The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is the annual gathering in Vienna of all United Nations member states to discuss and make decisions on a wide range of issues related to the global drug control system, and the work programme of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). In March 2014, a UN High-Level Segment on Drugs will be held in Vienna.

  • Why is the outcome of the United Nations drug policy review so weak and inconclusive?

    International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) Briefing Paper
    April 2009

    Political representatives from over 130 countries gathered at a United Nations high level meeting in Vienna on March 11-12, 2009, to conclude a 2-year long review of progress achieved within the global drug control system. Despite calls from other UN agencies and international civil society urging the CND to affirm its support for harm reduction measures, and to rebalance the drug control system towards a public health and human rights approach, the new Political Declaration simply reaffirms the commitments of the 1998 UNGASS - repeating illusionary pledges for a society 'free of drug abuse' and setting another 10-year target date to eliminate or reduce significantly the illicit cultivation of opium poppy, coca bush and cannabis plant. This briefing paper examines the procedural and institutional factors that we believe have contributed to such a weak and incoherent outcome.

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  • Speech Morales at the CND

    March 11, 2009

    The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) filmed the speech of the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, at the high level UN meeting in Vienna on March 11, 2009, in which he announced that Bolivia would start the process to remove the coca leaf from the 1961 Single Convention as well as the suspension of the paragraphs of that convention that prohibit the traditional chewing of coca leaf. You can watch the video with English subtitles.

  • The 2008 Commission on Narcotic Drugs

    The 51st Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was designated as the point at which the international community would debate the progress made in the 10 years since the Political Declaration of the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS). The 1998 UNGASS called for the eradication or significant reduction of the cultivation, supply and demand of illicit drugs. Few governments acknowledged the real policy dilemmas arising from the failure to achieve these reductions, or came forward with proposals on how the international drug control system could be improved. One of the most debated issues was a resolution on human rights and international drug control introduced by Uruguay.

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  • Cannabis resolutions at the 2008 CND

    TNI briefing
    March 2008

    At the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in March 2008 in Vienna three resolutions on cannabis were tabled. They were all clearly against 'lenient policies'  in some countries depenalising or decriminalizing the use of cannabis. One of the resolutions called for the criminalization of drug abuse that would have significantly expanded the UN drug conven­tions. 

  • Statements at 2008 CND

    Several government and UN officials as well as civil society organisations made interesting statements at the 51st session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) on March 10-14, 2008.

  • Intervention of Bolivia at the 2008 Commission on Narcotic Drugs

    With a "Causachun coca! (quechua), viva la coca. Long life to coca leaf!" the vice-minister of Foreign Affairs of Bolivia Hugo Fernandez ended his intervention at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). He protested against the request of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to eliminate the traditional use of coca, such as coca chewing and coca tea. Fernandez denounced the lack of respect of the Board. He red the letter President Evo Morales sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

  • The 2007 Commission on Narcotic Drugs

    The 50th Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was the last such event before the watershed year of 2008, when the international community will review progress against the objectives set at the General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS), held in New York in 1998. This CND was notable for a significant improvement in civil society involvement in the proceedings – there were a record 81 civil society delegates and NGO representatives included in government delegations. On the other hand, there were repeated moves by some country delegations to marginalise NGO involvement. The global consultation with NGOs to feed in to the UNGASS review process as formally launched.

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  • The UN Drug Control Debate

    Current Dilemmas and Prospects for 2008
    Martin Jelsma
    Presentation at the 48th ICAA Conference on Dependencies
    Budapest, October 24, 2005

    The 48th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), 7-11 March 2005 in Vienna, was plagued by controversy about the legitimacy of harm reduction policies. Ending in stalemate, guidance for UNODC to operate in this field remains ambiguous. In June, at the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB), a consensus was reached regarding a mandate for UNAIDS to be involved in needle exchange programmes and other harm reduction activities among injecting drug users. What options are available to clarify UNODC’s mandate in this area and more in general to achieve a breakthrough in policy dilemmas that surfaced recent years at the UN level. 

  • The UN and Harm Reduction - Revisited

    An unauthorised report on the outcomes of the 48th CND session
    Martin Jelsma
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 13
    April 2005

    The US pressure on the UNODC to withdraw support from needle exchange and other harm reduction approaches backfired at the 48th session of the CND in March 2005. Delegates from around the globe stood up to defend the overwhelming evidence that harm reduction measures are effective against the spread of HIV/AIDS. In this briefing TNI analyses the proceedings and results of the CND meeting in Vienna in March 2005, and outlines several options for follow-up and recommends next steps to take.

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  • The United Nations and Harm Reduction

    Martin Jelsma
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 12
    March 2005

    In March 2005 the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) will meet in Vienna. The confrontation between zero-tolerance ideologists and harm reduction pragmatists will be fiercer than ever before. The US government – the biggest donor of UNODC – threatened to cut funding to UNODC unless the agency assured that it would abstain from any support for harm reduction, including needle exchange programmes and substitution treatment. Conflicting views within the UN system on harm reduction have become a major concern. Consistency in messages is crucial especially where it concerns joint global programmes such as the efforts to slow down the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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