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Commission on Narcotic Drugs
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs is the central drug policy-making body within the United Nations system. 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 December 15, 1920. The Advisory Committee held its first meeting from May 2 to May 5, 1921, and continued its activities until 1940. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs was established by the UN Economic and Social Council in 1946, with Canadian Charles Henry Ludovic Sharman as its first chair. The Commission has important functions under the drug control treaties in force today. Most notably, it can amend the Schedules of controlled substances.
The drug control treaties divide power between the Commission and the International Narcotics Control Board. The Commission has power to influence drug control policy by advising other bodies and deciding how various substances will be controlled. However, enforcement power is reserved to the Board.
Under Article 8 of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the Commission's powers are to:
Under Article 17 of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, the Commission has power to amend the Schedules by a two-thirds vote and "may consider all matters pertaining to the aims of this Convention and to the implementation of its provisions, and may make recommendations relating thereto."
The United Nations General Assembly has power to modify the Commission's decisions, with the exception of scheduling decisions.
Role in drug scheduling
The drug control treaties divide drugs into four Schedules with varying levels of control. Article 3 of the Single Convention and Article 2 of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances set out the scheduling procedure, giving the Commission the power to decide which Schedule a drug or other substance shall be placed into. However, the Economic and Social Council has power to alter or reverse the Commission's scheduling decisions. In addition, each Schedule has certain findings that the World Health Organization must make with regard to a drug or substance before it be placed in that Schedule. The relationship between the WHO and the Commission is described as follows by the Commentary on the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs:
Article 12 of the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances grants the Commission power to decide whether a precursor substance used illicit drug manufacture should be controlled, and if so, which category of controlled precursor substances - Table I or Table II - it should be placed into. The Board's findings on scientific matters in reference to the substance are binding on the Commission, however. And, as with drug scheduling under the other two treaties, the Convention allows the Economic and Social Council to review and overturn the Commission's decisions in reference to precursor substance control.
The Commission consists of 53 states, serving 4-year terms, with the following distribution of seats among regions:
Council resolutions 845 (XXXII), and 1147 (XLI) provide that members are elected:
The fact that the Commission is made up of states rather than individuals makes the Commission less independent from political pressures and allows Governments to more directly influence its decisions, in accordance with their own policies and laws. For instance, 21 U.S.C. § 811(d)(2)(B) of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act provides that the recommendations of the Secretary of Health and Human Services in reference to drug scheduling shall be binding on the U.S. representative.
The CND's annual meeting serves as a forum for nations to debate drug policy. At the 2005 meeting, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia and Iran rallied in opposition to the UN's zero-tolerance approach in international drug policy. Their appeal was vetoed by the United States, while the United Kingdom delegation remained reticent. Meanwhile, U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy Director John P. Walters clashed with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa on the issue of needle exchange programs. Walters advocated strict prohibition, while Costa opined, "We must not deny these addicts any genuine opportunities to remain HIV-negative".
The Bulletin on Narcotics has reported on the Commission's activities since 1949.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Commission_on_Narcotic_Drugs". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|