6 February 1998

Switzerland to Ratify The 1988 UN Convention on Drugs

VIENNA, 5 February (UN Information Service) -- Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, and Director General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, paid an official visit to Switzerland on 3 February.

During the visit Mr. Arlacchi met with Ms. Ruth Dreifuss, Federal Counsellor, Professor Zeltner, Director of the Federal Office for Health, Ms. Carla Del Ponte, Public Prosecutor and other Swiss Government officials.

Switzerland, who has ratified two of the three most important international drug conventions, announced that they would be soon ratifying the third Convention - the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

Mr. Arlacchi and representatives of the Swiss Authorities discussed the issue of the Swiss policy on drugs. At the conclusion of the meetings, Mr. Arlacchi stated that the international conventions on drug control do not prohibit the limited medical and scientific use of heroin, under very strict control.

Mr. Arlacchi stated further that the Swiss experiment on drugs had been widely misinterpreted, particularly regarding the debate surrounding the legalization of hard drugs. In this respect he requested the Swiss Authorities to state clearly that they have no intention either to directly or indirectly adopt a policy of legalization, or to undertake a programme of controlled distribution of heroin to a much larger number of heroin users.

Mr. Arlacchi noted that the result of the prescription of heroin to addicts must be seen in the context of the remarkable quality of social assistance made available by the Federal Authorities and to the fact that Switzerland has invested more than US$ 100 million in the fight against drug trafficking and abuse. Mr. Arlacchi also noted that the ? heroin experiment? affected only about three percent of the drug abusers under medical care.

The Swiss Authorities and Mr. Arlacchi stressed that the peculiarity of the Swiss local conditions make the experiment not exportable to other countries.


For further information, contact:
Sandro Tucci, Spokesperson for the UN Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention
Ph: (43-1) 21345 5629 Fax: (43-1) 21345 5931
AH: (43-1) 504 80 88