Report of the ENCOD representation mission at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting (Vienna, Austria)
March 15-21, 2004.
By : Farid GHEHIOUECHE and Bruno VALKENEERS
ENCOD has not been able to find the budget needed to organise an awareness campaign (previous to the meeting) towards local actors in each country of the EU.
Convergent mobilisation in Vienna.
The ENCOD campaign for just and effective drug policies is mainly based on local initiatives to « plant the seeds of regulation » and networking of achieved results. Thanks to a last-minute collaboration with Marco CAPPATO, Marco PERDUCA, Maria …, from the Transnational Radical Party, ENCOD has been able to send two representatives inside the United Nations.
Our thanks to the TRP and to Andria Efthiniou Mordaundt from the John Mordaunt Trust Fund who through their support have facilitated attending this meeting of the United Nations Commission and have thus made it possible to inform civil society about decisions taken at this level.
Course of events
Debates were taking place Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (approximately), in the form of plenary sessions, commissions, regional and thematic meetings. Most of the decisions, however, are taken during the informal discussions in the halls. Each state (or group of states) can submit a resolution project which is later debated and amended. Within the plenary sessions, several actors come forward: representatives of official delegations, representatives of international institutions (UNODC, Europol, EU, EMCDDA, …..) representatives of the civil society (Non-profit organisations committee), numerous observers (journalists, experts, researchers, militants…).
Decisions during plenary sessions are taken with consensus. Therefore, each project is discussed for a long time and amended so that not one single part of text, paragraph or word can raise any controversy or reaction ; silence is thus considered as manifesting approval , and it is the role of the president of the session to announce the vote with consensus and to mark the vote with a blow of a hammer.
Numerous contacts were made: contacts by circumstances which were more the result of our delegation’s initiative than of the official delegations trying to make contact with representatives from the civil society. Contacts can only take place in particular circumstances during informal conversations and without polemic.
The privileged moment for informal contacts was during lunchtime or when getting together outside the United Nations. These informal meetings were the real moments for debates and exchanges between delegates at the CND.
Our delegation had the mission to distribute the letter which had been elaborated by ENCOD members, to collect all useful information, to spread the message and the content of the awareness campaign, to get acquainted with “officials” and to get to know better the future UN plans of drugs eradication.
Our delegation also took an active part in the Symposium on “Global governance, transparency and drugs policy” of the Senlis council and in the press conference that was organised the next morning.
Numerous contacts have been made, especially with the delegations from Mexico, Cuba, Morocco, South Africa, Senegal, China, Burma (Myanmar), Hungary, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden.
It must be noted that the representatives of the Columbian and Afghan delegation appeared as little representative of their people. The Russian delegation was plethoric. The US delegation was “silent” except that, according to a lot of participants, the USA had under their influence the Russian delegation and some small African states (for example the representative of the African Union) or other countries such as Malaysia who were regularly intervening and expressing their demands. It is obvious that the world crisis opened by blind terrorism (events in Madrid) was at the centre of tributes paid and preoccupations.
As we intended to distribute to all the official delegations the ENCOD letter, we waited for a long time for the response of the 47th session Secretary Mr. Jonathan LUCAS, but in vain. However, it gave us the opportunity to meet other members of UN instances such as Mrs FRAHI who informed us about the follow up of our campaign from last year. This tends to show that ENCOD’s work is being carefully observed.
Meetings with Non-profit organisations
We took part in the audition of the programme in Eastern Europe carried out by the OSI (Soros Fund) drug project and the two-year adventures of the Senlis Council (NEF fund).
Our delegation did not participate in the first part of this meeting (the Senlis Council press conference). During the meeting, which only fifty representatives were attending, a few exchanges took place without real possibility of debate. Each representative came to the platform to give the details of their activities according to its legitimate work. A few questions from the audience gave the opportunity to specify the content of these presentations. Note that the Senlis Council’s presentation led more to exchanges on internal affairs (who is financing? …) than on the content of their activities.
The symposium “Global governance, transparency and drugs policy” gathered approximately fifty participants of whom a good number agreed with the cause or were even already present last year. From this symposium, we should point out:
The presence of Andrew Wells from the UNODC who at the beginning of his intervention, protested against what he denounced as the inappropriate use of the UNODC link on the site of the Senlis Council.
