the setting-up of an ad hoc committee composed of the principal opium-producing countries, which, it was decided, would meet in Ankara (the invitation to meet in that city having been extended by the Government of Turkey). Concurrently, the representatives of the principal drug-manufacturing countries could draw the attention of the respective governments to the proposal made by the Sub-Committee, and subsequently meet those of the principal opium-producing countries before the fifth session of the Commission.

At its fifth session, the Commission was apprised of the meeting of the ad hoc Committee and of the joint committee of the producers and the manufacturers which was held at Geneva in August 1950. The basic idea was the setting-up of a system of control for national production which would be based on national monopolies, and of an international monopoly for the international trade in opium. But the joint committee did not agree on several questions such as opium price, form of international inspection of the opium trade, etc.

At its sixth session, the Commission could only note the impossibility of reaching agreement on the establishment of the international opium monopoly. In view of the deadlock, the Commission decided not to resume discussion of the subject and to consider in its place a French proposal for a Protocol relating to the limitation of the production of opium. The Commission, after discussing this project, presented to the Council for its consideration a resolution to adopt in the main the principles of the draft protocol and have it decide to study the possibility of convening an international conference entrusted with the task of preparing and adopting a protocol relating to the limitation of the production of opium. The Council adopted that resolution at its thirteenth session.44

Thus the idea of creating a direct control over opium by means of an international monopoly had to be abandoned; the new scheme was to achieve limitation of opium production by indirect means. The United Nations Opium Conference met in New York from 11 May to 18 June 1953. States Members of the United Nations and non-Member States parties to the international conventions on narcotic drugs were invited to the conference as well as Libya, Nepal, the Republic of Korea and Spain (in accordance with resolution 478 (XV) of the Council); representatives of the specialized agencies, and of the PCOB and the DSB also attended. The

Resolution 395 (XII).

Conference took as the basis of its discussions the text of the Protocol drawn up by the Secretary-General in accordance with the principles adopted by the Commission at its sixth session. It adopted the "Protocol for Limiting and Regulating the Cultivation of the Poppy Plant, the Production of, International and Wholesale Trade in and Use of Opium ". The Protocol as adopted is based on two guiding ideas: 45 ( a) free trading in opium should be maintained insofar as this is compatible with the limitation of production and with the maintenance of effective government control; ( b) the methods applied for controlling the manufacture of and trade in manufactured narcotic drugs should also be applied to opium in so far as this is consistent with the nature of opium as an agricultural product.

The provisions of the Protocol may be summed up as follows: the production of opium would be limited with a view to equating the amounts harvested to the amounts needed for medical and scientific purposes. The number of States which would be permitted to produce opium for export would be limited to seven, i.e. Bulgaria, Greece, India, Iran, Turkey, USSR and Yugoslavia. Each country would be authorized to produce opium for its domestic needs. Control on the national level would in fact take the form of a national monopoly. On the international level, a system of estimates of the area to be cultivated, of the opium harvest and of opium requirements would enable the DSB to advise the governments concerned as to the desirable size of the opium crop and a system of statistical returns would enable the PCOB to supervise the execution by governments of important provisions of the Protocol. The PCOB would be authorized to arrange a local enquiry if it thought that a gravely unsatisfactory opium situation existed in a country (but only with the express consent of the government concerned). In extreme cases, the PCOB would be authorized to recommend or impose an import and/or export embargo on opium but the rights of the country concerned would be protected by procedural guarantees.

Thus the Protocol was to be the first international treaty aimed at the limiting of production. At its sixteenth session, the Council recommended to governments to sign and ratify or accede to the Protocol as soon as possible, to implement as far as might be possible the provisions of the Protocol pending its coming into force, and to States which would not be parties to the Protocol after its coming into force, to comply as far as practicable with its provisions, pending their adherence to the Protocol.

The following analysis is based on an article written by Dr. August Lindt, President of the UN Opium Conference, entitled "Achievements of the United Nations Opium Conference", published in the Bulletin on Narcotics, Vol. V, No. 3.

A condition for the coming into force of the Protocol was however that at least three of the seven States producing opium for export should ratify it or accede to it, and this did not happen until ten years after the instrument was adopted by the Conference. In the meantime, a Model Guide was prepared by a rapporteur, Mr. C. Vaille, then the chairman of the Commission at its ninth session, who had been the chairman of the main committee of the Conference. The Commission decided at its tenth session to defer the drafting of a legal commentary to the Protocol until after its coming into force. The Commission kept the Protocol under discussion at several sessions, some members thinking that its value was open to question. However, at its eleventh session the Commission recommended to the Council a resolution under which the Council46"considering the magnitude of the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs, recalling that the considerable production of opium has long been regarded as one of the principal causes of this traffic, considering that the application of the provisions of the Protocol signed at New York on 23 June 1953 would constitute an important step forward in limiting the production and use of opium to medical and scientific purposes, would invite those States which had not already ratified this Protocol to do so immediately so that it would enter into force as quickly as possible."

On 6 February 1963, Greece ratified the Protocol and that instrument came into force on 8 March of the same year; the Commission began taking steps for its implementation, such as the revision of the form of annual reports. At its nineteenth session, the Commission took note of the comments of governments on the suggested modifications to the form of annual reports and postponed its final decision until the twentieth session.

IV. Implementation of the existing system

One of the functions of the Commission, under its terms of reference, is to assist the Council in supervising the application of international instruments relating to the control of narcotic drugs and to perform the functions entrusted to it by international conventions. The Commission's work in that field will now be reviewed, and the question of illicit traffic will be treated in a separate chapter.

Supervising the application of international instruments is one of the basic tasks of the Commission, which enjoys first priority on its agenda under the general heading "Implementation of the treaties and international control." In the examination of this item, the Commission has before it a number of documents, the first being the report of the Division of Narcotic Drugs, which lists the actions taken by the Secretary-General in application of the national treaties and according to the decisions or resolutions of the Commission, the Council, and possibly of the General Assembly. The report of the Division in particular describes the status of multilateral narcotics treaties, i.e. the signatures, ratifications, acceptances, accessions and declarations that have taken place, lists the actions of international organs, reports on the notifications under the international treaties, lists the annual reports received from governments, their national laws and regulations, reviews the national authorities empowered to issue certificates and authorizations for the import and export of narcotic drugs, and comments on the list of firms authorized to manufacture and convert narcotic drugs. Other documents analyse the illicit traffic during the year, and report developments on all subjects on the Commission's agenda, e.g. drug addiction, opium research, etc.

Resolution 626 C. II (XXII).

These are also the "treaty documents ": a summary of annual reports of governments made in pursuance of Article 21 of the 1931 Convention; a cumulative index of national laws and regulations; a list of national authorities empowered to issue certificates and authorizations for the import and export of narcotic drugs; a document listing the countries in which narcotic drugs are manufactured, giving the names and addresses of the firms and enterprises engaged in such manufacture and the drugs which each establishment was authorized to manufacture or convert, and whether the drugs concerned were intended for the domestic market or for export; and the list of drugs under international control. The Commission also considers the Report of the PCOB, the Statement of the DSB and the report of the WHO Expert Committee on Addiction-Producing Drugs.47

The examination of these documents affords the Commission a general view of the narcotics situation in the world. Since a large number of countries are represented at the session either by representatives or by observers, the Commission has the possibility of asking for explanations in case a problem arises and, conversely, such countries can comment on the decisions, measures or state of affairs thus reported. The Commission usually examines these documents in great detail and, if the occasion warrants, it may adopt a resolution on a given point or invite the Secretary-General to communicate with a government to ask for explanations or to bring to its notice trends which the Commission found dis-quieting. Sometimes such actions take the form of commendation, more often of criticism expressed as a request for further information.

This Committee is called the Expert Committee on Dependence-Producing Drugs since 1965.

This information forms the basis on which the Commission is apprised of the narcotics situation in the world and the Commission has repeatedly insisted on the importance of its being sent regularly and prepared with care. At its fourth session, the Commission recommended for adoption by the Council a resolution stating that "the Council being informed that it was essential for the Commission in the exercise of its supervision over the application by governments of the provisions of the international instruments on narcotic drugs, including those synthetically produced, to be furnished with complete and accurate information regarding such application, requests the Secretary-General to ask governments to furnish such explanations or additional information regarding statements contained in annual reports, seizure reports, text of laws and regulations or in other reports or documents forwarded by them to the Secretary-General within its functions under the Charter ".48 At the same session the Commission adopted a resolution in which it requested the Secretary-General to address a special note verbale to the governments which had failed to submit their reports for two years.49This and other reminders have since had their effect; whereas sixty-six annual reports for 1945 were received, one hundred and fourteen were received for 1952, and during the period 1 January to 31 December 1964, annual reports were received in respect of 134 countries and territories for 1963, plus 18 belated reports for 1962 (these figures do not necessarily reflect the changes in the political status of countries which have occurred during the period under review).

Form of annual reports

One of the functions of the Commission under the international conventions is to prescribe the nature and scope of information which governments have undertaken to supply to the Secretary-General in their annual reports. The Commission has therefore to examine and decide what forms these reports will take, and in what way they should be published. At its first meeting, the Commission decided that the Secretariat should not publish the full reports but prepare a summary for the Commission (this summary is published annually under the title" Summary of Annual Reports of Governments relating to Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs "). It is in most years accompanied by an addendum. The form of annual reports is drawn up by the Commission and modified according to developments in the field of narcotics. It has in effect been modified several times; at its seventh session, the Commission, thinking that it was desirable to include appropriate headings regarding the abolition of opium smoking, requested the Secretary-General to revise the form. At its tenth session, the Commission decided to incorporate a text relating to prepared opium and a text relating to synthetic drugs and to heroin. At its ninth session, the Commission decided to incorporate Chapter X, Drug Addiction, as amended, into the form of annual reports, and at its tenth session the Commission set up a committee to study the full document. Such discussions were not of a purely formal nature, nor did they bear on strictly administrative subjects; they dealt also with actual problems of control. The question was whether the information required in respect of poppy straw should be similar to that in respect of raw opium. Also, in so far as the chapter on drug addiction was concerned, several representatives stated that many of the questions were not applicable to their countries. Finally, the paragraph on poppy straw was deleted and the Commission adopted the form of annual reports.

Resolution 246 B (IX).

Resolution 246 C (IX).

The General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council adopted at their eighth and eighteenth sessions, respectively, resolutions asking for limitation of documentation. The Commission therefore decided to discontinue the issue of annual reports of governments as separate reprints and to distribute only the summary of annual reports (on condition that the individual reports should remain on record and be available), and also that advance copies of the chapter on illicit traffic should be circulated in full. At its thirteenth session, the Commission requested the Secretariat to include in the form a revised text of the chapter on drug addiction in order to improve and clarify the information received from governments on that subject. When the Protocol of 1953 came into force, the form was again revised in order to enable governments to furnish a single annual report on the implementation both of the old treaties and of this Protocol (it should be recalled that the Council had invited States not Parties to the Protocol to comply as far as possible with its provisions). The principal changes required in the form were those concerned with the opium poppy and the poppy straw. It had also been necessary to formulate new questions for reporting on administrative arrangements for the control of poppy cultivation and opium trade in opium-producing countries, the control of poppy straw, the methods by which the cultivation of the poppy for purposes other than the production of opium would be controlled, the problem of addiction to opium through smoking and eating, and the disposal of seized opium. The coming into force of the Single Convention had to be taken into account and the Commission at its eighteenth session studied draft forms for the submission of the information to the Secretary-General under the new treaties. It was decided to wait until the twentieth session for a final decision on these subjects. At the twentieth session, the Commission established a working group to go over the question again, and it finally decided to adopt the new draft forms for the annual reports (indicating, in respect of the questions included, the specific treaty obligations involved); a new questionnaire on seizure reports; and a new model form of import certificates. The annual reports should be transmitted by 30 June following the year to which they related and as the Commission's annual session would henceforth probably be held in November/December, it was decided that there would be no need for advance submission of the chapter on illicit traffic. The Commission considered that in accordance with article 18 of the 1961 Convention, the information that would be obtained on the basis of the questionnaires would be necessary for the purpose of its functions and, therefore, it requested the Secretariat to transmit them to all governments for their use, particularly in preparing reports required under the old treaties as well as under the 1961 Convention.

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs is also charged with supervising the strict application by governments of the system of import certificates and export authorizations created by the 1925 Convention, which is one of the essential means of controlling and regulating the international trade in drugs. The Commission exercises that supervision closely, and every year it takes note of the countries which are mentioned in annual reports as not having returned their copies of export authorizations. The Secretary-General writes to the governments concerned inviting them to submit any observation they might wish to make. The Commission's attention has always been engaged by this problem and at its eighteenth session it decided to request the Secretary-General to remind governments of their obligations under the provisions of Article 13 of the 1925 Convention and to address to them a recommendation that the copies of export authorizations be sent by registered mail wherever possible.50

Laws and regulations

Also under Article 21 of the 1931 Convention, Parties have to "communicate to one another through the Secretary-General... the laws and regulations promulgated in order to give effect to the... Convention". Similar provisions are contained in other treaties. In this field it is the Commission's duty to keep informed of laws and regulations passed by governments in accordance with these Conventions. At its first session, the Commission asked the Secretariat to prepare a list of all the narcotics laws then in operation, an annual summary of new laws enacted by governments, and a digest giving an analytical survey of national legislation in all countries. The Secretariat completed this work and at its fourth session the Commission was able to study the first annual summary prepared in accordance with its wishes. It recommended that the summary should be printed, and it was thus able by studying these laws to follow the improvement of existing national control systems: a number of these laws had been drafted in pursuance of decisions of the Commission and the Council. This examination of the laws gave occasion to representatives to describe the situation in their own countries, and enabled the Commission to criticize certain provisions of existing legislations when the need arose.

Eighteenth session, para. 43.

This legal work entailed a considerable amount of research; when the decision was taken to limit documentation, the Commission decided that an annual summary of laws and regulations, accompanied by a cumulative index, would be sufficient and it asked the Council to rescind the decision in its resolution 49 (IV) regarding the preparation of a digest of laws. This resolution was adopted by the Council at its twentieth session.51 At its eleventh session, the Commission reviewed in detail the question of the summary of laws and regulations. It decided that the summary should be discontinued as a yearly document and asked the Secretary-General to prepare a cumulative index of laws annually and also to prepare a document on changes in the legislation: this document would be an annual tabulation on changes in the scope of control. The Commission also asked the Secretary-General to prepare five-yearly summaries of laws and regulations. At its twenty-second session, the Council 52 invited governments to communicate their laws and regulations promptly and requested the Secretary-General to comply with the Commission's wishes, but at the fourteenth session it was explained that it was not possible to prepare summaries of laws and regulations every five years, and the Council at its twenty-eighth session adopted a resolution 53 rescinding the one which had requested the Secretary-General to prepare such a summary.

Manufacture of narcotics

In accordance with Article 20 of the 1931 Convention, the Parties notify the Secretary-General the names and addresses of persons or firms authorized to manufacture or convert drugs. This list is published annually and the Commission studies it with great care since it gives useful indications on the fluctuations in the manufacture and trade in narcotics. The Commission has on several occasions stressed the necessity for governments to furnish this information as accurately as possible, and it does check on that accuracy.

Resolution 588 F (XX).

Resolution 626 C III (XXII).

Resolution 730 H (XXVIII).

The Commission also examines every year a list of national authorities empowered to issue certificates and authorizations for the import and export of narcotic drugs. This list is of importance for the governments concerned since it gives them precise information on the licit trade in narcotics. At its thirteenth session, the Commission decided that in view of the limitation of documentation asked for by the General Assembly this list would be published only in alternate years.

List of drugs

In order to follow the development of the manufacture of narcotic drugs, the Commission studies at every session a document prepared by the Secretariat and called "List of drugs under international control ". The last issue of that document showed that 88 basic narcotic drugs, including 59 synthetic drugs, were under international control on 31 January 1964. The first such list was drawn up by a sub-committee of experts of the Opium Advisory Committee and the Commission at its first session thought it should be revised. At its eighth session, the Commission decided to request the Secretariat to complete the list of basic drugs so as to include therein, in addition to the scientific names, the synonyms for these names used in various countries in the licit and illicit traffic, and to circulate that list to governments for corrections or additions. It also recommended to the Council that the Secretariat should discontinue its work on the publication of the list of preparations and pharmaceutical specialities containing narcotic drugs. This resolution was adopted by the Council at its sixteenth session.54

Identification of narcotics

In conjunction with the list of drugs and the multiplicity of these drugs, the Commission was faced with the problem of the identification of narcotics. The question was first raised in conjunction with synthetic narcotic drugs at the fourth session of the Commission. The Commission discussed the desirability of giving, for all international purposes, a single name to each habit-forming drug. This was a recommendation adopted by the Expert Committee on Addiction-Producing Drugs of the WHO.55It was felt that the name adopted should not be a trade or proprietary name. Finally the Commission decided to endorse the recommendation of the Expert Committee that a mechanism should be established so that narcotics could be given a single name to be used for all international purposes.

Resolution 505 E (XVI).

WHO document WHO/HFD/9 and Corr. 1.

Studies continued to be made by the WHO, and the Commission discussed this problem until at its fourteenth session it was advised that the problem of the timely provision of an international non-proprietary name for new narcotic drugs had been practically solved and that it was reasonable to hope that in the future such a name could be given to any new drugs by the time it came under international control.

It was felt nevertheless that even such a name would not be sufficient and that it would be very difficult for enforcement officers to identify the new drugs. For this reason, the Commission at its seventh session had recommended to the Council the adoption of a resolution which requested the Secretary-General to draw the attention of governments to the desirability, should they not have already done so, of "... ( e) making regulations to ensure that all packages containing synthetic narcotic drugs should be clearly marked with a double red line so that they [might] be identified by the competent services." This resolution was adopted by the Council as resolution 436 G (XIV). Other possibilities were also considered such as a reference number to designate each drug.

At its fourteenth session, the Commission, after a long debate, addressed to the Council a draft resolution in which the Council was to "... urge all governments which have not yet done so to require that any package moving in trade and containing a narcotic drug, whether natural or synthetic, show a clearly visible double red band on its label but not on the exterior wrapping in which such package is contained." At its twenty-eighth session, the Council considered this draft resolution but, noting that the Plenipotentiary Conference on the Single Convention was going to discuss this problem, it decided to take no action.56In the Single Convention, Article 30, paragraph 4, states "If a party considers such measure necessary or desirable, it shall require that the inner package containing a drug or wrapping thereof should bear a clearly visible double red band. The exterior wrapping of the package in which such drug is contained should not bear a double red band."

Notifications

Under the international treaties the Commission examines the question of applying a system of control to new drugs, as well as the system of control provided by the 1925 Convention to every preparation containing any proportion of the drugs included in Group I of the 1931 Convention.

Resolution 730 F (XXVIII).

The 1948 Protocol requires the Commission to examine notifications by countries concerning drugs not covered by the 1931 Convention, and which may have harmful effects similar to those of the drugs falling under Article 1 of the 1931 Convention. The Commission is also advised of the findings of the World Health Organization on the question whether such drugs are addiction-forming or convertible into addiction-forming drugs and, consequently, on the regime which is to be applied to them. Since this may take some time, the Commission, pending receipt of the final decision of the WHO, determines whether such drugs shall be provisionally submitted to the regime applicable to drugs in Group I of the 1931 Convention, that is, to the more dangerous drugs with morphine-like effects.

Each year a number of drugs are thus notified by governments and the Commission takes action accordingly. Such actions were, of course, most numerous in the years following the entry into force of the 1948 Protocol. The Commission noticed at its nineteenth session that there had been in recent years a gradual decrease in the number of notifications to place new drugs under international control. As far as new synthetic drugs were concerned, it was thought that this was due to a more rational search for a perfect non-addicting analgesic drug.

The Commission has always been alive to the possibility of loopholes in the system: thus it was informed at its thirteenth session that a country manufacturing a synthetic narcotic placed under international control had not yet brought it under its own national control, thereby creating what was deemed to be a dangerous situation. The Commission then took action in the form of a resolution which it addressed to the Council, urging all countries that had not yet done so, and in particular such countries as were manufacturing and exporting that drug, to place it under national control. The Council adopted that resolution at its twenty-sixth session.57The country in question ratified the 1948 Protocol and, consequently, the drug became included in its national control system.

