The year 2012 marks the centenary of the international drug control system and the first instance of a state being moved to denounce formally any of the UN drug control treaties. The 55th session of the Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND), held in Vienna between 12th and 16th March, therefore looked set to be a fascinating event and did not disappoint. As expected, member states favouring the current regime praised its virtues and ongoing relevance 100 years since The Hague Opium Convention; behaviour that found support in the statements and positions of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB or Board).
The 54th Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was the first for the new Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Mr. Yury Fedotov, who held his maiden speech. It was also the first meeting since several states had objected to Bolivia’s proposed amendment to remove coca chewing from the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Furthermore, 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Convention: the bedrock of the current prohibition-oriented control system. TNI hosted a side event that critically examined the significance and shortcomings of the Convention and discussed the current state of affairs of Bolivia's amendment on coca chewing.
The 53rd Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was a rather uneventful event. After the High Level Segment in 2009, the final agreement on the new Political Declaration and the unprecedented addition of an Interpretative Statement on harm reduction, this year’s CND would be a generally low-key affair. One of the most controversial issues were the comments of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) on the trend to decriminalize possession for personal use in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Both Argentina and Mexico voiced strong objections. This CND also was marked by the imminent departure of Mr. Costa as Executive Director of the nited Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The 2009 Commission on Narcotic Drugs and its High Level Segment (HLS) marked the end of the 2-year process of the 10-year review of the 1998 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. The event was marked by the call of the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, to remove the coca leaf from the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which represented the first ever truly open challenge by any nation state to the structure of the international drug control system. The HLS adopted a new Political Declaration and Plan of Action. A dissenting Interpretative Statement by 26 countries on harm reduction, not mentioned in the Political Declaration, marked a clear divide in drug control approaches.
The 51st Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was designated as the point at which the international community would debate the progress made in the 10 years since the Political Declaration of the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS). The 1998 UNGASS called for the eradication or significant reduction of the cultivation, supply and demand of illicit drugs. Few governments acknowledged the real policy dilemmas arising from the failure to achieve these reductions, or came forward with proposals on how the international drug control system could be improved. One of the most debated issues was a resolution on human rights and international drug control introduced by Uruguay.