Review of the twenty-fourth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs


Review of the twenty-fourth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs


Membership and attendance


Pages: 21 to 29
Creation Date: 1972/01/01

Review of the twenty-fourth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

A view of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at its 24th session

Full size image: 78 kB, A view of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at its 24th session


The twenty-fourth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs was held in Geneva from 27 September to 21 October 1971, nearly two years and ten months after the twenty-third session in January 1969. In formal terms the Commission is now supposed to meet every two years instead of annually by decision of the Economic and Social Council, and the twenty-fourth session was the first time that this decision of the Council was being applied. In actual fact, however, the drug problem had taken such an alarming turn that between the twenty-third and the twenty-fourth sessions the Commission held two special sessions.

The agenda of the twenty-fourth session reflected the work that had been accomplished at the two emergency sessions of 1970. The first special session had accomplished the exceedingly difficult task of completing a draft treaty that served as a basis for the Convention on Psychotropic Substances adopted in Vienna in 1971.

The second special session began a mounting series of decisions at the international level which led to the establishment of the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control, and to the preparation by the Secretary-General of a Plan for Concerted Long-term and Short-term Action against Drug Abuse. The twenty-fourth session therefore convened at a moment when the world's treaty framework to fight all abuse of drugs had been strengthened, and when the international community was beginning to organize and apply finance as well as realistic concepts to fight the illicit supply and demand for drugs, and break illicit traffic connecting them.

The twenty-fourth session also considered the perennial items on its agenda such as the abuse of drugs, the world situation as regards the illicit traffic, and the work of organizations such as the International Narcotic Control Board and the World Health Organization.

Dr. Johnson-Romuald, Chairman of the 24th session, seen with Dr. V. Kuševic, Director of the Division of Narcotic Drugs, who represented the Secretary-General at the conference

Full size image: 9 kB, Dr. Johnson-Romuald, Chairman of the 24th session, seen with Dr. V. Kuševic, Director of the Division of Narcotic Drugs, who represented the Secretary-General at the conference

Before the Commission met, the Government of Turkey had announced its decision to prohibit opium poppy cultivation and the production of opium on its territory as from autumn 1972. This development aroused great interest and appreciation in the Commission, because of its immediate repercussion and the permanent effect it was likely to have on many aspects of the drugs problem in the world.

In addition there were also two new items on the Commission's agenda: the first was the report of the Secretary-General on his consultations with the governments concerned following the Iranian decision to resume the production of opium; the second related to amendments to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, upon which the Commission was required to comment.

Membership and attendance

The members of the Commission at the twenty-fourth session were: Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Arab Republic of Egypt, Federal Republic of Germany, France, Ghana, Hungary, India, Iran, Jamaica, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom, United States and Yugoslavia.

The session was also attended by observers from the following States: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Burma, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Greece, Holy See, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Republic of Viet Nam, Venezuela.

The following States were invited to send observers, but were unable to do so: Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Jordan, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Morocco, Nepal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Syria, Tanzania and Tunisia.

Carl W. A. Schurmann, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for the UN Fund for Drug Abuse Control, who participated in this session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

Full size image: 54 kB, Carl W. A. Schurmann, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for the UN Fund for Drug Abuse Control, who participated in this session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

The Food Agricultural Organization, the World Health Organization, International Labour Organisation, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the International Narcotic Control Board, the Customs Cooperation Council and the International Arab Narcotics Bureau of the League of Arab States, as well as the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), an international organization with a special agreement with the Economic and Social Council, attended the session.

The following non-governmental organizations were represented: the League of Red Cross Societies, the International Federation of Women Lawyers, the World Young Women's Christian Association, the Friends World Committee for Consultations and the International Council of Alcohol and Addictions.



It was in the early days of the session that the Commission took account of a decree passed by the Government of Turkey on 29 June 1971 to prohibit poppy cultivation and opium production with effect from autumn 1972. At the same time it noted amending legislation adopted by the Turkish Parliament in August 1971, applying stricter control, through a licensing system on all poppy cultivation until it ceases altogether after the next three sowing seasons.

