The work of UNODC is guided by a broad range of international, legally binding instruments and treaties. The following three conventions form the basis of the work conducted by the organization, including the UNODC Drug Dependence Treatment and Rehabilitation unit:

These three major international drug control treaties are complementary and aim at ensuring the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes, whilst preventing their diversion and their abuse.

In June 1998, the twentieth special session of the General Assembly (UNGASS) was convened as the largest multilateral gathering ever held on combating illegal drug trafficking and abuse. With the adoption of a ten-year plan on countering the world drug problem, Member States recognized the strategic significance of the human rights dimension in both supply and demand reduction activities.

A decade later, at the high-level segment of the fifty-second session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (March 2009), Member States evaluated progress made. Moreover they identified future priorities for drug control beyond 2009 and adopted the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem (2009):

 "….Member States should: Ensure that access to drug treatment [that] is affordable,
culturally appropriate and based on scientific evidence [is available] and that drug dependence care services are included in health-care systems, whether public or private, with the involvement of primary and, where appropriate, specialized health-care services, in accordance with the national legislation".

The paper Drug policy provisions from the international drug control Conventions (E/CN.7/2014/CRP.5), discussing the implications of the three Conventions for drug policy, was published at the 57th Commission on Narcotic Drugs, in March 2014. It gave great impetus to the work conducted in the area of drug dependence treatment, highlighting again…"the right to be treated for drug use disorders, without stigma and discrimination is the same as the right to be treated for any other chronic disease in the health care system".

UNODC and its partners continue to work towards achieving the targets outlined in the 2009 Political Declaration. In early 2016, a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem reviewed progress made
so far.