65th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs | Agenda Item 5: Implementation of the International Drug Control Treaties
As delivered by Christine Cline, Division Chief, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
March 15, 2022
Item 5b: Challenges and future work of the CND, WHO, and INCB in the review of substances for possible scheduling recommendations:
The framework outlined in the UN drug conventions is our greatest tool for international cooperation against drug-control and precursor chemical threats. The evolving nature of the world drug problem requires innovative and proactive solutions that can be advanced through this framework. The treaties offer States Parties sufficient flexibility to design and implement national drug policies to respond their most pressing challenges. It allows States Parties to design and implement national drug policies in line with their priorities and needs. With this in mind, I want to confirm that cannabis remains strictly controlled under U.S. federal law and federal authorities continue to enforce federal law.
One of the greatest drug control challenges we face as an international community is the rapid proliferation of new psychoactive substances and designer precursors. Many of these chemicals have no legitimate use in medicine, research, or industry. They are quickly fabricated and then altered by criminal groups to evade international controls. Keeping pace with this constant evolution of chemical combinations is a challenge in itself. International scheduling is effective in reducing the prevalence of these chemicals in illicit markets.
Understanding the international scheduling process requires time to complete its treaty-mandated scientific reviews, we continue to support the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in accelerating the review process allowing for an increased number of dangerous substances to be internationally controlled. We encourage WHO and the INCB to broaden the scope of their reviews to encompass those fabricated or altered chemicals that are ripe for substitution in this criminal trade.
As Member States, we must work within the CND to identify proactive and innovative national action to address these types of drug control threats. The drug treaties obligate States Parties to monitor substances and materials which are not under international control, but which may be used in the illicit manufacture of controlled substances.
The U.S. resolution at this year’s CND highlights options for proactive national action in this area with a view to supporting us all in outpacing criminals trafficking in illicit drugs and the chemicals used to produce them. Success will require us to anticipate and proactively counter criminal maneuverings in this space. We are confident this body is up to the task.
Item 5c: International Narcotics Control Board
The INCB is a critical partner in supporting Parties to implement their obligations under the drug control conventions. The United States applauds the INCB’s work in 2021 to curb the illicit manufacture and trafficking of synthetic drugs and their precursors, especially through the Global Rapid Interdiction of Dangerous Substances Programme, or GRIDS, and the Databank for Precursor Control program.
We especially appreciate the INCB’s efforts to address the proliferation of uncontrolled and designer precursor chemicals, including the preparation of a guidance document with options to address this issue within national frameworks. Going forward, the INCB should remain focused on its treaty mandated role of supporting Member States in carrying out their treaty obligations.
We appreciate and value our constructive dialogue with the Board on matters of international drug control. This dialogue serves as a valuable platform for identifying and advancing innovative solutions to today’s most pressing drug threats.
Item 5d: International cooperation to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes while preventing their diversion
No person should suffer from untreated pain or be denied needed medicines. The drug treaties require us to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs and other controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes while preventing their diversion and international trafficking.
While we are focused on the proliferation of new psychoactive substances and designer precursors, we are also committed to addressing barriers related to access and availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes. International scheduling should not introduce barriers to access and availability, as the drug control conventions obligate States Parties to ensure controlled substances are available for medical and scientific purposes.
International control decisions should be accompanied with recommendations implementing these decisions at the national level. International control does not trigger an automatic ban of a substance for medical and scientific purposes. To help us address this gap, we ask UNODC, INCB, and the WHO to provide information on the source of these barriers to access and availability.
Item 5e: Other matters arising from the international drug control treaties
The United States takes the floor to condemn Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine, which has already brought catastrophic human suffering and loss of life, and demonstrated Russia’s callous disregard for its international obligations, including a prime aim of the drug convention: to protect the health and welfare of humankind. The Russian Federation publicly justified his unlawful invasion of Ukraine in part by claiming that the democratically elected government of Ukraine was “a band of drug addicts.” The drug treaties do not allow for a State to engage in the violent invasion or hostile takeover of another sovereign State in order to address substance use in that State.
Under the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, States Parties are required to carry out its treaty obligations in a manner consistent with the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States, and that of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other states. The UN General Assembly similarly condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, deploring these actions as violations of the UN Charter and calling for an immediate cease of its aggression in Ukraine. We wish to echo these sentiments here in the CND as well.