8 June 1998


Press Release
GA/9414



AD HOC COMMITTEE APPROVES TEXTS FOR ADOPTION BY ASSEMBLY SPECIAL SESSION TO COUNTER WORLD DRUG PROBLEM

19980608
Draft Texts Contain Political Declaration, Guiding Principles Of Drug Demand Reduction, Measures for International Cooperation

The Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole of the special session of the General Assembly devoted to countering the world drug problem together this afternoon approved three draft resolutions covering a political declaration, a declaration on the guiding principles of drug demand reduction and measures to enhance international cooperation to counter the world drug problem.

The Ad Hoc Committee took the action at its first meeting following calls by delegations that it move quickly to approve the resolutions so that the Assembly could act on them early.

By the proposed political declaration contained in the first draft resolution, Member States would commit themselves to significant and measurable results in the reduction of illicit supply and demand for drugs by the year 2008. It would have States strengthen their domestic laws and programmes by 2003 to deal with such issues as money-laundering and synthetic drugs, increased drug prevention among youths and enhanced cooperation between nations to catch and prosecute drug traffickers.

The draft declaration on the guiding principles of drug demand reduction, annexed to the second draft resolution, would help governments establish new or enhanced demand reduction programmes by 2003. It also contains standards to guide governments to set up effective prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programmes, and calls for the provision of adequate resources for such programmes.

By a five-part draft resolution, the special session would urge measures to enhance international cooperation to counter the world drug problem. Those include action plans to combat amphetamine-type stimulants and their precursors, and to promote international cooperation on the eradication of illicit drug crops and on alternative development. Other measures refer to controlling precursors, promoting judicial cooperation and countering money- laundering.

In another action, the Ad Hoc Committee elected the following as its Vice-Chairmen: Alberto Scavarelli (Uruguay), N.J. Mxakato-Diseko (South Africa), Daniela Rozgonova (Slovakia) and N.K. Singh (India), who would also


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be Rapporteur. The Vice-Chairmen had served in the same capacity in the preparatory body, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

Pino Arlacchi, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, said the documents had broad implications for the work of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP). The agency could not, however, fulfil its tasks at the current level of resources. There was hard work ahead, and its $60 million budget would not allow it to fulfil the leadership role expected of it. The UNDCP was asking for the proper tools to do the job right, he said.

Hamid Ghodse, President of the International Narcotics Control Board, welcomed the renewed commitment demonstrated by governments in a number of areas. Programmes should be sustainable, have a long-term view and be adequately financed. Concentration on the most pertinent issues should not be at the expense of other important areas, such as regulatory controls which were the core provisions of international drug control treaties.

Alvaro de Mendonca e Moura (Portugal), Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole, said that the Assembly should consider the preparatory body's report as a package of balanced recommendations and proposals.

A representative of Project Outreach decried the marginalization of non- governmental organizations in the war on drugs. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were the ears, eyes and heart of the thrust towards national solutions, and had led the way in demand reduction work through community programmes. A spokeswoman for the Society for Threatened People argued that the war on drugs had become a war on coca leaves and those who produced and traded in them, resulting in death and destruction in coca producing areas.

A representative of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and of the John Mordaunt Trust, a recovering addict with HIV, said some of the most useful strategies in combating addictive drug use had been designed by drug users themselves. The criminalization of drug use was counter-productive. It was time to reconsider the repressive drug policy paradigm which had been the norm for decades all over the world.

Statements were also made by representatives of Hungary, United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union), Mexico, Chile, Sweden, Uruguay, Tunisia, Pakistan, Japan, Indonesia, Syria, United States, South Africa, Senegal, Iran, India, Ukraine and Morocco.

Representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs also spoke.

The Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 9 June, to continue its deliberations.


Ad Hoc Committee Work Programme

The Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole of the twentieth special session of the General Assembly devoted to countering the world drug problem together met this afternoon to elect its officers and to consider the organization of its work. Beginning this afternoon, the Committee will hear statements of representatives of United Nations programmes and agencies and non-governmental organizations.