The presence of Senator Nolin whose charisma and liberty of tone produced a clear political stand on the part of a politician. He did not hesitate to contradict the declarations of the UNODC representative with his personal comments directly drawn from his personal experience on the field.
The intervention of a representative of the official Brazilian delegation (Minister of Defence) who presented the new Brazilian policy based mainly on prevention.
During this symposium, a few questions were asked by the public. A lot of questions could best be described as personal comments rather than questions looking for precisions on certain issues.
The press conference on the next morning gathered a few journalists. It should be pointed out that the Press releases mentioned the ENCOD arguments, in particular one of its slogans “Drug prohibition: instrument in the US war under the UN flag”
A first experience is always useful but we cannot expect extraordinary results. However, ENCOD’s presence has certainly broken the monotony of a meeting without anything major at stake. Therefore, it is obvious that ENCOD must be provided with a ECOSOC status in order to be officially associated with Non-profit organisations’ recommendations and especially to strengthen the pole of those defending a reform of the UN treaties.
On the fringe of official debates, we noticed that a number of delegations are merely symbolic and little informed on the subject; they prefer an ideological approach based on the status quo, even if it means justifying the unjustifiable (for example, “injections rooms” are an aberration because they do not allow consumption of products from outside coming from the illegal market… it is better to have treatments which ensure the individual’s dignity; the policy of risk reduction applied by some countries “would contribute” to weaken the struggle against drug use. This year, the word was certainly: no legitimisation of the risk reduction policy by mentioning “HARMS”.
It must be noted that our progress towards reform will be the result of concrete steps on a national basis, and it is the sum of these national reform programmes which will help us reach the goal of revising international conventions. The 2008 deadline should be the converging point of these national initiatives and experiments.
At the European level, a delegate from EMCDDA told us about
Irish proposition of a 2005-2009 program at the Dublin Meeting in May 2004
Evaluation of the fight against drugs program 2000-2004 in October 2004
Validation of the general framework of the program under the Dutch presidency in December 2004
Application of the program in January 2005 under the presidency of Luxemburg.
At the international level, the following decisions are worth to mention:
Following the ministers’ meeting in May 2003 in Paris on “drug roads”, the next meeting will take place in May 2004 in Berlin.
The next CND session will be presided by the ambassador of India and the vice-presidencies by Guatemala, France and Ukraine. The reporter will be Nigeria.
47th Commission on Narcotic Drugs
Two distinct debates are on the agenda of the Commission: a debate on normative issues during which the Commission takes care of its conventional and normative functions; and a debate on operational activities during which the Commission plays its part as organisation directing the UN Program for international drugs control.
The agenda is essential as each resolution project corresponds to one and/or several points defined on it. The agenda of each new session is defined one year in advance at the end of the Commission. At the end of the 47th CND ordinary session (15-19 April 2004) the temporary agenda was defined for the 48th session of the Commission on narcotics.
The work of the CND
On March 16th 2004, the Commision considered point 7b of the daily agenda called : application of the UN drug control treaties.
The President of the INCB presented the annual report for the year 2003 by pointing out the attention of the assembly on the complexity of the existing relation between drugs, criminality and violence on a micro level. He put the accent on the rise of drug trafficking and on the phenomenon of the disponibility on the black market of legal medicines that are also available without legal prescription on the internet. He asked to all member states to take measures against chemistries working in denying the UN Conventions. Explaining that there is a need to establish a balance between the world offer of licit opium and the realistic need of opiate for therapeutical and scientific uses, the president reminded to the delegations the importance to prevent proliferation of opium raw material sources.
The commission congratulated the INCB for his work on the annual report and for having examined the relation between drugs and violence on a micro level. Many representatives congratulated themselves about the precision giving by the INCB on its position about several harm reduction measures. Precisions according that all harm reduction programmes must be strictly done in the framework of the global fight against drug demand. The INCB recommend to all member states to reject any kind of action that could perpetuate drug abuse.
The Commission was informed on the increase of cannabis abuse in many countries of the world. African delegations told the assembly that illicit cannabis culture are more and more present in Africa and that it represents a threat for nature and biodiversity because of massive pesticide use, soil overexploitation and de-forestation to create space for cannabis fields. Many African representatives are against the relatively tolerant regime in application for “soft” drugs in several European countries, saying such policies risk to put all fighting efforts against illicit culture down.