The Commission was informed by the representative of Turkey that the Government had at the same time adopted measures to compensate poppy growers for the loss of income resulting from the decision to ban cultivation. The farmers would receive compensation based on the international market value of the whole poppy harvest, including opium seeds and poppy straw which used to be sold to the Agricultural Products Office.

The Commission welcomed the decisions taken by the Government of Turkey as a landmark in the history of the control of drugs. Representatives were unanimous that Turkey should be given every possible assistance to implement these decisions which were inspired by a spirit of international responsibility.

The representative of the United States of America informed the Commission of the measures being taken by his Government in agreement with the Government of Turkey to send a team of specialists to assist Turkey in meeting the agricultural and socio-economic problems which will arise as a result of the ban. The USA would also provide technical assistance.


The Commission saw the decision of the Turkish Government in its international context and it emphasized the importance of co-operation in drug control, not only at the international, but also at the regional level. Several representatives referred to the value of bilateral or multilateral aid agreements, but said it was important not to lose sight of the fact that all co-operation must be based on national action by each country and the firm determination of Governments to take measures, first, within their own borders and thereafter in co-operation with their neighbours and the other countries of the world.

With respect to regional action, the representative of France informed the Commission of the message of 6 August 1971 by the President of the French Republic to the Heads of Government of the countries of the European Economic Community and to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in which he had said that within the framework of the international narcotics treaties, there should be agreement at the regional level on improved co-operation and continuous collaboration. Such bodies as the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, WHO, ICPO/Interpol, etc., could not solve drug problems on their own; nothing could be done without sustained national effort accompanied by a drive at the European level. Hence the idea of proposing that the countries of the European Economic Community should take up the problem at the regional level. The following suggestions had been put forward: (i) reinforcement of police and customs efforts by means of frequent high-level meetings to determine a joint policy for controlling the illicit traffic; (ii) possible establishment of specialized regional laboratories for devising and applying practical measures for standardizing methods of expertise, etc.; (iii) joint research on better methods of prevention and treatment, e.g. epidemiological studies with the assistance of WHO; information and its possible control; experimental development of treatment methods; so far as possible, equalization of the penalties imposed in the different European countries, harmonization of regulations on poisonous substances; the rapid exchange of information on the secondary effects of new synthetic products with regard to dependence; training of specialists, etc.

The representative of the United States explained statements by the President of the United States and the decisions taken to launch a major campaign of drug abuse control in his country. Far from being confined to the United States, this effort had already spread, and would do so to an increasing extent, to other countries of the world where the problems presented by drug abuse, illicit or uncontrolled drug production, or the illicit traffic, were particularly severe. In addition to the bilateral agreement with Turkey mentioned earlier, he described a mutual co-operation agreement with Thailand for the development of a programme to abolish illicit poppy cultivation, and stated that the programme would eventually be co-ordinated with any other programmes that might be instituted, in particular, by the United Nations.

The United States representative congratulated the Government of Mexico on the bold and effective measure represented by the new Mexican Act, providing, inter alia, for measures of expropriation in the case of poppy or cannabis growers. He paid tribute to Mexico's effective action in combating the illicit traffic, and stressed the value of the close co-operation between the Mexican Government and his own.

The Commission was unanimous in applauding these new initiatives; while national measures were the first requirement to fight drug abuse and trafficking, they could not bear fruit without international support.


The Commission examined the suggestions made by the Secretary-General for concerted short-term and long-term action against drug abuse. Specific proposals were made in the following fields: replacement of narcotic crops through development of the rural economy; treatment, rehabilitation and social re-integration of addicts; legislative, administrative and law enforcement measures; education, information and research. The study discussed the role that should be played by the United Nations, the specialized agencies and other bodies, and it also examined questions of financing and administration.

