Vienna, 25 October 2023 – “To face the illicit drug markets of today, we need global solidarity, cooperation and consensus-building,” said Ms. Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
In remarks delivered by John Brandolino, UNODC Director of Treaty Affairs, Ms. Waly implored delegates at the opening of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) Thematic Discussions on the 2019 Ministerial Declaration “not to forget or neglect the world drug problem and the millions of victims it affects.”
Held amidst the backdrop of evolving drug trends and persistent and emerging challenges posed by the world drug problem, which has been exacerbated by ongoing conflict and violence, the three-day event is the first of two sessions this year aimed at fostering an inclusive and informed dialogue on key thematic areas.
Referring to the changing global drug landscape, Ms. Waly highlighted the rapidly shifting and expanding illicit production and trafficking of drugs, with synthetic drugs proving an “urgent, complex and growing problem, with seizures reaching record highs.”
Adding to this challenge is the fact that the business model of drug trafficking is becoming less centralized and more agile, a development observed with both synthetic and plant-based drugs. “The dangerous intersection of drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime and terrorism must also be better studied and prioritized, especially in this volatile global context,” she noted.
UNODC’s first-ever Global Cocaine Report, published earlier this year, found that smaller criminal groups are playing an increasing role in cocaine trafficking, forming looser networks that control parts of a fragmented supply chain.
Recognizing the 10th Anniversary of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Alternative Development, Ms. Waly emphasized that, to reduce illicit cultivation, it is crucial to help local communities end dependence on the illicit economy.
Ms. Waly further noted that the CND is a place to come together to build consensus and overcome divides, under the umbrella of the UN and based on shared obligations and commitments.
The President of the International Narcotics Control Board also spoke at the event and reminded delegates that “the fundamental concern of the conventions is to safeguard the health and welfare of humankind.”
At its 62nd session in March 2019, the Commission adopted by consensus the Ministerial Declaration entitled “Strengthening Our Actions at the National, Regional and International Levels to Accelerate the Implementation of our Joint Commitments to Address and Counter the World Drug Problem.”
To follow-up to the commitments made, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs has organized global thematic discussions every autumn from 2019 to 2022, focusing each year on selected topics, ranging from drugs supply and organized crime to health and related challenges.
“These thematic discussions are an important step on the road to next year’s Midterm Review of international drug policy commitments,” said Ms. Waly. The 2024 Midterm Review will serve to assess progress made in the implementation of all international drug policy commitments.
In the lead-up to the Midterm Review, the 2023 thematic discussions aim to undertake a comprehensive stock-taking of progress made by the international community across all 11 challenges identified in the Ministerial Declaration. Over 700 participants from across the globe took part in the October meeting.
“UNODC will continue to support [Member States] in fully implementing all international drug policy commitments, based on science and evidence, and in line with human rights obligations,” Ms. Waly concluded.