The Committee has the task of finalizing negotiations of the texts to be adopted by the Assembly on the last day of the special session. It will also review existing international drug control instruments, as well as the strengthening of United Nations machinery for drug control.

Among documents before the Committee is a note by the Secretary-General (document A/S-20/2) containing the report of a 13-member expert group which reviewed the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and the strengthening of the United Nations machinery for international drug control. The experts stressed the need for enhancing the effectiveness of the UNDCP through institutional changes and improvements in its funding arrangements for it to fully address the functioning of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The group agreed to study, at a subsequent meeting, the mandate of the Programme, particularly in the light of the new responsibilities that will be given to the Programme as a result of the changing drug situation, and also in the light of the outcome of the Assembly's special session.

The expert group also felt that drug and drug-related activities should be accorded a higher priority by governments. Resources provided to the UNDCP should be increased in order to assure greater predictability, flexibility and enhanced portfolio quality. The group stressed that the amount allocated to the UNDCP from the United Nations regular budget should be significantly increased from the current figure of 10 per cent. The Programme's donor base should also be widened.

(For further information on the special session, see Press Release GA/9410 of 5 June.)

Statements

ALVARO DE MENDONCA E MOURA (Portugal), Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole, said the texts for dealing with the drug problem had all been adopted by consensus. It took the preparatory body of the special session, which he headed, 15 months of very delicate work to reach the present stage. Now was the time to move to action.


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He recalled his statement to the plenary in the morning, that the Assembly should consider the preparatory body's report as a package of balanced recommendations and proposals, the result of a process of delicate negotiations and compromise. The proposals and recommendations were agreed upon by consensus. He invited the Committee not to reopen issues which had been settled during the preparatory process and to consider adopting them as a package.

PINO ARLACCHI, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, said a package of measures and targets to be achieved within precise time-frames had been obtained. The package did justice to a truly balanced approach, which made demand reduction one of the pillars of the new global strategy of drug control. The adoption of the declaration on the guiding principles of drug demand reduction would establish a new equilibrium. There was agreement to eliminate or significantly reduce the illicit cultivation of cannabis, the coca bush and opium poppy by the year 2008, drawing on past experiences.

Governments would be making a firm commitment to enforce the anti-money- laundering provisions of the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. There was international consensus to tackle the problems of synthetic drugs as well as precursor chemicals. There was finally recognition of the need for enhanced judicial cooperation, particularly in the areas of mutual legal assistance, extradition and maritime cooperation.

He said the documents that the Committee would adopt had broad implications on the work of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme. It could not, however, fulfil its tasks at the current level of resources. There was hard work ahead, and its $60 million budget would not allow it to fulfil the leadership expected of it. The UNDCP was asking for the proper tools to do the job right.

HAMID GHODSE, President of the International Narcotics Control Board, welcomed the renewed commitment demonstrated by governments in a number of areas where action was necessary. The Board was satisfied that the action plans widely reflected its own thoughts and ideas. Their implementation must be monitored to ensure they reached their ambitious goals. Programmes should be sustainable, have a long- term view and be adequately financed. Concentration on the most pertinent issues should not mean that other important areas were neglected, such as regulatory controls which were the core provisions of international drug control treaties. Other challenges, however, should not be overlooked, including the call from many quarters for the legalization of illicit drugs. The spurious arguments of groups calling for such a move overlooked the human right to be free of drug abuse. Drugs


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represented a threat to society, and only concerted efforts and genuine international partnerships would lead to tangible and sustained success.

ANDRE ERDOS (Hungary) hailed the agreement on the political declaration in Vienna. Hungary had taken an active part in the ground-breaking work towards the preparation of the special session, and had addressed the issues raised on drug abuse in its own area. The wisest course now would be to proceed as expeditiously as possible. Guided by the spirit of the work that had been done, the delegation of Hungary endorsed the documents and proposed their adoption as quickly as possible.

MARTIN RAVEN (United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the documents adopted in Vienna were no mean achievement, and he urged their early adoption. Elaborating on the guiding principles on demand reduction, he said they mark early steps in a new field of activity for the United Nations. The guiding principles set out a framework within which demand reduction programmes could be adapted to meet the needs of local communities. The need for international cooperation to prevent illicit diversion of chemicals without unnecessarily burdening the licit trade was a clear thread running through the documents on the control of precursors and the action plan against amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS).

