Outcomes of CND59

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs put a greater emphasis on public health and human rights issues.

CND 59 main session

The 59th annual session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND59) took place in March 2016. The session featured intense discussion among delegates, who approved a series of resolutions on topics related to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS), including the inclusion of gender perspectives in drug policy and programs, the development and dissemination of international standards for drug treatment and alternative development. In addition, 7 substances were included in the roster of substances regulated under CND international drug conventions, upon recommendation of WHO;

Member states and civil society organizations also held 70 events and 30 exhibitions that coincided with CND59. Nearly 1,500 delegates representing countries, civil society, academia, and international organizations attended CND59.

UNGASS Final Document

CND59 delegates negotiated the conclusions in a final document, which will be submitted to UNGASS throughout the special session. Delegates from CND member states conducted most of these negotiations in closed sessions.

Those negotiations produced a consensus, making it difficult to achieve major changes, and the final document thus proposes minor steps. UNGASS delegates could renegotiate the contents of the final document, and it could still undergo changes.

The positive items in the final document include a greater emphasis on public health and human rights. The document also recommends non-punitive responses to drug-related crime and links drug policy more closely with Sustainable Development Goals.

The final document unfortunately does not recommend abolishing the death penalty for crimes related to drug trafficking. The European Union and other countries[1]defined abolition as critical to the negotiations. However, a separate bloc that included Indonesia, China, and Pakistan refused to consider abolition

The Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) stated that, “I also see this April’s UNGASS as a moment in time to create the necessary cooperation to address the world drug problem, to link our activities to the UN’s overall work of achieving sustainable development, and to build momentum towards 2019 and the review of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on the world drug problem.”

Among the most important developments during CND59 were the conclusions of the Informal Interactive UNGASS Preparation Session and meetings involving the UN Secretary General and civil society representatives, including María de los Ángeles Lobos of Dianova Chile.

Important issues for CND59

  • Prioritizing public health and human rights as the basis for drug policy
  • Ensuring equitable access to pain medication, especially in developing countries
  • Debating the abolition of the death penalty for drug-related crimes
  • The harm that has resulted from implementing drug control policies, with special focus on women serving prison sentences in Latin America
  • Implementing more proportional sentences for drug-related crimes
  • Debating the flexibility of drug conventions regarding legalization of marijuana for recreational use in some countries and regions.

Parallel Events

Another new development at CND59 was a series of concurrent events covering displaced populations, immigrants, and refugees. These events placed special emphasis on populations affected by the war in Syria. That situation received close attention, as did the conflict’s relationship with the drug trade.

We would like to highlight that CND59 devoted more attention to the need for gender perspectives in drug policies and programs than prior sessions did. This greater emphasis is consistent with the position of the Dianova network.

Dianova International, Kethea, and Project Man organized an event titled: “Treating addictions in southern Europe: Providing Solutions in Times of Crisis”.

Dianova has been working diligently in recent months to explain our position regarding UNGASS. We will be at the UNGASS in New York and we will continue in our commitment to improve drug policies and practices and emphasize that any action taken in this regard should focus on the welfare of people.


(1) Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Turkey.