Organization of on administrative organ for the control of narcotic drugs


The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, signed at New York in 1961, came into force on 13 December 1964. Nine American countries have ratified or acceded to this Convention; eight have signed it and, with a possible exception, the rest are now considering becoming Parties subject to their respective constitutional procedures.1


Pages: 1 to 4
Creation Date: 1966/01/01

Organization of on administrative organ for the control of narcotic drugs

Representative of Mexico, United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs

The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, signed at New York in 1961, came into force on 13 December 1964. Nine American countries have ratified or acceded to this Convention; eight have signed it and, with a possible exception, the rest are now considering becoming Parties subject to their respective constitutional procedures.1

This situation, together with other factors, has set the writer thinking about the best way of fulfilling at national level the international obligations under this instrument which govern the control of narcotic drugs and the combating of illicit traffic, and the obligation on the Parties under article 17 of the Single Convention to maintain a special administration responsible for its application.2

This article is designed to give guidance to American countries in the establishment and operation of the organs responsible for controlling narcotic drugs and for preventing or repressing illicit traffic, and their endowment with the necessary powers, organization and personnel.

Although not exhaustive, this study is nevertheless complete for its purpose.3After a brief account of the general background and principles, it outlines the administration, its structure, operation and staffing, and its relations with other bodies, and gives a table showing the breakdown of its activities under main headings, supplemented by the relevant organization charts. For obvious reasons, the question of the financial implications of setting up this administrative organ has been deliberately avoided.

Between 1912 and 1961 various countries, being concerned by the serious evils resulting from the unlaw- ful use of narcotic drugs and their diversion into illicit traffic, signed and ratified a series of treaties aimed at bringing under strict control the cultivation of narcotic plants, the manufacture, trade in, and consumption of narcotic drugs throughout the world. However, the efficacy of international control and of measures against illicit traffic largely depends on the adequacy of national control systems and administrative agencies.

Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Ecuador, Jamaica, Panama, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago are Parties. Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Venezuela have signed, and will probably deposit their instruments of ratification or accession in the near future.

Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, article 17. Sales No.: 62.XI.1.

References to the organ to be set up where a country is a producer of narcotic plants have been omitted.

Legitimate trade in narcotic drugs, i.e. that designed to meet the world's medical and scientific requirements, is subject to a control system based on forecasts or estimates, and including for example consumption statistics, export and import permits and control of distribution and consumption by licensing and prescription requirements in each country. Control is exercised by international supervisory organs and by a national administrative agency in each country.4

What was needed, and will go on being needed, to combat illicit traffic in narcotic drugs, is international co-operation and the establishment of national central offices to supervise and co-ordinate operations to prevent and where necessary repress by severe prison sentences, the clandestine production, manufacture, conversion extraction and preparation of narcotic drugs, as well as the possession, offering, offering for sale, distribution, purchase, sale, delivery on any terms whatsoever, brokerage and the import and export of narcotic drugs without due authorization.5

The American countries, with a few exceptions, have been High Contracting Parties to most of the international instruments governing this subject.

As stated above, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, came into force on 13 December 1964,

after the fortieth instrument of ratification had been deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations one month previously. This raises the question of the national implications of ratification of or accession to the Single Convention.

See the relevant provisions of 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, and the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961.

See the relevant provisions of the Convention of 1936 for the Suppression of the Illicit Traffic in Dangerous Drugs, signed at Geneva on 26 June 1936, and articles 35, 36 and 37 of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961.

In this connexion, it is worth while to point out that although some of the clauses of the Single Convention seem to weaken international control, inasmuch as even countries which have been neither producers nor exporters of opium can become growers and exporters, subject to the limitations and requirements indicated in the Convention itself, it is also true that the Single Convention, 1961, offers the advantages - among others - of replacing previous multilateral treaties on the subject by a single instrument, reducing to two the number of international bodies responsible for world-wide control, prescribing measures for controlling the production of the raw materials for narcotic drugs (a question which had remained unsettled until the conclusion at least in the case of opium, of the 1953 Protocol), but - even more important - sets a time limit of 25 years for the abolition of coca addiction, or the habit of chewing coca leaves, and of cannabis addiction, or the use of cannabis resin and extracts and tinctures of cannabis for non-medical purposes, and thus represents a forward step in the system of control.

In order to carry out the international obligations resulting from the Convention, each country must adopt the appropriate legislative and administrative measures.6

In several countries with a presidential regime and a system of separation of powers, the executive branch, acting through the Ministry of Public Health, is responsible for protecting "public health ", as defined by the World Health Organization. There is, correspondingly, an administrative body for the protection of society against delinquency, responsible to the Ministry of the Interior (Home Office) as regards prevention and to the Office of the Attorney-General (or of the Public Prosecutor) as regards action against offenders.

For compliance with international obligations under the Single Convention on Narcortic Drugs, 1961, it will be easy to set up,with the administrative staff available, a directorate, division or department, under the Ministry of public Health, to control drugs and, in particular, the legitimate trade in narcotic drugs and the registration of drug addicts.

As regards control of the legitimate trade in narcotic drugs, this office will have the following functions to perform:

  1. To inspect laboratories which manufacture medicinal products or preparations with a narcotic base.

Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, article 4. Sales No.: 62.XI. 1.

  1. To supervise stocks and retail sales by pharmacies and hospitals.

  2. To issue import permits for narcotic drugs to laboratories authorized to manufacture preparations, in keeping with their actual needs.