The document on alternative development made it clear what the international community's objectives should be when seeking to develop alternative livelihoods not dependent on illicit crops. The European Union would continue to work with the UNDCP towards the eradication of illicit drugs.

ROBERTA LAJOUS (Mexico) said the proposed texts should contribute to the effectiveness of joint international efforts to combat drug trafficking, distribution and consumption. Compliance by all States with the proposals and recommendations were necessary. The political declaration reflected political reality. The traditional divisions between producing and consuming countries had thus lost their significance. The proposal on measures to enhance international cooperation to counter the drug problem contained essential tools to guarantee effectiveness. She appealed to exporters and importers of psychotropic and synthetic drugs to cooperate in implementing the proposed measures. International cooperation should be based on internationally recognized principles, which should also be applied to the problem of money- laundering. The fight against the drug problem required the commitment by all.

OSVALDO PUCCIO (Chile) said the documents contained a well-balanced integrated approach for dealing with the world drug problem, and should be adopted. They should also be disseminated. The world drug problem could only


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be solved on the basis of shared responsibility. That view had appropriately been enunciated in the documents adopted at Vienna.

HELENA ODMARK (Sweden) said the agreements reached in Vienna showed that the international community stood united in its goal to counter the effects of illicit drugs. A symposium in Stockholm last May on the issue had adopted a declaration expressing strong support for the Assembly special session and the will to collaborate and work closely together towards practical action. Her Government fully endorsed the documents that had already been agreed on in Vienna, and urged that they be adopted.

ALBERTO SCAVARELLI (Uruguay) said everyone had put something that they could identify with into the documents that had been agreed on, and he sought assurance that the documents would be adopted, so that implementation efforts could begin. Follow-up work should proceed with the participation of all States, taking into account that such work would involve highly political and technical issues. He urged that the Committee proceed to ideas on implementation of the recommendations contained in the documents.

MOHAMED F. KHELIL (Tunisia) expressing support for the statement by Uruguay, said a system of control should be established to ensure progress in the elimination or reduction of demand for drugs. He said delegations must agree quickly to approve the recommendations and proposals.

SAJJAD AHMED J. BHATTI (Pakistan) said the only way to tackle the world drug problem was not to resort to finger pointing. All States should cooperate and work together. He forecast the achievement of positive results 10 years from now, based on the proposals before the Committee.

NOBUAKI ITO (Japan) hoped the Committee would approve the proposed final documents by consensus. His delegation noted the balance achieved in the documents, although some might think it fell short of expectations. Japan supported the view that the documents should be submitted to the Assembly as a package. Member States should then proceed with their implementation.

SUMARYO SURYOKUSUMO (Indonesia) said he supported the practical approach that the Committee had suggested. His delegation would like to associate itself with Hungary and Japan, which had said that the Committee should immediately proceed to adopt the proposed final documents before it, including the draft decisions. Indonesia supported demand reductions and was concerned about money-laundering and other serious crimes. His country would adopt measures to make money-laundering a punishable offence. The problem of illicit drugs should be tackled within a spirit of goodwill and cooperation.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria), expressing satisfaction with the documents, said they were balanced and has been arrived at after hard negotiations aimed at


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reaching a consensus among the various delegations. Syria reaffirmed its desire to cooperate with the rest of the world in combating drugs. Only cooperation could save humanity from the scourge of drugs. Stressing the importance of implementing what had been agreed upon, he said the United Nations agencies and bodies, particularly the UNDCP, had important follow-up work to carry out. The draft resolutions should be adopted immediately, so that work could proceed.

EILEEN HEAPHY (United States) urged that the documents covering the proposals and recommendations of the preparatory body should be approved now to enable delegations to move forward with their implementation. She reiterated the offer of fellowships for training in the United States made in the plenary by the President of the United States. The United States looked forward to the response of countries to the proposal.

