Signing the Paris Protocol

Abstract

"It is particularly gratifying that these documents are apparently acceptable to all of us, for without universal acceptance of the protocol there would be gaps in the network of narcotics control over the new synthetic drugs, drugs which are as dangerous as they are easy to produce and their manufacture cannot be regulated through existing agreements. Without unanimity in purpose and method we could not be assured that the necessary regulations would be firmly and efficiently applied.

Details

Pages: 5 to 7
Creation Date: 1950/01/01

Signing the Paris Protocol

EXTRACTS OF SPEECHES MADE AT THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AT THE TIME OF THE DISCUSSION OF THE 1948 PROTOCOL

The Protocol placing under international control certain drugs not covered by the Limitation Convention is now in force. The Bulletin on Narcotics presents extracts of some of the speeches made at the time of its adoption at the third session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Mr. RAU (India):1 "... It is easy to imagine what would happen if the Committees in the adjoining room were to adopt unanimously, after a single day's discussion, a convention for the control of atomic energy. Yet is there such a great difference between the two problems? Both are the result of progress in scientific research, a progress which might be put to either good or bad uses. The destruction which the atomic bomb could wreak, though more limited, is more spectacular, whereas synthetic drugs do their work more insidiously, more continuously and on a larger scale. They destroy the mind before they destroy the body..."

Mr. EMILE ST. LOT (Haiti) (rapporteur, Third Committee):2 "In submitting the Report on the draft protocol placing under international control certain drugs not included in the Convention of 13 July 1931, I think it is my duty as Rapporteur to draw the attention of the General Assembly to the fact that the Third Committee took the decision unanimously with regard to the protocol and with regard to the resolutions now submitted to the Assembly. This unanimity was shown during the discussion on the two conditions which the Committee deemed essential for the success of our efforts, in order to forestall and master a danger which becomes more and more threatening, a danger of the appearance of synthetic new drugs which do not fall under the application of the existing treaties and which, if abused, are liable to engender and to spread drug addiction all over the world.

Document A/C.3/SR.88, 2 October 1948, summary record of the 88th meeting.

Document A/PV.149, 8 October, 1948, verbatim record of the 149th meeting.

"The first of the conditions I have mentioned is the proposal of universality of the application of the Protocol. Experience painfully acquired by the Governments of the world during long decades of difficult struggle against drug addiction and illicit traffic of drugs has proved that isolated efforts by Governments were not able to put an end to the evil. The most perfect legislation applied by the best organized administrators and by the best intentioned administrators who had all the means necessary to enforce it still were insufficient and very powerless before this insidious evil, as long as the Governments led the struggle single-handed.

"This is one of the essential reasons why The Hague Conference of 1912, and still more clearly, the Geneva Conferences of 1925 and 1931 set forth principles of coordination on an international level, at the level of the efforts of Governments and of the universal application of treaties concluded by these Conferences.

"In fact, it suffices that there should be a single territory in the world where the control over the manufacturing and distribution of drugs is not exercised with all vigilance, it suffices that there should be a single territory where the struggle against drug addiction and illicit traffic is not coordinated under the supervision of international control organs for this territory to become a focus of clandestine fabrication and illicit traffic from which drugs spread out and flood the world.

"These are the imperative reasons taken into account by the Third Committee in drafting and approving unanimously these passages which are submitted to the General Assembly for approval."

Mr. P. C. CHANG (China):3 "The Protocol before the General Assembly is a turning point in the campaign against the ever present danger of the abuse of narcotic drugs and of drug addiction.

"Science, more particularly modern pharmacology and chemistry, progressing rapidly in the field of synthetic drugs, has put at the disposal of medical therapy new analgesic substances capable of alleviating pain and suffering. Experts assure us that these substances should prove increasingly useful in the treatment of the sick and ailing, but at the same time we are warned that they are liable to cause drug addiction and if abused destroy the body and mind of men. These new synthetic drugs do not differ from the old and known ones like morphine, for instance. However, they differ from them in one very important respect; they do not fall under the existing international conventions on narcotics and thus completely escape international control. Thus, unwittingly, science has opened a dangerous loophole in the national and international system of control, a system of social defence built up patiently and with great effort in the last three decades by the concerted action of some seventy governments. It is generally known that this system, and the international administration created under the 1925 and 1931 Conventions, have functioned with a remarkable measure of success. There can be no doubt that the efficient operation of the international control machinery has resulted in an effective limitation of the manufacture of drugs to medical needs and in arresting the spread of drug addiction which, after the first World War, assumed in many countries the proportions of an epidemic. This system of international control and social defence is now in jeopardy and may crumble quickly if the new synthetic drugs are not brought speedily under control. The protocol before the Assembly aims at extending the existing system of control to these new drugs.