Such difficulties were a source of concern to the Commission, which nevertheless felt that a state of affairs in which an interval of months might elapse between the date of placing a drug under international control and that of its submission to full national control was not attributable to defects or weaknesses in the international conventions, but rather to the failure of governments to apply their provisions with due despatch.

On the other hand, a gap subsists between the time when a government becomes aware of the existence of the drug and the date when the international organs take action. It was felt that manufacturing countries should initiate as promptly as possible the action leading to international control, and the Commission recommended to the Council a resolution which that body adopted as resolution 730 (XXVIII) D, in which it urged governments, in order to ensure effective control of new narcotic drugs, to take the following action:

Resolution 689 D (XXVI).

  1. The government of a country where a new drug is produced for which its inventors claim powerful analgesic or anti-tussive properties should, before the drug is marketed, examine the possibility of subjecting it provisionally to the control measures prescribed by the international conventions until WHO has pronounced upon its liability to cause addiction.

  2. Where a government has notified the Secretary-General, in accordance with the 1948 Protocol, that it considers a drug to be liable to produce addiction, all governments should examine the possibility of applying immediately provisional measures of control to the drug.

  3. All governments should apply the necessary control measures as a matter of urgency, as soon as they receive communication of a finding of WHO or of a decision of the Commission for provisional control relating to a particular drug.

Narcotics in first-aid kits of aircraft

In seeing to the implementation of narcotic treaties, the Commission had to deal among others with a problem brought to its attention by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). That organization recommended that the first-aid kits of aircraft engaged in international flight should contain narcotics, but a difficulty resulted from the application to the drugs in those kits of the system of import certificates and export authorizations. ICAO therefore asked the UN and WHO to study the problem, especially at a time when the Single Convention was in preparation. A set of requirements was prepared by the Secretary-General in co-operation with ICAO and WHO and in consultation with ICPO, and the Commission recommended to the Council a resolution in which it tried to harmonize the need to provide control measures against the possibility of abuse or theft of the narcotic drugs carried and the need to interfere as little as possible with the expeditious handling of aircraft on the ground. The Council adopted that resolution as resolution 770 (XXX) E. This resolution is followed by an Annex containing detailed measures which might usefully be taken to implement the principles outlined in the resolution. In fact, these principles were embodied in article 32 of the Single Convention as applicable not only to aircrafts but also to ships.

V. Illicit traffic

Evolution of the illicit traffic

Of all the aspects of the narcotics problem, illicit traffic is by far the one which most easily captures the attention of the general public. The present review does not aim at presenting a sensational picture of the activities of traffickers and will restrict itself to outlining the problem as it has developed in the Commission's life-time.

When a commodity is limited in supply by the State, while there are customers for more of it than is available, middlemen intervene to bring quantities illicitly to such customers for a profit. In that sense, the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs is strictly a business undertaking. The traffickers try to get as much money as they can, and in order to do so,. they try to secure regular supplies and to enlarge their market by creating new customers. This traffic therefore involves the producer, the trader and the consumer. The basic aim of narcotics control being to suppress the illicit consumption of narcotics, that is, drug addiction or drug dependence, the problems encountered have always been those of supply and demand. In all cases, the attitude and action of the governments, that is the measures taken nationally, are essential. The Council and the Commission can only act through recommendations to governments either in the form of direct recommendations or by supervising the implementation of the narcotics treaties. The questions relating to consumers will be dealt with later in chapter VII on drug addiction. The question of production and trade has already been dealt with in the sense that the whole system of narcotics control is aimed at the point where such production and trade will be in balance with the medical and scientific needs of the world.

In that sense all the conventions form the background for the Commission's action against illicit traffic. The review will now examine the evolution of the illicit traffic since the war, and the actions taken by the Commission to combat it. The Commission has played a significant role in bringing to light the main aspects of the illicit traffic in narcotics, as is shown below.

A number of factors have contributed to the evolution of the traffic: the commercial development of air transport; the movement of populations (e.g. the appearance of an illicit traffic of cannabis in countries in which it was hitherto unknown, due in particular to the influx of labourers from countries in which cannabis was consumed); the general internationalization of many forms of human activity which, in terms of traffic, has been reflected in the formation of international gangs powerfully organized; and the industrialization and technical evolution of those parts of the world in which the raw materials are produced (e.g. the idea of an illicit heroin factory in the more inaccessible parts of South-East Asia would have seemed absurd 50 years ago). Social and economic changes also have created new markets: young people for whom parental supervision is less now than it used to be; and individuals leaving traditional rural societies with their strong organization to join a disorganized urban proletariat. Furthermore, the very success of international control has contributed to changing the pattern of traffic: instead of diversions from the licit trade of the "white drugs" which now appears to be negligible, the illicit traffic relies almost wholly on illicit sources of supply.

Opium and opiates

As has been seen in a previous chapter, the limitation of the production of opium and the banning of its consumption have been fairly successful. In consequence, the traditional consumption is now illegal in most parts of the world. The moving of raw opium (or prepared opium) is therefore prohibited, except for legal trade. There is a double illicit market for it which caters firstly for direct consumption by smoking and secondly for transformation into morphine or heroin. Much more money is to be made out of the second alternative. It may be assumed, therefore - and the assumption is supported by what is known of the actual traffic - that most of raw opium moved is to be transformed into morphine and heroin. Since opium is not easy to transport because of its bulk, weight, smell, etc., the traffickers now try to extract the morphine near the source of production. In order to secure the raw material, two possibilities exist. One is diversion from licit cultivation: it is difficult to assess how much opium is diverted from this source: the Permanent Central Opium Board, in its report to the Economic and Social Council on its work in 1964, has arrived at an estimate of about 180 to 200 tons.58

The second source is from unregulated production which may be either fully illicit or, in some cases, tolerated (Shan State of Burma, Northen Laos), or which may take place in such parts of a country in which law enforcement is particularly difficult. The PCOB, in the above mentioned report, states that "in the Yunnan - Burma - Laos - Thailand region " it has been estimated that the annual production of opium amounts to 1,000 tons, and within this figure, the annual output in Burma alone is thought to be at least 300 to 400 tons. 59

Report to the Economic and Social Council on the work of the Board in 1964, document E/OB/20, para. 10.

The opiates produced from these two sources are then channelled towards the customers through intricate carefully-planned routes and transactions, in which a large number of people must of necessity take a part: from the first conveyors of the opium to the wholesale distributors, the middlemen and finally the pedlars. The whole operation is thought out, organized and financed by traffickers who may or may not belong to one or several criminal organizations. It is difficult to estimate the amount of this traffic. The seizures certainly give an indication, but the difficulty arises in their interpretation: when seizures increase, it may be due to many factors such as increased efficiency of the enforcement authorities, change in route, etc. Seizures of raw opium have shown variations from 22 tons in 1946 to 37 tons in 1963 with a maximum of 59 tons in 1955. For prepared opium, the trend has been from 5 tons in 1946 to 1.3 tons in 1963; for morphine, from 40 kilos in 1946 to 732 kilos in 1963. (The progression seems astounding, but variations during this period have been extremely wide: 99 kilos in 1956 against 310 kilos in 1952 and 326 in 1962). For heroin, the figure for 1963 was 402 kilos as against 27 kilos in 1946 (again with very wide variations). Inside these general aspects a number of smaller factors may be noticed such as the diversion of large quantities of heroin in the late forties from licit factories in Italy, the appearance and the disappearance of the so-called brown heroin from Mexico during the same period, the almost complete disappearance of opium of Indian origin in the late forties, etc.

Coca leaf and cocaine

The traffic in coca leaf and cocaine is much smaller than the traffic in opiates. Firstly, there is an insignificant traffic of coca leaves in the Andean region of South America. The main problem stems from the fact that in Bolivia and Peru, the coca bush is cultivated on a very large scale: of this huge production, it is quite easy for the traffickers to secure whatever they need for the extraction of cocaine. This extraction is, of necessity, done near the producing regions because of the weight and volume of the coca leaf required. The total quantity of illicit cocaine seized throughout the world has shown considerable variations, from a maximum of 175 kilos in 1948 to a minimum of 5 kilos in 1956. Since then the quantities have continued to grow and in 1964, 30 kilos were seized in the United States alone.

Ibid., para. 12.

Cannabis

The cannabis plant is cultivated for its seeds and its fibre in many parts of the world and it also grows wild almost anywhere, but there is no diversion from the licitly cultivated crop. Cannabis may be consumed in many forms: smoked or eaten and drunk in mixtures. The flowering tops constitute a bulky material and, therefore, traffic is in general a regional traffic (with exceptions as outlined above of migrants who transport it to their new abode). It is not truly organized and is still and might well continue to be of an unsophisticated nature. Conservely, the refined resin, called by many names such as hashish and charas, is small in bulk and very expensive. Therefore, the traffic is profitable and is organized by international gangs. It seems to be mainly centered in the Near East. It is particularly difficult to assess the quantities of cannabis seized because some countries report the weight of the whole plant they have seized while some others report the number of plants destroyed. The quantities are quite considerable, from a minimum of about 19 tons in 1947 to a maximum of 1331 tons in 1955 and 159 tons in 1963.

Synthetic drugs

Synthetic drugs do not require special raw materials but are difficult to manufacture. Therefore, they are only diverted from licit sources. This, added to the fact that for the time being, they are not very well known and because of the efficacy of the control measures, results in the illicit traffic in these drugs being insignificant to this day. The quantities seized reached a maximum of 3.06 kilos in 1960, whereas in 1962 none at all was seized. This, unfortunately, does not mean that this traffic may not in the future develop to sizeable proportions.

Finally, in the last few years, an illicit traffic in non-narcotic drugs which are psychoactive and considered to be dangerous from the point of view of social health seems to be developing. The question of these drugs, such as barbiturates, will be examined later.

The Commission's action

Information

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs has dealt with the illicit traffic at each of its sessions, as one of the important items on its agenda. In its study of the question, the Commission has before it information furnished by governments in accordance with the international treaties, in particular article 23 of the 1931 Convention, which states :

The High Contracting Parties will communicate to each other, through the Secretary-General of the United Nations, as soon as possible, particulars of each case of illicit traffic discovered by them which may be of importance either because of the quantities involved or because of the light thrown on the sources from which drugs are obtained for the illicit traffic or the methods employed by illicit traffickers.

The particulars given shall indicate as far as possible:

  1. The kind and quantity of drugs involved;

  2. The origin of the drugs, their marks and labels;

  3. The points at which the drugs were diverted into the illicit traffic;

  4. The place from which the drugs were despatched, and the names of shipping or forwarding agents or consignors; the methods of consignment and the name and address of consignees, if known;

  5. The methods and routes used by smugglers and names of ships, if any, in which the drugs have been shipped;

  6. The action taken by the Government in regard to the persons involved, particularly those possessing authorizations or licences and the penalties imposed;

  7. Any other information which would assist in the suppression of illicit traffic.

The information is transmitted to governments in the form of monthly summaries of reports on illicit transactions and seizures, the chapter XI of the Annual Reports of governments, lists of merchant seafarers and members of civil crews convicted of narcotic offences, a memorandum by the International Criminal Police Organization on the illicit traffic and a review of the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs prepared by the Secretary-General. As noted above, the Commission used to have a special committee on illicit traffic which functioned from the ninth to the eighteenth session. The Commission reviews the traffic first in general, then by drug and by country, and it has been its custom during the last sessions to focus attention on conditions in a region.

In order to have a broad and accurate picture of the situation, the Commission requires that its information be precise, complete, and that the geographic coverage be as nearly universal as possible. To obtain such information, the Commission adopted and recommended to the Council a number of resolutions insisting on two points: (1) the obligation for each government to send annual reports and seizure reports, and (2) the necessity to give all the necessary information in these reports. Such resolutions or decisions were adopted at the third, fourth, ninth, twelfth, fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth sessions. Another action it took in regard to the reporting of seizures was the approval of a simplified form drawn up by the ICPO and the Secretary-General. These resolutions and decisions have, in fact, been very useful and the number of seizure reports and also the quality of reporting has steadily improved since the first sessions of the Commission: at its third session, the Commission noted with concern that, of the 94 countries and territories which had acknowledged the existence of an illicit traffic in their annual reports, only 17 had submitted special reports during 1946 and 1947 on the illicit traffic,60whereas for 1963, 152 reports were received.

Another source of information for the Commission is the general debate to which the question of illicit traffic gives rise: not only do the members of the Commission provide first-hand information on the situation in their country, or explanations on points raised in the reports of these countries, but the Commission has the benefit of the presence of numerous observers and it makes a point of asking the Secretary-General to invite the countries beset by illicit traffic problems to send observers, so that it may ask them for information. In specific cases, the Commission even recommended to the Council the adoption of a resolution inviting a government to co-operate with it and in particular to be represented by an observer at its next session (the Council, in resolution 914 (XXXIV) B, expressed its appreciation to that government for having sent an observer to assist in the discussions on the report of the Commission at its thirty-fourth session and for making arrangements for the attendance of a technical observer at the eighteenth session of the Commission).

The Commission deals with both the sources of supply and the traffickers (its attitude towards the consumer - the addict - will be discussed in a subsequent chapter).

Action against the supply

The Commission tried to diminish the supply of raw material through the drafting and adoption of the Opium Protocol (what provisions of that Protocol have been maintained in the Single Convention will be shown in a later chapter) and by similar provisions for coca leaf and cannabis inserted in the Single Convention.

As far as the licit sources are concerned, the provisions of the Opium Protocol are intended to strengthen the national control in the producing countries; thus the national opium agencies of the two main producing countries, India and Turkey, have been tightened during the last decade, as was stated at the sixteenth session of the Commission by the representatives of these two countries. Turkey, though not then a Party to the 1953 Protocol, passed Act No. 7368 61 of July 1959 which it claimed was based on that instrument.

The solution of the problem of illegal or unregulated production is much more difficult, since the areas in which such production exists are not always within the full administrative control of the country concerned. If such cases, Opium production is linked to the general development of the country as a whole, and the remedies cannot single out the problem of opium production. Any effort to suppress such a source of illicit traffic, in order to have a chance of succeeding must be inte-grated in much broader measures of a political, economic and social nature. The first necessity is to ascertain the extent of the problem. This reasoning prompted the assistance given to Burma in planning and carrying out a preliminary survey of the economic and social aspects of opium production and consumption in some parts of that country in 1964. This survey had been recommended by the Commission and endorsed by the Council in resolution 962 B II (XXXVI). A useful start was made but, as the observer from Burma stated, the problem of crop substitution could only be solved by patient education and convincing demonstration.62 In the same way, the Commission decided to recommend to the Council a resolution for assistance to the Government of Thailand in the undertaking of a survey of the economic and social requirements of its opium-producing regions, which is scheduled to take place in the near future.

Third session, section 12.

Document E/NL/1959/85.

Another point on which the Commission insisted was that the number of firms authorized to manufacture narcotics should be kept as low as possible, and it adopted a resolution recommending that the govern.ments concerned should limit the number of manufacturing firms and especially control the output both of morphine extract and of morphine converted into other narcotic drugs, and inviting such governments to exchange information on their control methods.63

In the case of the illicit supply of cocaine, the Commission also tried, as will be seen in the chapter on coca leaf, to tackle the problem as part of the broader problem of production and consumption of the coca leaf.

Action against the illicit trade

As for the second aspect - that is, the illicit trade - the Commission has taken several series of steps. Firstly, it has drawn the attention of governments to a number of points, such as the role of seamen and air crews: at its fifth session, the Commission asked the Council to request the Secretary-General to compile a list of merchant vessel personnel convicted for smuggling narcotics, and instructed the Secretary-General to transmit the list to the governments of all States with a recommendation of practical measures to suppress such activities. Since then, lists of merchant seafarers and members of civil air crews convicted of narcotics offences have been communicated regularly to governments, and in general such offenders are black-listed in their professions.

Nineteenth session, para. 169.

Eleventh session, para. 258.

At its fifteenth session, the Commission decided to draw the attention of governments to the importance of keeping special watch on the use of aircraft by traffickers.

The question of acetic anhydride and acetyl chloride (substances used in the process of converting morphine into heroin) is another case in point: at its ninth session, the Commission adopted a resolution in which the attention of governments was drawn to the dangers of their illicit use and the suggestion was made that they should exercise such measures of control or surveillance as might be practicable in their particular countries. At its seventeenth session, the Commission held a general discussion on these substances. It was again suggested that countries which had a problem of illicit heroin manufacture and which were not producers of these salts, should place import and internal restrictions on them. It was noted that steps had been taken by a number of countries to control the import and distribution of these substances. Finally, at its eighteenth session, the Commission heard reports of several representatives to the effect that such controls were actually an important deterrent to the clandestine manufacture of heroin.

Determination of origin

In order to fight the illicit traffic, a primary requirement is knowledge of the origin of the drugs. Ideally, if it were possible to pinpoint the place of production or manufacture, it would be very simple to act decisively. Enforcement services have always tried to discover the origin of the drugs they seize either by interrogation of the trafficker, by circumstancial evidence (such as wrappings, etc.) or through informers. But such evidence cannot often be considered as valid. Therefore, the Commission thought that it would be extremely useful if scientific methods could be devised which would permit the determination of the origin of seized drugs: thus, it would be possible to know from which country, or even from what part of which country, they originated,. and two purposes would thus be achieved: firstly, a warning could be given to that country that illicit production or diversion from licit production took place on its territory, and, secondly, this would put an end to the controversy and mutual accusations of countries stating that they were flooded with drugs originating in a neighbouring country.

Since the most important part of the international illicit traffic is constituted by the opiates, it was felt that such a programme should start with scientific research on the determination of the origin of opium. That substance has physical and chemical characteristics which vary in certain respects according to the ecological conditions of the region where the poppy plant is cultivated and the opium harvested. If a collection of samples of opium as cultivated in all regions of the world could be made and if methods could be worked out to "fingerprint" them, tables of characteristics could be established and any opium seized could then be analysed and its characteristics compared to the basic table of reference, thus making it possible to know where it had been harvested. This was the basic idea for the research programme which was started following two resolutions adopted by the Council in 1948 64and in 1949.65The first invited the governments of opium-producing countries to furnish suitable samples of their opium, and asked all governments having the necessary laboratory facilities and experts to participate in such a programme, while the second empowered the Secretary-General to accept facilities offered to him by the United States Government for use as an opium distribution centre and to carry out original research as well as to co-ordinate that of the other participants. In 1952, the council broadened the terms of reference to cover all types of opium, including opium produced illicitly, by urging governments to furnish the laboratory with samples seized from the illicit traffic. 66

By 1953 the Council considered that the research had advanced to a point where consideration might be given to the possibility of applying the methods that had been developed on a practical basis. To secure the necessary technical guidance in this matter, the Council asked the Secretary-General to appoint a committee of three experts to evaluate the progress that had been made and to reach conclusions as to whether the methods were ready for practical and application in the international sphere. 67 The committee, which was composed of scientists from India, Norway and the United States of America, met in March 1954 and concluded that more samples of opium were needed, but did not reach unanimous agreement on the important question of whether the methods were ready for practical application. At this time, the United Nations research team consisted of two chemists, who were assigned working space in New York in one of the Federal Laboratories of the United States Governments.

As recommended by the Economic and Social Council, the General Assembly of the United Nations, by its resolution 834 (IX) of 14 December 1954, decided that a Narcotics Laboratory should be established in Geneva, as part of the Division of Narcotic Drugs which had been transferred from New York. The Laboratory was therefore designed and set up in the European Office of the United Nations, but it was some time before it could be considered as fully established and well equipped. 68 In 1957, Council resolution 667 C (XXIV) requested the Secretary-General to increase the staff and facilities of the United Nations Laboratory so as to expedite research on methods for the determination of the origin of opium.

Resolution 159 IIC (VII)

Resolution 246 F (IX)

Resolution 436 F (XIV)

Resolution 477 (XV)

The division of Narcotic Drugs of the UN Secretariat, located in Geneva, carries out research on opium and other narcotic drugs in its laboratory. In this picture, first and third from the left, are Mrs. L. Ramalanjaona (Madagascar) and Mr. A. Wane (Senegal), who have received UN fellowships for training in the techniques of analysing narcotic drugs, seen with the Chief of the Laboratory (between them).