NOZIPHO J. MXAKATO-DISEKO (South Africa) said the world could be justly proud of the General Assembly's efforts to tackle the drug problem. Proposals before the Committee were very much in line with the vision of the new South Africa, which was striving to establish a drug-free society. She urged Member States to move quickly to endorse the proposals so that States could begin to implement them.

FOFANA MAMADOU LANINE (Senegal) said the documents were excellent and met the expectation of delegations. He commended the work of the UNDCP and called for strengthening of its activities.

GHODRAT ASSADI (Iran) said that he recognized the importance of the measures outlined in the Vienna documents. He hoped that the documents being endorsed by the Ad Hoc Committee would be sent expeditiously to the General Assembly for adoption.

N.K. SINGH (India) said the documents before the Ad Hoc Committee embraced the entire range of activities undertaken by mankind in efforts against illicit drugs. They also represented a holistic approach. He hoped that the same spirit of consensus that had guided participants in the work towards the milestone that had been achieved in the work against drugs would be continued into the adoption of a tangible programme of action. India fully endorsed the documents, and called on everyone singly and collectively to work towards the goals represented in those documents.

VASYL LEVOSHKO (Ukraine) said that the role of establishing cooperation was falling ever more on the United Nations. Through United Nations conventions, consistent policy was being carried out by Ukraine to combat narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and in the fight against that illegal trade. Ukraine had adopted new legislation in the area, fully prohibiting the cultivation of poppies, the basic agricultural source of drugs


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in its area. Strict measures had been taken to eradicate such crops. Over the last three years, 14 illegal drugs channels had been eliminated, both within Ukraine and channels that crossed its borders. What Ukraine had achieved to date, however, was not sufficient. The most important thing was to implement the documents and recommendations that had been worked out over the last 15 months in Vienna. They also promoted the harmonization of international efforts to combat the illicit drug trade.

LI SHICHUO, of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that during the last 10 years the number of countries reporting drug injection had risen by 60 per cent. It was the most significant cause of death among drug users, leading to HIV and other infections. Since the turn of the twentieth century, a legal framework to restrict drugs for non-medical purposes had been brought into action, but new addictive drugs constantly needed to be brought under control. However, control of substances was not sufficient. It was vital to undertake demand reduction measures.

The WHO street children project sought to asses the nature of the problems faced by children with substance abuse-related problems, and to reduce deaths related to the use of psychoactive substances. It was important to ensure that early help and access to services were offered to all in need. Research needed to be translated into action, which included technical cooperation with States, and with the agencies and bodies of the United Nations.

NINA SIBAL, of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said the organization strongly supported the political declaration and committed itself to assist Member States, through collaboration with other sister agencies, particularly UNDCP, in setting up programmes in preventive education. She called for assistance to drug abusers, and an investment in young people to ensure prevention. Member States must design and follow a global strategy against supply and demand for drugs. The UNESCO wanted to listen to what young people wanted. She drew attention to a number of principles adopted by the youth at a recent forum organized with the support of UNESCO and the UNDCP. The principles embodied in a youth charter for a twenty-first century free of drugs, called, among others, for a world of peace, a safe and fulfilling environment, individual achievement and development, and responsibility and consistency of parents, teachers and guardians.

Mr. LATHAM, of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the session should not fail to meet the aspirations of future generations. Delegations should not fall short of achieving the goals of the session. The FAO applauded the UNCDP for its initiatives. The fight against drugs should be tackled on all fronts. Urgent steps should be taken to prevent the spread of synthetic drugs. The FAO had demonstrated its capacity to contribute to


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work on the development of alternative sources of cash crops for drug producers.

MOHIEDDINE AMZAZI (Morocco) said his country had always supported initiatives to combat the drug problem. He praised the work of the UNDCP and urged a review of the resources available to it. Morocco had been a victim of the synthetic drug trade. It supported the proposed final documents and would cooperate for the success of the work of the Ad Hoc Committee.