"The Chinese people know from a long and bitter experience how real and devastating narcotic substances can be. . ."

Mrs. ROOSEVELT (United States of America):4 "It is not always possible in international affairs, or even in local affairs, to reach unanimity when we need it, or universality when we must have it, or to demand speed and get it. But here is a situation apparently where we have all three. With this in mind, as we consider the proposed protocol and resolution for the control of new types of synthetic drugs, the United States delegation wishes to pay tribute to the remarkable work done by the Secretariat of the United Nations in developing and protecting these modern instruments of control in conjunction with the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the Economic and Social Council and the Third Committee of the General Assembly.

Document A/PV.150, 8 October 1948, verbatim record of the 150th meeting.

Ibid.

Full size image: 17 kB

Mrs. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit of India signs the Protocol on behalf of her Government

Full size image: 17 kB

His Excellency Ambassador Bogomolov of the USSR signs the Protocol on behalf of his Government

Full size image: 13 kB

Mr. Willard L. Thorp signs the Protocol for the United States of America

"It is particularly gratifying that these documents are apparently acceptable to all of us, for without universal acceptance of the protocol there would be gaps in the network of narcotics control over the new synthetic drugs, drugs which are as dangerous as they are easy to produce and their manufacture cannot be regulated through existing agreements. Without unanimity in purpose and method we could not be assured that the necessary regulations would be firmly and efficiently applied.

"When the final vote of those in favour took place in the Third Committee, every representative around the table raised his hand. I hope that will happen here too in this plenary session of the General Assembly. Like other scientific discoveries of our age, these new drugs have come upon us suddenly with their power for good or evil. Speed has been necessary to meet this threat and continues to be necessary as we adopt and apply the measures of control.

"With skill and with concern for the views of various nations, the protocol and resolution have been prepared so that we may approve them without hesitation and with real enthusiasm. These measures are designed to supplement and, in effect, modernize the existing conventions of 1925 and 1931, and they will draw upon the resources of the United Nations Secretariat, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and the World Health Organization in such a way as to weave stronger the fabric of international co-operation. This latter achievement, of course, has not been won without effort.

"I am told that narcotics control has a history of over a hundred years, and the notable work of the League of Nations in this field was only the most extensive and recent foundation for the excellent system now operated by the United Nations. Even in the Third Committee our unanimous decision was not reached without difficulty and mutual adjustment of divergent views. . ."

Mr. MALIK (Lebanon) :5 ". . . I should like to draw the attention of the General Assembly to the fact that both the Economic and Social Council and the Third Committee were greatly impressed by the urgency of the matter before the General Assembly and by the necessity of rapidly taking adequate measures to bring under international control synthetic drugs which are liable to create drug addiction.

Ibid.

Document A/PV.150, 8 October 1948, verbatim record of the 150th meeting.

"I should add that anyone who attended the meetings of the Committee on Narcotic Drugs or studied therecord would be equally impressed by the sense of great urgency which animated the deliberations of that Committee on the protocol which is now before the General Assembly.

"In modern times legislative processes, even if they are not impeded by political considerations, are slower than scientific discoveries, and legislators-above all international legislators-need sometimes considerable time to regulate by law conditions changed by the progress of science. The protocol before the General Assembly was drawn up in record time. In August last year on the proposal of the Committee on Narcotic Drugs the Economic and Social Council requested the Secretary-General to draft the protocol and to circulate it to Governments for their comments. In May this year the Committee on Narcotic Drugs and in August the Economic and Social Council approved the draft amended in the light of observations by Governments; and now, in less than 14 months since this question was first taken up by the United Nations, the General Assembly is called upon to approve the protocol and the Secretary-General invited to fix the earliest date possible for its signature during the present session of the General Assembly. This is certainly a very satisfactory result, and which let us say it would be impossible to achieve without or outside the United Nations.

"Let us imagine, indeed, that the matter had to be handled through the ordinary diplomatic channels, and international conferences had to be called, especially to conclude a protocol of this kind. We know from experience that many years are needed to obtain a result for which the United Nations required less than fourteen months. I may be permitted to bring out another point which deserves particular attention. . ."

Mr. PAVLOV (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics):6 "The USSR delegation agrees with the text of the protocol under discussion, as it is now drafted, but it does object to article 8 of the protocol, because article 8 does not cover the lack of control and the utilization of control in such countries where the illegitimate use of narcotics is most widespread.

In view of what I have just said, article 8 of the protocol does not appear acceptable to the USSR delegation. That article, in the present draft, provides that any State which becomes a signatory to the protocol now, or any time after it has become a signatory thereto, may or may not extend the protocol to all or some of the territories for which it is responsible. That means that the question as to whether the protocol will or will not be extended to such territories is left entirely to the metropolitan Powers . . ."