Statement of the G-77 and China during the 51st session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, 10-14 March 2008 delivered by H.E. Ambassador Shahbaz, PR of Pakistan

Mr. Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. I would like to congratulate you and the members of the bureau for your election. The Group is confident of your ability to successfully conduct the activities of this session and I wish to assure you of the Group's support in the task ahead. I also take this opportunity to thank the Secretariat for the preparation of our meetings and for making the documents available.

The G-77 and China reaffirms the urgency for establishing and strengthening regional and international cooperation based on a common and shared responsibility requiring an integrated and balanced approach in full conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. The Group calls upon all actors of the International Community to equally join forces in this fight that concerns us all to solve the world's drug problems.

The most effective approach towards eradicating the drug problem consists of a comprehensive, balanced, integrated and coordinated approach, encompassing supply control and demand reduction reinforcing each other. This places responsibilities of a differentiated nature on the origin, transit and destination countries. Any approach on combating drugs, focused only on the supply side in origin and transit countries, is unlikely to succeed without commensurate efforts for demand reduction in destination countries.

Furthermore, the Group of 77 and China reiterates that any collaboration against criminal organizations, including the control and capture of internationally recognized criminals, should have legal basis from bilateral or multilateral agreements and should avoid any prejudgments.

Mr. Chairman,

The members of the Group of 77 and China have done very important contributions. Our societies are among the most affected by drug trafficking. We have to fund and staff our law enforcement agencies and armed forces and build physical infrastructures, which require considerable financial efforts. In many cases, we have to combat drug trafficking into our countries, as well as that in transit to other destinations.

The Group of 77 and China stresses the importance of multilateral tools, such as the recent publication of the World Drug Report 2007 of the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime as well as the Annual Report 2007 of the International Narcotics Control Drugs Board (INCB), in order to have a comprehensive, objective and transparent vision of the world drug situation, the international drug control system and the efforts of Member States in addressing the world drug problem. In this respect, the G-77 and China reaffirm the need to ensure that all practices should be compatible with and contribute to a strong and effective multilateral system, while avoiding unilateral practices. Thus, the Group reiterates that only through legitimate multilateral bodies and structures a comprehensive, objective and transparent approach is attainable to analyze and assess the world drug problem as well as the functioning of the drug control systems. In this regard, the Group also encourages INCB to continue to strengthen its dialogue with Member States.

The Group of 77 and China believes that improved efforts from our partners are necessary. Financial and technical assistance can be greatly improved. Drug demand remains strong, it has not diminished. We are concerned with the growing atmosphere of social acceptance of illicit drugs in some other countries. The Group calls upon those countries to fully observe the implementation of UN Drug control conventions. More efforts are also needed to combat money laundering within important financial hubs.

The Group of 77 and China is deeply concerned over growing threat of opium production in Afghanistan and drug trafficking from Afghanistan which adversely affects not only the country's economic reconstruction but also increases transnational organized crime which specially undermines the national security of Afghanistan and the stability and security of its neighboring countries and the region.

The Group notes that, according to UNODC Afghanistan opium survey 2007, the production level has reached 8200 tons from the previous year 6100 tons representing 93% of world's opiate production, which attests to the magnitude of the challenges. The Group also notes with satisfaction that the number of opium free provinces increased from six to thirteen provinces in 2007, which shows a remarkable effort to curb the cultivation of opium. The present situation attests to the fact that these efforts have not been enough.

Keeping in mind the significant role of international and regional cooperation in supply reduction and combating drug trafficking, the Group of 77 and China expresses great concern about serious challenges faced by the neighboring countries of Afghanistan, especially the increase in drug addiction, HIV/AIDS and the loss of life in fighting drug trafficking. The Group extends its support to these countries and requests all Member States and competent international and regional organizations to assist and support Afghanistan, neighboring countries of Afghanistan, and transit States in particular developing countries in need of financial and technical assistance for the purpose of augmenting and strengthening the infrastructure needed for effective control and prevention of illicit traffic.

Indeed, the Group considers that international cooperation should be strengthened to tackle the problems that transit countries are facing, as they constitute a link between producers and consumers countries. The Group notes with deep concern the dramatic increase in the abuse of various types of illicit drugs, that has developed along transit trafficking routes, thereby creating lucrative markets in transit countries.

The Group of 77 and China emphasizes the usefulness of regional cooperation for the exchange of necessary information aimed at quick identification and dismantling of the illicit drug trafficking networks.

