The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) was established in 1968 as the monitoring body for the implementation of the United Nations international drug control conventions. Tensions have arisen about the way the INCB performs its duties and about its legal interpretation of the conventions which many feel goes beyond its mandate.

  • The need for increased transparency

    The country correspondence of the INCB
    Dave Bewley-Taylor
    IDPC Briefing Paper
    October 2010

    The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) remains one of the least transparent and most secretive of UN bodies. It meets in secret, and while agendas can now be found on the INCB’s website, no minutes of its meetings are published, nor are the analyses by which it arrives at its positions on policy issues.

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  • INCB Interferes with Countries' Sovereignty

    UN's International Narcotics Control Board's Annual Report Oversteps Mandate and Interferes with Countries' Sovereignty
    TNI/WOLA Drug Law Reform Project
    Press release
    February 24, 2010

    The UN's International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) 2009 annual report criticizes Argentina, Brazil and Mexico for moving to decriminalize the possession of drugs for personal consumption, cautioning that such moves may "send the wrong message." According to the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the criticisms overstep the INCB's mandate and constitute unwarranted intrusions into these countries' sovereign decision-making. 

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  • Horse trading at the UN

    Elections to Narcotics Control Board compromise its independence
    International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
    Press release
    May 19, 2009

    NGOs in the drug policy field have criticised the outcome of the recent elections to the United Nation’s International Narcotic Control Board (INCB) because the process of trading votes between member states has led to the exclusion of some of the most highly qualified candidates, and the re-election of at least one candidate who does not fit the stated criteria, Tatyana Dmitrieva.

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  • Abolishing Coca Leaf Consumption?

    The INCB needs to perform a reality check
    Transnational Institute
    Press release
    March 5, 2008

    The Transnational Institute condemns the decision by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in their 2007 annual report released today, which calls on countries to ‘abolish or prohibit coca leaf chewing and the manufacture of coca tea’.

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  • INCB: controversial statements on coca leaf

    mate de coca forbiddenRead here the full text of the controversial statements on coca leaf included in this year's Annual Report of the INCB. Some highlights:

    > "The Board calls upon the Governments of Bolivia and Peru to initiate action without delay with a view to eliminating uses of coca leaf, including coca leaf chewing" and "each party to the Convention should establish as a criminal offence, when committed intentionally, the possession and purchase of coca leaf for personalconsumption".
    > "The Board again calls on the Governments of Bolivia and Peru to consider amending their national legislation so as to abolish or prohibit activities that are contrary to the 1961 Convention, such as coca leaf chewing and the manufacture of mate de coca (coca tea)".

    See also: Abolishing Coca Leaf Consumption? The INCB needs to perform a reality check, Transnational Institute Press release, March 5, 2008

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  • Response to INCB's Annual Report 2007

    International Drug Policy Consortium Briefing
    March 5, 2008

    The 2007 INCB Annual Report shows some signs of a more balanced approach by the INCB to the policy dilemmas around proportionality of sentences and harm reduction. While this is welcome, the Board still falls a long way short of what is necessary for it to play a positive and objective role in helping governments to find the right balance between their drug control obligations, and wider policy objectives related to social development, public health, and human rights protections. On the issue of the coca leaf especially, the INCB shows complete intransigence towards the issue of indigenous uses in the Andean region.

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  • The International Narcotics Control Board

    Current Tensions and Options for Reform
    IDPC Briefing Paper 7
    February 2008

    This briefing paper brings together material and analysis from a number of recent reports that raise questions about the role and functioning of the INCB. The IDPC analysis is that the Board mixes a rigid and overzealous approach to some aspects of its mandate, while showing a selective reticence in others. These inconsistencies do not arise automatically from the structure or role of the Board, but from the operational and policy decisions of its officers and members.

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  • Closed to Reason

    The International Narcotic Control Board and HIV / AIDS
    Joanne Csete and Daniel Wolfe
    Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and International Harm Reduction Development Program (IHRD) of the Open Society Institute
    February 2007

    Closed to Reason

    A report published in March 2007 by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Open Society Institute Public Health Program, strongly criticises the INCB. It accuses the Board of becoming 'an obstacle to effective programs to prevent and treat HIV and chemical dependence'. “Nearly one in three HIV infections outside Africa is among people who inject drugs. The International Narcotics Control Board could and should be playing a key role in stopping this injection-driven HIV epidemic — but it’s not,” said Joanne Csete, Executive Director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and co-author of the report.

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  • Unique in International Relations?

    A Comparison of the International Narcotics Control Board and the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies
    Damon Barrett
    International Harm Reduction Association
    February 2008

    In a new report released in February 2008 by the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA), the INCB comes in for some heavy criticism for being overly secretive, closed to external dialogue with civil society, and out of kilter with similar agencies in other UN programmes. IHRA also debunks the INCB’s defence that it is ‘unique in international relations’. 

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  • Sending the wrong message

    The INCB and the un-scheduling of the coca leaf
    Martin Jelsma
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 21
    March 2007

    The INCB, rather than making harsh judgements based on a selective choice of outdated treaty articles, should use its mandate more constructively and help draw attention to the inherent contradictions in the current treaty system with regard to how plants, plant-based raw materials and traditional uses are treated.

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