For information only - not an official document

17 November 2017

INCB concludes its 120th Session with call from President to take a human-rights approach to treating drug disorders

VIENNA, 17 November (UN Information Service) - Closing the session today, International Narcotics Control Board's (INCB) President Dr. Viroj Sumyai emphasized that the United Nations, international agencies and the Board, have a duty to increase awareness of policy matters concerning a human rights based-approach for the treatment and rehabilitation of those suffering from a drug use disorder.

Over the past three weeks, the Board has focused on an array of challenges, such as the connections between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and international drug control, goal three on good health and well-being, human rights, the legalization of cannabis for non-medical use, and the opioid overdose crisis in North America. On the crisis, President Sumyai said: "International cooperation is urgently needed to prevent the smuggling of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, and also  to scale up the treatment of drug use disorders." Availability of and access to medicines made with internationally controlled substances for those in need was also extensively discussed. Dr. Sumyai said: "To tackle this, we are implementing INCB Learning to generate capacity at the country-level and engaging with World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to create initiatives to tackle the 'global pain divide' through the provision of training."

After extensive deliberations, the Board finalized the draft of its 2017 Annual Report highlighting the thematic chapter on, "Treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration for drug use disorders: essential components of drug demand reduction," its report on precursors and its technical publications on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The 2017 Annual Report and the report on precursors will be launched worldwide in March 2018, with the main launch in Vienna.

In the analysis of compliance of States regarding the three international drug control conventions, the Board explored various policy and legislative developments, in particular, those related to the cultivation and/or distribution of non-medical cannabis. The Board reiterated its position on the adoption of these measures constitutes a violation of Article 4 (c) of the 1961 Convention, as amended which restricts the use of controlled narcotic drugs including cannabis to medical and scientific purposes.

The Board took note of the need for humanitarian relief, including controlled medicines, owing to the refugee crisis in the Myanmar-Bangladesh border region and the earthquake that struck the Iran-Iraq border regions and echoed the appeal made by the UN Secretary General for the international community to support relief efforts. As it has done in addressing situations of humanitarian need in the past, the Board reminded the international community of the WHO Guidelines for the International Provision of Controlled Medicines for Emergency Medical Care.

During the session, the Board also held discussions with Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC, to discuss developments in international drug control in the context of the SDGs, the follow-up to UNGASS 2016, the situation in Afghanistan and areas of mutual concern. The importance of institutional support for the Board's work was reaffirmed.

The Board held consultations with the Chair of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Ambassador Bente Angell-Hansen focussed on the follow-up to UNGASS 2016 and the preparations of the high-level segment of the 62nd session of the Commission to assess the implementations of drug prevention, treatment and control efforts at the country level to be held in 2019. The Assistant Director of INTERPOL provided an overview of its activities in various areas of drug control and a representative of the World Customs Organization discussed the impact of recent operations on tackling the smuggling of new psychoactive substances with the Board. On the margins of the session, Dr. Sumyai held consultations with the Prakash Kumar Suvedi, Ambassador of Nepal focussed on capacity-building in drug control. From 6 to 9 November, Board member Professor Sevil Atasoy represented the Board at the World Health Organization's Thirty-Ninth Meeting of the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence in Geneva.

The Board's next session will be held in February 2018.



  The Vienna-based Board is an independent body, established by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, mandated to monitor and support governments' compliance with the three international drug control treaties. Its 13 members are elected by the Economic and Social Council to serve in their individual capacities for a term of five years.

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