Statement by Prof. Jallal Toufiq, President,

International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)

Economic and Social Council Management Segment

Item 19 (d): Narcotic Drugs

Report of the International Narcotics Control Board

5 June 2024, New York


Distinguished Vice-President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour to present the 2023 Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board.

I thank the Council for their trust in the Board to support Member States in safeguarding health and welfare through ensuring plementation of the international drug control conventions. As a medical doctor and psychiatrist specialized in treating substance use disorders, I have personally witnessed how operationalizing the conventions can improve the wellbeing of patients, families and communities.

The thematic chapter of the Report is on the role of the Internet, including social media, in drug trafficking and use.

Criminal groups use the dark web and exploit legitimate e-commerce and other platforms to traffic drugs and precursor chemicals used to manufacture drugs. The online sale of highly potent fentanyl and other synthetic opioids is a serious public health threat. Social media platforms increasingly serve as local illicit marketplaces for drugs, with devastating consequences for young people, including children.

Encryption and jurisdictional issues hinder the monitoring and prosecution of these activities. INCB has developed real-time counter trafficking tools that help authorities identify traffickers who are exploiting Internet-based and e-commerce services.

The Internet and social media also present opportunities. Telemedicine can improve access to treatment services and INCB recommends the use of social media platforms for drug use prevention campaigns.

INCB has also developed Internet-based tools to facilitate licit international trade in controlled substances and help Governments address drug and precursor trafficking.

The INCB GRIDS Programme builds capacity to address trafficking in non-medical synthetic opioids and new psychoactive substances, facilitates public-private cooperation and provides tools for Governments to encourage industry partners to refrain from activities involving specific dangerous substances with no known legitimate uses.

Directly related to SDG 3, data reported by Member States to INCB confirm the persistent disparities in the consumption of opioid analgesics, such as morphine, for the treatment of pain. Almost all consumption is concentrated in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Very low use and consumption levels in most of Africa and parts of Asia are often not sufficient to meet the populations' medical needs. At the same time, countries in North America continue to battle the dire consequences of the opioid overdose epidemic.

Consumption of methadone and buprenorphine is concentrated in a limited number of countries, while in other countries with a high prevalence of opioid use or opioid use disorders, the use of these substances for opioid agonist therapy is limited or non-existent.

INCB recommends that Governments consider allocating sufficient resources to ensure the adequate availability of controlled substances and encourages countries to review pricing and production policies of medicines for low-and middle-income countries. INCB also recommends the strengthening of national and/or regional production of pharmaceuticals in their generic forms. The INCB Learning programme is building the capacity of national authorities to accurately assess their licit requirements and implement the treaties.  

INCB notes with concern the serious public health situations related to access to and availability of internationally controlled medicines in countries and territories experiencing humanitarian emergencies. INCB is calling on Governments to take urgent actions to ensure the timely provision of these medicines for use in the medical treatment of the affected populations.

Also in the report, INCB urges States to ensure access to voluntary, evidence-based treatment services, address systemic disparities and ensure inclusivity, and continue to focus efforts to combat stigma and discrimination. INCB is calling on Governments to close compulsory treatment facilities and focus efforts and resources on evidence-based treatment and alternatives to incarceration.

A dramatic decline in illicit opium poppy cultivation and heroin production has been seen in Afghanistan. Alternative livelihoods need to be secured for affected farmers in the country while, globally, potential substitution with highly potent synthetic opioids represents a serious public health threat.

INCB would like to raise the issue of the apparent tension between the provisions of the conventions and the trend towards legalization of the non-medical use of cannabis. This issue needs to be addressed by the signatories to the drug control conventions.

INCB's Precursors Report illustrates the rapidly-changing pace of illicit drug manufacture, with the increasing use of pre-precursors or custom-made precursors to circumvent controls. INCB is building the capacity of Member States to engage in cooperation with the chemical industry that might be targeted by drug traffickers. In 2023, INCB's new PEN Online Light system enabled Member States to stop several multi-tonne shipments of non-controlled chemicals which were destined for use in the illicit manufacture of drugs.

INCB looks forward to continued cooperation with the Council and Member States in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of mankind through supporting implementation of the conventions, including through country missions, and contributing to progress towards the SDGs, in particular SDG 3 on health and wellbeing and SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.

Thank you.

©1995-2024 International Narcotics Control Board