Statement by Dr. Viroj Sumyai, President, International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)

Posted on May 31, 2018


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Statement by Dr. Viroj Sumyai, President,
International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)
first session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs
Item 5(c) Implementation of the international drug control treaties:
International Narcotics Control Board
March 2018
, Vienna Austria
Madam Chair, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour, in my capacity as the President of the Internatio
nal Narcotics Control
Board, to present to the Commission the
2017 INCB Annual Report
Precursors Report
1 Marking the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the
Annual Report has a special focus on the linkages between human rights and drug policy.
The thematic first chapter
of this year’s annual report is on
treatment, rehabilitation
and social reintegration for drug use disorders as essential components of drug
demand reduction
. We draw attention to protecting the rights of people impacted by drug
use disorders. We emphasize the importance of non
discriminatory access to treatment,
rehabilitation and social reintegration services.
Our report shows that treatment of drug dependence is highly cost
effective and,
ultimately, much less expensive than criminal justice interventions.
The report emphasizes that treatment of drug dependence should be seen as an element
of the right to health. However, globally this is not the case:
one in six people
in need of drug dependence treatment has access to treatment
programmes; and
The stigma associated with drug use disorders remains a
significant obstacle to
accessing treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration services.
INCB ’s recommendations in this area include actions such as:
making effective treatment services easily accessible to all those who need them;
continuing research on treatments for all types of drug use disorders
improving collaboration with civil society to increase treatment outreach; and
reducing stigma and discrimination.
Chapter two
reviews the functioning of the international drug control system and
contains the Board’s positions on a number of policy issues and the Board’s analysis of the drug control situation in a number of countries.
On the non
medical use of cannabis ,so called “recreational use”,
we emphasize that any measures that permit the
 use of cannabis for non medical purposes are contrary to the
1 Available in all official languages of the United Nations at
international drug control conventions. Further action in this regard rests collectively with you,
the members of the international community, including through the Commission.
drug consumption rooms
we reiterate that their ultimate objective must be to
reduce the adverse consequences of drug abuse without condoning or encouraging drug use and trafficking, and that such facilities
must provide or actively refer patients to treatment
rehabilitation and social reintegration services
, with rehabilitation and social reintegration
remaining the ultimate objective.
Also in
Chapter two
, we report on the
drug control situation in Afghanistan
and our
continued consultations with the Government of Afghanistan under Article 14 of the 1961
Single Convention.
We call on the international community to
reprioritize its support for Afghanistan
in the
face of the
worsening drug control situation in the country
Chapter II
of the INCB Annual Report includes a series of special topics, the first of
which is on
“drug control and human rights”.
We emphasize the importance of respect for human rights in the implementation of drug
control measures by States.
2018 marks a number of anniversaries:
the seventieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
the twenty fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted
by the World Conference on Human Rights; and
the thirtieth
anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Illicit
Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988.
These anniversaries provide an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between drug
control and human rights and take action accordingly.
INCB continues to emphasize that for drug control action to be successful and
sustainable, it must be consistent with international human rights standards.
In the Annual Report, we reflect on the right to health, and its implications for drug control:
the need to ensure adequate availability of and access to internationally controlled drugs
for medical purposes.
the treaty obligation to prevent drug abuse and to ensure the early identification,
treatment, education, aftercare, rehabilitation and social reintegration of people who
abuse drugs.
the need to ensure non
discriminatory access to health care, rehabilitation and social
reintegration services, in particular for women, and including in prison settings.
We stress the importance of protecting the rights of persons with mental health conditions and improving mental health care.
We highlight the need to protect children from drug abuse and prevent the use of children in illicit production and trafficking i n drugs and precursors.
We emphasize the need to protect the rights of alleged drug offenders and drug users,
including at all stages of the criminal justice process.
We reiterate that, under the international drug control treaties, States are required to be proportionate in their responses to drug
related offences and their treatment of suspected
INCB continues to encourage all States that retain the death penalty for drug
offences to commute death sentences that have already been handed down and to consider
the abolition of the death penalty for drug
related offences. We reiterate that extrajudicial responses to drug
related criminality are unacceptable and
contrary to the international drug control and human rights frameworks.
In our special topic on
the risk of long
term opioid use and the consumption of
opioid analgesics, we highlight that the global consumption of opioid analgesics has been
increasing in recent decades, particularly in high
income countries.
INCB is drawing attention to the “global pain divide”. This imbalance in the availability of
opioid analgesics has a disproportionate impact upon low
-and middle
income countries. I
call upon States to close this gap. I will say more on this in my statement under item 5d.
We have also stressed the urgency of addressing the current overdose epidemic
in North America.
A growing number of Governments are authorizing
the therapeutic use of cannabinoids . In a special topic on the subject, we recall that authorizing the use of cannabinoids for medical purposes
is permissible under the 1961 Convention provided that
certain conditions are met.
We recommend that Governments considering the medical use of cannabinoids examine
the results of scientific studies and trials and ensure
that prescription for medical use is
performed with competent medical knowledge and supervision.
In the special topic on the national requirements for travellers carrying medical
preparations containing internationally controlled substances
, INCB reiterates that the
conventions provide special measures to ensure that people with medical conditions
undergoing treatment with controlled substances are not forced to interrupt their treatment when travelling abroad.