The Plan set out 147 projects, which the representative of the Secretary-General made clear were to be considered more as guide-lines than as concrete proposals. Action on a world scale would require a very flexible and pragmatic approach and adjustments would have to be made in the light of experience.

The Commission appreciated that the execution of the Plan would allow for a simultaneous attack on the supply of drugs of abuse and the demand for them, and the illicit traffic which linked the two. It was clear that any action taken in a country would only be with the consent and the co-operation of the Government concerned. While projects would be begun with the assistance of international personnel, nationals of the country concerned would take over as soon as possible.


The genesis of the Fund had been one of the most rapid of its kind; in October 1970, at the second special session the Commission adopted a resolution looking to its establishment; in November 1970 the Council made the Commission's decision its own, and put it to the General Assembly for approval; in December 1970 the Assembly welcomed the establishment of the Fund, endorsed the programmes being developed to contain the drug abuse problem, and asked the Secretary-General to implement these decisions as rapidly as possible. The Assembly had also appealed for governmental and private support.

By letter of 26 March to Governments, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, informed them that he had established the UN Fund for Drug Abuse Control, and the news was made public on 1 April 1971.

In writing to Governments, the Secretary-General sent an aide-mémoire entitled "An Expanded United Nations Programme of Drug Abuse Control", in which he expressed the raison d'étre as follows:

"In the past ten years, drug abuse and drug addiction have taken on increasingly dangerous proportions in many parts of the world. The situation is aggravated by the continuous introduction of new psychotropic substances which are liable to be misused. This trend has affected not only developed countries but also developing countries, and is especially dangerous in the latter because they have limited resources to deal with the situation. The reasons for the spread of drug abuse are complex and are different in different countries, and some of them are very difficult to remove; nevertheless, effective remedial action can and must be taken. It is clear that the problem requires international measures to deal with it; it is clear in broad outlines what those measures should be, and it is also clear that, unless corrective steps are taken, the present trend can lead only to disaster on an international scale. Concerted and simultaneous action must be taken on the supply of drugs for purposes of abuse, on the demand for such purposes and on the illicit traffic which serves as a channel connecting production with demand.

"The supply of traditional drugs comes largely from the illicit or uncontrolled production of narcotic raw materials. This occurs generally in the least developed areas of developing countries, which have many claims on their limited means and need the help of developed countries if they are to replace the growing of narcotic crops with other activities.

"The demand for drugs comes from large numbers of addicts and habitual abusers in many parts of the world, and it stimulates both production and the illicit traffic. To diminish demand, addicts and abusers must be treated and reintegrated as productive members of society. This treatment and reintegration cannot follow a wholly uniform pattern everywhere, but must be based on studies which take full account of social and economic conditions, cultural traditions, etc., in each country or region. Moreover, demand must also be reduced by preventive measures, which include education, particularly of young people, in the dangers of drug-taking and addiction. In developing countries, measures to reduce the demand require the help of developed countries. If such help is not forthcoming, there is a serious risk that addiction will spread from new sources of contagion, and that new centres for the illicit traffic will come into being.

"The repression of the illicit traffic requires the strengthening of enforcement action in many countries of the world. No country can defend itself against the illicit traffic without the co-operation of other countries, and common efforts will have to be undertaken on the international level to deal with this aspect."

The Secretary-General declared that the purpose of the Fund would be to develop short-term and long-term plans and programmes along these lines, and assist in their execution.

He hoped that initially the Fund would have some 5 million dollars annually in voluntary contributions from all sources, and that after the first years some 20 million dollars might become available.

He later appointed C. W. A. Schurmann of the Netherlands his Personal Representative with over-all responsibility for the Fund.

When the Commission met, contributions totalled a little over two million dollars. The Personal Representative of the Secretary-General stated before the Commission that these contributions fell far short of the resources that the Fund required.

The discussion in the Commission revealed broad support for the Fund. Several of the developed countries indicated that they would be making contributions, and before the session ended the representative of Canada declared that his government's contribution would be substantial. The developing countries expressed keen interest in the Fund, and while unable to contribute in financial terms, were prepared to assist in attaining the Fund's objectives through other means, for example by providing personnel and facilities for projects financed by it.