Afterwards, the Commission worked on the application of article 12 of the 1988 UN Convention against the illicit Traffic in Narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Once again the CND congratulated the INCB for its analysis on the drug precursory traffic and for giving to the states recommendations to struggle in an appropriate way the rerouting of licit pharmaceutical preparations. For example by improving the export notification system.
On 16 march in the afternoon and in the morning of 17 march the commission examined point 3 on the agenda: Thematic debates on synthetic drugs and precursory control. Two groups of experts were established to discuss that question. One was established to analyse the problematic of drug production, drug trafficking and drug abuse of synthetic drugs. The second group was working on a way to reinforce precursory drug control system.
Production, traffic and drug abuse
In a few words the first expert group pointed out the following tendencies :
· Increasing of the production and the traffic of synthetic substances specially among the youth
· Globalisation of synthetic drug commerce
· Possibility to buy those drugs on the internet
· Rerouting of pharmaceutical products
To face those dangers the group recommends to the member states to:
Increase cooperation between the states
Reinforce bilateral, regional and international cooperation.
Encourage all member states to reform their legislation in a way to improve drug control with an efficient repressive policy.
Reinforce the fight against Money laundering.
Further the practice contained inside the article 12 of the 1988 UN threaty.
Make a priority for reducing drug demand.
Develop the Early Warning System.
Reinforcement of precursory control system and for prevention of those substances trafficking.
The second group of experts noticed that :
In many countries the precursory traffic is linked to other forms of criminality, as money laundering for example; the use of those precursory as money for exchange or to finance terrorism by some criminal organisation;
The high speed evolution of the market makes the control of those substances more and more difficult for the repression and the detection services;
The judicial cooporation between the national autorities is crucial;
It is recommanded that the detection and the repression strategies must focused on the organised crime organising the rerouting of the substances;
Export notification system is not strictly applied
It is needed to set up a recording system of the persons or enterprises doing illegal commerce of precursory.
HIV-AIDS and other bloodborn diseases in a context of prevention of the drug abuse.
ONUSIDA representative made a little briefing about the current situation regarding HIV-AIDS epidemic in the context of drug abuse. She observed that about 10% of HIV epidemic is directly linked with the drugs infection and that only 5% of drugs users are being reached by health services.
She also wellcomed some observations made by INCB report about some measures taken in order to counter some mentioned risks. Therefore, she also underlined the importance of INCB as a body member of ONUSIDA and indicated that some worries of ONUSIDA are totally part of INCB regards, like drugs injecting uses, HIV epidemic into penitentiary system, HIV epidemic linked to humane smuggling…
WHO representative told the audience that one objective of WHO was to provide 3 millions treatments for HIV patients before 2005. He also mentioned that in some part of the world, up to 80% of drugs injectors are HIV-AIDS, and that the risk for contamining the rest of population by some “relay population” as prostitutes.
All representatives talked in front of the Commission underligned that HIV epidemic was very tricky and added that drugs abuse play a key role into HIV epidemic. Some of the representatives repealed to the commission that some experiences made since a decade show evidence that we could prevent and stabilize HIV epidemic among injectors, by adopting a pragmatic attitude to face the problematic. With a large scale of approaches and measures like psychosocial competences and capacities, substitution treatments, needles exchange programs, promoting of condoms use, (depistage) services and free advices and treatments for sexual diseases.
Some of the representants underligned that such measures shouldn’t be taken against efforts made into prevention and treatments. Therefore, those measures just could be acceptable if they were implemented with a wider fight against HIV epidemic, and also others viruses transmission by blood.
Worldwide trend regarding drug abuse (survey made between 1998 and 2002).
Increase of cannabis abuse in most of the countries
Opiates abuse increase with some disparities from a region to another of the world.
ATS abuse increase in almost every regions since 1998
Like the past years, cocaine abuse isn’t widespread, but it increase seriously in every consuming area and this quick pick is a strong source of worries for Europe. In Africa, constant abuse of cocaine since the 90’s year after year. In Asia, there is very little increase of the drug use. Crack is a major issue of concern for some regions around the world.