To further cooperation in drug law enforcement activities at the regional level, the Economic and Social Council established the HONLEA as subsidiary bodies of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The regions covered include Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific and Africa. The meetings usually take place annually to identify salient policy and enforcement issues in their regions, establish working groups to analyze the issues, and then bring their reports and recommendations to the attention of the Commission.
The Subcommission was established in 1973 to serve as a consultative body that would provide the Commission on Narcotic Drugs with a regional perspective on dealing with illicit drug activity in the Near and Middle East. The functions of the Subcommission are to facilitate cooperation and coordination in regional activities directed against illicit drug traffic, and to identify priority issues in the area and formulate recommendations to the Commission for addressing these issues. The Subcommission reports directly to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and meets annually for a period of four days.