Global drug policies must put people first, says UNODC chief at General Assembly special session on world drug problem


19 April 2016 - The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, underscored the need for balanced approaches to drug challenges at the opening of the UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem (UNGASS) in New York today.

Mr. Fedotov welcomed Member States's adoption, at the opening of the plenary, of an outcome document for the session, entitled "Our joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem".

In the outcome document, Member States reaffirmed their commitment to the goals and objectives of the three international drug control conventions, as well as their determination to "tackle the world drug problem and actively promote a society free of drug abuse".

The document contains operational recommendations addressing demand and supply reduction; access to controlled medicines while preventing diversion; issues of human rights, youth, children, women and communities; emerging challenges, including new psychoactive substances; strengthening international cooperation; and alternative development.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Fedotov said he hoped the document's recommendations can help to promote the "urgent, united and concerted action we need".

"This UNGASS has provided a critical opportunity, at a critical moment, to build a more comprehensive and collective understanding of the challenges we face," he said, emphasizing the need for global drug policies that "put people first".

"Putting people first means balanced approaches that attend to health and human rights, and promote the safety and security of all our societies", as well as reaffirming the "emphasis on the health and welfare of humankind that is the founding purpose of the international drug conventions," said Mr. Fedotov.

He reaffirmed the engagement of UNODC, as the lead entity in the UN system in addressing the challenges posed by illicit drugs, in supporting governments to implement the UNGASS outcome document recommendations, including through action to:

  • Ensure access to controlled drugs to relieve pain and suffering
  • Promote prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration approaches rooted in evidence, science, public health and human rights
  • Prevent and counter illicit cultivation, production and trafficking; an
  • Tackle related organized crime, money-laundering and illicit financial flows, using the tools provided by the conventions on drugs, corruption, transnational organized crime and terrorism, as well as relevant UN norms, standards and guidelines.

He also highlighted the links between responses to the world drug problem and the implementation of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Urging governments to recognize the common and shared responsibility for drug challenges, Mr. Fedotov called for more funding, particularly for countries with limited resources and capacities.

"Our integrated and balanced approaches to the world drug problem stand little chance of succeeding if stated political commitments are not fully backed by adequate financial resources," he said.

Further information: 

UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov's Opening Statement

UNGASS 2016 website

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