During the session another $10,000 were contributed, half the amount coming from a UN official, the Director of the Division of Narcotic Drugs, which represented the total amount of the Edward W. Browning Award received by him. The other contribution of $5,000 was announced by Iran.

The Personal Representative of the Secretary-General indicated that he was negotiating with several governments and expected that more contributions would be forth-coming. There was also the possibility of contributions by pharmaceutical industries all over the world. He warned, however, against an attitude that some governments had expressed that they would "wait and see" the results achieved through projects implemented by the Fund, before contributing to it. He said such an attitude would create a complete vicious circle in that there could not be results without money, and if the money was not enough, what was spent was likely to be wasted.

After the session France announced a contribution of $100,000 to the Fund, and the German Federal Republic pledged DM 1,000,000 ($301,204). The total resources of the Fund at the time this number goes to press stand at $2,422,034.


The Commission received with keen appreciation the report of the Secretary-General on the discussions his representative had had with the Governments of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey. This mission had been entrusted to the Secretary-General at the 23rd session, when the Commission had been concerned about Iran's decision to resume opium production, which had been banned since 1955.

Though the report of the Secretary-General was more than two years old and had been overtaken by events-Turkey's announcement that it would stop producing opium at the end of 1972, being the most important such development-the Commission felt the report was valuable, comprehensive and balanced. It expressed the hope that similar missions would be carried out on behalf of the Secretary-General to other problem areas in the field of drugs control.

The report contained some information which the Commission considered to be of a delicate and confidential character, and for this reason it took the unusual decision of discussing the major part of it in closed session.

(i) Turkey

The representative of Turkey informed the Commission that the advance announcement that opium production would end with the autumn sowing season of 1972 had made traditional cultivators of opium poppy already begin to look for substitute crops. The Government had declared a sixty-six per cent increase in the official purchasing price of the opium harvest delivered to the State. This had led to the impressive response on the part of the farmers of delivering 149 tons of opium to the Turkish Soil Products Office in 1971 as compared to 63 tons delivered by the farmers in 1970.

Government experts had estimated the quantity of the 1971 crop at 150 tons; with the delivery of 149 tons already recorded it was clear that very little if any opium from the last harvest could be expected to enter the illicit market.

(ii) Iran

The representative of Iran stated that poppy cultivation had been resumed in his country exclusively in limited areas and under Government licence. The total area under the crop was laid down for each province every year by a legislative decree, and the Council of Ministers authorized the Ministry of Rural Affairs and Co-operatives to issue the necessary licences. Trade in opium was the exclusive monopoly of the State, and the harvest was purchased on the very day of the incision of the poppy heads by officials of the ministry of Rural Affairs and immediately transferred to Government stores. The purchase price was approximately twelve times that of the price of raw opium in the licitinternational market; licensed growers were paid $100 per kg of opium with 30 to 36 per cent water content, so that the cost of standardized opium (5 to 6 per cent water content) came to $120 per kg. Any cultivation of the poppy plant without licence, any cultivation beyond the licensed area, and any failure to deliver the harvest product to the Government officials, constituted punishable offences and the offenders were prosecuted as smugglers. As a result, no diversion into the black market had so far been reported.

He stated that opium production in Iran was under the strict controls envisaged under the 1953 Opium Protocol to which Iran was a Party. The representative of Iran welcomed the news that Turkey would stop the production of opium next year, and he told the Commission that if opium production in the other areas from which the drug illicitly entered Iran ceased, then his Government would be prepared to review its provisional policy of resumption of opium production in its territory.

The representative of INCB considered that Iran displayed sense of responsibility in the controls it has applied to its resumed production, and the Board had been kept fully informed of the measures taken. In 1969, when production had been restarted, some 8 tons of opium had been produced, in 1970 the quantity had risen to 65 tons and in 1971 the Government estimated a total production of 140 tons.

