For information only - not an official document

25 June 2019

President, International Narcotics Control Board, Cornelis P. de Joncheere:

Message on International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

26 June 2019

VIENNA, 26 June (UN Information Service) - On the occasion of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, this year's theme "Health for justice. Justice for health" invites us to reflect on the importance of justice in ensuring positive health outcomes for all people, and in particular, for the most vulnerable among us.

It also reminds us that for many people affected by drug use and drug trafficking, justice remains elusive - whether due to extrajudicial reprisals, disproportionate criminal justice responses, impediments to treatment and social reintegration or the legal and societal stigma which continues to be associated with drug use and dependence.

The International Narcotics Control Board has advocated State responses to drug abuse and trafficking which meet the drug control conventions' call for proportionality and which are rooted in the respect for human rights and human dignity.

The Board has made clear that extrajudicial responses to suspected drug-related activity cannot, under any circumstance, be justified. These acts, whether committed by State actors, or condoned or encouraged by them, constitute egregious violations of human rights and of the drug control conventions which require legal responses to drug-related conduct. Accordingly, the Board has condemned extrajudicial acts of violence committed against persons suspected of drug-related activities and has called for these acts to be investigated and prosecuted.

In the face of over-incarceration for drug-related offences of a lesser gravity, including those committed by people who use drugs, the Board has reminded States of the possibility set forth in the drug control conventions to apply alternative measures to conviction or punishment and of the need to ensure respect for the principle of proportionality in the determination of penalties. It remains a great cause of concern for the Board that these provisions continue to be underutilised by States and the Board is committed to continuing its efforts to encourage their greater implementation.

The Board has also encouraged States which continue to retain the death penalty for drug-related offences to consider abolishing capital punishment for that category of offence in light of key international developments in this regard.

Finally, a just society is one that cares for even its most marginalised members. The Board will continue to advocate for greater access to treatment, rehabilitation and aftercare measures as required by the drug control conventions and to highlight the importance of dismantling obstacles to social reintegration, including the continued stigmatisation of drug users.

While the Board is heartened by the progress made in many States towards the adoption of a more humane and just drug policy, one which places the health and welfare of the individual at its core, this year as every year on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, we are reminded of the work left to be done. In the pursuit of its mandate and in whatever manner it can, the Board will continue to support State Parties to the international drug control conventions in their efforts.


INCB is the independent, quasi-judicial body charged with promoting and monitoring Government compliance with the three international drug control conventions: the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Established by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, the thirteen members of the Board are elected in a personal capacity by the Economic and Social Council for terms of five years.

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For further information, please contact:

INCB Secretariat
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