Special event on implementing the scheduling decisions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

Vienna, 27 June - Professor Richard P. Mattick represented the International Narcotics Control Board at the World Health Organization Forum (WHO) on alcohol, drugs and addictive behaviours, held in Geneva from 26 to 28 June 2017, with UNODC involvement. The forum was oversubscribed with double the number of participants expected attending.  This opportunity provided by the WHO was reflective of the joint cooperative effort between the three international agencies as set-out in the UNGASS 2016 Outcome Document.

Addressing the high-level segment on 26 June, Prof. Mattick reiterated that concern for the health and welfare of people is the central tenet of the international drug control system, and that INCB has emphasized the need to put health and welfare at the centre of drug policy and to apply a balanced approach to implementing the three drug control treaties, with full respect for human rights and founded upon the principle of proportionality.

It was stressed that prevention of drug dependence, particularly among young people, must be the primary objective of drug control policy and that comprehensive drug demand reduction strategies, which include evidence-based treatment and rehabilitation, as well as the reduction of adverse health and social consequences, are central to good policy and practice.

Having noted that in some countries drug control relies primarily on criminal justice approaches and incarceration, the INCB Member drew attention to the flexibility provided for by the three drug control conventions to provide measures such as education, treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration as alternatives to incarceration for minor drug-related offences. Although States determine the sanctions to be applied, INCB's call for States to abolish the death penalty for drug-related offences was also restated. He also noted the need for capacity building of evidence-based interventions in countries, drawing on resources and expertise in WHO and UNODC. 

Special attention was drawn to the imbalance in the availability of medicines containing controlled substances.  Prof. Mattick repeated INCB's call on countries to close the global pain divide to ensure access to opioid analgesics and controlled psychotropic substances, while recognizing the need to strike a careful balance to prevent oversupply and diversion to non-medical use. To this end, he referred to the importance of the UNGASS 2016 " Operational recommendations on ensuring the availability of and access to controlled substances exclusively for medical and scientific purposes, while preventing their diversion", which INCB is actively implementing.  

Professor Mattick also made a number of presentations on behalf of the Board at the Forum.


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