(iii) Afghanistan

As regards the situation in Afghanistan, there was a general recognition in the Commission of the difficulties the Government faced in implementing its treaty obligations, and indeed in giving effect to its national legislation which banned opium production.

The Government had recognized that illicit opium production took place in its territory, but it stated that it did not have sufficient resources, material or administrative, to put an end to this illicit production. It was ready to receive a mission to study the possibility of developing the opium-growing areas, particularly Badakshan, provided that the composition of the mission was acceptable to it and it did not itself have to make any significant financial contributions for projects arising out of this mission.

There was some feeling in the Commission that the attitude of the Government was perhaps too passive. It was considered that Afghanistan should give some evidence in practical terms of the measures it had itself taken with respect to illicit opium production on its territory which was in violation of its own laws. International assistance was available, but could hardly be envisaged if the attitude on the receiving side was negative.

(iv) Pakistan

The representative of Pakistan said that such licit production of opium as took place in his country was under the same controls as in India. This production, being only for national needs, was not of much economic interest, and, as such, remained more or less stationary. So far as illicit production was concerned, the government was aware that such production did take place, but it was not on a scale that could be considered very extensive. This production was centred in the tribal area in the north-west of Pakistan which was under full government control, though the form of administration differed in some respects from that in other parts of the country: it was traditional and pre-dated the establishment of Pakistan in 1947. Since then, the Government had progressively extended to the tribal areas some of the laws applicable in other parts of its territory, including the laws relating to narcotic drugs. At the same time a concerted effort was being made to further the economic and social development of this particular part of the country. This government policy, combined with administrative measures, was bound to have a salutary effect on opium production in the tribal area and on the control of illicit traffic.

* **

The Commission emphasized the positive aspects that had emerged from its discussion. The Government of Turkey had taken a momentous decision which in time should have a direct effect upon the situation of illicit opium production and trafficking in the region; the Government of Iran's resumption of opium production, while under stringent controls, was a provisional policy and would be reviewed in the light of developments in those other parts of the region from which illicit opium traffic into Iran also originated; the Government of Iran should consider moving ahead rapidly with its programme for the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts; the Government of Afghanistan should be encouraged to discuss and accept international assistance with a view to containing, and progressively eliminating, illicit opium production in its territory; the Commission should be kept informed of the measures being taken in Pakistan which the Government expects would have salutary effect upon the illicit opium production that took place in part of its territory.

Ad Hoc Committee on Illicit Traffic in the region

In the light of its discussion, the Commission set up an Ad Hoc Committee on Illicit Traffic in the Near and Middle East composed of Iran, Pakistan and Turkey as members, in which Afghanistan (which is not a member of the Commission) was invited to participate. The Committee could hold meetings in the territory of the States represented on it.

In establishing this Committee, the Commission has created a means of keeping the situation in the four countries under study at a high political level and it may be hoped that the work of the Committee will lead to positive results.


The Commission considered the measures with international implication that it would need to take to prepare for the entry into force of this new treaty.

These matters arise out of the obligation that will be put upon Parties to make certain notices or notifications to the Secretary-General, to make reports and furnish information to the Secretary-General, and to furnish statistical reports to the International Narcotic Control Board, as follows:

  1. To notify the Secretary-General under article 2 and furnish him with information relating to a substance which, in the opinion of the Party, may require to be added to any of the Schedules of the Convention, or to be transferred from one Schedule to another, or to be deleted from the Schedules;

  2. To give notice to the Secretary-General under article 2, para. 7, if the Party exercises the right of "non-acceptance" permitted thereunder;

  3. To notify the Secretary-General if the Party exempts preparations in the terms of article 3;

  4. To notify all other Parties, through the Secretary-General, of prohibitions of imports made by a Party under article 13;

  5. To notify the Secretary-General in accordance with article 16, para. 2, of the names and addresses of the governmental authorities referred to in sub-paragraph ( f) of article 7, in article 12 and in paragraph 3 of article 13;

  6. To export or import psychotropic substances in Schedules I and II of the Convention by separate import or export authorization for each such export or import;

  7. To furnish reports to the Secretary-General and to the INCB under article 16;

  8. To require that exporters of substances in Schedule III draw up a declaration for each such export on a form to be established by the Commission in terms of article 12, paragraph 2 (a), which further sets out the role of this declaration in the export and import of Schedule III substances.

