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UN policy-making body opens annual session in Vienna; looks to tackle range of issues on narcotic drugs

Opening of the 58th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna Austria.
Opening of the 58th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna Austria.

UN policy-making body opens annual session in Vienna; looks to tackle range of issues on narcotic drugs

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs began meeting today in Vienna, where the policy-making body will tackle challenges ranging from protecting children from the sale of new psychoactive substances online to confronting financial flows linked to drug trafficking, as well as planning for a General Assembly special session on the World Drug Problem in 2016.

“The commitment of Member States to the balanced approach is clearly evident in the broad range of draft resolutions presented at this CND,” the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yury Fedotov told the nearly 1,000 delegates gathered in Vienna.

Mr. Fedotov praised the Commission for its vital role as a policy-making body on narcotic drugs within the UN system as well as its support for his Vienna-based organization to achieve greater strategic and operational coherence.

Working with the Commission had enabled UNODC to “put in place integrated, inter-regional responses linking UNODC's country, regional and global programmes to confront the challenges of illicit drugs,” he said.

The hard work of confronting illicit drug supply and demand, he said, went on every day and was the result of the commission’s and UNODC’s collective efforts.

The Commission’s session, being held between 9 and 17 March in Vienna, will include a special four-day segment on preparations for the UN General Assembly special session on the world drug problem in 2016. Following this, between 13 and 17 March, the Commission’s regular segment will include deliberations on draft resolutions and the scope of the control of substances.

This session brings together around 1,000 delegates representing Member States, inter-governmental organizations, civil society and the media for a global discussion on the world drug problem, according to UNODC.

This year, the Commission discusses 12 draft resolutions including:

Promoting evidence based treatment and care for young people affected by drug use disorders;

Alternative sentences for drug involved offenders;

Protecting young people and children, including from the sale of illicit drugs and new psychoactive substances online;

Promoting the role of drug analysis labs as well as scientific research, and strengthening cooperation with academia;

Promoting the use of the international electronic import and export authorization system for licit international trade in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances;

Supporting alternative development, as well as international cooperation to respond to synthetic drugs; and

Confronting financial flows linked to drug trafficking.

UNODC’s work, Mr. Fedotov noted, sought to “protect the health of people; including those suffering from HIV or hepatitis; ensure access to treatment services and essential medicines; promote fundamental human rights; build viable alternative livelihoods and stop criminals from exploiting the vulnerable.”

He also said that it had been 60 years since the General Assembly decided to establish the UN Narcotics Laboratory, which is the predecessor of UNODC’s Laboratory and Scientific Section.

UNODC was established in 1997 as a result of the merging of the UN’s Centre for International Crime Prevention and the UN International Drug Control Programme. It was established by the UN Secretary-General to enable the Organization to focus and enhance its capacity to address the interrelated issues of drug control, crime and international terrorism in all its forms.