Yury Fedotov

Director General/Executive Director

Remarks at the opening of the UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem

New York, 19 April 2016


Mr. President,

Deputy Secretary-General,



Distinguished participants,

This General Assembly special session on the world drug problem is the culmination of years of intensive groundwork, of inclusive and frank debate bringing together governments, UN entities, scientists and civil society.

It has been an honour for UNODC to support the wide-ranging preparations led by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

If there is a message that has emerged from the many discussions held, both formal and informal, and from the substantive contributions provided by UNODC and our UN partners, as well as by numerous intergovernmental bodies and NGOs, it is that global drug policies must put people first.

Putting people first means reaffirming the cornerstone principles of the global drug control system, and the emphasis on the health and welfare of humankind that is the founding purpose of the international drug conventions.

Putting people first means balanced approaches that are based on health and human rights, and promote the safety and security of all our societies.

Putting people first means looking to the future, and recognizing that drug policies must most of all protect the potential of young people and foster their healthy styles of life and safe development.

Putting people first ties responses to the world drug problem to the broader goals of the ground-breaking 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Putting people first means acknowledging the common responsibility we share for the world drug problem in all its forms and manifestations.

That means assisting countries with limited resources and capacities to address the threats to peace, security, development and health posed by illicit drugs;

Including through support for alternative livelihoods, building accountable, effective judicial and law enforcement capacities to tackle supply, and enhancing prevention and treatment services.

However, our integrated and balanced approaches to the world drug problem stand little chance of succeeding if stated political commitments are not fully backed by adequate financial resources.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This UNGASS has provided a critical opportunity, at a critical moment, to build a more comprehensive and collective understanding of the challenges we face together.

I very much hope that the operational recommendations, contained in the draft outcome document adopted by consensus at the CND, which now is expected to be endorsed by you, can really help to promote the urgent, united and concerted action we need.

As the lead entity in the UN system in addressing the challenges posed by illicit drugs, UNODC remains dedicated to working with you to put agreed commitments into practice.

We count on your political and financial support to enable us to do so efficiently and effectively.

In close cooperation with our partners, UNODC will continue supporting you through our global and field office programmes, which are informed by our extensive on-the-ground experience and research expertise, and promoting integrated global, inter-regional, regional and country-level responses.

We remain fully engaged in helping you to ensure access to controlled drugs to relieve pain and suffering; to promote prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration approaches rooted in evidence, science, public health and human rights; to stop the criminals, and prevent and counter illicit cultivation, production and trafficking; and use all the tools at our disposal, as provided by the conventions on drugs, corruption, transnational organized crime and terrorism, as well as the relevant UN norms, standards and guidelines, to tackle related organized crime, money-laundering and illicit financial flows.

You can count on UNODC's support in the follow up to this special session, through the 2019 review and beyond.

Thank you.