The Commission decided that the Secretariat should prepare model forms for notices and notifications. It further decided that Annual Reports by Governments both for narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances should be made on a single form. It requested the Secretariat to review the existing form for reporting under the narcotics treaties, and to make proposals for adjusting it so as to take into account the information to be sent under the Psychotropic Substances Convention.

The Commission noted that the Convention on Psychotropic Substances had been signed by 27 States, and there had been one ratification. The Commission recommended a resolution to the Council by which it would urge Governments which had not already done so to initiate measures for ratifying or acceeding to the treaty. The treaty will come into effect when it has been ratified or signed with the signature not subject to ratification by 40 States.


Four months before the Commission's session, the Economic and Social Council on 20 May 1971 had adopted resolution 1577 (L) by which it convened a conference to consider "all amendments proposed to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961...". In this resolution, the Council requested the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to study all amendments to the Single Convention and submit comments which would be taken into account by the Conference. The Council had been seized of the matter at the request of the United States which had proposed amendments to the Single Convention, and these amendments were circulated at the Council's session. When the Commission met, these were the only amendments in existence, but France, Sweden and Peru submitted other amendments by a deadline set by the Commission for its consideration, and these were accordingly also taken into account by it.

Amendments proposed by the United States of America *

These amendments were designed inter alia to strengthen the authority of the International Narcotics Control Board, permit it to have wider access to information and greater possibilities of action, to require estimates of intended opium production, and to facilitate co-operation among Parties for the extradition of traffickers.

* Note by the Editor

The amendments by the United States of America, France and Sweden which are reflected above in a very summary form, were discussed by the Commission and are fully presented in its report.

At the time that this number of the Bulletin went to press, the Governments concerned had declared the above amendment to have been superseded by joint proposals for amendments made by them and eight other Governments, joined by other co-sponsors, which were broadly intended to achieve the same objectives as the amendments which were submitted by the three Governments separately.

These joint proposals, found in UN document E/CONF.63/5, were placed before the United Nations Conference to Consider Amendments to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 (Geneva, 6-24 March, 1972).

The amendment by Peru, in a recast form, was also considered by the Conference.

A subsequent number of the Bulletinwill review the work of the Conference, and the decisions that it took on all the proposals for amendments considered by it.

Amendments proposed by Sweden *

The Swedish proposals were intended to bring the existing provisions for the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts in the Single Convention in line with more modern views on the problem of drug abuse.

Amendments proposed by France *

The amendments proposed by France were related inter alia to strengthening the powers of the Board by assuring a greater degree of independence to it, and by increasing the term of office of the members from three to five years.

Amendments proposed by Peru *

The Peruvian amendment was intended to limit imports of coca leaves to the quantities required by each importing country to meet its domestic requirements, and thus to prevent the manufacture of alkaloids for export by countries not producing coca.


The amendments were discussed very closely in the Commission, and the report of the discussion transmitted to the Conference of Plenipotentiaries, together with the records. The Commission also adopted by 20 to none with 3 abstentions a resolution asking governments to study all proposals for amendments carefully. In this resolution, the Commission expresses the belief that "a review of some of the provisions of the Single Convention is warranted, bearing in mind the purposes of that Convention and to this end to provide for increased international co-operation and control to eliminate illegal narcotics production and traffic".


