The trade in drugs was already recognized as a global problem requiring a global solution at the beginning of the 20th century, with the first international conference on narcotic drugs held in Shanghai in 1909. Over the following decades, a multilateral system to control production, trafficking and abuse of drugs was developed. Three drug control conventions were adopted under the auspices of the United Nations (in 1961, 1971 and 1988). Adherence is now almost universal.
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was established by Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) resolution 9(I) in 1946, to assist ECOSOC in supervising the application of the international drug control treaties.
By resolution 42/112 of 7 December 1987, the General Assembly decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) supports Member States in implementing a balanced, health- and evidence-based approach to the world drug problem that addresses both supply and demand and is guided by human rights and the agreed international drug control framework. This approach involves: treatment, support, and rehabilitation; ensuring access to controlled substances for medical purposes; working with farmers who previously cultivated illicit drug crops to develop alternative sustainable livelihoods for them; and establishing adequate legal and institutional frameworks for drug control through using international conventions.
In 2009, Member States adopted the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation Towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem which includes goals and targets for drug control.
Progress towards addressing the world drug problem was assessed at a UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in 2016, which resulted in over 100 operational recommendations in seven thematic chapters.
At the CND in March 2019, Member States adopted a Ministerial Declaration in which they reaffirmed their determination “to address and counter the world drug problem and to actively promote a society free of drug abuse in order to help ensure that all people can live in health, dignity and peace, with security and prosperity, and reaffirm our determination to address public health, safety and social problems resulting from drug abuse.”