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UNODC: Preparations for the High-level Segment of the 52nd CND Consultations on the Political Declaration

February 12, 2009

U.S. Statement by Chargé Geoffrey Pyatt

Most importantly, I want to make clear that the United States supports needle exchange programs as part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases.

The United States also supports other evidence-based approaches to reduce the negative health and social consequences of drug abuse, including access to medication-assisted treatment for narcotic addiction, as part of a comprehensive substance abuse treatment protocol.

The United States is committed to a comprehensive approach to demand reduction. It continues to be a key priority for the U.S. government, as it has been for the past decade. In 2008 our federal government spent some $5 billion on demand reduction programs, and state and local governments spent millions more. The United States does 85% of the world’s research on drug abuse. Consequently, most evidence-based programs and best practices for prevention and treatment either originate in the U.S. or are facilitated by the U.S. in collaboration with other foreign researchers.

Evidence-based approaches to reduce the negative health and social consequences of drug abuse, including access to medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction, behavioral therapies, and comprehensive needle-exchange programs, form parts of a comprehensive approach to substance abuse that has long-term recovery, abstinence and social reintegration as its goal.

However, the United States continues to believe that the term "harm reduction" is ambiguous. It is interpreted by some to include practices that the United States does not wish to endorse or see included in UNGASS documents, not in the Political Declaration nor in the Plan of Action.

Over the past several days my delegation has consulted widely with other delegations to explain our new position, and to explore ways to find common ground on these issues in the UNGASS documents. We are confident that under your leadership, we member states will be able to work constructively together and reach the agreement essential to make the ministerial meeting in March a success.

We want once again to express our deep appreciation and admiration for your work, Madame Chair, and for the skill with which you have guided our discussions. We stand ready and committed to assist you in successfully concluding the UNGASS process.

Thank you.

Madame Chair, as you prepare to lead the delegations in a final push to craft the political declaration of the UNGASS review, I appreciate the opportunity to explain the new U.S. position on drug demand reduction.