Full size image: 61 kB, The division of Narcotic Drugs of the UN
                                         Secretariat, located in Geneva, carries out research on opium and other
                                         narcotic drugs in its laboratory

The period following the setting-up of the laboratory in Geneva was marked by a considerable broadening in international collaboration in the research programme. A further seminar was held in January 1958 in accordance with council resolution 626 H (XXII) of 1956. The Committee of Experts, which consisted of nine scientists, 69 reviewed the progress made in the research and made certain recommendations of a general nature. The most important of these where the following: (i) that governments should be urged to furnish many more authenticated opium samples; (ii) that governments should be asked to furnish samples from opium seizures even in cases where they had not been able to authenticate them as having been produced in their territories; (iii) that the Secretariat should maintain a list of current projects and set up a procedure for keeping all co-operating laboratories informed of new developments; (iv) that all the participating laboratories should take part in collaborative studies to evaluate the methods, assess their accuracy and reproducibility, and to decide upon their utility for practical application; and (v) that the United Nations Laboratory should carry out origin determinations, but that these might generally be restricted to samples on which there was a divergence of views, and samples sent by governments which did not possess their own testing facilities. The Committee also emphasized that special attention should be given to developing a speedy and easily reproducible method or methods for making origin determinations. The Committee also concluded that it was now possible to make determinations of a limited kind of the origin of opium by interpretation of available data.

The equipping of the laboratory was facilitated by a financial grant from the Cantonal Authorities of Geneva.

These scientists (serving in their personal capacities) were from Australia, Canada, Denmark, India, Japan, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom and United States of America.

As the opium research programme was the first project of its kind - for the determination of the origin of plant material - it was inevitable that, during the early history of the programme, many diverse methods were proposed. These methods involved nearly every branch of chemistry - chromatography, electrophoresis, spectrography, activation analysis and also the quantitative determination of all the alkaloids in opium. None of these methods proved to be adequate - they were all very lengthy, cumbersome and they failed to give reproducible results.

It was in 1958 that the great breakthrough occurred and the first positive achievements were realized in the development of methods for the determination of the origin of opium. These were the methods of simple colour reactions of the United Nations Laboratory and the method of direct absorption spectrophotometry, developed by the Institute for the Control of Drugs, Zagreb, Yugoslavia. These methods answered the important criteria (continually stressed by the Commission) of being simple, rapid and easily reproducible, requiring small amounts of material and little specialized equipment. They could thus be applied in any reasonably equipped laboratory in the world.

Using these methods, the United Nations Laboratory then systematically analysed all the authenticated samples in its collection and was able to establish characteristics for opium from the different regions of the world. The methods of colour reactions and direct absorption spectrophotometry were also tested in many national laboratories, which confirmed the importance and usefulness of these methods for the determination of the origin of opium. After developing a punched card system for the comparison and interpretation of the analytical data, the United Nations Laboratory applied these methods to the samples of opium seized in the illicit traffic and submitted by governments for the determination of their origin, in accordance with operative paragraphs 3 and 4 of resolution B.1 1955 of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

Since 1958, the Commission's resolutions on the opium research programme 70 have been concerned mainly with providing the laboratory with a larger number of authenticated samples of opium and with stressing the importance of simple, rapid and easily reproducible methods of origin determination.

The laboratory continues to receive authenticated samples of opium and also samples seized in the illicit traffic and the analysis of these is part of its routine work. Up to the end of 1963, 650 authenticated samples (from 17 countries) had been received (and this figure is nearly 800 if the various parts of each sample are taken into consideration). The seizure samples received for the determination of origin up to the end of 1963 numbered 311. Of these, 269 were analysed by the laboratory. Some of the samples consisted of dissimilar lumps which were analysed, separately, and thus 306 origin reports were submitted to the governments concerned. Of these 306 cases, an indication of the origin was given in 194 instances. In 163 of them, this referred to single countries, and in 31 cases to a group of neighbouring countries or regions. Nine of the samples were found not to be rawopium. While for some samples origin conclusions could not be given, because of the insufficient number of authenticated samples from certain regions (in particular from South-East Asia and parts of the Middle East), this situation is steadily improving and during 1963, authenticated samples were received from Afghanistan, Burma, Korea, Laos and Mexico, in addition to the annual provision of samples from the main opium-producing countries.

Although of a confidential nature, reports on the determination of the origin of seizures are undoubtedly of value to the enforcement authorities of the countries receiving them. It is obvious from the debates in the Commission that these reports have strengthened the work of these authorities - which is one of the main objectives of the opium research programme. The findings of the laboratory have also been of importance from the point of view of international control, by helping to uncover the channels through which the opium passes illicitly from where it is grown to where it is consumed.

Thus, it now seems that a great advance has been made in ascertaining the place where opium is produced and, because of that success, the Commission has considered that the origin of other substances might be determined by scientific methods. At its nineteenth session, the Commission placed on its list of priorities (with second priority) "scientific research on the identification of manufactured narcotic drugs". 71

Commission's resolutions V (XIII 1958, 6 (XIV) 1959 and 3 (XVII) 1962.

Nineteenth session, para. 185.

Another problem of great importance to enforcement officers is the identification of cannabis seized: in some regions of the world, enforcement officers have a long experience of such products and especially when the cannabis is in the form of coarsely chopped tops and leaves they have no difficulty in identifying it, but when the preparation is more complex or when the enforcement officer is not familiar with it, a simple method for identification would be very useful. This has been assigned first priority by the Commission in the continuing projects of research.

Other forms of action

The Commission outlined at its twelfth session72 a programme for governments in their struggle against the illicit traffic:

  1. Increasing their efforts to detect and suppress the illicit production and manufacture of drugs and strengthening the measures for apprehending traffickers;

  2. Imposing on persons convicted of narcotic offences very severe penalties in every country;

  3. Reviewing preventive measures so as to give the competent administrative bodies the power to combat the illicit traffic;

  4. Arranging for direct exchange of information relating to the illicit traffic with the competent authorities of other countries;

  5. Discharging fully the obligations placed on States Parties to the international narcotics treaties, particularly with regard to the communication of information on illicit traffic.

This resolution summarizes the views of the Commission on the problem and, at most of its subsequent discussions of the illicit traffic, it has emphasized these different points; the reports of governments and the statements of representatives and observers have shown that governments were doing their best to apply them. A point of special importance is the need for close co-operation between countries, especially those which have interlocking problems. The Commission has encouraged the conclusion of border agreements between such countries; as a consequence, a number of meetings have been held in which representatives of neighbouring countries with common problems have been able, with the help of experts and of officials of the Division of Narcotic Drugs, to discuss these problems of co-operation. This form of action will be described with more detail in the chapter on technical assistance. At all these meetings, strong emphasis was laid on the need for exchange of information, directly between the competent authorities and with international bodies such as the United Nations and INTERPOL (ICPO).

Twelfth session, para. 104.

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs, however, can only study problems and make recommendations. It is not an enforcement agency in itself. Its recommendations are valid in so far as governments follow them up. That they do so may be due to two causes: firstly, public opinion is a very strong weapon in the modern world and no government likes to appear lax in discharging its duties in the field of narcotic control; secondly, when the illicit traffic is discussed in the Commission, the representatives and observers are in most cases people who are responsible in their own countries for the struggle against the abuse of narcotics. They feel that any decision reached is their own decision and, therefore, they consider it their business to apply it.

It is true that discussions on the illicit traffic have sometimes been marred by political considerations and also by questions of national interest or prestige. But the representatives who assemble in the Commission always try - and most often succeed in - forgetting their differences and seeing the other person's point. The fact that a number of them have been attending the sessions regularly has created bonds of confidence and friendship; as a result, in a controversial field such as the illicit traffic, it has been a rare experience to hear accusations bandied about and, on the contrary, rational solutions have always been sought, and in most cases found.

VI. Study of the narcotics problems

The terms of reference of the Commission provide not only that it should assist the Council in supervising the application of international conventions, and carry out the functions entrusted to the Advisory Committee of the League of Nations by the international conventions, but also to advise the Council on all matters pertaining to the control of narcotic drugs. The preamble to the resolution establishing the Commission states that it should provide for continuous review of the international control of narcotic drugs. In order to do so, the Commission keeps watch on all that pertains to these substances; and it has found it necessary to study not only those which are under international control but also such drugs which have psychoactive effects comparable to those of the drugs under control. The present chapter will therefore deal with the action of the Commission on such subjects as: opium and opiates, coca leaf and cocaine, cannabis, synthetic narcotic drugs, other psychoactive drugs and drug addiction. Its action takes the form of recommendations to governments and also of technical assistance.

Opium and opiates

Opium, which in 1946 was still consumed as such in many parts of the world, is now used mainly for the extraction of morphine. This morphine, in turn, is used to a proportion of 99 per cent for the manufacture of other opiates, the most important by far being codeine : up to 90 per cent of the morphine produced in the world is thus transformed into codeine. A growing proportion of the morphine manufactured is, however, extracted directly from poppy straw. In 1964, morphine obtained from poppy straw represented 32.2 per cent of the total production. On the other hand, morphine has been replaced in many of its uses by synthetic narcotic drugs. Opium as a raw material is therefore threatened both by the production of morphine from poppy straw and by the synthetic drugs. In the late 1940s, some people even thought that the end of opium as a raw material could be foreseen but, on the contrary, the world&rsquos needs have increased considerably as a result of the continuing extension of medical benefits, which has meant a very large increase in the consumption of drugs, especially antitussives, of which codeine is the most widely used. Since most of the codeine consumed in the world is extracted from morphine, two-thirds of which are extracted from opium, it follows that opium remains a raw material of primary importance. On the other hand, if a cheap synthetic substitute were to be found for codeine, it might be that opium would disappear as a raw material. There is a vicious circle here in terms of the economic aspects of opium production : in order to forestall the competition from poppy straw and possibly from the synthetics, opium prices have to be kept low, which constitutes an incentive to diversion from licit sources into the illicit traffic. (The argument that prices of opium on the illicit market are enormously higher than in the licit trade, so that even a one hundred per cent increase in licit prices does not matter, is not quite valid because the difference in prices occurs not so much at the level of the producer as at other stages in the traffic.)

At the twentieth session of the Commission, the representative of the United States, commenting on the results achieved by the Commission in its first twenty years, made an interesting statement: it might well be possible to achieve international agreement on the complete abolition of all legal opium production. The need for codeine would certainly diminish in the near future and, therefore, the need for opium might well diminish correspondingly. In his view, complete elimination of all opium production, supplemented by rigid enforcement and controls over licensed manufacturers of synthetic narcotics would result in a tremendous reduction in drug addiction. This elimination would not prove so difficult since opium production was barely profitable. The representative of the USA suggested that the Council should be asked to request the Secretary-General to obtain the views of the governments of Member States on the need for the continued production of opium. These views were supported by several delegations but, on the other hand, difficulties were pointed out, especially by the representative of India; until a generally accepted substitute was found for codeine, the elimination of opium would mean only its replacement by poppy straw, meaning a much larger area under poppy cultivation and, therefore, a greater risk of illicit opium being harvested and made available on the market.

The Commission has dealt regularly with opium and opiates: preceding chapters have shown its action on such subjects as limitation of production, illicit traffic and scientific research. A few problems remain to be examined : the first are linked with the limitation of opium production. At the eleventh session, concern was expressed at the fact that opium cultivation was authorized in Japan and that 147 hectares had been designated for cultivation as against 4 hectares in the previous year. It was said that, although not contrary to the provisions of the 1953 Protocol which, on coming into force, would allow cultivation for domestic needs in all countries, this was contrary to the spirit and the principle of limitation, as expressed by the Economic and Social Council 73 when it urged the governments of all countries, other than the seven countries named in article 6 of the Protocol, in which there had been no production of opium in recent years, to prohibit such production in the future.

The case of Afghanistan

A similar case was to occupy the Commission for several years, namely, the case of Afghanistan. At its third session, the Commission had noted the annual report from Afghanistan according to which measures had been taken in the country to prohibit the cultivation of narcotic-producing plants. Afghanistan which, although invited, had not been represented at the conference which drafted and adopted the 1953 Protocol, requested inclusion among the authorized producers of opium for export and stated its intention to request a revision of the 1953 Protocol to the effect. The Commission at its tenth session postponed the matter to its eleventh session, when a full debate took place.

In order better to understand the position of the Commission, it should be remembered that it was at the eleventh session (1956) that the Commission noted the law adopted by Iran banning the cultivation of the opium poppy. A number of representatives pointed out that the Commission might seem to be inconsistent if on the one hand it urged governments to accept the 1953 Protocol in order to reduce the over-production of opium, and on the other hand it recommended that another country should be authorized to produce opium for export. Furthermore, production of opium in Afghanistan might be prejudicial to the efforts of Iran to reduce illicit consumption. Contrariwise, some other members of the Commission supported the request of Afghanistan, stating that it would be unfair to prevent that country from exporting opium merely because it had not participated in the 1953 Conference, and pointing out that if exports were prohibited, much of the opium produced might find its way into the illicit traffic. The basic argument of the Afghan Government was that 90 per cent of the country's opium was produced in a province whose population was economically dependent on opium, which was its only cash crop.

Resolution 548 B III (XVIII).

The Commission recognized that the Afghan claim was justified and decided to request the Secretary-General to include Afghanistan amongst the parties entitled to produce opium for export listed in the second draft of the Single Convention. But at its twenty-second session, the Council adopted a resolution 74 inviting the Commission to reconsider the request of Afghanistan. At its twelfth session, the Commission again debated the question in great detail, especially the legal problem involved in an attempt to amend the 1953 Protocol which was not yet in force. Finally, the question was deferred to the thirteenth session. At the thirteenth session, the observer for Afghanistan declared that his country, in the interests of humanity and in a spirit of international co-operation, had decided to revive its policy of complete prohibition of cultivation, trade, purchase, sale, import, export and use of opium. The Commission recommended to the Council a resolution welcoming this policy and drawing the attention of the General Assembly and especially of the relevant technical assistance organs to the importance of these aims being successfully and speedily achieved. The Council adopted that resolution at its twenty-sixth session (Council resolution 689 (XXVI) H).

The case of Iran

The Commission was apprised at its eleventh session of a very important step taken by Iran in 1955: the banning by law of the cultivation of the opium poppy and of the use of opium in Iran. The Commission expressed its deep appreciation of this step and recom mended to the Council the adoption of a resolution by which it decided to establish a special programme of technical assistance for Iran to be known as Special Advisory Aid to Iran, and authorized the Secretary-General to ear-mark a special fund for aid to Iran and this for a period of five years. The Council adopted that resolution at its twenty-second session, 75but in a slightly modified form, recommending to the Government of Iran to submit special requests to assist in achieving the banning of the cultivation of the opium poppy. At its thirteenth session, the Commission was informed of the progress made and of the difficulties encountered and from then on it dealt at practically each session with the question of the illicit traffic aimed at the Iranian market. Solutions to this problem could be found only in close co-operation between Iran and its neighbours and this was one of the aims pursued by the technical assistance missions which visited the Middle East in 1959, 1962 and 1963.

Resolution 626 G (XXII).

Poppy straw

Another question which occupied the Commission was that of poppy straw. Poppy straw, which is defined by the Single Convention as meaning all parts (except the seeds) of the opium poppy after mowing, can be used for the extraction of morphine and, as has been pointed out previously, approximately one-third of the world's production of morphine now comes from this source. The question was to determine what control measures should be applied to poppy straw.

Some members of the Commission considered that there should be no control prior to the entry of the straw into the morphine factory, whereas other members favoured more extensive control measures, the main point at issue being the possibility of an illicit traffic in poppy straw. Finally, the majority of the Commission reached the conclusion that poppy straw as raw material was dangerous and should be controlled, and it adopted a resolution under which the regime applying to opium in the 1953 Protocol should be applied to poppy straw in the Single Convention. When the Plenipotentiary Conference for the Adoption of a Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs signed the treaty, its article 25 read as follows:

1. A Party that permits the cultivation of the opium poppy for purposes other than the production of opium shall take all measures necessary to ensure:

  1. That opium is not produced from such opium poppies; and

  2. That the manufacture of drugs from poppy straw is adequately controlled.

Resolution 626 E (XXII).

2. The Parties shall apply to poppy straw the system of import certificates and export authorizations as provided in article 31, paragraphs 4 to 15.

3. The Parties shall furnish statistical information on the import and export of poppy straw as required for drugs under article 20, paragraphs 1 ( d) and 2 ( b).

Another question related to opium with which the Commission had to deal was that of opium residues, which were stated to be offered for sale in large quantities: the Commission, although viewing with concern the fact that such substances could be commercially available, judged that the national control exercised over them was adequate.

Heroin

Heroin is the most dangerous of the opiates. At its first session, the Commission instructed the Secretariat to draw the attention of all countries importing or exporting heroin to the terms of article 10 of the 1931 Convention, which states that Parties shall prohibit the export from their territories of diacetylmorphine, its salts, and preparations containing diacetylmorphine or its salts (such export, however, being authorized under a special very stringent regime). During its earlier sessions, the Commission kept heroin on its agenda and had to examine problems such as the diversion from licit trade in Italy. Meanwhile, the view was developing that heroin need no longer be used in medical practice, and that it could be substituted by other less dangerous drugs. At its ninth session, the Commission was informed of a resolution adopted by the Sixth World Health Assembly recommending the prohibition of the manufacture and import of heroin and it noted that according to a WHO survey 56 States had declared themselves in favour of the dispensability of heroin, while only 7 States had expressed opposing views. The Commission decided to recommend to the Council a resolution urging all governments to prohibit the manufacture, import and export of heroin. The Council adopted this resolution at its eighteenth session.76It refused, however, a suggestion that an international agreement be concluded to prohibit the manufacture and use of heroin. The strong views so often reiterated in the Commission have had their effect, and the manufacture and use of heroin has been discontinued except in very few countries, the quantities utilised being insignificant compared with other narcotics; by 1963 there remained only three countries reporting any annual consumption: UK - 44 kgs; Belgium - 7 kgs; and France - 3 kgs.

Coca leaf and cocaine

Coca leaf has been considered by the Commission in two different ways, namely, as the raw material for cocaine and also as the substance chewed by large masses of population in South America. In fact, both aspects are closely linked, since the Indians chew the coca leaf on account of its cocaine content, and since, as long as there is a large production of coca leaf for chewing purposes, it is inevitable that some of it be used for extraction of illicit cocaine.

Resolution 548 G (XVIII).

There has never been any controversy about the harmful effects of the non-medical use of cocaine, but the question of the chewing of the leaf was quite a different matter. The Commission had therefore first of all to determine whether the chewing of coca leaf was or was not harmful, and should or should not be prohibited. Even if it had found that the chewing was harmless, it would still have been faced with a problem of control, in view of the diversion towards the illicit traffic. At its second session, the Commission received communication of a request from the Government of Peru for a field survey of the effects of the chewing of the coca leaf. The Commission decided to recommend to the Council that a commission of enquiry should be sent to Peru and such other of the countries concerned as might give their approval. The Commission was also of the opinion that it would be advisable to combine such an enquiry with an enquiry on the spot into the possibilities of limiting the production and regulating the distribution of coca leaves. When taking this decision, the Commission had in mind the previous resolution of the Council concerning the limitation of production of raw materials. The Council adopted that resolution at its sixth session, 77 and by its resolution 202 (VIII) asked the Commission to nominate two administrative experts and one expert in medicine and one in pharmacology. In the meantime, a mission of experts went to Peru at the request of that Government for advice and technical assistance. This mission was to advise in reorganizing the narcotics department and improving the control of production, distribution and sale of narcotics. At its fourth session, the Commission heard from the representative of Bolivia that his government had asked that the Commission of Enquiry should be sent to his country.

The Commission of Enquiry prepared a very important report consisting of two main parts: one containing medical considerations and the other economic and social considerations. The general conclusions were that coca leaf chewing is a harmful habit; this led to a series of conclusions and recommendations designed to achieve the gradual suppression of chewing, to limit the production of coca leaf, and to control its distribution. It was decided to forward the report to the Governments of Peru and Bolivia and to examine the problem again in the light of the observations made. At its seventh session, the Commission took up the problem again and heard two diverging opinions: one based on the conclusions of the report of the Commission of Enquiry, stating that coca leaf chewing was a dangerous habit with harmful effects from the point of view of the individual and the nation, and the other that it was premature to pronounce on the nature of the effects of chewing, since scientific experiments into the matter were not yet completed. Finally, the Commission adopted a resolution recommending the Council to request the Governments of Peru and Bolivia to take the necessary steps to limit immediately the production of coca leaves to licit consumption and manufacture, and to take effective measures to prevent the introduction into trading channels of coca leaves and cocaine which could form a source of supply for the illicit manufacture or export of narcotic drugs. The Council adopted that resolution at its fourteenth session.78

Resolution 123 C (VI).

