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TNI at CND 2016: reports from Vienna

The Transnational Institute (TNI) was present at the 59th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna from the 14-22nd March. This storify features tweets, blogs and news from the event. Our team in Vienna included Martin Jelsma, Pien Metaal and Tom Blickman.


  1. Evaluations of the 59th CND and the negotiations about the outcome document to be adopted at the UNGASS in New York on April 19-21, 2016
  3. Day 7, Tuesday, March 22
  4. CND Blog: Live reporting from the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs
  5. At around 23:00 delegations left informal negotiations agreeing on an outcome document to be approved by the UN General Assembly at the UNGASS on April 19-21, 2016. After printing the document, the formal adoption of the document took place at around 2:00 Wednesday morning. While the intention was to present a short and concise outcome document with operational recommendations, a 24 page document was presented at the Plenary. Switzerland made a reservation, pending on approval of the government, on the preambular paragraph 7 about human rights. They also had difficulty with preambular paragraph 4 mentioning a society free of drug abuse, wanting to include a mention on responding to the public health and social problems resulting from drug abuse.
  6. The moment the outcome document was approved, several countries opened the debate again giving statements on issues that had not been resolved. The Netherlands, on behalf of the EU, supported by Switzerland, Serbia, Argentina, Colombia, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Turkey, gave a statement about the failure to include language opposing the death penalty, regretting that the document did not include language about the abolition of the death penalty and called on countries to adopt a moratorium on the execution of the death penalty.
  7. 1. I have the honour to take the floor on behalf of the European Union and its Member States and the following countries,which align themselves with this statement: Switzerland, Serbia, Argentina, Colombia, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Turkey to speak on the issue of the death penalty.
    2. We deeply regret that the UNGASS outcome document does not include language on the death penalty. We have a strong and unequivocal opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances and consider that the death penalty undermines human dignity and errors made in its application are irreversible. Moreover, imposing the death penalty for drug offences is against norms of international law, specifically Art. 6 Para 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
    3. We underline the importance of the full implementation of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on a Moratorium on the use of the death penalty, which was adopted in December 2014 with an unprecedented number of votes. As an interim it calls for international minimum standards on its use to be respected. Furthermore, we welcome the recent decision of the International Narcotics Control Board to call on countries still applying the death penalty to consider its abolition for drug-related offences.
    4. We urge all United Nations’ member states to respect the international minimum standards on the use of death penalty and impose a moratorium of its use as a step towards its final abolition.
  8. Chile, Brazil, New Zealand, Australia and Norway made a similar statement. Indonesia made a statement that there is no consensus on the abolition of the death penalty and that the issue is not part of the mandate of the CND, supported by China, Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia and almost all Arabic states. According to those countries the issue is a criminal justice matter of sovereign states.
  9. Colombia, supported by Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Panama, Switzerland and Uruguay, made a statement saying that although the outcome document is a step forward reflecting new avenues on which we must move forward in the international debate on global drug problem, because of the consensus process some issues were not included. They called for a broad comprehensive approach towards 2019 and beyond, paying particular attention to the 2030 SDG targets.
  10. Mr. President,
    While the outcome document approved is a step forward and reflects the new avenues on which we must move forward in the international debate on global drug problem, we must recognise that in the interest of consensus, pending issues remain that must be resolved in the future, to achieve more efficient, humane and just drug policies, people-centred and responsive to the challenges that have been identified.
    We still have great work to develop, so that the United Nations should carry out actions and make arrangements to have a broad and inclusive process towards 2019 and beyond.
    It is the opportunity to recall that the adoption of the 2030 Agenda represents a great opportunity to align all policies, including drug policies, in favour of sustainable development, inclusion and towards achieving more just and equitable societies, which can live in peace.
  11. In a separate statement, China pointed to the emerging challenges of NPS.
  12. Reform minded delegations think there is sufficient progress to build on towards the evaluation of the 1998 UNGASS at the High Level Segment in 2019. The document mentions persistent, new and evolving challenges to be addressed in conformity with the three international drug conventions, which allow for sufficient flexibility to State parties to design and implement national drug policies.
  13. It does not mention harm reduction but there is mention of appropriate medication-assisted therapy and injecting equipment programmes, the new diplo-speak for opioid assisted therapy and needle and syringe exchange.