  3. To grant, register and sell official prescription pads to doctors, dentists, midwives and veterinary surgeons for use in prescribing narcotic drugs.

  4. To inspect the books in which pharmacies and laboratories keep their records of narcotic drugs and to stamp them officially at regular intervals.

  5. To carry out inspections of production and stocks of narcotic drugs at laboratories authorized to prepare medicinal products and to check consumption of raw materials and preparations.

  6. To prepare quarterly and annual reports for the International Narcotics Control Board.7

  7. To make estimates or calculations of the country's annual medical and scientific requirements.

A register of drug addicts should also be kept in a separate section.

In addition, as regards the function, in the administrative machinery of the Ministry of the Interior or the Office of the Public Prosecutor, of protecting society against delinquency, i.e. that of the body responsible for policy on the prevention and prosecution of offences, a directorate, department or agency must be set up to deal, under police regulations, with measures against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs, the eradication of illicit production sources, the discovery of clandestine alkaloid laboratories and to prepare its own part of the annual report which the country is obliged to submit to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the UN Economic and Social Council in compliance with its obligations under the above-mentioned 1961 Convention. This body must also keep records of traffickers arrested and charged, or remanded; of reports submitted on seizures, and other related activities.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of the functions which will devolve on this office:

  1. To investigate offences connected with the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and to elicit evidence concerning the alleged responsibility of the offenders and their accomplices, as well as the corpus delicti.

  2. To obtain full briefs on offences involving narcotic drugs from the national police and judicial authorities.

  3. To keep duly annotated statistics of clandestine plantations of narcotic plants discovered and destroyed.

  4. To keep a register of and files on traffickers, both individuals and gangs, endeavouring to collect all apposite details of their records.

As is well known, the International Narcotics Control Board will be responsible for the functions now performed by the Permanent Central Opium Board and the Drug Supervisory Body.

  1. To keep statistics of seizures of narcotic drugs.

  2. In collaboration with the Customs, police and military authorities, to plan campaigns for cleaning up the production and manufacture of, or illicit traffic in, narcotic drugs.

  3. To request the various authorities for reports on the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs.

  4. To draft the chapter(s) concerning it of the annual report which the country submits to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

  5. To transmit police reports prepared in connexion with the prevention or repression of illicit traffic to the competent national central offices of other countries.

  6. To submit punctual reports on seizures of narcotic drugs and arrests of traffickers to the United Nations,8 and to countries whose nationals have participated in the offences or where the drug has been producted or transited.

  7. To submit reports on the discovery of clandestine laboratories for the manufacture of narcotic drugs to the international control bodies of the United Nations.

  8. To study the resolutions adopted at each session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the UN Economic and Social Council with a view to taking appropriate internal measures.

  9. To encourage and supervise compliance at national level with international obligations concerning narcotic drugs.

  10. To co-ordinate its activities on narcotic drugs with other departments of the Ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs, Finance, and the Interior, with a view to compliance with international obligations.

  11. To collect and study the documents and resolutions of the international bodies for the control of narcotic drugs, with a view to promoting legislative and administrative reforms in the light of international instruments and of the resolutions interpreting them.

  12. To send an observer or representative, as appropriate, to the annual sessions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and to other regular or ad hoc international meetings on the subject.

  13. To promote a permanent prevention-through-education campaign.

  14. To act as a liaison office with the national central offices responsible for the prevention and repression of illicit traffic.

In order to perform its assigned functions, as listed above, this office must have a suitable staff, comprising as a minimum:

A departmental chief, in charge of administration, to allocate work, control and watch progress, receive, study and answer international correspondence, initiate proposals and circulars to achieve more effective control, make investigations, compile statistics and legal texts, direct the prevention-through-education programme and attend international meetings on the subject.

The International Criminal Police Organization should also be notified by means of the appropriate form.

Two co-ordinators, one responsible for internal aspects and liaison with the police and judicial authorities, the other for international relations, and for the statistical records.

A team of administrative officials, some with a knowledge of accounting and others with some experience in criminology, to be responsible for statistics and files, as well as traffickers' records.

It will also have the necessary assistants, including a filing clerk or clerks.

This office may have a schedule of matters to be dealt with,9 like the following:

  1. International instruments

  2. National legislation

  3. Foreign laws on the control of narcotic drugs

  4. Foreign laws on the repression of the illicit traffic

  5. Annual reports to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

  6. Report on the proceedings at sessions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

  7. International conferences on narcotic drugs

  8. Reports of the International Narcotics Control Board

  9. International notifications

  10. International co-operation in combating illicit traffic

  11. International traffickers

  12. National traffickers

  13. Reports on important cases of illicit traffic, seizures of narcotic drugs and arrest of traffickers

  14. Clandestine laboratories

  15. Case law on illicit traffic offences

  16. Prevention-through-education programmes

  17. Statistics

  18. Special publications

  19. Samples of narcotic drugs

  20. World and country requirements in narcotic drugs

  21. Co-operation with other national authorities

  22. Co-operation with the International Criminal Police Organization.

A subsequent article will delineate the main features of the organization and staff of the department of the Ministry of Public Health responsible for legitimate trade in narcotic drugs.

In conclusion, there follow two hypothetical organization charts for agencies responsible for the control of narcotic drugs under the public administrative system of a country having the characteristics described at the beginning of this article.

Each matter has, of course, to be broken down under sub-headings.

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