Opening remarks at the 56 th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs
Check Against Delivery
Vienna, 11 March 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The 56 th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs comes at an important moment.
It is one year before the high level review of the implementation of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action, which will be followed by the Special Session of the UN General Assembly in 2016.
In this process, the CND has a primary institutional role to play in defining the international drug control system of the 21 st Century.
Illicit drugs and crime are roadblocks to the rule of law, and to democracy. They represent a clear threat to the stability and security of entire regions and to economic and social development. In so many ways, illicit drugs and crime and development are bound to each other. If countries are denied the rule of law and justice, development is jeopardised.
And societies weakened by the lack of sustainable development can become the staging areas for the criminal networks. We, therefore, need to break this destructive cycle in order to promote greater security and stability.
The CND has the knowledge, experience and commitment to provide the international community with a roadmap to confront these threats and challenges.
In December last year, UNGA unanimously adopted Resolution 67/193 "International Cooperation against the World Drug Problem".
The resolution reaffirmed the relevance of the Political Declaration and the Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem.
We need to follow the roadmap provided by this resolution, which emphasizes the importance of both the universality of the three international drug conventions, as well as their effective implementation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Many countries around the world are suffering due to the impact of illicit drugs and crime.
I want to assure you that we are doing everything possible to provide effective and efficient assistance to those in need, whether in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries or Central America or West Africa.
We are introducing regional and country programmes that deliver assistance where it is needed, We are building strong partnerships with other UN agencies, and promoting political commitment at the highest international levels, particularly in the post-2015 development agenda.
To achieve this, we are strengthening links among regional and thematic programmes.
The application of these approaches has led to successes in the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries, as well as the Country Programme.
We are supporting bodies such as CARICC, and the Triangular Initiative to share information and experience, as well as to conduct joint operations. Our work is vital in West and Central Asia. 2014 is approaching. We must be ready to provide greater assistance to Afghanistan and its people.
There are also new initiatives for the region such as the illicit financial flows programme and one specifically designed to interrupt drug trafficking by sea.
A programme for South Eastern Europe has also been launched focusing on the "Balkan Route" for Afghan heroin.
In West Africa, a new UNODC threat assessment for the region shows that illcit drugs and crime continue to create instability.
Illicit trafficking, especially in amphetamine-type-stimulants is also growing in South East Asia. UNODC is working closely with Myanmar as it broadens its international engagement.
In Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean now have a UNODC regional hub in Panama. Mexico and Brazil also have re-profiled and upgraded offices.
Our Aircop and Global Container Control Programme, co-managed with the World Customs Organization, are moving forward. The Container Control Programme is now in more than 30 Joint Port Control Units around the world.
UNODC's Global Programme on Money Laundering is assisting law enforcement agencies and financial intelligence bodies to sever the arteries that feed the criminal networks.
These achievements were only made possible due to the strong support of donors. I thank every one of these countries for their assistance. This continued support is a sign of the trust that the international community has in our work.
However, we must also ask ourselves tough questions about whether we have managed to reduce the global drug threat. There are no easy answers.
Quoting again from GA Resolution 67/193, "the world drug problem continues to constitute a serious threat to public health and safety, and well-being of humanity, in particular children and young people and their families. It also threatens the national security and sovereignty of states and undermines socio-economic and political stability and sustainable development."
There is no doubt that the drug conventions help to contain and stabilise the levels of drugs consumption.
Global opium production, for example, fell by some 80 per cent from the early 20 th Century; at the same time, the global population quadrupled.
In recent decades, there have been declines in the production and consumption of cocaine, and the majority of opium cultivation and production is now localised in a single country.
However, these trends are offset by the increase around the world of synthetic drugs, as well as new psychoactive substances. The overall prevalence of drug use is not decreasing. Illicit drugs kill more then five hundred men, women and even children every day.
Alternative development is crucial. There can be no successful eradication without complementary alternative development projects for farmers.
For many years, UNODC has been building capacities in the area of food security and offering technical assistance.
The task, however, is enormous. True success will only come with the commitment and involvement of every international partner.
Knowledge is a first step towards action. I call on all countries to keep providing us with detailed data on drugs and crime.
But, if we are really determined to confront illicit drugs, we must move with more determination to address the demand side.
Such an approach is a return to the founding principles of the drug conventions that were created specifically to protect the health and welfare of mankind.
It also calls for a balanced approach to deliver real solutions to those in need and to reduce the health and social consequences of drug abuse.
In the spirit of the drug conventions, UNODC works to deliver prevention,treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration.
We are releasing at the CND International Standards on Drug Use Prevention to offer guidance on policies and interventions that can prevent drug use and promote healthy lifestyles, particularly among young people.
UNODC is also working hard to meet the threat of New Psychoactive Substances and we will present a new technical study on this issue at the session.
In 2012 we made notable progress in improving equitable access to HIV services for people who inject drugs.
And yet, HIV transmission through injecting drug use continues to be one of the main unresolved challenges of the international community. Widespread stigma, discrimination and lack of access to evidence-informed HIV services are among the key challenges.
I am fully committed to reaching the 2011 UNGASS target. We know what needs to be done.
And let me be clear: human rights and public health considerations must be at the core of international response to drug use and to HIV.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Building synergies between our approaches to law, health and alternative development is a necessity.
All of these activities must also be reinforced by a sense of shared responsibility, which we should never allow to be weakened.