Background

At its first regular session of 2013, further to a briefing by the Executive Director of UNODC on the work of the UN system Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking, CEB requested HLCP to further address system-wide coherence on drug policies.

Mr. Sandeep Chawla, Deputy Executive Director, UNDOC presented an Issues Note on UN system-wide coherence on drug policy, which was primarily aimed at clarifying the nature of the drug control system and the specific role of the United Nations within it, as custodian of the three international drug conventions regulating drug use.

Discussion

The Committee agreed with the need to rebalance the drug control system. In this regard, participants underlined the importance of providing evidence of the economic and social costs of excessive use of criminal prohibition, such as overflowing prisons, and the impact of criminalization on communities. At the same time, the UN could play a role in demonstrating the benefits of a human rights centered approach that emphasized demand reduction. The dropping rates of tobacco consumption were used as an example for effective drug control without criminal prohibition. Participants asked about the role of taxation and were informed that it could be a very powerful instrument, but that it also bore risks (as the illegal trade in cigarettes demonstrated) and in any case needed to be complemented with other measures.

Building capacities within governments and civil society, as well as providing analysis and data on the drivers of illicit drug use were highlighted as other important roles of the UN. Participants pointed out that poor people, particularly youth in urban areas, were highly vulnerable to becoming victims of illicit drug use. They also pointed out to severe human rights violations on the supply side, e.g. women being used as drug carriers.

Action

The Committee thanked Mr. Chawla for his briefing and took note with appreciation of the Issues Note. The Chair encouraged HLCP members to support the preparations towards the 2016 Special Session of the General Assembly.