United Nations General Assembly
Special Session on the World Drug Problem

New York, 8-10 June 1998


The General Assembly will convene a Special Session on the world drug problem in New York, from 8 to 10 June 1998. This Session will mark the 10th anniversary of the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

The session will assess the international drug problem and develop a forward-looking strategy for the twenty-first century, centered around the basic principle of a balanced approach between supply and demand reduction.

Commenting on the Special Session , Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), recently said: "The Special Session should be a turning point for the world to go forward with renewed energy on drug control. There are many reasons for optimism in this regard: a politically more cooperative international climate devoid of the East-West and North-South ideological divides, sophisticated technology such as satellite monitoring systems; and the accumulated knowledge of the international community in drug control activities."

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the United Nations principal policy-making body on drug control, has acted during the last year as the preparatory body for the Special Session with open-ended deliberations allowing for the full participation of United Nations Member States, specialized agencies and observers.

Representatives from 130 Governments, who attended the final preparatory session held in Vienna from 16 to 21 March, agreed to a draft Political Declaration proposed for adoption at the Special Session. It sets out a comprehensive global strategy designed to tackle simultaneously all aspects of the drug problem and puts forward a bold objective: a drastic simultaneous reduction of both illicit supply and demand for drugs by the year 2008. Excerpts from the proposed Political Declaration follow:

"We the Member States of the United Nations,

Recognizing that demand reduction is an indispensable pillar in the global approach to counter the world drug problem, commit ourselves to introduce in our national programmes and strategies the provisions set out in the "Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction", to work closely with the United Nations International Drug Control Programme to develop action-oriented strategies to assist in the implementation of the Declaration, and to establish 2003 as a target date for new or enhanced drug demand reduction strategies and programmes set up in close collaboration with public health, social welfare and law enforcement authorities and commit ourselves to achieve significant and measurable results in field of demand reduction by the year 2008.

Reaffirm the need for a comprehensive approach towards the elimination of illicit narcotic crops in line with the "Action Plan on International Cooperation on the Eradication of Illicit Drug Crops and Alternative Development" adopted at this Special Session. Stress the special importance of cooperation in alternative development, including a better integration of the most vulnerable sectors involved in the illicit drug market into legal and viable economic activities. Emphasize the need for eradication programmes and law enforcement measures to counter illicit cultivation, production, manufacture and trafficking, paying special attention to the protection of the environment. In this regard, strongly support the work of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme in the field of alternative development.

Welcome the United Nations International Drug Control Programme´s global approach to the elimination of illicit crops and commit ourselves to working closely with the United Nations International Drug Control Programme to develop strategies with a view to eliminate or significantly reduce the illicit cultivation of the coca bush, the cannabis plant and the opium poppy by 2008. We affirm our determination to mobilize international support for our efforts to achieve these goals.

Call upon all States to take into account the outcome of this Special Session when formulating national strategies and programmes, to report biennially to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on their efforts to meet these goals and targets for 2003 and 2008, and request the Commission to analyze these reports in order to enhance the cooperative effort to combat the world drug problem.

These are new and serious promises which will be difficult to achieve, but we are resolved that such commitments will be met by practical action and resources needed to ensure real and measurable results;

Together we can meet this challenge."

The six main themes to be considered at the Special Session are:

Precursor Chemicals

In recent years, the diversion of precursor chemicals used to manufacture illicit drugs has become one of the most serious challenges confronting international drug control efforts. To prevent it, countries have agreed to monitor domestic and international movements of certain chemicals. The General Assembly Special Session will promote concerted global action by adopting measures to further strengthen the control of precursor chemicals and setting 2008 as the target date for a significant reduction of the diversion of precursors.

Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS)

Amphetamine-type stimulants are the most abused synthetic drugs manufactured clandestinely. Though relatively new, they have quickly become a part of the mainstream illicit drug culture. A wave of synthetic stimulant abuse has been reported in recent years, with a 16 per cent average annual increase of quantity seized from 1978 to 1993. Today, some 30 million people (0.5 per cent of the global population) consume ATS worldwide. As global awareness of the problem is still limited, and responses to it are heterogeneous and inconsistent, the Special Session will call on Governments to give high priority to ATS and will consider an Action Plan against Manufacture, Trafficking and Abuse of Amphetamine-type Stimulants and their Precursors. The Political Declaration sets 2003 as a target date for national level implementation of the plan, and 2008 for a significant reduction of the manufacturing, trafficking and abuse of ATS.

Judicial Cooperation

Strengthening the legal framework to improve the application of drug control laws is essential for success in the global fight against illicit drugs. Member States are expected to enhance judicial and law enforcement cooperation by adopting measures concerning extradition, mutual legal assistance, transfer of proceedings, controlled delivery, illicit traffic by sea and other forms of cooperation and training. Without some form of inter-State cooperation in these areas, virtually none of the international treaty provisions against drug trafficking can be implemented. The Political Declaration sets 2003 as the target date for the promotion of judicial cooperation.

Money Laundering

The laundering of money derived from illicit drug trafficking and other serious crimes has expanded throughout the world and affects all countries. Member States will reaffirm their commitment to the provisions of the 1988 Convention, concerning the seizure and confiscation of proceeds of drug crimes, and set out principles upon which further anti-money laundering measures should be based. The Political Declaration sets 2003 as the target date for the adoption of appropriate national legislation.

Drug Demand Reduction

Reducing demand for drugs is a key element of the global drug control strategy. Member States have drafted the very first international agreement to counter drug abuse. The Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction will be an essential tool to reduce the demand for drugs by 2008 as set out by the Political Declaration. The Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Demand Reduction is expected to be adopted at the Special Session .

Elimination Of Illicit Crops And Alternative Development

Significant successes were achieved in the last decade as alternative development programmes, complemented by law enforcement measures succeeded in reducing illicit cultivation. The action plan which will be considered at the Special Session addresses the problem with a balanced approach. National drug crop elimination strategies should include comprehensive measures, such as alternative development programmes, law enforcement and eradication. The creation of a supportive environment will be pursued through innovative programmes adapted to the specific legal, social, economic and cultural conditions prevalent in a given region.

At the global level, the strengthening of international cooperation is essential to avoid the fragmentation that hampered past efforts. UNDCP is currently preparing, in consultation with Governments and other international agencies, a series of initiatives, including the establishment of a global system, to monitor the extent of illicit cultivation. This global approach will be further developed to meet the challenge of eliminating or significantly reducing illicit cultivation of narcotic crops by 2008.

For more information, please contact:

Sandro Tucci
United Nations International Drug Control Programme
Vienna International Centre, Room E1448
P.O. Box 500
A-1400 Vienna, Austria

Tel: (431) 21345-5629;
Fax: (431) 21345-5931

Bill Hass
Development and Human Rights Section
United Nations Department of Public Information
Room S-1040
United Nations Headquarters
1, United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017

Tel: (212) 963 0353/3771;
Fax:(212) 963 1186