But it was at the ninth session that a most important point was reached. For the first time, the representatives of all the countries mainly concerned took part in the Commission's consideration of the matter, either as members or as observers, and were agreed that coca leaf chewing constitutes a form of drug addiction and is harmful. The Commission itself was unanimous in its opinion that coca leaf chewing was a form of drug addiction, but that many difficulties were inherent in the abolition of the chewing habit and that a cautious and gradual approach was required to find a solution to the problem. The need for technical assistance from the United Nations and the specialized agencies was recognized as also the need for measures of education and crop substitution. The Commission proposed to the Council a resolution recommending that the governments concerned limit gradually and as quickly as practicable the cultivation and the export of the coca leaf to medical, scientific and other legitimate purposes (the Commission had in mind the manufacture of flavouring extracts); continue their efforts to abolish progressively the habit of coca leaf chewing; limit progressively the importation of coca leaf for chewing and adopt or continue to carry out appropriate programmes of health education. The technical assistance services of the United Nations and its specialized agencies should give favourable consideration to the requests that the countries concerned might make in connexion with such programmes. The Council adopted that resolution at its eighteenth session.79

It then appeared that, the principles having been outlined and accepted by the countries concerned, it was just a matter of putting them into action, but while this question continued to be considered at each session, little progress was made during a number of years. This was not surprising in view of the difficult situation in the Andean region. In fact, according to the figures furnished to the PCOB, the annual harvest of coca leaves in the main producing countries continued to be very large, about 10,000 tons in Peru and 3,000 tons in Bolivia, and other estimates gave even higher figures - up to 12,000 tons in Bolivia. Not more than one percent of the total production was needed for legitimate purposes. The Commission recognized that while coca leaf chewing as such was a regional problem, it had important aspects of universal relevance since so long as coca leaves were chewed there could be no fully effective control of their production and clandestine manufacturers of cocaine would obtain the raw material they needed to make cocaine. The main difficulty was that the chewing was part of the economic and social conditions in the region: malnutrition and poor living conditions caused the Andean Indian to chew coca and, in turn, the chewing prevented him from developing a fuller life. On the other hand, immediate prohibition of the production of coca leaf would deprive many people of their livelihood, and the development of marketable substitute crops was not easy. The Commission felt that a multiple approach was required, involving crop substitution, the development of animal husbandry, reafforestation, the development of handicrafts, industrialization, and above all the abolition of illiteracy, the improvement of general and vocational education, and even some resettlement of population. These conclusions had been reached by regional meetings sponsored by the UN in Rio de Janeiro in 1961 and in Lima in 1962. The Commission considered that discussion of the problem could therefore be abandoned since unanimous conclusions had been reached, and that the time had come for action. From now on, the governments concerned and the United Nations and its specialized agencies would have to put these conclusions into effect. Thus the Commission, as well as the regional meetings, had succeeded in clearly defining the problem and setting out the methods to be used for its solution.

Resolution 436 E (XIV).

Resolution 548 E (XVIII).

In 1964, another regional meeting was organized by the UN in Lima and it outlined practical measures, such as the initiation or continuation of cadastral surveys of the coca growing areas, the intensification of the national programmes of development, the expansion of educational programmes, etc. In order to carry out these measures, technical assistance should be granted to the countries concerned through a concerted effort of the United Nations and the specialized agencies and the channelling might well be done through the Andean programme.

Thus the countries concerned have now come to the point where they are taking action. Legal support for this action is to be found in the Single Convention which several countries of South America have ratified and which in its articles 26 and 27 states that the Parties permitting the cultivation of the coca bush shall apply to the coca leaves the same system of control as for opium (create an agency which shall designate the areas and the plots of land on which cultivation is permitted and license the cultivators). Article 26 also provides that the Party shall, so far as possible, enforce the uprooting of all coca bushes which grow wild and destroy the coca bushes if illegally cultivated. Finally, article 49 of the Single Convention states that "coca leaf chewing must be abolished within twenty-five years from the coming into force of this Convention...".

The action already taken or planned by governments, and especially by Peru, the provisions of the Single Convention, and the fact that cocaine as a surface an?sthetic is being largely replaced by synthetically produced substances so that its complete abandonment for medical use may be contemplated in the foreseeable future,80give rise to the hope that within one generation the coca leaf problem, which in 1946 appeared to be wellnigh insoluble, may in fact be nearing its solution. In fact, at its twentieth session the Commission was informed of the progress achieved in Peru towards reducing the production and chewing of the coca leaf, and suppressing its illegal utilization for the manufacture of cocaine; it expressed its satisfaction at the results thus achieved. The goal seems now to be in sight.

Cannabis

The discussions of the Commission on the problem of cannabis did not give rise to the same kind of controversy as those that were centred on the poppy straw or coca leaf since there are no vested interests and no economic considerations at stake in the case of the plant or its derivates. However, the illicit production of cannabis, the prohibition of its medical use and the actual harmfulness of the substance still gave rise to debates in the Commission. As far as the illicit production and traffic were concerned, the controversy centred mainly on the traffic from Lebanon to the UAR and was considered by the Commission in the same way as other illicit traffic problems.

Medical use

In what is known as "western medicine ", cannabis drugs are generally regarded as obsolete and are hardly ever used. Cannabis is, however, still used extensively in the Ayurvedic-Unani systems of medicine of the India-Pakistan sub-continent, as well as for the treatment of domestic animals. The question of the medical use of cannabis was in fact raised when the Commission resumed the studies of that substance at its third session (taking up again where the Advisory Committee of the League had left off). The Commission agreed with the proposal of the representative of the Soviet Union to insert in the future Single Convention a provision prohibiting the preparation of hashish. This was a preliminary proposal which was taken up again at the ninth session, when the Commission proposed to the Council a resolution recommending that governments explore the possibility of discontinuing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. The Council adopted this resolution,81 which took account of the fact that the antibiotic qualities of cannabis had been recently investigated in several countries, and consequently invited the WHO to prepare, in the light of recent research, a report on the use of cannabis for the extraction of useful drugs. This report was presented by the Secretary-General to the participants in the Plenipotentiary Conference for the Adoption of a Single Convention. The report concluded, however, that the case had not been proved in favour of making cannabis available for the extraction of therapeutic substances and reiterated the opinion that cannabis preparations were obsolete. Article 49 of the Single Convention admits the possibility of a Party reserving the right to permit temporarily the use of cannabis, cannabis resin, extracts and tinctures of cannabis for non-medical purposes, provided their use be discontinued as soon as possible, but in any case within twenty-five years from the coming into force of the Convention.

Report of the WHO Expert Committee on Addiction-Producing Drugs, WHO Technical Report Series, 1964, 273.

Harmful effects

The question of the harmful effects of cannabis and cannabis products, which is in a way the basis of all action in this field, was not tackled scientifically until the Commission at its eighth session in 1953 requested WHO to prepare a study on this subject. This study pointed unequivocally to the dangers of cannabis "from every point of view, whether physical, mental, social or criminological".82 At its sixteenth session, the Commission resumed consideration of this subject because a representative mentioned that in his country newspaper articles had appeared quoting responsible professional persons to the effect that cannabis addiction was no worse than alcoholism. The observer of theInternational Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) mentioned that cannabis consumption was known to produce aggressiveness in the intoxicated individual. The representative of WHO drew attention to the opinion of the WHO Expert Committee, which was still valid, that "cannabis abuse comes definitely under the terms of its definition of addiction".83 There was also the added danger than cannabis abuse is very likely to be a forerunner of addiction to more dangerous addicting drugs. Finally, the Commission recalled its former conclusion that cannabis abuse was a form of drug addiction, and emphasized that any publicity to the contrary was misleading and dangerous.84

Resolution 730 E (XVIII).

UN document E/CN.7/L.91.

Difficulties of control

The basis for stringent control is thus well established, but this control is made difficult by a number of factors: the cannabis plant is not only cultivated, but also grows wild. Moreover, the plant is grown not only for the production of the drug, but also for its fibre and seeds. The fibre is a most useful textile product. For this reason the Commission considered the question whether this fibre could not be obtained from substitute crops in order to prevent plants grown for industrial purposes from being diverted to the production of drugs. Counter-arguments were adduced: it was pointed out that plants grown for industrial purposes did not contain sufficiently large amounts of the "active principle" to constitute a real danger, this being caused apparently by the fact that only unfertilized female plants produce dangerously large quantities of the active principle in their flowering tops. (Since cultivators for industrial purposes do not suppress the male plant, industrial crops do not constitute any particular danger.) It should be noted here that if this were the case wild growth would not present a serious problem.

The Commission did not study the problem in detail until its ninth session, when it recommended to the Council to invite FAO to prepare a study on the possibility of replacing the cannabis plant by a narcotic-free variety of the same plant or by other plants serving similar industrial purposes, but not containing the harmful resin. The study was prepared by the Secretariat of FAO in consultation with that of the United Nations. One of the conclusions reached is that the development of a narcotic-free strain, since it does not involve a change of crop, is basically simpler than the substitution of other plants, but the opinion was expressed that such a scheme was not very practical since, as was pointed out above, there is very little production of cannabis drugs, if any, from crops grown for industrial purposes.

Another question which created a difficulty was that the nature of the really active principle in cannabis was not fully known. At its fourteenth session, the Commission noted that the determination of the active principle or principles of cannabis might be useful for the establishment of tests which would permit the identification of cannabis. As has been seen before, the Laboratory was asked to undertake work on this subject in collaboration with other scientists.

WHO Technical Report Series, No. 95, p. 13.

Sixteenth session, para. 129.

Surveys

In order to collate all the information available on the subject, the Commission asked the Secretariat to prepare surveys of the cannabis situation in a number of countries and territories. These surveys followed a plan approved by the Commission and dealt with such topics as the cannabis plant, production of fibre and seed, legal preparations and use, international trade, galenical preparations and their use in medicine, non-medical use, illicit traffic, national laws and regulations. Twenty-four surveys were thus prepared. Later, at its eighteenth session, the Commission requested the Secretary-General to approach the governments concerned with a view to clarifying the cannabis situation in the countries north of the India-Pakistan subcontinent and to obtaining more information about the position in Africa and Madagascar. These studies were made for the twentieth session of the Commission.

Moreover, in order to give members of the Commission and research workers the world over a useful instrument of work, the Commission asked the Secretariat to compile a complete bibliography on cannabis. This bibliography was also presented to the Commission at its twentieth session.

Control

The Commission has therefore taken great pains in extending the world's knowledge on cannabis from every point of view: medical, scientific, agricultural, etc. One of the reasons for this was that the pre-war treaties contained very little about cannabis. The conference which adopted the Convention of 1912 pronounced that "The Conference considers it desirable to study the question of Indian hemp from the statistical and scientific point of view with the object of regulating its abuses, should the necessity thereof be felt, by internal legislation or by an international agreement." The 1925 Convention gave a definition of cannabis and submitted it to only very limited international control (it was found impossible to place the drug under full international control because of the ingrained habits which existed in many countries). The import certificate and export authorization system is applied to it and statistics of import and export and of seizures on account of illicit import and export must be furnished. However, no express provision required governments to control production of, or to prevent domestic traffic in, cannabis, or to prohibit its non-medical use.

Since then, however, considerable progress has been made at the national level towards bringing cannabis under full control. It may be said that in the world today the use of cannabis is either prohibited or at least limited to medical and scientific purposes in most countries. Even the galenical preparations are often prohibited. Therefore, as sometimes happens, national control goes beyond what the international treaties require.

The Commission, however, wanted to establish full control over cannabis, and in the preparation of the Single Convention it included in the third draft the prohibition of the production, distribution and use of cannabis except for scientific purposes and for use in the Ayurvedic-Unani systems of medicine of the India-Pakistan sub-continent. The Single Convention did not, however, prohibit in a mandatory manner the production, distribution and use of cannabis drugs. It included cannabis, cannabis resin and extracts or cannabis in Schedule I of the Convention, which means that they are subject to the same measures of control as morphine, for example. Cannabis and cannabis resin, however, are also included in Schedule IV, so that Parties undertake to adopt any special measures of control which in their opinion are necessary because of the particularly dangerous properties of these drugs and to prohibit, except for research purposes, production, manufacture, export and import or trade in, possession and use of these drugs if in their opinion the existing conditions in their countries make it the best means of protecting public health and welfare. As regards production, i.e. cultivation of the cannabis plant, the Convention applies to it the same system of control as for the cultivation of the opium poppy, which means that national agencies equivalent to monopolies shall be established or maintained to control such cultivation. This does not apply to the cultivation for industrial purposes.

Synthetic drugs

The question of synthetic drugs has been partly dealt with in previous chapters of this review, i.e. the section dealing with the 1948 Protocol, the section dealing with implementation and the chapter on illicit traffic. The Commission had nevertheless to study problems specific, or considered to be specific, to these drugs. The basic attitudes were, on the one hand, that these drugs represent a supplementary and unnecessary danger since "natural" narcotic drugs exist already, and since they might give rise to addiction and therefore to illicit traffic; those who held this view asked for special measures of control, or even prohibition. On the other hand, some representatives felt that work on synthetic drugs should continue since the possibility existed of discovering a drug which would have the beneficial effects of narcotics without their addictive properties; they considered the synthetic drugs were narcotics in the same way as "natural" ones, and should therefore be submitted to the same kind of control as the "natural" drugs. It might be that these attitudes were in part dictated by economic considerations, since the first one was in general that of the opium-producing countries, and the latter that of the drug-manufacturing countries.

The Commission dealt with that problem at several of its sessions. At its seventh session, it recommended to the Council a resolution which noted that the use of synthetic narcotic drugs was developing rapidly, that production of these drugs exceeded that of morphine intended for consumption as such, and requested the Secretary-General to draw the attention of governments to the desirability, should they not have already done so, of bringing all synthetic narcotic drugs under their national legislation on narcotic drugs as soon as they appear, of acceding without delay to the Protocol of 1948, and of exercising strict control over the manufacture and therapeutic use of these substances. The Council adopted the above-mentioned resolution at its fourteenth session.85 It is of interest to recall that the report of the seventh session as adopted by the Commission contains the following sentence: "During the debate it was recognized that it was impossible at present to achieve the ideal of prohibiting the manufacture of addiction-producing synthetic narcotic drugs (except for scientific purposes) since effective harmless substitutes were not always available".86 This question of special treatment for synthetic narcotics was taken up again by the Commission at its tenth session. The Commission, however, did not accept a proposed resolution which recommended the prohibition of synthetic narcotics but considered that new narcotics, natural or synthetic alike, presented special dangers and invited governments to make the medical and allied professions aware of the special dangers, if any, of such new narcotics, and recommended that they prohibit the production and use of such synthetic narcotic drugs as they did not consider indispensable to public health. The Council adopted this resolution at its twentieth session.87

A question of great importance in this respect was whether it might be possible to indicate in advance the properties (chemical or other) which would give rise to the assumption that a drug might be addiction-producing, and the Council asked WHO to study, in consultation with the UN Secretariat, ( a) the addictive properties and therapeutic advantages of synthetic narcotics as compared with natural narcotics; ( b) the status of scientific knowledge on the relationship between the chemical structure of a drug and its addictive properties; and ( c) the relationship between the strongly analgesic qualities of a drug and its addiction-producing properties. These questions were answered in studies published by WHO under the general title of "Synthetic substances with morphine-like effects".88 At the fourteenth session, the representative of WHO stated that as regards the addictive properties and therapeutic advantages of synthetic narcotics compared with natural narcotics, a wide range of useful therapeutic substances had been found among both the natural and synthetic narcotics. In both kinds of narcotics the various therapeutic effects as well as side effects, including addiction liability, were to be found to a varying degree. It might therefore be safely concluded that all therapeutic needs could be met by drugs of either natural or synthetic origin, provided the prescribing physicians had the necessary experience.

Resolution 536 G (XIV).

Seventh session, para. 130.

Resolution 588 D I and II (XX).

As for the second question, concerning the relationship between the chemical structure of a drug and its addictive properties, advantage had been taken during its study of the ample evidence on the relationship between chemical structure and analgesia, indicating that certain chemical features are typical of morphine-like analgesia, but that they cannot be made a basis for prediction of morphine-like analgesic action. But a conclusive answer to the second question could not be given until an answer to the third question had been found.

In studying the third question, namely, the relationship between the strongly analgesic qualities of a drug and its addiction-producing properties, a general parallelism had been found in the order of intensity of the two effects, with some important exceptions remaining. However, the following conclusion could be drawn as an answer to the second question, i.e. that the chemical features referred to above might be considered characteristic of compounds which produce morphine-like addiction, but that the presence of these features could not be made a basis for prediction of addictive properties.

As regards the addiction-sustaining properties in relation to addiction liability, the representative of WHO added that so far no case was known of a drug capable of sustaining an addiction to morphine which could not itself produce addiction.

Bull. WHO 1954, vol 10; ibid,1955, vol. 13; ibid,1956, vol. 14; ibid,1957 ,vol. 17.

In view of the opinion of WHO that there was a close relation between analgesic properties of substances and their addiction-producing effects, the Commission recommended a draft resolution for adoption by the Economic and Social Council which , inter alia,urged governments to place under provisional narcotics control all new drugs having strongly analgesic properties. This resolution was adopted by the Council at its twenty-eighth session.89

Mention should be made of a discussion which took place at the sixteenth session of the Commission about "precursor materials" of synthetic narcotic drugs, i.e. intermediate products. The Commission concluded that these substances were to be considered as substances "convertible" into addiction-producing drugs within the meaning of the 1931 Convention and 1948 Protocol and requiring specific action by the competent international organs to be placed under control, rather than as "partly manufactured narcotic drugs" within the meaning of article 1 of the 1931 Convention and thus automatically subject to control. This conclusion was in fact applied to such drugs as methadone intermediate, moramide intermediate, etc. The debates on synthetics which took place at the eighteenth session showed that these drugs were now generally accepted. An interesting remark was made to the effect that the trends in the production and consumption of manufactured drugs, especially new ones, synthetic or natural, followed definite patterns: a balance, for instance, could often be observed between the upward movement in the consumption of one drug and the downward movement in that of another. Some new drugs seemed to follow a temporary upward curve indicative of success, which levelled off later and then declined so that eventually the drugs in question disappeared altogether from the consumption tables.

Other substances

The narcotic drugs at present under international control are only one group among a large number of substances which are capable, in some respects and under certain circumstances, of being similarly abused. These drugs are psychoactive and they may be classified into two main categories: the sedatives which include the barbiturates, and the stimulants which include the amphetamines. A number of other substances have been used or are being used for their psychic effects, such as khat, kratom (a plant which grows in South-East Asia), methysticodendron (a shrub of the Amazonian region), peyotl, etc. The Advisory Committee of the League had already considered, although not regularly, such substances as khat or peyotl, and at its very first session, the Commission held a short discussion on the subject of barbiturates when the representative of Peru, a medical doctor, stated that the excessive use of these drugs tended to produce paranoid ideas with possible display of criminal behaviour, and that the medical profession was not yet sufficiently aware of the dangerous tendencies which they brought to light.

Resolution 730 D (XXVIII).

Some of these substances have been used for centuries for religious, magical or para-medical reasons by population groups in the area in which they were produced: they are vegetable products, usually shrubs growing wild, but sometimes cultivated. Such use was localized and obviously did not give rise to international problems. The technological development of the world brought a twofold change to that state of affairs. Firstly, and by far the more important, the manufacture of drugs grew enormously, and in it the psychoactive drugs took a very large share. Two factors contributed to this: firstly, what may be called the" turmoil of modern life ", and, secondly, the spread of the drug-taking habit caused either by the fact that people have more money to spend, or by the schemes of socialized medicine which make drugs available gratis. This combination of factors has produced what a representative at the Commission termed "pharmacomania", meaning a constant and often unwarranted recourse to drugs in all sorts of situations.

