Health and welfare central to drug control, INCB recalls in report to Economic and Social Council

NEW YORK, 26 July - At the Coordination and Management Meeting of the Economic and Social Council, Ms. Jagjit Pavadia, First Vice-President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), presented the Annual Report of the Board for 2015, recalling that the ultimate goal of the international drug control conventions is to ensure the health and welfare of humankind, which was the focus of the thematic chapter of the report.

The First Vice-President said in her statement that the conventions do not call for a "war on drugs" and should be implemented in a balanced and proportionate manner.  The Board's report emphasizes that drug control actions must be consistent with human rights standards and that States also have an obligation to protect children from drug abuse.

In her speech, Ms. Pavadia noted that the conventions do not require States to criminalize drug abuse and that where drug-related behaviour is subject to criminalization, the conventions allow the imposition of alternatives to punishment, such as treatment and rehabilitation measures.  It was also noted that where sanctions are applied, they must be the product of a legitimate criminal trial and must be proportionate to the seriousness of the crime and degree of responsibility of the offender. 

The Board's annual report reviews the functioning of the international drug control system and identifies challenges facing national and international drug control efforts, and proposes remedial measures. In her statement, the First Vice-President brought to the Council's attention the Board's concerns about the situation in Afghanistan, for which the Board had invoked in 2000 article 14 of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961. Reporting upon the recent mission by the INCB President to the country, it was noted that the reasons for invoking article 14 bis remain as valid today as then.  Ms. Pavadia noted that unless the drug control and drug abuse situation in Afghanistan is urgently tackled head on by the Government of Afghanistan with the support of its international cooperation partners, the security situation, terrorism threat, corruption and development issues affecting the country will remain unresolved.  The Board's readiness to cooperate with all concerned partners was assured.

The speech to the Council reiterated that the conventions promote the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical purposes and that prevention and treatment of drug abuse are key to ensuring health and welfare. Also presented to the Council was a special INCB report on access to controlled medicines, which presented worrying trends in access to internationally controlled medicines, identified challenges to improving availability and made recommendations to governments to improve the situation.

Referring to the INCB Annual Report on precursors, which reports on the implementation of article 12 of the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, Ms. Pavadia noted that the success of this Convention rests upon the promotion of international cooperation to prevent chemicals from being available for the illicit manufacture of substances of abuse.   

The First Vice-President also took the opportunity of her participation at the Council to hold consultations with the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Economic and Social Council, the Chef de Cabinet of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General and the Permanent Representatives of Jamaica and Papua New Guinea to discuss matters of shared interest. Further meetings were scheduled with the representative of Mauritania and the President-elect of the 71st session of the General Assembly.

Link to statement by the INCB First Vice-President

Link to video recording (Ms. Pavadia's presentation starts at 47:30)

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