Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s address at the Ministerial Segment of the 62nd session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Vienna, March 14, 2019
Mr President, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
Today we will take stock of the efforts taken over the decade to counter the world drug problem. It is possible to make different assessments of the efforts to implement the Political Declaration and the Plan of Action, which were approved by the UN General Assembly in 2009. However, it is obvious that the task of ridding humanity of drug dependence set in these documents remains fully topical. Drug business continues to feed organised crime and corruption and provokes violence. New psychoactive substances are being produced. New high-tech threats like DarkNet and electronic payment instruments, so-called contactless drug trafficking, evoke serious concern.
Nobody can cope single-handedly with the multiplying challenges. The entire international community should make collective steps to move consistently towards reaching a strategic goal – the shaping of the drug-free world. This goal is sealed in the final document of the UN General Assembly 30th Special Session, which declared that “the world drug problem remains a common and shared responsibility…”
Regrettably, attempts are being made to erode this responsibility or distort its essence. The legalisation of cannabis in a number of countries, ostensibly for “recreational” or “medical” purposes evokes serious concern. This road leads straight to drug hell. Attempts to justify the use of drugs by human rights arguments do not stand up to criticism. It is necessary to strictly abide by the three relevant UN conventions that are the cornerstone of the entire anti-drug system and must remain unshakeable.
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which last year marked its 50th anniversary, is responsible for the implementation of these conventions. The decades-long operations of the INCB have earned great appreciation from the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). We hope the Russian initiative, which we have submitted to this meeting of the commission, will be approved. In late 2017, we held a meaningful dialogue on all aspects of the drug situation in Russia with the INCB senior officials who visited Russia. We will continue to constructively cooperate with the INCB, and we will strictly comply with all our international legal obligations in the field of drug enforcement.
We firmly believe that only the states that faithfully comply with the provisions of the UN anti-drug conventions have a moral right to take part in the work of the CND. Any other approach can undermine the prestige of the commission, which is the main policy-making agency in the UN drug control system.
The fight against the drug threat is a vital element of global security, including in the regional dimension. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is contributing to these efforts. At its summit in Qingdao last year, the member states approved the Anti-Drug Strategy and the Action Plan for its implementation. Their priorities include breaking the link between terrorism and drug trafficking and thereby weakening the financial basis of terrorism.
Russia is implementing a number of anti-drug training programmes. We are working together with Japan and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to train drug enforcement personnel for Afghanistan, Central Asian countries and Pakistan. We are also establishing an anti-drug police dog training centre in Kabul.
We reaffirm our commitment to the Paris Pact Initiative, a major framework for combatting illicit traffic in opiates originating in Afghanistan.
It is clear that international efforts should be combined with national measures. Russia has started drafting its strategy of state anti-drug policy up to 2030 to elaborate effective responses to new challenges in this area.
While continuing uncompromising efforts against drug crime, it is necessary to make controlled substances used to relieve pain and suffering more accessible. On March 6, 2019, President of Russia Vladimir Putin signed a federal law on palliative care, which has become a contribution to implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Russia.
The fight against drugs should become part and parcel of the activities of all UN agencies that are dealing with ensuring the rights of the child. I would like to draw your attention to the scientific research that confirms the hereditary nature of drug-related diseases. Last year the commission adopted a Russia-initiated resolution on protecting children against narcotic drugs. We urge you to continue working to this end.
Civil society has a major role to play in countering the drug threat. We are delighted to welcome representatives of non-profit organisations to Vienna. In December 2017, Moscow hosted a representative international conference “Parliamentarians Against Drugs.” Its participants supported the consolidation of MPs’ lawmaking efforts to enhance counteraction against this evil. Russian MPs plan to continue anti-drug cooperation with their foreign partners.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Drug addiction is one of the worst forms of suppressing a person’s personality. The eradication of this “plague” will make our world more just, humane and free. Russia will continue actively contributing to resolving this large-scale task.
I am confident that in our joint work we will continue to rely on the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which is demonstrating its great competence and efficiency.