The fact has been mentioned in a preceding chapter that questions were raised in the Commission about the competence of that body to discuss drugs or substances which were not subject to international control, and the answer given to that question was that the Commission was fully justified in doing so.

At its twentieth session, the Commission examined the whole question in detail and alarm was expressed at the astonishing expansion in the use of these drugs in recent years. It was felt this was almost certainly attributable to their consumption, not so much as medicaments but as agents capable of procuring sleep, euphoria or relaxation. It was felt that there might be danger to life in their unrestricted consumption, especially since more and more younger persons were being attracted to them. The Commission was informed that the World Health Assembly, at its eighteenth session in 1965, had adopted a resolution in which inter alia it requested the Director-General of the WHO "to study the advisability and feasibility of international measures for the control of sedatives and stimulants." The measures, on the other hand, which the WHO Expert Committee had recommended for the control of these substances were "( a) availability on medical prescription only; ( b) full accounting of all transactions from production to retail distribution;

(c) licensing of all producers; ( d) limitation of trade to authorized persons; ( e) prohibition of non-authorized possession; and ( f) establishment of an import-export authorization system." Before taking action which would go beyond its previous resolutions, the Commission felt that it should study the subject in depth and not make any hasty decision; even if these drugs represented a danger, there was also a large justified use in medical and psychiatric practice, and control should not be of such a nature as to deny the benefit of what were essentially medicines to those who needed them. The Commission, faced with these difficulties, recommended that, subject to the approval of the Council, a meeting of a Committee of the Commission should be convened in 1966 which would make a detailed study with a view to evolving the control and other measures required for these substances.

Amphetamines

At the tenth session, during the discussion of the composition of drug schedules for inclusion in the proposed Single Convention, the representative of Greece proposed that amphetamines be placed under narcotics control.

The Commission was informed that WHO recommended for these drugs a limited system of national control and it considered that there was not sufficient evidence to indicate that amphetamines were addiction-producing. The Commission thought that these drugs were dangerous but that national control measures were pro tempore sufficient; it reserved the possibility of changing its position in the future.

At its eleventh session, the Commission was informed that the abuse of amphetamines, especially by young people, could result in very grave health hazards including death. The situation in Japan especially was very disquieting in that respect. The Commission adopted a resolution by which it took note of the dangers arising from the abuse of amphetamines and recommended that governments should provide adequate measures of control to prevent such abuse.90

Barbiturates

Barbiturates are more than a century old since bar-bituric acid was discovered in 1863; they became popular slightly over 50 years ago. A large number (as many as 2,500) have been synthetized and about 50 are in medical use. These drugs are among the most frequently prescribed and it appears that physicians often overlook the fact that they may lead to abuse and addiction.

Eleventh session, Annex II, resolution IV.

They are also very often used in attempts at suicide. Finally, they are now, especially in the Far East, often used in conjunction with heroin (this habit being described as chasing the dragon).

The Commission discussed this question for the first time at its twelfth session. It adopted a resolution in which, considering that in some countries barbiturates were not submitted to a special control, it recommended to governments to take the appropriate legislative and administrative measures of control to prevent the abuse of barbiturates. At its seventeenth session, the Commission adopted a new resolution in which, considering the social hazards and the danger to public health arising from the use of barbiturates as reported by WHO, it recommended that governments should take appropriate measures to place the production, distribution and use of such drugs under strict control.91 At its eighteenth session, the Commission decided that it should continue to watch developments in this field and if necessary make further recommendations to governments; in this connexion, the importance of educating the medical professions as to the dangers of barbiturates was particularly stressed.

Tranquillizers

The term "tranquillizers" is a loose designation for different drugs with varying pharmacological characteristics. They differ widely in both structure and pharmacological effects: however, all of them produce a calming effect on the central nervous system. The Commission, at its twelfth session, found it difficult to define these drugs when it adopted its resolution on the subject, and therefore it decided to append to it extracts from the seventh Report of the Expert Committee on Addiction-producing Drugs of WHO, in which these drugs were mentioned. The resolution noted the increasing use of tranquillizing or ataraxic drugs and the fact that some of them should be held as potentially habit-forming, and recommended governments to keep a careful watch for abuse of these substances, with a view to taking any necessary measures of control. 92

Khat

Khat is a shrub which grows and is cultivated in parts of East Africa and the Arabian peninsula. It was first brought to the attention of the Commission by the representative of Egypt at the eleventh session. During the twelfth session, a long debate took place in which the Commission studied the uses of khat in indigenous medicine, in religious ceremonies, and for sheer enjoy- ment. The representative of WHO referred to uncertainties as to the active principle or principles of khat, and the Commission heard differing views about the addiction-producing effects of the khat leaves. The main problem, however, according to some representatives, was the social danger constituted by the chewing of khat which absorbed a large proportion of the income, especially of the poorer classes of the population in places such as Djibouti or Aden. The problem had acquired international implications since khat began to be flown two or three times a week from Ethiopia to Djibouti, Aden, etc. Some members of the Commission felt that restrictive measures should be imposed, including prevention of the export of the leaves and application of an import and export licensing system to these leaves. Other members felt that it was first necessary to determine exactly the nature of the harmful effects of the leaves and in particular to establish whether they were addiction-producing, and to consider the effects of prohibiting cultivation before appropriate measures could be recommended.

Seventeenth session, para. 205.

Twelfth session, Annex II, resolution VII.

The Commission recommended to the Council the adoption of a resolution inviting WHO to study the medical aspects of the problem and to report thereon to the Council. The Council adopted that resolution.93The Commission also decided to invite the governments concerned to co-operate closely with each other in dealing with the problem of khat, to study the medical, social and economic effects of the consumption of khat leaves and the possibility of limiting or abolishing the cultivation of the plant in their respective territories and to report their conclusions to the Secretary-General at an early date.94

At its thirteenth session, the Commission studied the question again in the light of information received, but in view of the conflicting opinions expressed as to the action to be taken, it decided to adjourn consideration of the question until its fourteenth session. At the fourteenth session, the observer for Ethiopia stated that in this question his government would abide by the decision of WHO and the Commission. The discussion continued at the following sessions until the WHO report on khat was presented to the Commission at its nineteenth session. The report stated that it had been possible to identify the main active principle as cathine and another related substance which disappears when the plant is dry. Both were amphetamine-like in structure and pharmacodynamics. The effects of khat were thus of the same order as those of amphetamines, but lesser in degree. Hence, the World Health Organization Expert Committee concluded that the problems connected with khat and with amphetamines should be considered in the same light, being also fully aware that the social and economic consequences of the khat habit needed special attention.

Resolution 667 D (XXIV).

Twelfth session, para. 407.

The Commission finally decided that the attention of the governments concerned should be called to the report of WHO and recommended to the Council a resolution which noted that medical and social problems connected with the habitual and excessive chewing of khat leaves were at present confined to a limited number of countries in one geographical area, thanked WHO for its important contribution to the study of the medical aspects of khat leaves chewing, and drew the attention of governments of countries concerned to the report of WHO for any action they might consider necessary.95 The Council adopted that resolution at its thirty-seventh session.96

Miscellaneous substances

Without placing them on its agenda or discussing them fully, the Commission is now and then made aware of the abuse of other substances such as the inhaling, mainly by juveniles, of the fumes from plastic glue, ether and gasoline. At its eighteenth session, the Commission was made aware of the existence of a possible danger caused by a hallucinogenic substance called lysergic acid, which is of scientific interest from the point of view of the treatment of mental disorders but has not been made generally available because of its dangerous properties.97At its nineteenth session, the Expert Committee of WHO confirmed the fact that hallucinogenic substances were now entering the illicit traffic and expressed the opinion that immediate measures bearing on their distribution and availability had become necessary. 98

Drug taking and road accidents

Finally, at the eighteenth session, concern was expressed about the fact that some road accidents seemed to be due to abuse of drugs, especially cannabis and barbiturates. The Commission decided to instruct the Secretariat to collect literature and references on the subject, and to request WHO and ILO to furnish any relevant information for its consideration. At its nineteenth session, the Commission took note of the information made available to it. It was suggested that not only stimulating drugs but also tranquillizers should be studied in that respect, and that consideration might also be given to the special labelling of packages containing substances which might impair a driver's capacity. At its twentieth session, the Commission reviewed the question and concluded that any measures taken for stricter control of the dispensing and use of psychotropic substances would have a salutary effect on the problem of accidents, especially on the road. It thought that in any case, as a practical measure, governments should consider withdrawing the driving licences of drug addicts and persons known to use other psychotropic substances; the same provisions as for drunken driving should apply in these cases. The Commission's attention was also drawn to the misuse of psychotropic substances by athletes and sportsmen; an international conference had been held in Strasbourg on the subject and the possibility of drawing up a convention for the purpose of combating this "doping" had been considered. If such a convention came into force, the Commission might wish to draw the attention of the Council to the possibility of adopting similar measures.

Nineteenth session, Chapter XIV, resolution B.

Resolution 1025 B (XXXVII).

Eighteenth session, para. 247.

Nineteenth session, para. 72.

VII. Drug addiction

The subject of drug addiction has been on the agenda of the Commission at most of its sessions. This is only natural since the eradication of drug addiction constitutes the purpose of the whole system of international control of narcotics. The subject poses a great number of intricate problems, and it can be considered from different points of view.

One of these difficulties was noticed at the Commission's fourth session, when it discussed the general principles on which the Single Convention could be based. One of the questions was what should be the definition of an addiction-forming drug. To define it as "a habit-forming drug that was socially dangerous" was too broad because such diverse substances as tobacco, aspirin, the barbiturates and chloral were habit-forming and considered by Some as socially dangerous.99The 1912 Convention mentioned "the abuse of opium, morphine and cocaine" without giving a definition of that abuse. The 1931 Convention, in its article 15, stated that "the High Contracting Parties shall, if they have not already done so, create a special administration for the purpose of:

"( a) ...

( b) ...

( c) Organizing the campaign against drug addiction by taking all useful steps to prevent its development and to suppress the illicit traffic."

That Convention did not define drug addiction.

Fourth session, Chapter XII.

At its very first session, the Commission found itself confronted with these differing points of view: the representative of Peru - a medical doctor - stated that addicts could be classified into incidental addicts, psychoneurotic addicts and psychopathic addicts, whereas the representative of Mexico emphasized that drug addiction was generally the result of uncertain economic and social conditions.

In the study of drug addiction by the Commission, three main aspects have been underlined: its nature, its incidence and its causes. As for action, the Commission has considered the two following lines: the prevention of drug addiction (including educational measures), and the treatment of the addict.

The nature of drug addiction

At its fourth session, the Commission agreed that WHO should be asked to propose a suitable definition of drug addiction. At its second session, the Expert Committee of WHO gave the following definition of drug addiction: Drug addiction is a state of periodic or chronic intoxication detrimental to the individual and to society, produced by the repeated consumption of a drug (natural or synthetic). Its characteristics include: an overpowering desire or need (compulsion) to continue taking the drug and to obtain it by any means; a tendency to increase the dose; a psychic (psychological) and sometimes a physical dependence on the effect of the drug.

At its fifth session, the Commission debated the definition without taking any final decision on the matter. The discussion continued and at the ninth session, some representatives felt that the best definition might be, for the purpose of the Single Convention, a purely procedural one such as "drug addiction is the illicit use of substances covered by international treaties on narcotic drugs or by internal regulations relating to narcotic drugs ".100 At its seventh session, the WHO Expert Committee proposed that a distinction should be drawn between drug addiction and drug habituation, and finally, at the nineteenth session, the Commission was informed that in the Expert Committe&rsquos opinion, the long-felt need for adapting the present terms "drug addiction" and "drug habituation" to the present state of scientific knowledge and actual practice had become imperative. Frequent misinterpretation of the term "addiction" and its confusion with habituation and the increasing variety of substances subject to the consideration of the international narcotics control organs had led to several attempts to find a general term applicable to abuses of different types of drugs.

Ninth session, para. 148.

Dependence, physical or psychic, on natural or synthetic drugs or both, being a feature in common, the Expert Committee recommended that the phrase "drug dependence" alone should be substituted for the phrases "drug addiction" and "drug habituation ", with the addition of a reference to the type of drug (such as morphine- barbiturate- cocaine- amphetamine- cannabis-type) on which dependence developed as a consequence of repeated administration. The Commission noted this suggestion with interest but, foreseeing possible drawbacks, postponed fuller examination of the question until its twentieth session, when it decided to keep the old terminology.

This question of definition is not simply one of words but of the concept of the nature of addiction: if the main characteristic of addiction is physicaldependence, then such narcotics as cannabis do not produce addiction. Conversely, if the idea of dependence of any kind is foremost, then cannabis, which produces psychic dependence only, may be dealt with in the same way as heroin. Thus the Commission held a number of discussions which helped in clarifying its concept of the nature of addiction. Needless to say that in that case as well as in all other discussions on the subject the Commission worked closely with WHO and had the benefit of the participation of the representative of WHO.

Another theme of discussion which was recurrent in the discussions on the nature of drug addiction was the controversy: vice versusillness. This conceptual difference tended, however, to disappear as all the various causes of addiction were being studied and discussed. It appeared that for some individuals drug addiction is a manifestation of mental disturbance, for others it is simply a social habit and for others again, it may well be considered a vice.

Incidence of drug addiction

The Commission thought from its first session that it was imperative to gain a better knowledge of the incidence of drug addiction and decided that a questionnaire should be sent to governments on this subject. The Council requested the Secretary-General to send the questionnaire and a number of replies were received. The Commission could thus form an idea of the situation at least in the countries which had replied. At its fourth session, the Commission examined a classification of the replies received from governments and requested the Secretary-General to begin work on an analytical study of the laws and regulations relating to drug addiction and also to consult WHO with a view to ascertaining the current state of medical research on drug addiction. At the same session, the Commission decided that the chapter on drug addiction in the form of annual reports should be revised and considerably enlarged so that more information could be collected on the subject. At its ninth session, the Commission studied the analysis prepared by the Secretariat and decided that still more information was needed. It decided to recommend to the Council a resolution with an appendix listing the topics on which governments were asked to concentrate in making studies or inquiries in this field. Because of their importance the resolution and the appendix are given in full (see Annex). The Council adopted that resolution at its eighteenth session.101

Analytical studies of drug addiction were prepared and a study of the incidence of drug addiction was presented to the Commission at its thirteenth session. It was found, however, that the figures were not comparable with one another and that they gave only an indication of the widespread character of addiction to the various narcotics. An accurate determination of the numbers of addicts was, of course, complicated by the fact that it was impossible to ascertain how much illegal consumption took place. The variety of approaches and practices in different countries where, for example, cognizance and recording of addicts, medical and pharmaceutical methods and regulations and governmental action differed considerably, also had a bearing on the problem. Great difficulties were also encountered where qualitative data on drug addiction were concerned and governments were finding it hard to give precise or comparable replies. However, the Commission was able to arrive at the following pattern of drug addiction: there was widespread, although generally receding, addiction to opium and coca leaf; abuse of cannabis was prevalent in Asia, Africa and South America and, as a more recent development, also in some of the advanced countries; addiction to manufactured opiates, in particular to heroin, appeared to be increasing in or near some areas where the opium poppy was cultivated, partly counter-balancing the reduced addiction to opium; heroin was still the most popular drug of addiction on the North American continent; comparatively little addiction to synthetic drugs had been reported, but there was a tendency towards an increase in some countries. 102 At its fourteenth session, the Commission decided that a document on the incidence of drug addiction should be prepared every year. At the fifteenth session, this question was again discussed at great length and it was found that, as far as statistical information was concerned, progress made was not negligible. A state was reached at which it was possible to give a rough classification of countries according to the extent of their addiction problems. From this, tentative conclu-sions regarding the extent of the problem in most countries and in different regions of the world could be drawn: the document on the incidence of drug addiction showed that 29 countries and territories, out of the 108 for which conclusions could be attempted, had one or more drug addicts per 1,000 of population; 21 had at least one addict but less than five per 5,000 of population, and in the other 57 countries or territories listed, the degree of addiction was less than one per 5,000. The Commission, in considering the tenth report of the Expert Committee of WHO, gave particular attention to this Committee's review of research on drug addiction and it recommended to the Council a resolution in which it ( a) invited the World Health Organization, the United States of America and other countries equipped to do so, to study the possibility and advisibility of giving to such countries as may desire it assistance in the field of controlled clinical investigations, ( b) invited countries interested in this research to consult WHO, and ( c) invited WHO to prepare a code of practices by which the addiction-producing properties of drugs are established. At its following sessions, the Commission kept trying to improve the kind and quality of the data on addicts and decided to encourage the making of special surveys in individual countries.

Resolution 548 J (XVIII).

Thirteenth session, para. 267.

Thus the Commission tried, in co-operation with WHO and by finding practical ways of obtaining data, to appraise more precisely the incidence of drug addiction. Its work was hampered by the reluctance of governments to appear to have a large addict population and by the administrative difficulties that they found in collecting precise data. However, through these methods and through the statements of its members and observers, the Commission succeeded, in the course of its history, in obtaining a much clearer and more comprehensive idea of the extent of the drug addiction problem in the world.

Causes of drug addiction

The study of the causes of drug addiction is closely linked with results of the study on its incidence. But, as the WHO representative pointed out at the eighteenth session of the Commission, the study of the drugs used by addicts and of the addicts themselves has been pursued fairly extensively during the first sessions of the Commission, whereas the third factor in the epidemiological concept, i.e. the agent-host-environment relationship had received much less attention. During its first sessions, the Commission tried with the help of WHO to elucidate the problems of the addiction-producing drugs and their action. It also tried to obtain a clearer picture of the drug user and the drug addict, while often placing special emphasis on the heroin type of addict, so that it had reached a stage where these subjects were well understood and known; for instance, it had made a special study of drug addiction among members of the medical profession.

When this knowledge had reached a stage where action could be contemplated, it became clear that the third factor, namely environment, should also be studied. At the tenth session already, a growing awareness and interest in the social aspects of the problem could be detected, but it was not until the seventeenth session that the problem was Clearly outlined: according to certain statements, it had not been possible to determine why some communities were more addiction-prone than others, whether the individuals' desire for drugs was innate or acquired, or whether the psychopathic conditions of many addicts were congenital or were the effect of their social and economic environment, or even whether addiction was more prevalent among underprivileged and poverty-stricken people than among others. It was mentioned that standards of living were not a factor of drug addiction since addicts could be found in all income-brackets of the population. 103 The Commission adopted a very important resolution in that respect, namely:

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs,

  1. Recognizing the need for factual data concerning the socio-economic and medical aspects of drug addiction, and illegal drug consumption under various national conditions,

  2. Realizing that such data are essential in the formulation and development of realistic policies of prevention and enforcement on a national and international level,

  1. Requests States Members of the United Nations or of the specialized agencies to encourage research into this problem with special emphasis on the socio-economic and medical aspects of drug addiction and illegal drug consumption and to furnish the Secretary-General with reports on the results and findings thereof;

  2. Further requests the Secretary-General to present a report on the above, if possible, to the nineteenth session of the Commission.

A number of documents were studied in this respect by the Commission at its twentieth session (the subject not having been discussed at its nineteenth session). The importance of this aspect was stressed by the fear, expressed at the seventeenth session, that the world was becoming more and more drug conscious and that a sort of "pharmacomania" was being spread, perhaps due to purely commercial pressure. Furthermore, measures to restrict and especially to prohibit the use of drugs should take into account the fact, borne out by experience, that addicts tended to turn to other drugs if the drug of their choice was not available. 104

Seventeenth session, para. 135.

Eighteenth session, para. 151.

Prevention of drug addiction

The prevention of drug addiction may take many forms. The first form is the traditional one which is represented by all the international treaties on narcotic drugs and by all the national legislation on the subject, namely, the limitation of production to medical and scientific needs and the prevention of illicit trafficking. This form of prevention has been the real subject of the whole of the present review. But it might be argued that with all these measures drug addiction continues, which means that the effort to prevent the drug from reaching the addict cannot be wholly successful; it is an unfortunate but general experience that, if there is a market, there is a trafficker to bring the goods to it. This does not mean that the efforts of governments and of the international community have been in any way wasted: drug addiction has been reduced, or at least contained, in many parts of the world, and without the control measures, there is little doubt that it would have reached infinitely higher proportions.

