With COVID-19 impacting world drug problem, CND subsidiary bodies convene for extraordinary virtual sessions

<em>© Regina Rohrbach</em>
© Regina Rohrbach

Vienna (Austria), 7 October 2020 — A set of extraordinary sessions of the subsidiary bodies of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs were held recently, bringing together over 500 practitioners from almost 80 countries over a two-day period to look at the impact of COVID-19 on regional drug situations.

Comprising the Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA), as well as the Subcommission on Illicit Drug Traffic and Related Matters in the Near and Middle East (Subcommission), the CND subsidiary bodies meet annually to provide a platform for practitioners to discuss the regional perspectives of the world drug problem.

These interactive discussions empower participants to identify salient policy and enforcement issues in their respective regions, and formulate context-relevant recommendations to the Commission for addressing these challenges. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 meetings of the subsidiary bodies were held in an online, scaled-down format, back-to-back, as a set of extraordinary sessions.

“By strengthening information exchange and operational networks, UNODC can better support Member States in developing effective and coordinated responses to the diverse problems posed by the world drug problem,” stressed UNODC Executive Director, Ghada Waly, in her welcoming remarks.

Held against the context of global challenges brought about by COVID-19, the extraordinary session provided an opportunity for all participants to jointly discuss the current situation with respect to addressing and countering the world drug problem. The joint meeting was followed by interactive discussions within the respective membership of each of the subsidiary bodies.

The extraordinary session was chaired by the First Vice Chair of the Commission, Ambassador Dominika Krois, who highlighted that the recommendations developed at the meetings of the subsidiary bodies “provide a valuable input to the CND, and enable the Commission to be informed about trends and concerns in the regions.”

Individual sessions meanwhile were chaired by representatives from each of the regions: for HONLEA Africa, Victor Okioma, Chief Executive Officer of the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse of Kenya; for HONLEA Asia and the Pacific, Ambassador Ganeson Sivagurunathan, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations in Vienna; for HONLEA Latin America and the Caribbean, Ambassador Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations in Vienna; and for the Subcommission, Ambassador Khojesta Fana Ebrahimkhel, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations in Vienna.