The Group of 77 and China appreciates the first Triangular ministerial technical meeting held among the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan with the assistance of the UNODC in June 2007 in Vienna, and supports the decision to hold the second meeting in 2008 in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The ever-increasing opium poppy cultivation and resultant supply of opiates, coupled with changing trends in illicit drug consumption, warrants even greater efforts to counter demand for illicit drugs. Disproportionate measures aimed at addressing the supply side cannot effectively counter the problem. In this regard we call upon the destination countries to implement effective legal, legislative, preventive and enforcement measures to reduce the demand for drugs. Such programmes should be integrated to promote international and regional cooperation between all concerned, should promote health and social well-being among individuals and communities, and should reduce the adverse consequences of drug abuse.

We call upon all states to adopt measures provided for in article 14, paragraph 4, of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988, which states, inter alia, that parties should adopt "appropriate measures aimed at eliminating or reducing illicit demand for narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances".

The Group expresses its concern regarding cannabis, which continues to be the most widely produced, trafficked and consumed plant-based drug worldwide. The G77 and China looks forward to the results of the UNODC global study on global illicit cannabis plant cultivation, potential production and marketing, as well as the health impact, which will undoubtedly enable the international community to devote greater attention to cannabis and take action accordingly. The Group is concerned over the lack of interest of Member States to support the proposal for a survey of global cannabis plant cultivation and cannabis production.

In this regard, the Group considers it important that the UNODC implement programmes to curb cannabis illicit production, including through alternative development programmes, and that appropriate support be rendered by member states to carry out the global survey of cannabis plant cultivation and production.

Mr. Chairman,

Recalling Resolution 48/9 of the Commission, the Group attaches special importance to integrated and sustainable alternative development and preventive alternative development projects as a means of reducing illicit drug supply as well as a means of consolidating sustainable development in these communities and territories affected by illicit crops used for illicit drug production and as a part of the strategy against poverty undertaken by concerned states to fulfill their commitments of the UN Millennium Development Goals. The Group notes that the success of such strategy lies in the integrated involvement of all levels of national stakeholders, namely the central government, local leadership and grassroots communities with a view to developing local ownership.

Within the context of the UNGASS review, the Group wishes to highlight the importance of assessing the achievements and the areas requiring further improvements with respect to the Action Plan on International Cooperation on the Eradication of Illicit Drug Crops and on Alternative Development as well as offering the way forward for future practice in this field.

The Group is of the view that reduction in cultivation of illicit crops used to produce illicit drugs requires, social entrepreneurship, increased market access, as well as appropriate financial and technical resources. The Group calls on the international community to make greater efforts to secure markets to those products as well as increase of levels of financial and technical cooperation. Such efforts need to emphasize real income generating sustainability as well as value-added marketability.

The Group underlines that the programmes promoted in the field of alternative development and preventive alternative development should consider, as a matter of priority, the respect for human rights as a whole.

The G-77 and China strongly encourages the sharing of best practices and lessons learned in alternative development and preventive alternative development projects among Member States. Within this context, the Group wishes to emphasize the essential role of the south-south and trilateral cooperation schemes, which are aimed at combining the expertise of developing countries with financial support from developed countries to assist other developing countries. Such cooperation must be free of any agenda and carried out to respond to the genuine needs of the targeted communities.

In this regard, the Group notes that the achievements of Thailand in the field of alternative development over the past years and the accumulated body of knowledge in its Sustainable Alternative Livelihood Development programmes, will be presented at a side event organized by Thailand, in cooperation with the UNODC, during this session of the Commission.

The Group also notes the achievements of the Andean countries on the implementation of the alternative development and preventive alternative development programmes as contained in the fifth report of the Executive Director. The Group also notes that these achievements have been carried out according to their national specificities, with important national resources and the support of the international cooperation.

At the same time, the Group is concerned with the fact that alternative development and preventive alternative development projects undertaken by developing countries are hindered by lack of resources. In this regard, the Group calls for the strengthening of international support for such projects. It attaches great importance to the role of UNODC in mobilizing greater resources and capacity building for alternative development and preventive alternative development projects to respond to the world drug problem. The Group encourages the UNODC to continue its advocacy role to encourage multilateral development agencies and bilateral donors to devise long-term and flexible financial mechanisms to support various cooperation schemes, including the involvement of the private sector.

The trafficking and supply of precursors for manufacture of drugs continues to be a challenge in the global fight against illicit drugs. The shift towards abuse of synthetic drugs, especially amphetamines, in many parts of the globe, further compounds the problem. Therefore, there is an urgent need to strengthen controls over precursors. On the other hand, an overwhelmingly large share of the total precursors manufactured is used for legitimate industrial and medical uses. Hence, the need to strike the right balance in regulation preventing diversion while not affecting legitimate trade and use.

