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EU Statement – United Nations General Assembly: High Level Debate on the 2016 Special Session

by CanSS, posted 07 05 2015

Summary: 7 May 2015, New York - Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by H.E. Ms. Györgyi Martin Zanathy, Head of the European Union Delegation to the International Organisations in Vienna, on the occasion of the High Level thematic debate in support of the process towards the 2016 Special Session on the World Drug Problem


 
 
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia*and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

We welcome the organisation of this High Level Thematic Debate as an opportunity to address UNGASS preparations with Member States, relevant UN agencies and bodies, in particular  those dealing with public health, human rights, development and security and other stakeholders;

UNGASS 2016 will be a prominent platform and a very useful opportunity for the international community to take stock of the achievements of the international drug control system to date, to elaborate on the immense challenges that remain in the global, local and national response to the world drug problem and to find workable, operational and sustainable solutions for the longer term within the framework of the international treaties.

In this content we would like to reiterate that:

UN Conventions which provide the international legal framework for addressing the drugs phenomenon and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights are the cornerstone of the global response to the world drug problem.
An effective drug policy should be based on a global as well as a balanced and evidence-based approach, comprising drug demand reduction, including prevention, treatment, social risk and harm reduction and care, and drug supply reduction, including prevention and dissuasion and disruption of drug-related crime as well as international cooperation;
The EU and its Member States are convinced that drug-related health and social risks and harm reduction, including prevention of overdoses and reduction of drug-related deaths, should be an essential element of drug policies at national and international level;
There is an urgent need for improving access to and availability of controlled medicines, and avoiding unnecessary obstacles to access to essential medicines.
The meaningful participation of the civil society, including the scientific community in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of drug demand reduction policies should be promoted and encouraged. The continued engagement with civil society, namely through the Civil Society Task Force, is vital for the preparatory process for UNGASS 2016 and beyond;
From the perspective of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the absolute priority is the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances, including for drug-related crimes as well as the abolition of other practices which are not in line with the principles of human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, solidarity, the rule of law and human rights;
Alternative development measures should be promoted as a long term approach to tackle the root causes of drug crop cultivation.
The spread of new psychoactive substances is one of the main new challenges in drugs policy and we consider the UNGASS 2016 as an opportunity to further develop and strengthen the international response.
The growing use of alternative precursors used to replace traditional precursors under international control must be addressed at global level.

As regards the outcome of UNGASS 2016, we support the decision of the CND to produce a short, substantive, concise and action-oriented document comprising a set of operational recommendations. We support the proposal to reflect in a Chair’s summary the salient points raised during each of the Round Tables.

Delegations are kindly invited to consult more extensive EU recommendations to be included in the outcome document of UNGASS 2016 on the Paper Smart portal and in the copies distributed in the room.

In concluding let me state that the European Union remains firmly committed to a successful UNGASS 2016.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

 

WRITTEN ANNEX

The EU and its Member States believe that the outcome document of the high level workshops to be discussed at UNGASS 2016 should consequently include the following recommendations:

