Most trafficking is carried out in secrecy and is divorced from legal commerce. However, not all of the process is clandestine and precursors trafficking often intersects with legitimate commerce or customs controls, e.g. in order to source materials or transport shipments. These cross over points provide an opportunity to stop incidents of trafficking by using regulatory and interdiction tools. Controlling the procurement of the chemicals necessary to manufacture and process drugs is such a tool.

The 1988 Convention contains detailed provisions and requirements relating to the control of precursors (Legislation and Control measures). The general requirements are summarized in paragraph 1 of article 12:

" The parties shall take the measures they deem appropriate to prevent diversion of substances in Table I and Table II used for the purpose of illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances, and shall co-operate with one another to this end."

The concerted and united efforts of Governments determined to establish measures to prevent the diversion of precursor and essential chemicals into the illicit manufacture of drugs led to the 1988 Convention, and today the Convention enjoys near universal adherence. Under the treaty, the International Narcotics Control Board has a special responsibility to monitor the control of Governments over precursors (see the Precursors Annual Reports) and essential chemicals and assists them in preventing the diversion of those chemicals into illicit traffic.

Government initiatives in the field of precursors control have been further supported through resolutions from the Economic and Social Affairs Council as well as the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and have led to the creation of flexible control mechanisms.

With the 1988 Convention as the legal basis for this flexible approach to precursor control, governments can now, in partnership with industry, quickly identify suspicious shipments and prevent diversion ( Tools and Kits for National Competent Authoritities). An operational dimension has also been integrated into the approach, with successful operations conducted under the banners of Projects Prism and Cohesion. Furthermore, resources have been developed, such as PEN Online and PICS, which actively and effectively support Governments in working towards the objectives of the Convention (Competent National Authorities can access the Secure Area containing CNA reference material).

This section of the INCB website is intended to provide users with general information on the control of precursors and also allows governments to access information and resources relevant to their work in this area. Please do not hesitate to contact us using the details below


Contact the Precursors Control Section:

Fax: + 43 1 26060 5930
E-mail address:

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