EVA TONGUE, speaking on behalf of the Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotics, noted the emphasis placed on a more balanced approach in the global fight against substance abuse. Equal attention should be given to demand and supply-reduction issues. She called for the strengthening and formalizing of the cooperation between her organization and the UNDCP. Her organization offered its services for further mobilizing of non-governmental organizations to facilitate the development of a much needed partnership. Such a process would be indispensable if the objectives of a drug-free society were to be achieved in the coming years.

RAFEEUDDIN AHMED, Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said the solution to the world's drug problem did not lie in repression, but in the provision of alternative livelihoods, poverty eradication, strengthening good governance and in the achievement of sustainable human development. The UNDP was doing its part, with UNDCP and its partner United Nations agencies, to promote poverty eradication approach to freeing the world from the devastating consequences of illicit drug production, trafficking and consumption. Working through its 132 country offices, the UNDP could bring the full weight of the United Nations family to bear on anti-drug programmes. As part of the Global Initiative on Primary Prevention of Substance Abuse, UNDP was funding programmes to prevent substance abuse in Africa, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe. It was also providing the major share of funding for a programme to reduce illicit drug use and related social problems in the highlands of East Asia. He assured the session of UNDP's full commitment to increasing action against the world's drug problem.

ANETTE RICHARDS, of Project Outreach, said there had been a marginalization of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the war on drugs, which was the greatest war of the twentieth century, the third world war. The world must now join hands and swim together, or sink. Non-governmental organizations were the ears, eyes and heart of the thrust towards national solutions. Drug demand reduction programmes were not given serious enough consideration. So much had been spent on the supply side, to the detriment of demand reduction efforts, that there was now widespread pervasive use and abuse of illicit drugs. In most countries, much demand reduction work had


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been initiated by NGOs through pilot schools, community youth groups, community centres and family units.

There was a strong correlation between drug use and HIV/AIDS infections, she said. The drug problem should be treated as a national and global emergency. Governments should also alter their policies to allow them to deal directly with NGOs, which had established themselves as unquestionably serious and committed to the resolution of such issues. International aid that had been earmarked for NGOs should not be sidelined or constrained by bureaucratic delays and bungling. The important work of such organizations was often impeded by lack of funds.

OMAYRA MORALES, of the Society for Threatened People, said the war on drugs had become a war on coca leaves, and those who produced and traded in them. That had resulted in many deaths and injuries in various countries in South America. Military action in coca producing areas had caused great damage in human and environmental terms. In Colombia, for example, there had been an increase in fumigation, that had caused severe environmental and human harm. Yet coca crops still increased.

In the war on drugs, a tremendous lack of respect for the culture of the Andean coca region had been displayed. She did not agree with the content of the proposed resolutions, nor did she agree with the strategies proposed. She rejected drug trafficking and abuse, and was allied with the international community to fight that scourge. However, she rejected the destruction that had been caused by the war on drugs. A change of vision was needed on the subject of drugs. Macroeconomic policies to combat drugs must be changed substantially, and local communities should be able to participate in drug control programmes.

MARSHA BURNETT, of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and of the John Mordaunt Trust, said she was a 43-year-old recovering addict with HIV. She had four children, two of whom were in foster care in the state of Vermont, although she would soon have them back in her own care. She had been drug-free since 1991, and brought her experiences to all of her activism. If people really cared about the pain, suffering and isolation of drug users, they must be willing to listen to what they said they need. Some of the most useful strategies in combating addictive drug use were designed by drug users themselves. However, user-participation was not possible while they were prosecuted just for being users. It was time to reconsider the repressive drug policy paradigm which had been the norm for decades all over the world.

As a result of criminalization and isolation, it was difficult for drug users to prioritize their health and other important matters, she said. Crucial programmes had been stymied in many countries because of that


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criminalization, resulting in the rapid spread of HIV, hepatitis and other diseases. She said the most compassionate and pragmatic way to deal with the effects of drug use was to focus on minimizing the harms, especially for those whose drug use was out of control. Millions of people who regularly used drugs led normal healthy lives. They should not be punished by law. The criminalization of drugs also caused higher prices, leading users into opportunistic crime to pay for their habits. The apparent desire for a drug- free world was unrealistic. There had never been a drug-free society, and would anyone be happy if alcohol was also banned?

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