|Formation||15 February 1946|
|Type||Intergovernmental organization, Regulatory body, Advisory board|
|Chair of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs |
Mirghani Abbaker Altayeb Bakhet
|United Nations Economic and Social Council|
|Website||CND at UNODC.org|
The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is one of the functional commissions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and is the central drug policy-making body within the United Nations system and has important functions under the international drug control conventions.
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs was established by ECOSOC resolution 9(I), with Canadian Charles Henry Ludovic Sharman as its first chair. The mandate of the CND was to assist ECOSOC in supervising the application of international conventions and agreements dealing with narcotic drugs. By General Assembly resolution A/RES/46/104, the CND was additionally assigned the role of the governing body of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, which is administered by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Its predecessor, the Advisory Committee on the Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs, was established by the first Assembly of the League of Nations on 15 December 1920. The Advisory Committee held its first meeting from 2–5 May 1921, and continued its activities until 1940.
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs has two distinct mandate areas: (1) it has treaty-based and normative functions under the international drug control conventions and (2) operational, policy-guidance functions as the governing body of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, which is administered by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Under the international drug control conventions, namely the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs is mandated to decide on the scope of control of substances. Substances are placed under international control by including them in one of the schedules of the 1961 or 1971 Convention or one of the tables of the 1988 Convention. Each schedule and table entails a specific control regime. According to article 3 of the 1961 Convention, article 2 of the 1971 Convention and article 12 of the 1988 Convention, the CND decides on the addition of substances to the schedules/tables, as well as the transfer or deletion of substances. States Parties can request a review of the scheduling decisions of the CND by the ECOSOC following article 3 (8) of the 1961 Convention, article 2 (8) of the 1971 Convention and article 12 (7) of the 1988 Convention.
Proposals to change the scope of control of substances can be made by States Parties to the Conventions, as well as the World Health Organization for the 1961 and 1971 Convention and the International Narcotics Control Board for the 1988 Convention. The International Narcotics Control Board is also tasked with the review of the compliance of States Parties with their obligations under the international drug control conventions.
Additionally to the scheduling of substances, the CND may also make recommendation for the implementation of the Conventions, according to article 8 of the 1961 Convention and article 17 of the 1971 Convention.
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs provides policy guidance for the United Nations International Drug Control Programme. It also prepares and monitors policy documents addressing the world drug problem. The main policy documents of the preceding decade are the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem, the Joint Ministerial Statement of the 2014 high-level review by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the implementation by Member States of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action and the outcome document of the thirtieth special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Our joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem”. In March 2019, the CND adopted a Ministerial Declaration, in which it committed to accelerating the full implementation of these three policy documents and resolved to review the progress in implementing all international drug policy commitments in 2029, with a mid-term review in 2024.
The CND, performing its duties as a governing body, adopts during its regular sessions resolutions to provide policy guidance and monitors the activities of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. It further approves, based on a proposal of the Executive Director, the budget of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, administered by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Economic and Social Council resolutions 845 (XXXII), and 1147 (XLI) provide that members are elected:
The CND is an intergovernmental body made up of states rather than individuals. Decisions and resolutions are taken following the Rules of Procedure of the Functional Commissions of ECOSOC. Notwithstanding the rules of procedure, the Commission usually adopts decisions by consensus in the "Vienna spirit" that was by Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, described as "the willingness and dedication of all concerned to pull together to find joint solutions, even on the most difficult topics".
Scheduling decisions under the international drug control conventions are governed by the rules of procedure contained in the 1961, 1971 and 1988 Convention respectively, as they supersede following the Lex specialis doctrine.
Being composed of government and ministerial representatives with permanent mission in Vienna, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs is regarded more of a political commission as opposed to a group of experts, which is why many discussions and negotiations are not based on in-depth knowledge on drug policy issues. In addition, decisions taken within the CND are primarily outcomes of time-consuming political negotiations which need to result in a consensus, allowing policy perspectives to be pushed aside by political interests of certain stakeholders.
Another aspect of criticism of the CND is related to the bureaucratic nature of the commission's working process. While the CND focuses on the issue of drugs - a multidisciplinary topic which also concerns human rights, health and development - the CND rarely establishes coordination with other relevant UN agencies such as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the World Health Organization, or the United Nations Development Programme.