There is, however, a second aspect of prevention which would consist in suppressing the need. This, in turn, is linked to the central problem of civilization, which is the adaptation of man to his environment. This does not mean necessarily a higher standard of living or a specific form of society, but a form of social life in which the individual is content with what he receives from society. Not only do such economic factors as poverty, hunger or inadequate housing play their obvious part (e.g., in the case of coca chewing), but social factors such as discrimination, detribalization, etc., are also operative. From that point of view, preventive measures can play an important role and this is exactly what the Commission has been advocating during its last sessions. The measures contemplated in the field of coca chewing as well as the surveys undertaken in Burma and the one to be carried out in Thailand will, it is hoped, strike at the root of drug addiction in these areas.

The control system is fairly well established and functions satisfactorily. The struggle against the illicit traffic as part of that control system is carried out with energy and gains results, but the other means of prevention, which amount to Uplifting whole populations from a state of backwardness and misery which is, at the same time, a cause and an effect of drug addiction, are only being tried out, and the Commission has manifested its determination to seek progress in this direction. Finally, another category of measures of prevention has been repeatedly discussed by the Commission, namely, education and propaganda. The question had already been discussed by the Advisory Committee of the League and the feeling was that such measures required great care and lightness of touch, since they might cause more evil than good. This is why, at its sixth session, the Commission adopted a resolution in which it stated that periodicals, teaching in schools, and other forms of direct propaganda can be employed with advantage in certain countries where drug addiction has assumed widespread proportions, while in other countries where addiction is sporadic, such measures might be dangerous. Again, at its seventeenth session, this question was discussed and the same opinion prevailed. In fact, education and propaganda are carried out in the countries and territories in which drug addiction constitutes a special problem such as in Macau, Hong Kong, Thailand and Iran.

Treatment and care of drug addicts

But since prevention cannot be absolute and since drug addiction continues, the Commission has had to deal with the addicts. It insisted on the fact that the techniques of treatment were the province of WHO, which had not only the Expert Committee on Addiction-Producing Drugs, but also a Study Group on the treatment and care of drug addicts. The report of this Study Group105 is, of course, of great importance in that respect. The non-technical aspects of treatment were taken up by the Commission, which studied, in particular, the different forms of civil commitment of addicts: it noted the view of the representative of WHO according to which the treatment of persons addicted to manufactured drugs generally requires at least their initial isolation in institutions with a drug-free atmosphere. The Commission adopted on the subject the following very important resolution: 106

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs

  1. Declares that one of the most effective methods of treatment for narcotic addiction is civil commitment in a hospital institution having a drug-free atmosphere;

  2. Urges Member Governments having a serious drug addiction problem, and the economic means to do so, to provide such facilities.

It is of interest to note that the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is the first of the international treaties to have provisions on the treatment of addicts, namely article 38, which states

  1. The Parties shall give special attention to the provision of facilities for the medical treatment, care and rehabilitation of drug addicts.

  2. If a Party has a serious problem of drug addiction and its economic resources permit, it is desirable that it establish adequate facilities for the effective treatment of drug addicts.

WHO Technical Report Series, No. 131.

Sixteenth session, para. 135.

Also resolution II adopted by the Plenipotentiary Conference for the Adoption of the Single Convention in 1961 pronounces on the treatment of drug addicts in the following terms:

The Conference,

Recalling the provisions of article 38 of the Convention concerning the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts,

  1. Declares that one of the most effective methods of treatment for addiction is treatment in a hospital institution having a drug-free atmosphere;

  2. Urges Parties having a serious drug addiction problem, and the economic means to do so, to provide such facilities.

The question of the treatment, and especially of the necessity of rehabilitation and after-care of addicts, while it is rather in the province of WHO than of the Commission, has been raised several times and the conclusion has been that there could be no cure without rehabilitation and after-care. In technical assistance activities in the field of narcotic drugs, this concept has been repeatedly propounded.

Thus, drug addiction which, in the preamble to the Single Convention, the Parties recognise as a serious evil for the individual and a source of social and economic dangers to mankind, has been studied by the Commission in all its aspects; the Commission has succeeded in forming clear ideas on this very complex subject in defining lines of research and action, and in starting the practical action which it is to be hoped, will eventually succeed in ridding mankind of this scourge.

VIII. The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961

The preparatory work

The Single Convention came into force, on 13 December 1964 and the Commission had on its agenda at its twentieth session an item entitled "Preparations for the implementation of the 1961 Convention"

The Single Convention was a collective work which had already started in a way during the time of the League of Nations. While the Commission and its secretariat, the Division of Narcotic Drugs, were the main contributors, such other international bodies as WHO, the PCOB, the DSB and INTERPOL (ICPO) participated in the elaboration of its principles. In addition, governments were consulted continuously. Finally, the Convention was adopted by a Plenipotentiary Conference in 1961 in which 74 governments participated (including one through an observer), together with representatives of FAO, ICAO, ILO, WHO, PCOB/DSB, such nongovernmental organizations as INTERPOL (ICPO), the International Conference of Catholic Charities, and the

International Federation of Women Lawyers. The present review is not meant to analyse that instrument in detail but to examine the work done by the Commission in its elaboration. As will be seen, the Conference did not adopt the Convention as the Commission had prepared it. This is a very important point which has had and will still have important consequences in the process of implementing that instrument.

During all the sessions at which the Commission considered the Single Convention as a specific item on its agenda, and particularly when it considered the successive drafts, it devoted a considerable amount of work to that subject, sometimes as much as two-thirds of the total time of the session. Moreover, until the third draft was completed the Commission's discussions on almost all the other points of the agenda were permeated by its preoccupation with the new treaty. The conclusion of the work on this subject marked the end of an era in the history of the Commission.

Paragraph 2 of the Council resolution establishing the Commission states that it shall "( c) advise the Council on all matters pertaining to the control of narcotic drugs and prepare such draft international conventions as may be necessary ", and "( d) consider what changes may be required in the existing machinery for the international control of narcotic drugs and submit proposals thereon to the Council ". Both points were considered by the Commission in the drafting of the new instrument, so that the Convention has not been only a simplification or a codification, but it has also introduced new concepts in the international system.

It was during the first part of the first General Assembly of the United Nations that the opinion was expressed that the existing machinery of international narcotic drugs control should be simplified.107At its third session, the Commission considered a draft resolution submitted by the representative of the United States which called upon the Secretariat to proceed forthwith with the drafting of a single convention to incorporate the provisions of the existing conventions and also provisions for limiting the production of raw materials. It was desired that this new convention should make provision to fill the gaps then existing in international control. On the proposal of the representative of the USSR, a sentence was inserted into the resolution to the effect that "Provision shall be made for a single body to perform all control functions." The Commission decided to add the following words, "excepting those which are now or may hereafter be entrusted to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs ".108 The Economic and Social Council at its

Journal of the United Nations, First Session, No. 18, pp. 352-355, statement by Mr. Henderson, UK representative.

Third session, section 20.

seventh session adopted this resolution.109At its fourth session, the Commission studied and discussed the material already prepared and it was pointed out that since the first international instrument - the 1912 Convention - had come into force, some provisions of existing Conventions had become obsolete, while some others had not worked satisfactorily in practice, and also that the system had to labour under its own complexity, and a lack of adaptability to constantly changing conditions brought about by discoveries of modern science. It was therefore held that the unification of the existing instruments could not consist in a mere compilation and consolidation of existing texts; it was essential that the weaknesses and complexity of the current system should be eliminated and new concepts introduced which would bring about both a strengthening and a simplification of the control system.110

In a preceding chapter, the state of narcotics control in 1946, especially from the point of view of the treaties, has been outlined as well as the action taken by the Commission in respect of some of the weaknesses and loopholes mentioned above: the drafting and adoption of the 1948 Protocol, the drafting of the 1953 Protocol all tended in that direction. But these actions were thought to be of an interim nature, preparatory to the main work of preparing the Single Convention.

The Division of Narcotic Drugs and the Joint Secretariat of the PCOB/DSB prepared a number of monographs which formulated principles that the Commission approved after a detailed discussion at its fourth session, and which were then incorporated in the First Draft of the treaty. At its ninth session, the Council adopted a resolution in which it approved the decision taken by the Commission with a view to the elaboration of a new single Convention to replace existing international instruments relating to the control of narcotic drugs.111 The First Draft prepared in implementation of that resolution embodied the two main principles, namely, the simplification of machinery by combining the PCOB and DSB into a single organ (with a single secretariat), and the control of the cultivation of the plants grown to furnish the raw narcotic drugs.

This draft was examined by the Commission during its fifth to tenth sessions. The Commission studied carefully each proposed provision and took detailed decisions of what should be included in the Second Draft which was to be the result of its work on the first draft. In the meantime, the Commission's opinion had changed on some of the principles which it had at first approved. For instance, governments were reluctant to adopt the principle of the revision of governments' estimates by international authorities, and that of an international clearing house for the import and export of narcotics. The idea of a single secretariat for the International Narcotics Control Board and the Commission disappeared as well. On the other hand, the Second Draft incorporated the provisions of the 1953 Protocol since in the meantime the work on that instrument had been completed and the treaty adopted. It extended these provisions to poppy straw and outlined for the coca leaf a system analogous to that applied to the opium poppy. It contained provisions prohibiting the cultivation of the cannabis plant for the production of cannabis drugs as well as the production of these drugs except for scientific purposes. Finally, it prohibited the non-medical consumption of all narcotics, including coca leaf chewing, opium smoking, etc., this after a period of transition.

Resolution 159 D (VII).

Fourth session, chapter 12.

Resolution 246 D (IX).

The Commission began discussing the Second Draft at its eleventh session. This draft contained a great number of alternatives and was found to be, from that point of view, in need of simplification. This work was done by the Commission during its eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth sessions and, starting with the twelfth session, the Commission began the preparation of the Third Draft concurrently with its consideration of the Second Draft: in order to do so the Commission appointed a Drafting Committee which was charged with preparing, in the light of decisions taken by or views expressed in the Commission, a revised draft of those provisions of the Second Draft which the Commission had considered in plenary. The new text prepared by the Committee was then considered and adopted by the Commission with some modifications. It was then that the Commission decided to render mandatory the prohibition of particularly dangerous drugs which did not possess compensatory therapeutical advantages (later placed in Schedule IV of the new treaty).

At its thirteenth session, the Commission completed its work on the Second and Third Drafts. Again it held that the views of those governments which had not participated in the preparation of the draft should be obtained and that these comments should be transmitted to the conference to be convened. There was a debate on the question of the States to which the draft should be communicated, especially since the invitation was to be sent to the same States. Finally, the Commission recommended to the Council the adoption of a resolution requesting the Secretary-General to transmit the draft of the Single Convention to all States Members of the United Nations and States Members of the specialized agencies and to the IAEA, to WHO, other specialized agencies, the PCOB/DSB, and INTERPOL (ICPO), inviting these States and organizations to comment on the draft, requesting the Secretary-General to communicate to them a compilation of there comments, and deciding to convene a plenipotentiary conference to which they would be invited. At its twenty-sixth session, the Council adopted that resolution. 112

The Commission considered that it had carried out the instructions of the Council; under the terms of the new draft treaty, the PCOB and DSB would be replaced by a single organ; the production of opium, poppy straw, coca leaves, cannabis and cannabis resin would be brought under full international control; and the remaining non-medical use of narcotic drugs such as opium smoking and eating, misuse of cannabis, and coca leaf chewing would be outlawed after a fixed period of transition. The existing treaty law laid down at present in nine treaties would be codified in a single treaty. 113

The difficulties

The Commission was, however, fully aware that not all provisions of the new draft treaty would be equally welcomed by all governments. Some of the provisions constituted compromises; several remained controversial in the Commission itself, and it was to be expected that the opinions of governments not represented on the Commission would be similarly divided. The Commission wished to call the attention of the Council to some of the questions which had given rise to considerable differences of opinion. These were: the mandatory prohibition of particularly dangerous drugs; the mandatory use of international non-proprietary names; the estimates of harvests of opium, poppy straw, coca leaves and cannabis, and of the areas cultivated for the production of these substances; the control of the production of poppy straw; the limitation of the number of producers for export; the question of maximum stocks of opium and poppy straw; the enforcement measures (embargo); the penal provisions; the treatment of drug addicts (rejecting methods of ambulatory treatment); and the general clauses: amendment clauses, reservations, transitional provisions relating to the international control organs. The Commission also wished to emphasize that while a number of new provisions of a more or less controversial nature were included in the draft Single Convention, most draft provisions reproduced existing treaty law and, in its opinion, would thus generally be as acceptable as the provisions in force.

The Conference met in New York from 24 January to 25 March 1961. If had before it the following basic documents: the Third Draft of the Single Convention and the compilation of comments on this draft received from governments and organizations. It adopted the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, and five very important resolutions to several of which reference has already been made. These resolutions dealt with technical assistance on narcotic drugs; treatment of drug addicts; illicit traffickers; membership on the Commission on Narcotic Drugs; the international control machinery.

Resolution 689 J (XXVI).

Thirteenth session, para. 470.

The Plenipotentiary Conference for the Adoption of the Single Convetion on Narcotics Drugs met in New York over January-March 1961. The President of the Conferece, Mr. C.W.A. Schurmann (Netherlands), is shown with Alhaji Muhammed Ngileruma (Nigeria) signing the Final Act.

Full size image: 6 kB, The Plenipotentiary Conference for the
                                  Adoption of the Single Convetion on Narcotics Drugs met in New York over
                                  January-March 1961

The Commission had justly prophesied in its analysis the difficulties that the Conference would face. It should be pointed out that fortunately the core, so to speak, of the Conference was constituted by people who were or had been representatives of their governments on the Commission and therefore not only knew the narcotics problems in detail but also had participated in the debates on the articles of the draft convention: in that way it may he said that the Commission took part in the final drafting of the treaty.

This is not the place to analyse the Single Convention, many provisions of which have already been commented upon in the course of the present review. A few points should be mentioned, however, on which the final treaty differed from the Third Draft, especially since those differences caused some countries to adopt an attitude of determined opposition to the instrument. The first was the question of the limitation in the number of opium producers for export: the Third Draft had named the same seven countries as the 1953 Protocol, plus Afghanistan. The Conference decided on a compromise: only the traditional producers of opium for export were permitted to continue such production, while new producers would require the consent of the Council to enter the market (but any country could begin producing for export a maximum of 5 tons per year without the Council's consent, provided it gave prior notice to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which could recommend to that country not to start production).

Similarly, the Third Draft had reserved to Bolivia, Indonesia and Peru the right to produce coca leaf and to manufacture crude cocaine for export, but this was not maintained in the final treaty.

The Third Draft had given to the INCB the right to impose a mandatory embargo on the import and export of narcotics from and to countries which had accumulated excessive quantities of narcotics. This was again modified: the Board could only recommend the embargo.

The Third Draft had given the Commission the possibility of prohibiting in a mandatory way the use of especially dangerous drugs listed in Schedule IV. The treaty did not provide for mandatory prohibition, but stated that the Parties should adopt whatever special measures of control would be necessary, in their opinion, having regard to the particularly dangerous properties of the drugs in Schedule IV, and that they should prohibit such drugs completely if they considered that the prevailing conditions in their country rendered it the most appropriate means of protecting public health and welfare.

The Third Draft provided that poppy straw intended for the manufacture of morphine should be subject to the same control as opium. The treaty, as has been seen, stated that the Parties permitting the cultivation of the opium poppy for purposes other than the production of opium should place the manufacture of drugs from poppy straw under adequate control.

There were a number of other such points. One in particular gave rise later to difficulties on the part of those States which opposed the limitation of the number of producers: this was the compromise under which the Single Convention permitted States to make a reservation in respect of clauses applicable to non-Parties: the reservation was permitted in respect of the relevant clauses as a whole, and not only in so far as they would apply to States not permitted to become Parties to the Convention, thus creating the fear for some countries that these reservations might impede the effectiveness and universality of application of the estimate system.

Action on the treaty

For these reasons, discussions continued in the Commission after the Convention had been adopted. At the seventeenth session the question was debated whether the Single Convention was acceptable in its present form or should be amended. Some delegations, especially that of the USA, considered that the Single Convention was in some respects weaker than the 1953 Protocol regarding the control of opium and that, since that Protocol was shortly to come into force (it was at the seventeenth session that the observer for Greece stated that his government was taking steps to ratify it, thus bringing that instrument into force, by virtue of article 21), there was no urgency for the Single Convention to come into force and it would therefore be advisable to consider amending it. Other objections were raised, especially in conjunction with the above-mentioned unilateral reservations.

The Commission as a whole, however, considered that the three goals set by the Economic and Social Council, namely, the codification of the existing multilateral treaties, the simplification of the international machinery, and the extension of control to the cultivation of plants grown to furnish the raw materials of natural narcotic drugs, had been almost completely achieved. Besides, it noted that some of the new provisions were of great importance, such as for instance the article dealing with the medical treatment of drug addicts and the obligation to limit the use of narcotic drugs to medical or scientific purposes. For these reasons the Commission recommended to the Council the adoption of a resolution by which the Council invited the governments concerned to ratify the Single Convention or accede to it. The Council adopted that resolution at its thirty-fourth session.114

Subsequently, the Commission had to deal with questions raised by the coming into force of the Convention, such as the drafting of an administrative guide to that instrument which the Council had asked to be prepared at its thirty-fourth session,115 and decided that governments and interested organizations should be asked for their comments. It also studied the question of draft forms for, and dates for the submission of the information to be furnished to the Secretary-General under the new treaty, and a form of import certificate. There again the Commission decided to transmit these drafts to governments for their comments. At its eighteenth session, the Commission decided to circulate again the draft administrative guide since very few comments had been received and that the Secretariat would, in the light of comments received, prepare a new draft for consideration by the Commission at its twentieth session. Decision was also deferred regarding the draft forms mentioned earlier. At the twentieth session, the Commission established a working group to examine the text of the draft administrative guide. The report of that working group outlined the principles which should govern the drafting of such a guide, especially the fact that it should not be a legal commentary, should not attempt to modify in any way articles of the 1961 Convention, should constitute an aid to administrative officials in the field of domestic narcotics control and should be only a preliminary document to be revised and/or amended or expanded in the light of experience. In conformity with these principles, the working group prepared a revised draft to be circulated to governments and to be re-examined later. As has been mentioned on page 19, the Commission adopted the new draft forms at its twentieth session.

Resolution 914 C (XXXIV).

Resolution 914 D (XXXIV).

The Commission also considered changes in the Schedules of the Single Convention proposed by the WHO Expert Committee, in response to a request made by the Commission at its seventeenth session. A number of changes were adopted, and in respect of some others the Commission decided to defer decision until its twentieth session. At its twentieth session, the Commission discussed the question again and decided that it would be inappropriate to make important changes in the Schedules so soon after the Convention had come into force.

It also considered a proposal made by the World Health Assembly for the amendment of article 3 of the Convention which would give the WHO the responsibility of placing new drugs under interna-tional control since, as the Commission met only once a year, there was likely to be a delay in its taking such action, which might be detrimental to public health. The Commission recognized the pertinence of that view and wished to meet it, but felt that this could be done without amending article 3 of the Single Convention simply by asking the Commission to vote by mail in a case where the WHO made a recommendation for the control of a new substance at a time when the Commission was not meeting, or would not be meeting within a period of three months.

At its eighteenth session, the Commission agreed with the proposal that the present PCOB and DSB be permitted to carry out the functions of the INCB until the expiration of their present terms of office in 1968. At its twentieth session, the Commission considered that since the 1961 Convention had entered into force, steps should be initiated for the replacement of the Permanent Central Narcotics Board and Drug Supervisory Body by a single organ, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). The Commission thought that the INCB should come into being on the expiry of the current terms of office of the PCNB/DSB, i.e. in March 1968. It also made suggestions on the procedure to be followed for the election of the eleven members of the INCB under article 9 of the Convention.

