Statement by Dr. Lochan Naidoo, President, International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)

The fact is that access to medicines contained controlled substances is very uneven, with consumption concentrated primarily in Canada, the USA, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Approximately 5.5 billion people, or three quarters of the world’s population, live in countries with low levels of, or non-existent access to medicines containing scheduled substances. But what are the reasons? Aren’t they quite complex? If we analyse overconsumption of some psychotropic substances, for example, we would discover that it is not the regulatory regime that it is at fault.
  • Access to controlled medicines
The Board was among the first to signal that major discrepancies existed among various regions. It has also repeatedly stressed that the situation could be substantially improved through corrective action by States which should address the regulatory, attitudinal, knowledge-related, economic and procurement-related problems identified as the main causes of inadequate availability. To that end and as a contribution to the UNGASS, the Board has decided to supplement its annual report for 2015 with an updated version of its 2010 special report on availability (entitled Availability of Internationally Controlled Drugs: Ensuring Adequate Access for Medical and Scientific Purposes).
  • Access to controlled medicines
Poverty, food shortages, economic inequality, social exclusion, deprivation, migration and displacement, access to education and employment prospects, and exposure to violence and abuse, are some of the socio-economic factors that impact on both the supply and demand sides of the drug problem. These are important drivers of the illicit drug phenomenon and they need to be taken into consideration within a comprehensive, integrated and balanced approach to the world drug problem. When assisting persons living with substance abuse disorders, we must look deeper at socio-economic issues such as poverty, marginalization, gender imbalances and child development. I cannot over-emphasise the role and responsibility of families and society in protecting children by creating environments that are conducive to prevention and the development of resilient personalities.
  • Development/SDGs
Nothing in the Conventions requires States to incarcerate drug users. The Board has repeatedly emphasized the need for proportionality, and for a balanced approach in which prevention, treatment and rehabilitation take a leading role.
  • Alternatives to punishment
  • Flexibilities in the UN drug conventions
  • Proportionality of sentencing
Once again and in line with developments within the United Nations, the Board urges all countries that continue to retain the death penalty for drug-related offences to consider abolishing capital punishment for this category of offences.
  • Death penalty

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