Statement on the UN Common Position and Task Team by Institute for Policy Studies / Transnational Institute

Between 12 - 16 April 2021, the 64th CND session took place. Here you can find the statement by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Transnational Institute on Inter-agency cooperation and coordination of efforts in addressing and countering the world drug problem (Agenda Item 7).


Declaration by

  • Transnational Institute
  • Institute for Policy Studies

Thanks, madam chair, for giving the Transnational Institute the opportunity to speak. In the course of the 25 years in which we have participated in CND sessions, we have witnessed very slow progress with regard to strengthening inter-agency cooperation and UN system-wide coherence. A siloed culture has long dominated in Vienna resulting in tensions rather than collaboration with other parts of the UN family. The adoption of the UN System Common Position on drug policy and the establishment of the inter-agency Task Team have been unprecedented milestones in this regard.

The UN Common Position was elaborated under the guidance of the Secretary-General, with the full support of the heads of all UN agencies, including UNODC. The Common Position provides ‘authoritative guidance’ to all UN agencies to develop and promote a truly evidence- and human rights-based drugs policy, in support of the overarching Sustainable Development Goals. UNODC has a key role in the implementation of the Common Position, as it is mandated to lead the UN system Task Team.

It is therefore highly disappointing and worrying that the new UNODC Strategy 2021-2025 does not mention or refer to the Common Position or to the inter-agency Task Team that UNODC is meant to lead, not even in the section on UN system coordination. Furthermore, many of the key directions for action included in the Common Position, from promoting the decriminalisation of people who use drugs to gathering evidence on new approaches to drug control, including cannabis, are absent from the Strategy.1

If the now reached Common Position fails to deliver and the Task Team is unable to operate, one of the logical conclusion would be revisiting the role of UNODC, and for the SG’s Executive Committee to lead the Task Force instead.

After all, UNODC’s ‘leading role’ within the system was always meant to be a lead coordinating role in close collaboration with other UN agencies and governing bodies. The UN Common Position and the Task Team are hard-won achievements that provide authoritative guidance for the entire UN system on drug-related matters – to be implemented on the ground through the resident coordinator system and promoted at the global level to overcome the siloed approach.

We call on Member States to actively support the work of the Task Team, to promote drug-related issues on the agendas of other UN forums, and to ensure that all relevant UN entities—including UNODC—actively promote the UN Common Position.

1 Supressing coherence: The UNODC Strategy 2021-2025 and the UN system Common Position on drugs, IDPC Advocacy Note, April 2021.

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