For information only – not an official document

12 April 2021

Statement by Cornelis P. de Joncheere, President of the
International Narcotics Control Board

Sixty-fourth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs: Ceremonial opening segment

12 April 2021

VIENNA, 12 April (United Nations Information Service) — It is an honour to participate at this ceremonial segment, to commemorate the achievements of the international community in the control of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances over six decades. This milestone is an appropriate time to reflect on how far we have come, the challenges faced today, and the path ahead.

INCB was established to administer the control system in cooperation with States parties, and to monitor and support Governments in implementing their treaty obligations. The Board has analysed the implementation of the two conventions and published its findings in a supplement to the 2020 INCB Annual Report.

Even in the face of the constantly shifting contours of the world drug problem, the three international drug control conventions have proved their value as the cornerstones of international cooperation in drug policy.

The almost universal ratification of the three conventions is evidence of the shared global will to counter the world drug problem. States have regularly reaffirmed their commitment to working within the framework of the three conventions and the subsequent resolutions and political declarations, adopted by the UN General Assembly and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND).

We can state that the international drug control system has been able to achieve international control of the licit production, trade and consumption of controlled substances. This is despite the significant increase in the number of substances under international control since the adoption of the conventions, and the substantial growth in the volume of international trade. 

Yet critical challenges remain.

The goal of ensuring the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes has not been achieved to a satisfactory extent at the global level.

Equally, the goals of reducing the illicit cultivation, trafficking and non-medical use of drugs and providing treatment and rehabilitation services to people suffering from drug dependence has not been addressed effectively. It is worth noting that the two conventions did not provide specific international tools or instruments for achieving those broader goals; and that this was left to States Parties to implement within their own social and cultural contexts.

Demand for illicit drugs continues to be of concern throughout the world. The conventions require States parties to take measures for the prevention of drug use and for the treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration of people affected by drug problems but many Governments have not yet given enough priority to this issue.

The use of methamphetamine and synthetic opioids and related overdose deaths remain a problem; we are also confronted with the continuing emergence of new psychoactive substances, and with the use of non-scheduled chemicals, designer precursors and pre-precursors as alternatives to controlled precursors.

The Internet and social media have increased opportunities for both the marketing and the social transmission of dangerous products and behaviours. These new realities underscore the need for joint global action: we hope that in this session of the Commission we can make progress on this.

Universal adherence to the three international drug control treaties is undermined by developments in a number of countries that have legalized or permitted the use of cannabis for non-medical purposes. INCB remains in close dialogue with Member States to support them in implementing the obligations under the conventions.

Over the years, many gross human rights violations have been committed in the name of, or under the guise of, drug control. These human rights violations have occurred not because of the international drug control conventions but in spite of them.

Implementing the international drug control system means putting the health and welfare of humankind at the core of drug policies; it means applying comprehensive, integrated and balanced approaches to drug control policy; it means promoting human rights standards and proportionate responses; it means prioritising prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and the reduction of the negative consequences of drug use, and it means strengthening international cooperation based on common and shared responsibility.

The international drug control system, when fully implemented, contributes to protecting the health and welfare of people worldwide, it ensures balanced national approaches, and it is important in addressing both old and new drug control challenges.

To conclude, this anniversary is also an opportunity to reflect on possible additional tools and forms of cooperation to respond to the changing nature and magnitude of the global drug problem, including those that were not foreseeable at the time of adoption of the conventions.

We have come a long way in countering the world drug problem, but new challenges are many: the Board stands ready to work with the State Parties to address these.


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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INCB Secretariat
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