Mandate and Functions

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is the independent and quasi-judicial monitoring body for the implementation of the United Nations international drug control conventions. It was established in 1968 in accordance with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961.  It had predecessors under the former drug control treaties as far back as the time of the League of Nations.



The functions of INCB are laid down in the following treaties:  the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961; the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971; and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988

Broadly speaking, INCB deals with the following:

  1. As regards the licit manufacture of, trade in and use of drugs, INCB endeavours, in cooperation with Governments, to ensure that adequate supplies of drugs are available for medical and scientific uses and that the diversion of drugs from licit sources to illicit channels does not occur. INCB also monitors Governments' control over chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of drugs and assists them in preventing the diversion of those chemicals into the illicit traffic;

  2. As regards the illicit manufacture of, trafficking in and use of drugs, INCB identifies weaknesses in national and international control systems and contributes to correcting such situations. INCB is also responsible for assessing chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of drugs, in order to determine whether they should be placed under international control.

In the discharge of its responsibilities, INCB:

  1. Administers a system of estimates for narcotic drugs and a voluntary assessment system for psychotropic substances and monitors licit activities involving drugs through a statistical returns system, with a view to assisting Governments in achieving, inter alia, a balance between supply and demand;

  2. Monitors and promotes measures taken by Governments to prevent the diversion of substances frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and assesses such substances to determine whether there is a need for changes in the scope of control of Tables I and II of the 1988 Convention;

  3. Analyses information provided by Governments, United Nations bodies, specialized agencies or other competent international organizations, with a view to ensuring that the provisions of the international drug control treaties are adequately carried out by Governments, and recommends remedial measures;

  4. Maintains a permanent dialogue with Governments to assist them in complying with their obligations under the international drug control treaties and, to that end, recommends, where appropriate, technical or financial assistance to be provided.

INCB is called upon to ask for explanations in the event of apparent violations of the treaties, to propose appropriate remedial measures to Governments that are not fully applying the provisions of the treaties or are encountering difficulties in applying them and, where necessary, to assist Governments in overcoming such difficulties. If, however, INCB notes that the measures necessary to remedy a serious situation have not been taken, it may call the matter to the attention of the parties concerned, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Economic and Social Council. As a last resort, the treaties empower INCB to recommend to parties that they stop importing drugs from a defaulting country, exporting drugs to it or both. In all cases, INCB acts in close cooperation with Governments.


Dialogue with Governments

In order to further the aims of the treaties, the Board maintains ongoing discussions with Governments. Such dialogues are pursued through regular consultations and through missions arranged in agreement with the Governments concerned. As a result, for example, countries became parties to the conventions and have strengthened their legislation, particularly concerning psychotropic substances, or have improved coordination of national drug control efforts.

The Board has repeatedly stressed that real and lasting progress in the fight against drug abuse and trafficking depends on the strong commitment of Governments, the establishment of priorities and the allocation of adequate resources by national authorities, since they and they alone are able to take the necessary measures within their countries. To achieve maximum impact, all such national endeavors must be coordinated at both regional and worldwide levels.


Training programmes

In order to enhance the functioning of national drug control administrations, the INCB secretariat conducts training programmes for drug control administrators, particularly from developing countries. These officials receive training in the implementation of treaty obligations, especially those that relate to cooperation between INCB and parties to the treaties. Regional training seminars have not only helped to improve cooperation from participating countries but have also served to enhance collaboration among countries within the regions. These seminars are organized in close cooperation with the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and other competent international organizations, in particular WHO and the International Criminal Police Organization. National administrations also send officials to the INCB secretariat for training.


Annual report

Based on its activities, INCB publishes an annual report that is submitted to ECOSOC through the Commission. The report provides a comprehensive survey of the drug control situation in various parts of the world. As an impartial body, INCB tries to identify and predict dangerous trends and suggests necessary measures to be taken. The annual report is supplemented by technical reports on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, giving a detailed account of estimates of annual legitimate requirements in each country as well as data, the licit production, manufacture, trade and consumption of these drugs worldwide.

Furthermore, the report is supplemented by the report to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on the implementation of article 12 of the 1988 Convention which contains an analysis of measures Governments have taken against the diversion of precursors and essential chemicals and trends in illicit trafficking in such substances.

©1995-2023 International Narcotics Control Board