65th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs | Agenda Item 8: Recommendations of the Subsidiary Bodies of the Commission
As delivered by Christine Cline, Division Chief, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
March 17, 2022
The United States welcomes the work of the CND subsidiary bodies and applauds them for continuing their work in the face of the ongoing pandemic. With over 660 participants from over 100 countries and organizations meeting virtually over five days, this meeting facilitated real-time information exchange of current drug trafficking trends in the context of COVID-19.
We also welcome the continued efforts of the subsidiary bodies to not only implement the international drug policy commitments and follow-up to the 2019 CND Ministerial Declaration, but also, offer CND members with practical, region-specific suggestions, which help us connect our global policy commitments to action at the national and regional levels.
This year’s extraordinary sessions focused on the regional impacts of COVID-19 on drug trafficking; money-laundering of trafficking proceeds; and the misuse of information technology for illicit drug-related activities. The sessions demonstrated that the pandemic had accelerated the rise of novel drug trafficking methods, and participants emphasized the importance of cooperation within and between states to combat it.
The reports from these bodies provide us with a number of key challenges and examples of work being done that the CND should consider in more depth. For example: Subsidiary bodies from every region reported that criminal organizations have used the pandemic to become more organized and efficient, with better access to information technology.
In this regard, a recurring theme was the importance of capacity building, especially in the areas of investigating illicit financial flows and money laundering. Participants reported the reduced use of cash/courier money laundering transactions and cash seizures as a result of pandemic-related port and airport closures. Instead, traffickers shifted to greater use of crypto currencies, wire transfers and pyramid schemes as alternatives to cash. All presenters discussed the need for cooperation across agencies, including law enforcement, financial intelligence units and private sector actors.
In sharing best practices, presenters described the importance of conducting parallel financial investigations alongside drug seizures. Drug trafficking is a for-profit business and money is involved in every drug transaction, therefore, investigators must be trained to “follow the money” attached to the drug-related transaction. Accomplishing this requires access to various sources of financial and non-financial information, which may often be in the control of private sector actors.
These discussions highlight the importance of such cross-cutting exchanges, and the need for the Commission to further consider innovative and practical solutions that respond to the priorities identified by our experts in the field. We look forward to participating with other Member States in future meetings of the HONLEAs and other subsidiary bodies of the Commissions to continue sharing constructive ideas