Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


131st session INCB

  26 May 2021

Distinguished Members of the Board,

Good afternoon, and thank you for inviting me to speak to you today.

Allow me to congratulate Ms. Pavadia upon her election as President, and to offer my best wishes to the bureau.

My thanks to Mr. de Joncheere for your service over the last two years.

Since I last spoke to the Board, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs successfully concluded its 64th session, with the support of UNODC.

I would like to thank the INCB for joining efforts with UNODC and WHO in marking the 60th anniversary of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and 50 years of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, at the special ceremonial segment.

The CND session was held in hybrid mode and brought together representatives of more than 130 Member States, 17 intergovernmental organizations and 76 NGOs.

The 64th session scheduled eight new substances and adopted four resolutions, covering access to drug demand services, including for people impacted by social marginalization; alternative development; prevention, treatment, sustained recovery and related support services; and non-medical use of pharmaceuticals.

The Commission also adopted a statement on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all aspects of the world drug problem.

UNODC has continued to expand its technical support to address challenges. Together with WHO, UNHCR and IOM, we are developing guidance documents to address substance use disorders in humanitarian settings, including through a technical consultation bringing together more than 100 experts from over 30 Member States and international organizations.

With the International AIDS Society, WHO, UNAIDS and civil society, the Office also organized a pre-CND consultation on the impact of the pandemic on the delivery of HIV services among people who use drugs and people in prisons.

The crisis has driven some 120 million people into extreme poverty last year, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. It is therefore all the more important to strengthen alternative development initiatives– not only to reduce illicit crops, but to improve the social, economic and environmental conditions of small and rural households

With this in mind, UNODC has continued to strengthen its partnership with the private sector to source high quality coffee from Bolivia, Myanmar and Lao PDR.

Countries have faced difficulties with ensuring access to internationally controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes during the pandemic. I am grateful for the Board’s continued focus on this issue, including through a CND side event where UNODC delivered a presentation on the UNODC-WHO-UICC joint global programme.

I also welcome the Board’s efforts to develop guidelines on the international drug control requirements for the cultivation, manufacture and use of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes.

The UNODC Laboratory and Scientific Service has contributed to this important discussion and remains ready to advance this collaboration.

UNODC also stands ready to work with the Board to support Member States to implement scheduling decisions at the national level. While 68 substances have been placed under international control since 2015, some regions continue to see large numbers of new substances emerge every year, making effective national scheduling implementation more urgent than ever.

The UN Toolkit on Synthetic Drugs is an important tool in this respect. Since my last meeting with the Board in February, we have reached more than 165 countries and territories, with over 6,350 registered entities.

The Toolkit is available in English, Spanish and Russian and we are working to offer it in all six UN languages.

The Board contributed to the modules on access to medicines and on precursors, and we welcome INCB’s engagement in the new Ask The Expert series being launched this month, which will give key counterparts the chance to consult directly with the experts behind the Toolkit.

Furthermore, UNODC will publish the latest Colombia, Bolivia and Peru coca cultivation surveys this summer.

The 2021 opium survey in Afghanistan is ongoing, with some limitations due to security issues, and the 2021 Myanmar opium survey is being implemented using remote sensing.

At the end of June, we will also be launching our flagship World Drug Report for 2021, which will analyse the immediate and longer-term impacts of the global pandemic on drug supply and demand.

Distinguished Members of the Board,

As you have heard from this brief overview, UNODC remains fully engaged in supporting Member States in promoting balanced, human and effective responses to the world drug problem, with a strong emphasis on protecting and empowering youth, women and marginalized groups, in line with our new corporate strategy and regional visions.

We look forward to working with the Board, and I look forward to our discussion.

Thank you.