Press Releases

    Round-up of Session

    15 March 2002

    11 – 15 March 2002

    VIENNA, 15 March (UN Information Service) – Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, the newly-appointed Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV) and Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) was welcomed by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) here this morning on the last day of its forty-fifth session.

    Mr. Costa expressed his gratitude and appreciation to representatives of regional groups that supported the Secretary-General appointing him to this post. Although Mr. Costa is only expected in Vienna in June, with his presence this morning he wanted to demonstrate his engagement in work as soon as possible, and in being prepared when he actually arrives in Vienna. Mr. Costa also thanked Mr. Steinar B. Bjornsson, the Officer-in-Charge of the ODCCP, for having maintained a steady hand on the Office.

    In his address to the Commission today, Mr. Gianfranco Fini, the Deputy Prime Minister of Italy stressed the importance of international cooperation in the fight against drugs. He also drew the attention of the delegates to the upcoming ministerial segment of the forty-sixth session of the Commission in 2003. Preparations for the ministerial segment were one of the main topics of the current session. The Commission decided that the theme of the ministerial-level segment would be the assessment of the progress achieved and the difficulties encountered in meeting the goals and targets set out in the Political Declaration adopted by the General Assembly at its twentieth special session. The special session, held in 1998, was devoted to countering the world drug problem and established concrete goals and targets to be met by all States by the years of 2003 and 2008.

    The United Nations main policy setting body on drug control issues, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs held its forty-fifth session in Vienna this week. Delegates reviewed the activities and structural changes of the ODCCP, as well as the world wide drug situation and the current international drug control efforts in Afghanistan.

    In reviewing the ODCCP management reform – following recommendations of the Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) – Mr. Bjornsson briefed the delegates on "creating the foundations for new leadership initiatives and restoration of the donors' confidence" in the work of the Programme.

    In his statement to the Commission, Mr. Dileep Nair, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services spoke about the implementation of recommendations following last year's OIOS inspection of the ODCCP. Mr. Nair said he wanted to reassure Member States that the UN was committed to the effective running of the ODCCP and expressed confidence in the Programme. He said that most of the OIOS recommendations were in the process of being implemented while some of them required the participation of the newly appointed Executive Director. "For the bulk of recommendations, initiatives have been taken to implement them," Mr. Nair said. He stressed that the ODCCP management reform aims at establishing better decision-making mechanisms, consultations and dialogue between the management and the Member States, as well as greater staff participation in the functioning of the office, and more open and transparent project approval procedures.

    Addressing the opening session, Mr. Bjornsson informed the Commission about the ongoing activities and especially the Office's efforts in helping Afghanistan's Interim Authority (AIA). The United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) has reopened its country office in Kabul, and is engaged in an initial legal system analyses and reform, as well as in capacity-building projects aimed at establishing Afghanistan law enforcement and drug control agencies.

    "Our just-released opium poppy pre-assessment survey for 2002 confirms earlier indications that - after the effective implementation of the Taliban ban in 2001 - the drug cultivation in the country has resumed at relatively high levels. The estimated production in 2002 might reach between 1,900 and 2,700 metric tons, which is less than in a record year of 1999, but close to the still high levels of mid-1990s. That requires a strong and creative response," stressed the interim chief of the Programme.

    According to Mr. Bjornsson, the short-term challenge is to prevent this year's harvest to reach European drug markets. In the mid- and long-term, it is important to help Afghanistan establish effective law enforcement and drug control agencies and mechanisms, and provide Afghan farmers with the livelihood and security in production of commercial agricultural crops which will liberate them from a decade of dependence on drug cultivation.

    He also cited, as very encouraging, the decree of the AIA Chairman, Dr. Hamid Karzai, announcing the ban on opium poppy cultivation and processing, trafficking and abuse of opiates, but he said there was a need for strong international assistance in implementing that ban.

    New technologies, such as the Internet, pose new challenges to international drug law enforcement. In order to prevent the Internet from turning into a worldwide web of drug trafficking and crime, anti-drug agencies must restructure themselves into an operational and functional network at a global level, Professor Hamid Ghodse, President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), told the session as it reviewed the international drug control scene.

    The Commission also held a thematic debate on the results achieved in the implementation of the Action Plan on International Cooperation on the Eradication of Illicit Drug Crops and on Alternative Development, adopted by the UN General Assembly at its twentieth special session in 1998.

    Member States were told that there was enough evidence to conclude that alternative development, adapted to local conditions and carried out with the participation of the population, could remove the economic reliance on an illegal crop. However, technical expertise, sustainability and the external political, financial and organisational conditions are also important factors. The importance to compare experiences gained regarding best practices was stressed. ODCCP called attention to the need to establish a network of alternative development experts with their expertise available to all states that are confronted with illicit drug crop cultivation.

    In reviewing the link between drug abuse and the spread of HIV/AIDS, Kathleen Cravero, Deputy Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, highlighted in her statement as a positive development that with strong responses, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia were keeping the HIV epidemic among drug users at bay, joining many Western European countries and other parts of the developed world including Australia and New Zealand. There was also substantial progress in less wealthy countries. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia more than 150 outreach or needle exchange projects among injection drug users had been set up.

    Among other actions, the Commission also reviewed demand reduction measures and adopted several resolutions. These included: provisions regarding travelers under treatment involving the use of medical preparations containing internationally controlled drugs; demand for and supply of opiates for medical and scientific needs; HIV/AIDS and drug abuse; control of cannabis in Africa; and strengthening international cooperation in the control of opium poppy cultivation.

    Membership of Commission

    The 53 members of the Commission include Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Gambia, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Mexico, Mozambique, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Thailand, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America and Venezuela.

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