The Commission studied data about drug abuse obtained by the Secretary-General from official reports of Governments. It recommended to the Council to adopt a resolution on the abuse of cannabis and multiple drug abuse and the need to ensure severe control and pursue medico-social research in this field. In the resolution the Council is called upon to express regret at unfounded assertions that cannabis is innocuous. The Council would further recommend to governments to apply the most strict measures to prevent the abuse of and illicit traffic in cannabis, and it would invite the Secretary-General and the World Health Organization and all competent institutions to co-ordinate and promote scientific research on cannabis, and in particular to give attention to the problem of multiple drug abuse.

The Commission also recommended to the Council to adopt a resolution on the problem of khat.This is a plant, known botanically as catha edulis, the leaves of which are chewed for a certain euphoric effect in certain parts of East Africa and South Arabia. By this resolution, the Council would be called upon to recommend that WHO should continue its research to find out the active substances contained in the khatleaves, and the pharmacological action and socio-medical effects of khatabuse.


The Commission noted from data presented jointly by the Secretariat and INTERPOL that seizures of opium and opiates had remained more or less constant.

The main figures shown by the statistics and reports furnished by governments showed that compared with 1967 seizures of opium and opiates remained more or less constant in the two years 1968 and 1969, those of cocaine increased by about 60 per cent and those of cannabis increased by about 25 per cent. The predominant part played in the figures relating to cannabis by seizures in southern Africa concealed increases in the rest of the world of from 250 per cent to 1,250 per cent. The figures for 1970, although still incomplete, showed falls in the totals of opium, morphine and cannabis resin, but heroin, cocaine, cannabis and LSD were all higher. The number of seizures of cannabis in the international traffic coming to the notice of ICPO/Interpol in 1970 had totalled 2,280 as against 516 in 1968.

Methods of smuggling

While the great bulk of drugs in the illicit traffic continued to be moved by the traditional means and along accustomed routes, there were three fresh developments during the period 1968-1969:

  1. Large quantities of drugs, mainly but not entirely cannabis resin, were carried and dealt in by young people; ICPO/Interpol, for instance, reported that half the cannabis and a quarter of the opium brought into Europe in 1968 were handled by "tourists", while Lebanon reported the price of cannabis resin rose sharply in the same year owing to the demand from foreigners who wished to export it to their own countries.

  2. Considerable amounts of cannabis resin were brought into Europe by road from the Middle East. Thus, quantities seized in 1969 in Bulgaria (which reported the seizures of no other drugs) from 30 foreigners of 13 nationalities in transit totalled 1,157 kg, which had been bought in four different countries. Other countries in the southeast of Europe experienced similar conditions.

  3. The use of the post became a popular means of sending drugs to other countries. In 1967 some 7 kg of cannabis resin were intercepted at Pakistan post offices on their way to Europe and the USA; only two other reports were received of seizures in the post in that year. Seizures reported in 1969, however, totalled nearly 300, all but three of them in connexion with cannabis and cannabis resin. Almost the whole of this traffic originated From foreign visitors, most of them young people, to the Middle East, India and Pakistan.

As a result of the measures taken by the French authorities and the major seizures of heroin and morphine base in 1971, there was now a tendency by traffickers to try and avoid France and to use other areas hitherto little affected, such as the Federal Republic of Germany, Spain, Latin America and the island of Puerto Rico.

A new category of traffickers appeared to be emerging between the highly organized gangs working on a large scale and the individuals smuggling one or two kilograms for the use of themselves and their friends. Among the latter there was a growing awareness of commercial possibilities, and small groups were now dealing in quantities of 10-25 kg of cannabis resin or opium. Merchant seamen, who at one time formed a large proportion of traffickers, were now of comparatively little importance.


The Commission also review the implementation of the narcotics treaties, and other matters such as the programme of scientific research and technical assistance carried out by the United Nations Secretariat through the Division of Narcotic Drugs.

In discharge of its functions under the Single Convention, the Commission decided to add the drug known as propiramto Schedule II of this treaty. (At the time of writing, 83 states are Parties to the Convention.)

The report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on its 24th session will go before the Economic and Social Council at its session in spring 1972.

The next session of the Commission is likely to be held in Geneva in January/February 1973.