IX. Technical co-operation in narcotics control

This subject appeared for the first time on the Commission's agenda at its eleventh session in conjunction with the request made by Iran for technical assistance, after that country had decided to prohibit the cultivation of the opium poppy. It should be noted that at that session and until the sixteenth session inclusively, the item was called "Technical assistance ", whereas during the last four sessions it was called "Technical co-operation." This means more than a simple change of wording: in most cases of technical assistance, a developing country in need of new roads, or a modernized fiscal system, or dams on its rivers, asks for the assistance of the United Nations or the specialized agencies in order to be helped in the building of the road or of the dams or the reorganizing of its fiscal system. In all such cases, what is granted is help in several possible forms, such as the services of experts, etc., for the Completion of a project which will be beneficial to that country. In the case of narcotics control, the concept is different since very often the narcotics situation in a given country may well endanger the whole system of control, thus doing harm to other regions or countries without at first sight harming the country in which such a dangerous situation exists. In that case, the technical assistance which is granted is not granted for the unique, or, so to speak, private benefit of that country, but also for the benefit of the whole international Community. For this reason, when such assistance is granted, it goes not only to a given country; it is a means for the international community of improving its own situation, which justifies the name of co-operation for such a joint endeavour.

On the other hand, if such a country were to affirm that its participation in such an endeavour is purely of an altruistic character and aims at enhancing the general welfare of mankind, while being to its own detriment, such a view would be difficult to maintain in the face of reality; indeed, if a dangerous narcotics situation develops, such as an illegal production of opium or an excessive production of coca leaf, harm will undoubtedly result for the international community, but individual countries which take part in an effort to control such a situation may fear that they will be spending their energy and money for purely altruistic purposes, whereas in fact, by so doing, they will in the long run also help themselves since such a situation is detrimental to every country. The efforts made to remedy that situation are therefore part of the general policy of development of those countries and they belong to the domain of technical co-operation between those countries and the whole international community.

Technical co-operation in narcotics control has developed in two stages: the first started in 1956 at the eleventh session of the Commission when Iran, having banned the cultivation of the opium poppy, asked for assistance in enabling its cultivators to introduce other agricultural crops to replace opium poppy plantations, and also in respect of the treatment of addicts. For the Commission, this request was new and aroused great interest but the Commission felt that, having regard to the complexity and ramifications of the existing technical assistance arrangements, the process of helping Iran could not be carried out by the Commission itself but should be done at the stage of consideration of the proposal by the Council. It was therefore to be understood that in transmitting the draft resolution to the Council the Commission was endorsing it in .principle, leaving the form of the arrangements to be considered by the appropriate organs of the UN, i.e. the Council and the General Assembly. The resolution that the Commission recommended to the Council took the form of a resolution recommended by the Council to the General Assembly itself. But it its twenty-second session, the Council adopted the resolution directly, recalling its own resolution 548 E(XVIII) of 1954, which recommended that the technical assistance services of the UN and the specialized agencies give due consideration to any request which the countries concerned might make for assistance in developing their administrative or social measures. Then the Council recommended to the Government of Iran to submit to the technical assistance authorities concerned, in addition to any requests for technical assistance for other purposes, requests for such assistance as it might consider necessary to assist it in the successful and speedy achievements of the aims it had undertaken in banning the cultivation of the opium poppy.116Such technical assistance was granted to Iran and took the form of FAO and WHO experts, and later of the services of a special narcotics adviser who is still working with the Government of Iran. Fellowships were also given to Iranian nationals for study and training.

The request of Iran was not only important as such, but also because it caused the Commission to broaden its concept of assistance, to adopt a resolution under which all governments could apply for technical assistance under existing arrangements. This resolution covered practically all the fields in which it has since been granted to governments, and therefore it is reproduced in extenso :

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs,

Considering that the United Nations exercises certain responsibilities of supervision over the application of the multilateral conventions dealing with narcotic drugs, and that the World Health Organization also has important responsibilities under these conventions,

Resolution 626 E (XXII).

Recognizing that technical assistance, by the exchange of technical knowledge between countries, provides a useful means of increasing the effectiveness of the provisions of these conventions for limiting the use of narcotic drugs to medical and scientific purposes, and for combating the illicit traffic.

Recalling Economic and Social Council resolution 548 E (XVIII) of 12 July 1954 recommending that the technical assistance services of the United Nations and the specialized agencies give due Consideration to any requests which the countries concerned may make for assistance in developing appropriate administrative or social measures for the gradual suppression of the habit of coca chewing or for other remedial measures,

Recalling that the Commission on Narcotic Drugs has recommended to Governments that, with respect to important seizures of opium made in the illicit traffic, the reports which they are obligated to make under article 23 of the 1931 Convention for Limiting the Manufacture and Regulating the Distribution of Narcotic Drugs should include determinations of the origin of the opium ascertained by physical and chemical methods, and has invited them to consider setting up their own facilities for making such determinations in conjunction with the United Nations Narcotics Laboratory,

Taking account of the arrangements previously established by the General Assembly concerning the programmes of technical assistance and the advisory services of the United Nations in its resolutions 200 (III) (Technical assistance for economic development), 246 (III) (International facilities for the promotion of training in public administration), and 418 (V) (Advisory social welfare services), as amended by subsequent resolutions of the General Assembly,

Considering that the specialized agencies, particularly the World Health Organization of the United Nations, within their competence and by virtue of their regular programmes of technical assistance, are able to render important services to their members in this field, and that certain other organizations are also so equipped,

  1. Invites Governments to consider the possibility of applying, under existing arrangements concerned with technical assistance, for the following forms of assistance in the field of narcotics control.

  1. Advisory services of experts,

  2. Fellowships and scholarships,

  3. Seminars,

  4. Laboratory services in connexion with the determination of the origin of narcotics found in the illicit traffic, by physical and chemical means;

  1. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Economic and Social Council and to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at subsequent sessions concerning the extent to which he has been able to meet requests for technical assistance in narcotics control under existing resolutions;

  2. Requests the Economic and Social Council to examine ways and means of achieving the objectives of this resolution in the light of the report of the eleventh session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and of the Secretary-General's report referred to in the previous paragraph;

  3. Recommends that the specialized agencies continue to develop their technical assistance activities with a view to aiding Member States in the field of narcotics control;

  4. Expresses the hope that non-governmental organizations, including foundations and universities, will support technical assistance for narcotics control according to their fields of interest, and requests the Secretary-General to investigate the possibilities of such support and to report thereon to the Commission and the Council.

The consequential resolution was adopted by the Council at its twenty-second session.117

Under the general technical assistance scheme, governments receive a determined amount of technical assistance and it is their responsibility to establish their own list of priorities and to choose the fields in which they desire this assistance to be granted. Most of the governments concerned being those of developing countries have heavy competing calls on this financial allocation, and a number of them have found it difficult to give high priority to narcotics control. The Commission therefore felt that this was not a satisfactory arrangement, and at its thirteenth session it adopted a resolution in which, noting that a number of governments had expressed their interest in receiving assistance but had not been able to include the relevant applications in their annual country programmes, requested the Council to review the financial arrangements applicable to technical assistance for narcotics control, and suggested that consideration should be given to the question of a specific amount to be made available for technical assistance in this field by way of a separate financial allocation.

At its twenty-sixth session, the Council took note of that resolution and requested the Secretary-General to review the whole question and to formulate proposals.118At its fourteenth session, the Commission was informed that while the regular programmes could provide for fellowships or the services of experts, they could not meet the real needs, especially for inter-country projects. Therefore the Commission recommended to the Council that a continuing programme for technical assistance in narcotics control be established within the regular budget of the United Nations and that emphasis should be placed upon regional or national programmes where the problems of addiction and the illicit traffic were acute. At its twenty-eighth session, the Council approved the recommendation of the Commission and recommended that the General Assembly adopt a draft resolution establishing such a continuing programme, since in many cases narcotics-control projects would benefit the international community as much or more than the country receiving technical assistance.119 At its fourteenth session, the General Assembly adopted resolution 1395 (XIV) establishing this programme, and the Fifth Committee agreed to the appropriation of $50,000 in the UN regular budget for 1960 for this purpose. The following year this amount was increased to $75,000, a sum which has remained the same in subsequent years up to and including 1965 and 1966.

Resolution 626 D (XXII).

Resolution 688 (XXVI).

Resolution 730 I (XXVIII).

Thus there was a possibility not only of giving assistance in the form of expert services or fellowships to specific countries but also in the form of regional projects. Technical co-operation in the field of narcotic drugs has taken these two directions: at first, a direct help proffered to a single government; the most usual form taken by such assistance is the granting of fellowships for government officers. Such fellowships have been granted regularly within the funds available, and a number of fellows have studied in the laboratory of the UN, in other laboratories specializing in narcotics control, have attended training courses and have generally participated in the work of enforcement services in the countries which could give them such training. Experts have also been sent to the countries which have asked for them, in the field of administration, enforcement, or the cure and rehabilitation of drug addicts. A sideline which may be mentioned here in passing is the lending of films on drug control from a film library assembled by the Division.

Another form of assistance to individual countries has also been granted recently, and it is contemplated to repeat it in the near future: by this is meant the type of assistance thanks to which a country which has a problem of excessive or illegal production of a narcotic raw material is enabled to draw up the measures that can be expected to solve it. At the eighteenth session of the Commission, the observer for Burma announced that his government was requesting the services of a small group of technical experts to help in putting an end to poppy cultivation in the Kachin state: in that state, opium was grown illegally and the Kachin authorities had embarked upon a programme for the abolition of opium cultivation and consumption. The Commission recommended to the Council that such help be granted and the Council at its thirty-sixth session approved the request.120The survey was carried out in February/March 1964, and the observer for Burma expressed the gratitude of his government for the co-operation and assistance thus received. At the nine-teenth session, the observer for Thailand informed the Commission that his government wished to organize a survey of the opium-producing regions in Thailand along the same lines as the Burma Opium Survey Mission, and expressed the hope that the Commission would support the request. The Commission endorsed that view and recommended to the Council the adoption of a resolution to that effect. The Council at its thirty-seventh session approved of the project which is to be carried out in the near future.121

Resolution 962 B II (XXXVI).

The example of the Burmese survey and the projected Thai survey show that technical assistance can go much further than what it is sometimes considered to be, namely, the training of individuals, during short periods or the sending of an expert to help a given country solve a specific problem. In fact, the spirit of technical assistance in the narcotics field consists perhaps primarily in showing by practical means that any country beset by a problem of that nature is not left alone in its quest for a solution: whether an expert comes in from outside or a national goes abroad for training, it is always a case of participation by that country in solving a world problem, and by the international community in assisting in that particular country's problem. Yet, some of these problems are common to a group of countries which have felt, and so has the international c ommunity, that these problems should be considered in a practical way, both on a regional basis and as parts of the world picture. It is true ?ot only in theory but also in fact that the narcotics problems may be grouped: the similarity of the requests of the Thai Government and the Burmese Government is an example, but there are several other such groupings: the Middle East, tropical and equatorial Africa, and the Andean region are other examples. In these cases, as was shown by the resolutions quoted, the Commission has evolved a line of thought according to which those regional problems should be tackled as such, at the same time as they should be integrated in the larger world situation.

Such problems may be created by geographical conditions in the broader sense of the phrase, such as the Andean problem of coca or the opium problem of South-East Asia. Others derive in part from the political evolution of the world, such as the problems of tropical and equatorial Africa: until recently this part of the world was divided between several colonial powers so that decisions were made in the capitals of the ruling countries according to their administrative habits and philosophy. The result was that after independence, some of the new countries which were geographically-speaking not only akin but in fact identical, knew very little of each other and had administrative systems which had not been built around local concepts.

The Commission and the Council have felt that in all these cases a regional "conscience" should be helped to develop and that the international community could act as a helper, as an actual participant, and also as a catalyst; at the very first session of the Commission, the delegation of China submitted a proposal according to which a stock-pile of narcotic drugs should be established by the UN in the Far East and "UN inspectors" should control the measures taken to make sure that no misuse would occur. This proposal was dictated by war conditions, and it had no future. At the sixth session, another proposal was made by the Government of Burma for the setting up of a co-ordinating committee of the UN which would collect information and give advice to governments in South-East Asia in order to suppress opium production in the area along the frontiers between Burma, Yunnan, Indo-China and Thailand. This proposal was postponed for various reasons and then finally withdrawn at the ninth session of the Commission.

Resolution 1025 C (XXXVII).

At its fifth session, the Commission was informed that the League of Arab States had envisaged the setting up of a narcotics bureau to prevent the cultivation of poppy and cannabis, and the smoking of opium and hashish in the member States.122This was done during the following year, as the Commission was informed. Then in 1954 the Council of the League of Arab States decided to recommend that a UN Anti-Narcotics Bureau should be created for the region of the Middle East. This request was included in the agenda for the Commission's eleventh session in 1956. During the discussion of this proposal, some doubts were expressed regarding the desirability of creating a special permanent machinery for dealing with the situation and the question was deferred. At the thirteenth session, several representatives felt that an exploratory mission to the region was needed in order to facilitate a fuller examination of the problems involved and of the means of solving it. There was considerable debate in the Commission on this subject and objections were raised, especially on grounds that such a mission might impinge on national sovereignty. Strong objections were also raised against the idea that such a mission could be called or felt to be a "control mission". Another objection was that it would be unfair to send such a mission to only one region of the world.

Finally a resolution was recommended by the Commission to the Council, which requested the Secretary-General to appoint a mission which would, in consultation with and with the consent of the governments concerned, inform itself of the situation, discuss with the governments their views and suggestions regarding its improvement, make communications for the consideration of individual governments or of groups of governments concerned, prepare a report to be transmitted to the Commission on such general matters and suggestions as might be considered desirable, and present to those governments that might request them a number of suggestions as to the ways in which technical assistance might be used to increase the effectiveness of measures against illicit traffic. The Council adopted that resolution at its twenty-sixth session.123

Fifth session, para. 42.

At its fifteenth session, the Commission studied the report of the Middle East Narcotics Survey Mission and the Mission's chairman explained how the mission had done its work. The conclusions of the mission were outlined; they stressed, inter alia, the need for strong positive and well-enforced national programmes, the high value of bilateral agreements between governments of contiguous countries, of a close and sincere co-operation between border authorities and narcotics control agencies of countries affected by trafficking, and of a close co-operation with the competent international bodies. There was, however, some criticism levelled at the concept and the actual working of the mission, but finally the Commission recommended to the Council the adoption of a resolution in which, inter alia, it drew the attention of the governments concerned to, and invited their consideration of, the specific recommendations contained in the report and particularly the suggestion made by the mission for a periodical visit of a small group of experts to consult with those governments in the region that had common interlocking problems, it being understood that such visits were to be made in agreement with the governments concerned, and to be organized in co-operation with them.

This marked a turning point in the position of the Commission: it was the first regional undertaking evolving out of the proposal for the setting up of a regional body (a proposal which was dropped). Secondly, it recommended that other such missions should take place and, thirdly, the fact that it was not financed directly by technical assistance funds, while being in fact a technical assistance mission, helped the Commission crystallise its thoughts on this subject and led to the idea of special programmes for assistance in narcotics control.

Thus the ground was laid for regional efforts. The Commission adopted at its fifteenth session a resolution in which it noted the encouraging results obtained by regional conferences of various kinds in several parts of the world.124Such regional efforts were organized by the UN, some by other bodies, with or without participation of UN personnel (for instance, under the Colombo Plan) or by the CENTO organization or by groups of States such as the meeting held in 1960 in Rio de Janeiro, or by regional organizations such as the League of Arab States, or again by non-governmental organiza- tions such as the International Criminal Police Organization. This organization has regularly co-operated in the technical assistance activities of the United Nations by helping in the training of technical assistance fellows and by participating in several of the consultative groups or seminars organized in the field of narcotics control. The ICPO itself organizes such seminars at which the United Nations has provided observers who participated in the discussions dealing with narcotics questions.

Resolution 689 I (XXVI).

Fifteenth session, para. 65.

The meetings organized by the UN have taken several forms: meetings of consultative groups such as the South-East Asia Consultative Group on Narcotics Control which met in Bangkok in 1960; the Inter-American Consultative Group on Narcotics Control which met in Rio de Janeiro in 1961; the Consultative Group on Coca Leaf Problems in Latin America which met in Lima in 1962; the Seminar on Narcotics Control Problems of Developing Countries in Africa which met in Addis Ababa in 1963; the Consultative Group on Narcotics Problems in Asia and the Far East which met in Tokyo in 1964; and the Inter-American Consultative Group on Coca Leaf Problems which also met in Lima in 1964. In 1965, a Seminar on Narcotics Control for Enforcement Officers from Asia and the Far East was held in Manila, and another Seminar on Narcotics Control for Enforcement Officers of African Countries was held in Lagos.

Another form taken by this programme was that of visiting missions of which there were two: the Study Tour of Seaports and Airports in South-East Asia which took place in 1961 and the Middle East and North Africa Technical Assistance Mission on Narcotics Control which took place in two parts, the first in 1962 and the second in 1963.

All these missions, seminars or consultative groups drafted reports and adopted conclusions and recommendations. The main value of these missions and regional meetings may well lie in the fact that they represent a co-operative endeavour and enable governments to form contacts in a field of common interest. The Commission felt that it was through such close contacts that progress was being made in stages, although it was difficult to pinpoint the specific results in a very short time. At its seventeenth session, the Commission discussed the question of evaluation and of follow-up in technical assistance projects. This was especially important as far as the reports of groups or individuals were concerned, but since its inception, technical assistance had been regulated by certain principles outlined in resolution 222A (IX) of the Council and its annex: according to that resolution the advice given whether by a single expert or under the various corporate forms of assistance must be treated in accordance with the requests and wishes of the government or, in the case of group projects, governments concerned. Thus, while the Commission was kept as fully informed as was possible, the principle of non-publicity of technical assistance reports had to be maintained. At its twentieth session, the Commission considered principles which, in its view, could help in guiding the Secretary-General in implementing technical assistance programmes: priority should be given to newly independent countries for the training of officials; some assurance should be obtained from receiving governments that the officials who benefited from such training would continue to be employed for a reasonable time in the narcotics field. Finally, participating governments should be asked to bear a portion of the cost entailed by the organization of study tours or seminars.

A final form taken by technical assistance in the regional field was the outposting of officers of the Narcotics Division in certain regions. This was started on an experimental basis in 1961 in South-East Asia and after interruption was continued. As for Latin America, such an outposting was requested by the Inter-American Consultative Group on Narcotics Control which met in Rio de Janeiro in 1961. The Commission at its seventeenth session adopted a resolution drawing the attention of the Council to the desirability of stationing an officer of the Secretariat in Latin America with a view to facilitating regional co-operation in the field of narcotics control in this part of the world. This resolution was adopted by the Council at its thirty-fourth session,125and an officer was outposted from the end of 1963 to the end of 1965.

X. Concluding remarks

It is not possible to formulate conclusions at the end of the present review, since conclusions are in a way like a panegyric spoken on somebody's grave and the Commission is very much alive. Its problems are still there. Theoretical solutions have been found to a number of them, but their application requires constant work. Constant work indeed, and even uphill work, may well be the motto of the Commission. Since 1946, 563 meetings have been held and the amount of documentation prepared by its Secretariat and discussed is truly staggering, representing as it does an average of about 5,000 pages per year. For each of these documents as well as for the preparation of every project an enormous mass of correspondence, contacts, etc., was necessary. These documents deal with all the aspects of the narcotics problem, and represent legal as well as scientific work and a fair knowledge of world conditions.

Resolution 914 E (XXXIV).

A general view of the twentieth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which was held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, November/December 1965.

Full size image: 105 kB, A general view of the twentieth session of the
                                Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which was held at the Palais des Nations in
                                Geneva, November/December 1965.

During this span of twenty years the Commission has prepared three international treaties. It has explored fields which its predecessors of the League of Nations could not foresee. It has occasionally come up against difficulties which have baffled it, such as the vast differences in the consumption of certain narcotic drugs, or the existence of the temporary "fads" which seem to govern such consumption. It has been confronted not only with the technical problems involved in the implementation of the treaties, but also with general problems relating to the behaviour of the individual, to the development of professional groups and to the evolution of countries: addicts, doctors, peasants, chemists, lawyers, enforcement officers, all come into its field of action. Born in the days when the world was only just emerging from chaos and entering a period which has seen deeper changes in the life of hundreds of millions of people than were ever experienced in the centuries before, it has had to adapt to such conditions: between the simple problem raised in 1909, which was still very much the same in 1946, and the complex ones which have to be faced in 1966, there is very little in common indeed: the influence of drug-taking on road accidents; dangers of publicity for narcotics; replacement of natural narcotics by synthetics; research on identification of cannabis and on determination of the origin of drugs found in the illicit traffic; "pharmacomania"; economic and social problems of hill-tribes in South-East Asia or of the indigenous segments of the Andean population; those and many others.