UN Conventions which provide the international legal framework for addressing the drugs phenomenon and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights are the cornerstone of the global response to the world drug problem. The drug control treaties must be acknowledged and respected in developing and implementing national drug policies and laws, as well as regional and international programmes;
the key objective of the international drug control system is to protect public health, to protect citizens against social and societal damage caused by drug use to tackle marginalization and stigmatization and to contribute to reintegration in society. In this sense, dependant drug users should be considered as people who need treatment and care. These objectives can be achieved by improving the implementation of provisions agreed upon the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem;
an effective drug policy should be based on a global and a balanced approach, comprising drug demand reduction, including prevention, treatment, risk and harm reduction and care, and drug supply reduction, including prevention and dissuasion and disruption of drug-related crime as well as international cooperation;
the initiatives of developing methods aiming to achieve experience based knowledge and evidence in order to attain a measurable reduction in illicit supply and demand of drugs as well as drug related harm should be welcomed and supported, if these initiatives are undertaken in line with the principles of an integrated and balanced strategy to counter the drug problem, international law and common and shared responsibility;
the new challenges such as the spread of  non-scheduled new psychoactive substances for the purpose of consumption by humans, the use of new technologies in drug trafficking and related money-laundering, and the growing use of substitute or  alternative precursor chemicals used to replace traditional precursors under international control must be addressed internationally under the framework of international drug control policies;
civil society, including the scientific community, has much to offer and can facilitate the works of policymakers and represents a valuable asset in terms of their field knowledge, resources and commitment. Therefore their meaningful participation in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of drug demand reduction policies should be promoted and encouraged;
there is a need for full implementation of the relevant international legal instruments related to the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to life, and the inherent dignity of all individuals, when addressing the world drug problem, assessing current policies and elaborating national and international solutions;
from the perspective of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the absolute priority is the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances, including for drug-related crimes, as well as the abolition of other practices which are not in line with the principles of human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, solidarity, the rule of law and human rights;
there is an urgent need for improving access to and availability of controlled medicines, and avoiding unnecessary obstacles to access to essential medicines, as a result of the response to illicit drug trafficking, by looking at possible obstacles within the framework of the Conventions,  by supporting the development of health systems, and  stressing WHO's important role to strengthen health system capacity globally;
drug demand reduction should be based universally on effective, targeted and efficient evidence-based programs and best practices in prevention, early detection and intervention, access without discrimination to treatment, therapeutic plan, risk and harm reduction services, social reintegration and recovery; whenever new methods or approaches are tested in order to gain evidence on the effectiveness of such new services human rights and the protection of human dignity shall be duly respected;
the general requirements of best practice are high level of coverage, easy access to services, continuity of care over different settings, and patient satisfaction;
the drug problem has a gender dimension that must be highlighted both regarding drug demand and supply reduction;
national drug strategies should guarantee access to prevention, risk and harm reduction, diagnosis, treatment, care, support services relating to blood-borne diseases associated with drug use but not limited to HIV and viral hepatitis for dependent drug users, taking into account the humanitarian interventions outlined in the technical guidance documents of WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS;
facilitating access to research, evaluation and monitoring findings is vital to ensure that well-informed decisions are made on priority measures to be taken and interventions to be implemented;
These findings are required to provide policymakers and the professionals working in the drugs field with solid information on evidence-based interventions and best practices in the diverse and complex field of drug use;
the application of contemporary practices based on the principles of “restorative justice” and “alternatives to coercive sanctions” will bring significant benefits in terms of cost-effectiveness, in both public health and society as a whole;
strengthening of international cooperation to prevent and counter drug - related organised crime, including drug trafficking, should be promoted by:

-           intelligence-sharing and the exchange of best practices;

-           strengthening counter-narcotics capacity and developing expertise of origin and transit countries;

-           working with international partners to tackle drug trafficking;

-           implementation of law enforcement and judicial cooperation mechanisms and mutual legal assistance instruments applicable to drug trafficking and related crimes;

-           promoting closer cooperation between existing law enforcement coordination centres and platforms;

-           further developing of multi-disciplinary training and awareness activities at national, regional and international level;

-           improving the technical capacity of Judges, Public Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Officials in the field of drugs as well as creating, strengthening and developing the mechanisms for the identification, freezing, seizure and confiscation of property obtained through or derived from drug trafficking and related crimes;

alternative development measures should be promoted as a long term approach to tackle the root causes of drug crop cultivation such as poverty, weak statehood, lack of food security, poor infrastructure and limited access to sales markets for licit products, lack of access to land, lack of technical capacity to grow alternative crops, local conflicts and violence;
alternative development proves to be successful and sustainable if the corresponding programs are non-conditional, non-discriminating and, if eradication is scheduled, properly sequenced;
there is a need for strengthening of cooperation between financial institutions, regional banks, development organizations and UN specialized agencies so that alternative development becomes part of the sustainable development agenda.

 

* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

Ref: EUUN15-070EN
EU source: European Union
UN forum: General Assembly (including Special Sessions)
Date: 7/5/2015

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