Vienna (Austria), 12 April 2021 — The 64th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) started today with a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and a call by the Secretary-General for solidarity, shared responsibility and international cooperation to improve health coverage, protect societies and recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Approximately 1400 participants attended the event, with 128 Member States represented among the attendees. Members of 19 intergovernmental organizations and 72 non-governmental organizations were also in attendance.
At the opening of the General Debate, the Commission adopted by consensus a joint statement on the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on the implementation of Member States’ joint commitments to address and counter all aspects of the world drug problem.
The Chair of the 64th session, H.E. Ms. Dominika Krois, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Poland, delivered the powerful statement on behalf of the Commission.
UNODC Executive Director, Ghada Waly, addressed the session as part of the ceremonial opening, also delivering a video message by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Ms. Waly highlighted the need to build and invest in joint action through the conventions to address present challenges: “The growing complexities of the world drug problem impair our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in this challenging Decade of Action. The situation has only been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Rising poverty and unemployment resulting from the crisis have also further deepened vulnerabilities,” said Ms. Waly. “Studies from the 2008 financial crisis show that in its aftermath, drug use patterns became more harmful while government budgets to address the drug problem decreased. We must be prepared to face similar challenges in the current crisis. At UNODC, we have been assisting policymakers and providers of drug prevention, treatment and care, as well as HIV services, with capacity-building throughout the pandemic.”
Nineteen side events took place on the first day of the 64th session of the CND, highlighting the search for joint solutions in matters of drug control policy formulation and addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these, were:
The event marked the ten-year anniversary of the MoU between UNODC and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to promote health, safety and security for for more than 3 billion people, or 40% of the world’s population, in China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan. Some important operational results that UNODC has achieved in this time, include: 19 new offices created, including a Border Liaison Office on the Kazakh-Uzbek border at the end of March, and several Air Cargo Control Units that are helping to counter drug trafficking in the region.
Organized by Germany with the support of Peru, and the UNODC Sustainable Livelihoods Unit. The side event focused on the impact of COVID-19 on smallholder farmers and addressed linkages between illicit crop cultivation, the environment and Alternative Development. Smallholder farmers are severely affected by COVID-19 and the root causes for driving them to cultivate illicit drug crops may be exacerbated because of the pandemic. Alternative development aims to provide sustainable livelihoods to communities that cultivate illicit drug crops; by reducing dependency on income from opium poppy and coca bush and providing licit income opportunities from agroforestry and high-value cash crops like coffee, cocoa, and tea.
Organized by the Russian Federation with the support of Algeria, Belarus, Belgium, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Singapore, Sweden, Tajikistan and Thailand, the European Union, the International Narcotics Control Board, and the UNODC Research and Trend Analysis Branch. The event addressed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world drug problem, considering the different perspectives of this global challenge. Participants addressed the complexities posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, delving into trends and current dynamics, while highlighting the need for drug data and dedicated research around COVID-19. Participants furthered agreed on the need for enhanced international cooperation and issued a special statement to that effect at the opening of its 64th session, delivered by the President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Cornelis P. de Joncheere.
Organized by the UNODC Laboratory and Scientific Section with the support of the United Kingdom. The event highlighted the “footloose” nature of the illicit industry and the dangers of its integration into the licit economy. Over the past decade, the affordability, availability and purity of synthetic drugs has increased alongside globalized trafficking patterns and transcontinental collaboration among criminal organizations. The harms associated with their use have also been on the rise. The manufacture of synthetic drugs requires the use of precursor chemicals and criminals often take these out of the legal market to use them for illicit purposes. Through international cooperation, UNODC has helped prevent the diversion of some of the most frequently used precursors. More information here.
The CND convenes annually and is the foremost drug-policy making body in the United Nations (UN) system, responsible for monitoring the world drug situation, developing evidence-based strategies for drug control and recommending measures to address the world drug problem.