Thus the Commission has done truly constructive work.

It has co-operated with and sought the assistance of all governments which through their national administrations have to translate into daily action the recommendations that the experience and knowledge of the Commission prompts it to make. To the public at large the documentation is perhaps too complex or too dull to be absorbed, but the Commission has also realized the paramount importance of public information in any attempt to curb drug addiction and the illicit traffic, and it has created such publications as the Bulletin on Narcotics, which imparts the knowledge of the narcotics problems to lay readers as well as specialists; and to the specialist it has given such reference tools as the Multilingual List of Narcotic Drugs under International Control or the Cannabis Bibliography.

The Commission is not an abstraction but a body of men most of whom have come to know and appreciate each other. This is not to say that it has ever been smug or complacent. In fact, fairly sharp criticism has often been heard in its midst, but representatives have always tried not to lose sight of their ultimate aim, which is not a diplomatic give-and-take, or self-assertion, or propaganda, but the study of the ways and means to alleviate a form of human misery. This passage from the legal word and the abstraction of treaties, laws or regulations, to the consideration of man as a living creature in his environment, has been clearly visible throughout the Commission's history. Through the first few years of necessary administrative adjustments and the much longer period of treaty preparation, it has evolved a very broad view of the problem of narcotics, which finally encompasses all or nearly all social aspects of human activity.

By now the problems have been clearly defined and some of them have been solved, or the instrumeuts of their solution have been created: non-medical consumption of opium, coca leaf, cannabis, and of the drugs manufactured from them is outlawed in principle and is bound to disappear after transitional periods of adaptation; production of raw materials and of final products has been placed under control. World co-operation is at work to fight the illicit traffic and to help new countries or older ones, beset with difficult problems, to find a solution. The work goes on, and it is to be hoped with the same success as before. In the words of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, written for the first issue of the Bulletin on Narcotics, "This international control and the treaties on which it is based have... a wider significance than the limited field of narcotic drugs. If the principles on which these treaties and this control rest could be applied with equal success to wider fields of human endeavour, to other kinds of dangerous weapons, peace would be within our reach ".

Showing the use of cannabis in the traditional systems of medicine of the India-Pakistan sub-continent: an Ayurvedic prescription (left) called "Jatphaladi Curnam", and a Unani prescription (right) called "Majoon falakseer", each to cure a variety of human ailments; the cannabis ingredient of these medicines is underlined in both cases. (Immediately preceding cannabis in the Unani prescription is also "afyoon"opium.)

Full size image: 23 kB, Showing the use of cannabis in the traditional
                                systems of medicine of the India-Pakistan sub-continent: an Ayurvedic
                                prescription (left) called Full size image: 29 kB
YearPlaceDatesChairman1st Vice-Chairman2nd Vice-ChairmanRapporteur
1946
New York
27 November to 13 December
Col. C. H. L. Sharman (Canada)
Dr. Stanislaw Tubiasz (Poland)
Dr. Szeming Sze (China)
1947
New York
24 July to 8 August
Col. C. H. L. Sharman (Canada)
Dr. Stanislaw Tubiasz (Poland)
Dr. Szeming Sze (China)
1948
New York
3 to 22 May
Mr. Stane Krasovec (Yugoslavia)
Dr. C. L. Hsia (China)
Dr. Jorge A. Lazarte (Peru)
1949
New York
16 May to 3 June
Mr. Stane Krasovec (Yugoslavia)
Dr. C. L. Hsia (China)
Mr. A. Kruysse (Netherlands)
1950
New York
1 to 15 December
Mr. A. N. Sattanathan (India)
Dr. O. Rabasa (Mexico)
Mr. S. Hoare, C.B. (United Kingdom)
1951
New York
10 April to 24 May
Mr. A. N. Sattanathan (India)
Dr. O. Rabasa (Mexico)
Mr. S. Hoare, C.B. (United Kingdom)
1952
New York
15 April to 9 May
Dr. O. Rabasa (Mexico)
Mr. C. Vaille (France)
Mr. D. Nikolic (Yugoslavia)
1953
New York
30 March to 24 April
Dr. O. Rabasa (Mexico)
Mr. C. Vaille (France)
Mr. D. Nikolic (Yugoslavia)
1954
New York
19 April to 14 May
Mr. C. Vaille (France)
Mr. H. J. Anslinger (USA)
Mr. E. S. Krishnamoorthy(India)
1955
New York
18 April to 12 May
Mr. C. Vaille (France)
Mr. H. J. Anslinger (USA)
Mr. W Saldanha (India)
1956
Geneva
23 April to 18 May
Mr J. H. Walker (United Kingdom)
Mr. H. J. Anslinger (USA) ( in absentia)
Dr. Amin Ismail (Egypt)
1957
New York
29 April to 31 May
Mr. H. J. Anslinger (USA)
Mr. D. Nikolic (Yugoslavia)
Mr. A. G. Ardalan (Iran)
1958
Geneva
28 April to 30 May
Mr. D. Nikolic (Yugoslavia)
Mr. K. C. Hossick (Canada)
Mr. M. ?kol (Turkey)
Mr. A. G. Ardalan (Iran)
1959
Geneva
27 April to 5 May
Mr. D. Nikolic (Yugoslavia)
Mr. K. C. Hossick (Canada)
Mr. M. ?kol (Turkey)
Mr. A. G. Ardalan (Iran)
1960
Geneva
25 April to 13 May
Mr. K. C. Hossick (Canada)
Mr. M. ?kol (Turkey)
Mr. A. Ismail (United Arab Republic)
Dr. J. Mabileau (France)
1961
Geneva
24 April to 10 May
Mr. K. C. Hossick (Canada)
Mr. M. ?kol (Turkey)
Mr. A. Ismail (United Arab Republic)
Dr. J. Mabileau (France)
1962
Geneva
14 May to 1 June
Dr. M. ?kol (Turkey)
Dr. J. Mabileau (France)
Dr. I. V?es (Hungary)
Mr. R. E. Curran, Q.C. (Canada)
1963
Geneva
29 April to 17 May
Dr. J. F. Mabileau (France)
Dr. I. V?es (Hungary)
Mr. B. N. Banerji (India)
Dr. M. Dadgar (Iran)
1964
Geneva
4 to 9 May
Dr. J. F. Mabileau (France)
Dr. I. V?es (Hungary)
Mr. B. N. Banerji (India)
Mr. T. C. Green (United Kingdom)
1965
Geneva
29 November to 21 December
Mr. B. N. Banerji (India)
Mrs. V. V. Vasilieva (USSR)
Mr. R. E. Curran (Canada)
Mr. J.-P. Bertschinger (Switzerland)

Membership of the Commission

1946
1947
1948
1949
1950
1951
1952
1953
1954
1955
1956
1957
1958
1959
1960
1961
1962
1963
1964
Austria
x
x
x
Brazil
x
x
x
Canada
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
China
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
Egypt - UAR
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
Federal Republic of Germany
x
x
France
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
Ghana
x
Greece
x
x
x
Hungary
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
India
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
Iran
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
Japan
x
x
x
Madagascar
Mexico
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
Morocco
x
x
x
Netherlands
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
Peru
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
Poland
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
Republic of Korea
x
x
Switzerland
x
x
x
Turkey
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
United Kingdom
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
United States of America
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
Yugoslavia
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x

* The Government of Madagascar informed the Secretary-General (E/CN.7/SR.497) that, for practical reasons, it was unable to be represented at the seventeenth session. However, Dr. Alfred C. Andriamasy, chief delegate of Madagascar to the fifteenth World Health Assembly, attended the 485th meeting.

** Peru which was a member of the Commission, was not represented at the session.

Agendas

(a) Agenda of the twenty-fourth session of the League of Nations Advisory Committee (1939)

I. Examination of the Annual Reports for 1937:

  1. Legislation

  2. Manufacture of Opium Alkaloids from Poppy Straw

  3. Mexican Draft Regulations for the Treatment of Addicts

  4. Situation in Egypt in 1938

  5. Injections of Opium Infusion

  6. Collaboration with Latin-American Countries

  7. Special Annual Reports concerning Prepared Opium

II. Illicit Traffic:

  1. Report of the Sub-Committee on Seizures

  2. Measures designed to prevent the Use of Ocean-going Ships for Purposes of Illicit Traffic, and Supervision of the Principal Seaports

III. System of Import Certificates and Export Authorizations

IV. Control of Imports and Exports in Siam

V. Situation in the Far East

Summaries of Statements made by the Representatives of China, the United States of America, Portugal, India, Canada, Egypt and Belgium

VI. Opium Conventions:

  1. Ratification of the International Conventions

  2. Results of the Application of the Conventions

VII. Work of the Supervisory Body set up by the 1931 Convention

VIII. Work of the Permanent Central Opium Board

IX. Convocation of a Conference for the Adoption of an Additional Protocol to the 1931 Convention, to extend Certain Provisions of that Convention to Dihydrocodeine and its Salts.

X. Standardization of Methods for determining the Morphine Content of Raw Opium and the Cocaine Content of Crude Cocaine and of Coca Leaves

XI. Revised List of Drugs, Preparations and Proprietary Medicines coming under the Hague (1912) and Geneva (1925) Opium Conventions and the Limitation Convention (Geneva 1931)

XII. Drugs Addiction:

  1. Enquiry into Addiction

  2. Anti-narcotic Education and Propaganda in Medical and Auxiliary Medical Circles

  3. Codeine Addiction

  4. Addiction Liability of Certain Drugs: Eucodal, Dicodide, Dilaudide and Acedicone

  5. Scientific Research with the Object of finding Analgesics to replace Narcotics

  6. Desomorphine as a Drug of Addiction

XIII. Situation in regard to the Supervision of Cannabis and Drugs with a Cannabis Base

XIV. Questions concerning Prepared Opium:

  1. Investigation into the Composition of Opium Smoke

  2. Methods of determining the Character of Prepared Opium Dross

(b) Agenda of the first session of the Commission (1946)

I. Organizational and administrative questions

  1. Opening of the session

  2. Election of officers

  3. Message from Sir Thomas Russell

  4. Adoption of the agenda

  5. Rules of procedure

  6. Invitations to the Permanent Central Opium Board and the Supervisory Body

7 Transfer of functions of the League of Nations

  1. Terms of reference

  2. Appointment of sub-commissions and committees

  3. Procedure for future appointments to the Permanent Central Opium Board

  4. Filling of immediate vacancy on the Permanent Central Opium Board

II. General questions

  1. Limitations of the production of raw materials

  2. Abolition of opium smoking in the Far East

  3. Illicit traffic

  4. Drug addiction

  5. Re-establishment at its pre-war level of international control of narcotic drugs

III. Other questions

  1. The future control of narcotic drugs in Japan and Korea

  2. Date of next session

  3. Liaison with the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council

(c) Agenda of the ninth session of the Commission (1954)

  1. Election of officers

  2. Adoption of the agenda

  3. Progress report of the Division of Narcotic Drugs

  4. Annual reports of governments

  5. Abolition of opium smoking: Reports of governments for the years 1951 and 1952

  6. Revision of the form of annual reports

  7. Laws and regulations relating to the control of narcotic drugs

  8. Illicit traffic

  9. Proposal of Burma relating to the co-ordination of the efforts of certain Far Eastern governments to suppress poppy cultivation and the smuggling of opium

  10. Report of the Permanent Central Opium Board on Statistics of Narcotics for 1952 and the work of the Board in 1953 *

  11. The proposed single convention on narcotic drugs

  12. Drug addiction

  13. Protocol for limiting and regulating the cultivation of the poppy plant, the production of, international and wholesale trade in, and use of opium: Resolution of the Economic and Social Council 505 H (XVI)

In addition the Commission decided, on the suggestion of the Agenda Committee, to study the Estimated World Requirements of Narcotic Drugs in 1954 of the Supervisory Body.

  1. The problem of the coca leaf

  2. The problem of cannabis

  3. The problem of synthetic drugs

  4. The problem of diacetylmorphine: Resolution of the Sixth World Health Assembly

  5. Scientific research on narcotics

  6. List of narcotic drugs under international control

  7. Programme priorities in the field of narcotic drugs

  8. Consideration of the draft report on the ninth session of the Commission

(d) Provisional agenda of the twentieth session of the Commission (1965)

  1. Election of officers

  2. Adoption of the agenda

  3. Implementation of the narcotics treaties and international control:

  1. Report of the Division of Narcotic Drugs;

  2. Annual reports of governments;

  3. National laws and regulations;

  4. Reports of the Permanent Central Opium Board to the Economic and Social Council on the work of the Board in 1964 and 1965;

  5. Statements of the Drug Supervisory Body on estimated world requirements of narcotic drugs in 1965 and 1966;

  6. Work of WHO in the field of narcotic drugs;

  1. Illicit traffic

  2. Abuse of drugs (drug addiction), in particular its economic and social aspects

  3. Opium and opium research

  4. The question of the coca leaf

  5. The question of cannabis and cannabis research

  6. Questions relating to the control of substances not under international control (barbiturates, tranquillizers, amphetamines, etc.)

  7. Technical co-operation in narcotics control

  8. Review of the Commission's work during its first twenty years

  9. Preparations for the implementation of the 1961 Convention

    12 (a) Resolution WHA 18.46 adopted by the 18th World Health Assembly and the desirability of amending Article 3 of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961

  10. Programme and priorities in the field of narcotic drugs; control and limitation of documentation

  11. Report of the Commission on its twentieth session

The Narcotics Treaties

1912 Convention
International Opium Convention, signed at The Hague, 23 January 1912.
1925 Convention
International Opium Convention, signed at Geneva, 19 February 1925.
1931 Convention
International Convention for Limiting the Manufacture and Regulating the Distribution of Narcotic Drugs, signed at Geneva, 13 July 1931.
1936 Convention
Convention of 1936 for the Suppression of the Illicit Traffic in Dangerous Drugs.
1925 Agreement
Agreement concerning the Manufacture or Internal Trade in, and Use of, Prepared Opium, signed at Geneva, 11 February 1925.
1931 Agreement
Agreement for the Control of Opium-smoking in the Far East, signed at Bangkok on 27 November 1931.
1946 Protocol
Protocol of 1946 amending the Agreements, Conventions and Protocols on Narcotic Drugs, concluded at The Hague on 23 January 1912; at Geneva on 11 February 1925 and 19 February 1925 and 13 July 1931; at Bangkok on 27 November 1931, and at Geneva on 26 June 1936.
1948 Protocol
Protocol, signed at Paris on 19 November 1948, bringing under international control drugs outside the scope of the Convention of 13 July 1931 for Limiting the Manufacture and Regulating the Distribution of Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the Protocol signed at Lake Success on 11 December 1946.
1953 Protocol
Protocol for Limiting and Regulating the Cultivation of the Poppy Plant, the Production of, International and Wholesale Trade in, and Use of Opium, signed at New York on 23 June 1953.
Single Convention
Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961.

Council resolution 548 E (XVIII) (12 July 1954)

"The Economic and Social Council,

" Considering that one of the main purposes of the international control of narcotic drugs is the prevention and elimination of drug addiction and that in order to prepare international measures to achieve that purpose it is necessary to arrive at a fuller understanding of the causes of addiction and to examine methods of treating addicts and of restoring them to society;

" Noting that in their annual reports a number of Governments have reported increases in the number of addicts;

" Noting that the number of addicts reported, having regard to the information available about the extent of the illicit traffic, nevertheless appears to be an under-estimate;

" Observing that considerable inequalities in licit consumption of narcotic drugs exists in countries with comparable social conditions and social services;

"1. Callsthe attention of the Governments concerned to the necessity of having, as soon as possible, in accordance with domestic law and public policy, systematic arrangements for the effective control and the registration of addicts by medical or other health authorities;

"2. Invitesthe Governments concerned to give attention to the sources from which addicts derive their supplies, not only in connexion with measures concerning the illicit traffic but also in order to ensure that licit but insufficiently regulated therapeutic use should not constitute an important source of supply, and in this connexion, draws their attention to the desirability of using a system of official forms for prescriptions for narcotic drugs;

"3. Stressesthe importance of the question relating to addiction contained in the form of annual reports prescribed by the Commission for 1954 and urges Governments to take, as far as practicable, measures designed to enable them to furnish the information requested therein;

"4. Drawsthe attention of Governments to the scheme of topics set out in document E/CN.7/270 (paragraph 29) as amended by the Commission,* and urges Governments which are making or contemplating making surveys of addiction, to have regard to that scheme in framing their plans; and requests Governments to communicate the results of such surveys or studies to the Secretary-General;

"5. Stressesthe importance of Governments considering the setting up of meams for the treatment, care and rehabilitation of drug addicts, on a planned and compulsory basis, in properly conducted institutions;

"6. Requeststhe Secretary-General to continue his studies, within the framework of the scheme referred to and as information from Governments becomes available in annual reports and otherwise, and to submit the results from time to time to the Commission;

"7. Expresses appreciation of the work carried out by the World Health Organization in this field, and of the assistance given by that Organization to the United Nations, and invites the World Health Organization to continue its close co-operation with the United Nations in this respect."

(IX, para. 153)

See Annex to this resolution below.

Annex to Council resolution 548 E (XVIII)*

I. Statistical Information

A. Classification of addicts such as: types of classification: sex, age; social and economic status; health status; occupation; urban or rural residence status; geographical situation (altitude and climate, etc.); race or nationality; background of criminal or social behaviour; addicts using also alcohol, barbiturates, etc.

B. Reporting of addicts

  1. Whether compulsory or voluntary,

  2. Whether a register of addicts is kept and, if so, whether central or local,

  3. Whether narcotic prescriptions are collected and scrutinized by appropriate authorities,

  4. Sources of information:

  1. ** Official - e.g., police, customs, welfare, etc., officers, official hospital authorities or doctors, court proceedings, etc.;

  2. ** Unofficial - e.g., doctors, nurses, pharmacists, clergy, social workers, etc.

II. Treatment of Addicts

A. Compulsory or voluntary

Compulsory treatment: Scope: addicts, recidivists, criminal offenders (selected groups), addicts endangering welfare of family or capacity to fulfil civil obligations (national service), juveniles (age limit); Initiation of treatment by: family, guardians, public health authority, other law enforcement officers, others.

B. Institutional or non-institutional treatment

  1. Institutional: closed or otherwise, public or licensed private, general or special ward (mental or specifically for addicts), prisons;

Collection of information on, or studies of, the following topics may be considered under paragraph 4 of the operative part of the resolution.

It is appreciated that in some instances, for reasons of police security or from the need to respect professional secrecy, Governments may not be willing to give exhaustive detailed information. In such instances, Governments are asked at least to indicate whether the source is official or unofficial and in the latter case, to give an estimate of reliability.

  1. Non-institutional: out-patient departments, private and public health doctors.

C. Degree and character of control of public authorities over use of narcotic drugs in treatment and dosage.

D. Committing authority: court, other public authority, parent, guardian, others.

E. Methods to be used to enforce compulsory treatment.

F. Methods of medical treatment.

III. After-Care and Rehabilitation

Compulsory or voluntary-psychiatric, vocational guidance and training for juvenile addicts, occupational therapy, group therapy after leaving institutional care, follow-up and supervision of rehabilitated addicts (by parole officers, social workers, religious groups, teachers).

IV. Question of the Cost of Treatment, After-Care, and Rehabilitation

V. Treatment of Addicts in Penal Law

A. Penalties for the unauthorized use of narcotic drugs as such under certain circumstances.

B. Penal provisions intended to enforce compulsory treatment and after-care.

C. Application of system of parole and suspended sentences to drug addicts.

D. Treatment of addicted prisoners, isolation, cure, and after-care.

E. Proselytism.

F. Crimes or offences committed by persons while under the influence of narcotic drugs.

VI. Education and Propaganda

A. Question of conditions under which education and propaganda can be useful in combating drug addiction.

B. Education and propaganda directed to members of the medical and allied professions in order to inform them of (i) the problems involved; (ii) the part they are expected to play.