INCB warns against weakening the international drug control legal framework

Spread the love

VIENNA, 2 February (UN Information Service)

At the opening of its 112th Session on Monday, the  International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) once again cautioned the members of the international community of the public health risks associated with the adoption of legislative and policy measures  which are inconsistent with the provisions of the three United Nations drug control conventions.  According to INCB President, Dr Lochan Naidoo, “Thedrug control conventions aim to promote and protect public health. These conventions, drafted by, and almost universally ratified by States, are the bedrock of the drug control framework in that they represent the minimum standards agreed upon by the members of the international community.”

“Flexibility” in the interpretation of the international drug control treaties has been a reoccurring theme  in the media in the recent months, especially in the United States, due to legal measures in some jurisdictions on the control of cannabis. The Board, however, invited States to consider the  consequences that these measures may have in imperiling the broad consensus these treaties represent, in particular with respect to the limitation of use of narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes, an obligation to which no derogation is permitted.

While the Board has always recognised that State parties to the UN drug control treaties have a wide degree of discretion in the choice of means to implement their legal obligations, they are held not to take any action which would threaten the object and purpose of the UN drug control treaties the health and welfare of mankind.

Thus, the Board encourages States to persist in their efforts to identify measures to fully implement the drug control conventions and respond to evolving realities surrounding drug abuse, trafficking and drug-related violence; it also reminds them that this undertaking must be conducted with caution and due consideration.

Vienna International Centre  PO Box 500, 1400 Vienna, Austria

Tel: (+43-1) 26060-4666  Fax: (+43-1) 26060-5899

Email: [email protected]

UNIS/NAR/1228 2 February 2015


INCB Report 2014 : (Excerpts)

142. The Board notes the various measures undertaken and planned by the
Government to monitor the implementation of cannabis-related regulations in
certain states of the United States as they pertain to federal enforcement priorities,
as well as to examine the public health impact of those developments. The Board
reiterates its concern that action by the Government to date with regard to the
legalization of the production, sale and distribution of cannabis for non-medical
and non-scientific purposes in the states of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and
Washington does not meet the requirements of the international drug control
treaties. In particular, the 1961 Convention as amended, establishes that the
parties to the Convention should take such legislative and administrative measures
as may be necessary “to limit exclusively to medical and scientific purposes the
production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use and
possession of drugs”. This provision is strictly binding and not subject to flexible
interpretation. In addition, the Convention establishes that States parties have “to
give effect to and carry out the provisions of this Convention within their own
territories”. This provision also applies to States with federal structures (INCB
2014, p. 25).

And the foreword which reads :

Foreword to the INCB Annual Report for 2014
Like all international conventions, the United Nations drug control treaties lay out
a set of binding legal norms and entrust States with the adoption of legal,
administrative and policy measures to implement their treaty obligations.

While the choice of these measures is the prerogative of States, such measures must
respect the limits that the international community has set for itself in the international
legal order. One of the most fundamental principles underpinning the
international drug control framework, enshrined in both the 1961 Convention and
in the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971, is the limitation of use of
narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances to medical and scientific purposes.
This legal obligation is absolute and leaves no room for interpretation (INCB
2014, p. iii).


Leave a Reply