Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director

Closing of the 65th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs 

  18 March 2022

Distinguished Chair, 

Excellencies, 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

I am pleased to be with you to close the 65th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. 

This session has been a challenging oneIn some ways, it has been unprecedented 

The circumstances in which we are convening have made consensus difficult to achieve on many issues. 

The conflict in Europe has produced deep divisions between countries, and this Commission was understandably affected. 

We saw extraordinary steps and procedures, including voting on matters other than scheduling of substances, for the first time in the CND’s history.  

But ultimately, the meetings of the week have produced important results that this Commission and Member States will take forward to protect public health and improve drug control responses. 

The international drug control system has stood for decades, preventing the misuse of potentially harmful substances, while governing their use for medical and scientific purposes. 

This week, the CND continued to play its integral role in the functioning of this system, bringing 3 substances and 3 fentanyl precursors under international control. 

The world drug problem does not pause when more urgent threats are at hand, and neither can we. 

Member States also managed to agree a number of important resolutions, despite a negotiation process that was extremely challenging. 

Beyond these outcomes, the Commission continued to act as a key platform for governments, experts, international organizations, civil society, academia, youth, and all other stakeholders to address the world drug problem. 

More than 1,300 participants came together at this session, representing 130 countries and 17 intergovernmental organizationsas well as 86 non-governmental organizations. 

NGOs have a crucial role to play in shaping and supporting effective drug policies and responses, with their reach and experience on the ground 

I was very glad to engage with them during the informal dialogue we held this week, and to meet many of them bilaterally. 

Their contributions and the contributions and interactions of all stakeholders brought together are what make this Commission such a rich platform. 

In the plenary and in 130 side events held online, participants discussed pertinent drug-related challenges and responses, including strengthening international cooperation, preventive education, evidence-based drug interventions, as well as incorporating gender and youth perspectives in drug policy, and adapting responses to the pandemic and its circumstances. 

One of the major topics addressed at this session was access to controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes.  

On the first day of this CND, I was proud to join Ambassador D’Hoop, along with the heads of WHO and INCB, in a joint call to action to facilitate access to controlled substances in line with the drug control conventions. 

This call must be heeded. 

The majority of the world’s population continues to lack adequate access to controlled medicines, including for palliative and surgical care, as well as treatment of neurological conditions. 

The international community must adopt effective policies and allocate resources to address this problem, especially in developing countries. 

Growing conflicts and the ongoing pandemic have added new obstacles to accessing controlled substances, just as they have deepened vulnerabilities to drug challenges, and made it harder to get treatment for drug use disorders. 

Today, people affected by the world drug problem need us more, not less. 

I hope that Member States will persist in pursuing balanced responses, including by building on the results of this session of the Commission.  

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime will continue to support the CND and all Member States in promoting the health and wellbeing of people. 

Excellencies, colleagues, 

I would like to thank our Chair, Ambassador D’Hoop of Belgium, for his commendable leadership, skill ,and resolve in leading this greatly challenging session of the CND. 

I would also like to thank Ambassador Blanco of Colombia for presiding over the Committee of the Whole in exemplary fashion, despite the obstacles. 

I am grateful to my colleagues the staff of UNODC and UNOV, for very capably supporting the Commission to do its work.    

I hope that over the coming months the world will find its way to peace and healing, but whatever the circumstances, we will come together again next year at the 66th session to meet the CND’s responsibilities in helping and protecting people. 

Thank you.