In the special topic on new
psychoactive substances , we report on our work together
with Member States on sharing information in real time on NPS incidents. We do this through
INCB’s Project Ion and its electronic platform IONICS. Project Ion now encompasses a global
network of 125 c
ountries and territories. In 2017, some 76 substances were reported through
INCB encourages Governments to adopt appropriate measures to monitor and act on
attempts to trade in NPS through online trading platforms.
There is also a special topic on
illegal Internet pharmacies and the sale of
internationally controlled drugs on the Internet.
We note that illegal Internet pharmacies
are a growing phenomenon. We recall the
INCB Guidelines for Governments on Preventing
the Illegal Sale of Internationally Controlled Substances through the Internet
2, which can
assist Governments in addressing this challenge.
In the special topic on the
International Import and Export Authorization System (I2ES),
the Board invites all Governments to register and make use of the system to transmit and2
Available in all official languages of the United Nations at
receive import and export authorizations for narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
Over 40 countri
es are now registered. I2ES is available to Governments at not cost.
The special topic on
training for competent national authorities
refers to
, our initiative to strengthen national capacity to regulate and monitor the licit trade
in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals.
Since its inception in 2016, INCB Learning has provided training to 68 Governments
and 158 officials from Africa, South
East Asia, Oceania, Europe and Central America.
I come now to the last special topic contained in the Annual Report:
upgrading the
International drug control system platform, known as IDS.
IDS is an INCB information management system that provides automated analysis
tools and reporting facilities to monitor treaty compliance
based on the information furnished
by Governments to the Board.
IDS enables the Board to advise and alert Governments on trade discrepancies,
insufficient or overabundant estimates and assessments, and other aspects related to the
international trade in controlled substances.
This tool has been in operation for fourteen years and is
now in need of a major
overhaul. The Board hopes to see States providing the necessary support to this end.
In Chapter three,
we present an analysis of the world situation and highlight
developments that have come to the attention of the Board at the regional level.
I acknowledge the feedback on the annual report, particularly this chapter, which has
already been received from some Member States. We will continue our dialogue with you in
this regard. Allow me to add that this chapter is only as good as the information available to
the Board. I therefore encourage your Governments to inform the Board’s secretariat of new
developments in your countries as soon as they happen.
Oceania has the lowest rate of treaty ratification of any world region
. We call on
Governments that have not yet ratified one or more of the three treaties to do so as a matter of urgency.
I now come to our report on implementation of article 12 of the 1988 Convention.
2017 INCB precursors report
provides a detailed account of the latest trends and
developments in legitimate international trade and trafficking in precursor chemicals. The
report also provides an overview of the actions taken by you and the Board to deny
traffickers access to the chemicals they need for illicit drug manufacture.
A focus area in this year’s report is the role of internet
facilitated trade in precursors and
related challenges. The report also examines the growing sophistication of traffickers’
attempts to obtain the chemicals they require for illicit drug manufacture.
The precursors report also illustrates how, throughout the year, INCB assists
on a daily basis in preventing diversion and in facilitating investigations. In the
past year, this has been particularly important in relation to acetic anhydride. There has been
a substantial increase in the trafficking of acetic anhydride worldwide. The
number of incidents reached a two
decade high. The quantities involved would be enough for up to
three and-a
half years of potential global illicit heroin manufacture. INCB
cooperation among Governments has helped to link isolated incidents, s
hedding light on the
current modi operandi of traffickers and contributing to investigations.
The precursors report also focuses on our recommendation last year and the
consequent decisions by the Commission to schedule two fentanyl precursors. Your decision
will not only save lives in the current fentanyl crisis, witnessed specifically in countries in
North America, but will also make it harder for criminals to illicitly produce and procure a
number of deadly fentanyl analogues.
The precursors report makes
on enhanced information
multilateral operational cooperation, domestic law enforcement, and the use of existing tools
and cooperation mechanisms in order to identify, disrupt and dismantle organized criminal
groups involved in
the diversion of precursors.
Viewed together, the precursors reports constitute a comprehensive source of
reference for global precursors
related data.
In addition to the annual report and the precursors report, INCB publishes annually two
technical publications
. These concern the international control of the licit trade in narcotic
drugs and psychotropic substances. I will present some of the findings of these publications
during my statement under item 5d.
This brings me to the final points of my presentation.
I trust you will return to your capitals with copies of the INCB 2017 Annual Report and
Precursors Report, and the
Board’s recommendations
contained therein. I urge you to
advocate for the implementation of these recommendations and look forward to your
feedback on achievements and challenges faced.
INCB’s work to ensure the functioning of the international drug control system would
not be possible without
cooperation and ongoing dialogue
with Governments and their
competent national authorities. Your cooperation and participation in and support of INCB
initiatives is key.
We count on your Governments’ cooperation in accepting INCB country missions,
which enable us to gain a first
perspective of the drug control achievements and
challenges in your countries, and tailor recommendations accordingly.
Your support, both financial and in
kind, of INCB activities such as I2ES, INCB
Learning, PEN
Online, PICS and IONICS, and related projects, is critical to the long
viability of these initiatives.
To conclude, I would like to emphasize a number of points:
Our report draws attention to the protection of the rights of people impacted by drug
use disorders. We call upon Governments
to ensure that drug control measures fully
comply with international human rights standards and norms.
Although challenging, drug use disorders are treatable health conditions for which
effective treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration interventions are available.
Working in the spirit of the international drug control system and implementing the
recommendations contained in INCB’s Annual Report, all Governments can positively
support their treaty
based commitments to promoting the health and welfare of
Thank you.
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