The G-77 and China calls upon all Member States to strengthen their mechanisms for control of precursor chemicals, in particular the prior notification of export mechanism and to share relevant information in order to prevent their diversion into illicit market. In this regard, we urge all states to provide active support for projects Prism, Cohesion and PEN Online set by the INCB, that have already yielded satisfactory results.

The Group emphasizes the need for technical and financial support by the UNODC, to increase the concerned countries' capacity to control diversion and trafficking of precursors, including the provision of detection equipment.

The Group of 77 and China has taken note of the report on the world drug problem which reflects in a detailed manner the outcomes, the results and the progress achieved by the Member States in meeting the goals and targets set out in the Political Declaration adopted by the General Assembly at its twentieth special session.

While appreciating the good record of implementation of the Political Declaration and the relatively high response rate by Member States to the five reporting cycles, the Group is concerned about the problems faced an important number of developing countries in responding to the questionnaires, which shows again the need for increasing significantly the delivery of technical assistance.

The Group is also concerned about the slow improvement in international cooperation and calls upon all Member States to fully implement the related aspects of the Declaration, as a sign of their commitment to the fight against illicit drugs, since the fight against the world drug problem requires an integrated and balanced approach.

The Group is confident that the thematic debate of this session of the Commission will provide a good opportunity to Member States to start in depth discussion of the results achieved so far and prepare for an overall assessment and a road map for the future action during the next session and its high level segment. In this regard, the Group stresses the need for a transparent, governmental and participatory process.

The Group takes note of the Report of the Executive Director on financial issues and difficulties faced by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in implementing its mandates and an initial assessment of the ways and means of improving the financial situation (E/CN.7/2008/11).

However, the G-77 would like to emphasize on some undeniable facts, presented in the report that affect the work of UNODC. One is that the reality of UNODC as an integrated office with a unified medium term strategy is neither reflected in its budget and funding structure nor in its governance arrangements. In other words its current fragmented budget and funding structure is costly and burdensome to administer.

Although, there is an increase in total funding let us not be misled, this growth is only in Specific Purpose Funds, which are tightly earmarked to specific projects and leave little operating flexibility to respond to complex programmatic and management challenges.

The G-77 and China considers imperative the strengthening of the financial capacity of UNODC. The Group reiterates that the continued over-reliance on extra-budgetary resources and in particular earmarked funding has led to highly fragmented, unpredictable and constrained funding patterns. In addition, it limits the UNODC ability to make strategic decisions and leads to donor priorities rather than multilateral mandates determining the actions of UNODC, which undermines country ownership. Therefore, the Group of 77 and China reiterates the importance of providing UNODC with sufficient, predictable and sustainable funding and determining technical assistance programs in accordance with national and regional priorities.

The Group reiterates that the core activities of UNODC should be funded from the regular budget. While not discouraging provision of voluntary funding to the UNODC, there should not be heavy reliance on the extra-budgetary resources to finance the core activities.

The Group of 77 and China reiterates that the Commission on Narcotic Drugs must reassert its role as the governing body of UNODC in drug related issues, including budgetary matters relating to the UNDCP Fund.

The G-77 and China would like to stress on the fact that the assignment of mandates to UNODC which are subject to the availability of extra-budgetary resources has deter this UNODC to fully implement the mandates given by the CND.

Mr. Chairman,

The Group of 77 and China would like to reiterate its objection to the inclusion of phrases like "subject to extra-budgetary resources" and "within existing resources'' in resolutions. The use of these phrases impedes the budget proposals of the Secretary-General from reflecting the resource levels commensurate with UNODC's mandates and hinders their full, efficient and effective implementation. This practice violates, among others, General Assembly resolutions 41/213, 42/211 and 45/248 B; which clearly state that the "Fifth Committee is the appropriate Main Committee of the General Assembly entrusted with responsibilities for administrative and budgetary matters". The CND should refrain from the inclusion of such phrases in its decisions and resolutions.

The Group of 77 and China expresses its deep concern that UNODDC headquarter has not observed equitable geographical distribution in recruiting its staff, especially for senior professional and directorial levels. Therefore, the Group requests the Executive Director to pay due regard to the importance of recruiting staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible in accordance with the provisions of the UN Charter, particularly from developing countries.

Mr. Chairman,

These are our preliminary comments and the Group looks forward to working with you and the Member States during the session.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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