For information only - not an official document

  25 June 2020


Statement by the President of the International Narcotics Control Board, Cornelis P. de Joncheere, on the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

26 June 2020

VIENNA, 25 June (United Nations Information Service) - On the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, I would like to draw attention to the effects of drug use on young people. While there are many factors that lead to substance use and dependence, vulnerability during early childhood development is highly likely to play a role. It is therefore critical that interventions start at an early age and are delivered at specific stages of pregnancy, infancy, childhood and middle childhood, supporting mothers, parents and schools to promote the healthy development of children. INCB made a number of recommendations to guide governments in this regard in the thematic chapter of its 2019 Annual Report.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, INCB is continuing to provide support to Governments and competent national authorities in a number of ways. People in most parts of the globe have been experiencing severe changes to their daily lives and are having to adapt to the new measures being put in place by governments seeking to contain the spread of this virus and protect the health of their peoples. It remains essential for Governments to ensure continued access to controlled medicines for all COVID-19-related medical needs and also for other ongoing critical medical needs such as those related to pain relief, palliative care for oncological treatments, for older adults and medicines for neurological and mental health disorders, including for the treatment of drug use disorders. In a comment published in The Lancet on 22 April 2020, I joined a number of experts in calling on health responders to, in this most challenging time, apply the principles of palliative care to focus on compassionate care and dignity, provide rational access to essential opioid medicines and mitigate social isolation at the end of life and caregiver distress.

INCB has called on competent national authorities of all countries and territories to ensure the maintenance of sufficient buffer stocks of controlled substances to guarantee availability of those medicines throughout the duration of the pandemic. Suppliers and distributers play a crucial role in ensuring that internationally controlled substances urgently needed for medical treatment remain available within and across national borders. The Board remains in contact with national authorities and is closely following the developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic and any possible impact on the international supply chain for these substances. The Board has also reminded Governments that in acute emergencies and where competent national authorities are not able to operate as normal, it is possible to utilize simplified control procedures for the export, transportation and provision of medicinal products containing controlled substances.

INCB's electronic International Import and Export Authorization System (I2ES) is a critical tool for Governments in facilitating trade in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances while preventing diversion and abuse, especially during the pandemic, and provides a secure forum for national authorities to exchange ideas and innovations regarding COVID-19 contingency measures.

Given the COVID-19 lockdown measures and a plunge in both domestic and international air and land travel, there has been a significant increase in express consignments and home deliveries for vital supplies, providing ample opportunities for traffickers to hide illicit chemicals. INCB's Pre-Export Notification System (PEN Online) and Precursors Incident Communication System (PICS) are helping governments prevent and investigate diversions of precursor chemicals, while the Project Ion Incident Communication System (IONICS) is helping national authorities exchange information on seizures of new psychoactive substances, including fentanyl-related substances and other non-medical synthetic opioids. These tools continue to operate throughout the pandemic. Under INCB's Global Rapid Interdiction of Dangerous Substances (GRIDS) Programme, webinars have been held to raise awareness of new trafficking trends and provide practical approaches, including training on INCB tools, and Project Ion and Project OPIOIDS are providing practical tools to interdict illicit manufacture, marketing, and movement of dangerous new psychoactive substances, fentanyl-related substances and their precursors.

INCB Learning is continuing to build the capacity of competent national authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic through webinars and through the INCB e-learning modules. Offered in both English and Spanish, the INCB e-learning modules are supporting Governments in estimating and assessing their needs for internationally controlled substances. In the last three months alone, 394 government officials of 33 countries and territories have enrolled in the INCB e-learning modules.

INCB is committed to continue working with States Parties towards full implementation of the international drug control treaties and achievement of the health and well-being objectives of the treaties. To this end, we count on the ongoing cooperation and support of Governments and active participation in INCB initiatives. Only in this way can we meet our obligation to ensure availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes while preventing diversion, illicit manufacture, trafficking and abuse.

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For further information, please contact:

INCB Secretariat
Tel.: (+43-1) 26060-4163
Email: incb.secretariat[at]

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