Ambassador Dr Brendon Hammer
Permanent Representative of Australia
Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) Special Event: Launch of the 2017 World Drug Report
22 June 2017
Thank you Executive Director Fedotov, Ambassador Angell-Hansen, and Ms Angela Me for your briefing just now.
I really am delighted to be part of today’s launch of the 2017 World Drug Report.
The report has – since its inception – been a reliable source of current trends, information and analysis for policymakers in Australia, in our region and globally:
- Australia appreciates the work of the UNODC, especially its Research and Trend Analysis team;
- and we thank you for putting together another very useful publication.
UNGASS and the world drug problem
I note that this launch also marks the International Day against Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking.
Dealing with drug abuse and drug trafficking at a global level involves a range of complex challenges across segments of society and beyond national borders.
From Australia’s perspective, UNGASS presented a tremendous opportunity for the international community to examine these challenges together in detail.
And we were very pleased there was agreement at UNGASS on a strategy – and on a set of measures – to seriously tackle the challenges of the world drug problem; an approach designed to address its harmful consequences across the spectrum of health, development, peace and security.
Challenges posed by synthetic drugs
Some of the challenges are old ones, that nevertheless persist to the present day.
But there are also serious emerging threats, such as the rapid proliferation of synthetic drugs.
Australia is alarmed by the report’s analysis on increasing variability and availability of synthetic drugs in our own region and globally, including NPS, amphetamine-type stimulants and synthetic opioids.
There is evidence transnational organised crime networks are exploiting the market for these substances and their precursors.
Synthetic drugs often have unknown or varied potency with users exposed to serious, sometimes fatal, health consequences.
To fight the spread of new synthetic drugs Australia urges that close international cooperation be continued between regional and interregional authorities, and between the UNODC, the WHO and other relevant agencies and civil society.
Cooperation is essential not only to monitor and stop global trafficking of synthetic drugs. It is essential to the timely development of effective treatment standards to save lives.
Addressing the needs of vulnerable groups
I’d like to say a bit now about addressing the needs of vulnerable groups.
Australia strongly endorses the principle developed at UNGASS that no one should be left behind in our efforts to address the world drug problem.
In this connection, we note that the Report identifies that fewer than one in six persons with drug use disorders are provided with treatment each year globally.
We also note that premature deaths and lasting health consequences associated with drugs are generally avoidable with appropriate intervention.
Australia believes prevention and treatment should be available without discrimination.
Age, gender, sexual orientation, or where people live and where they come from such factors should not create obstacles to accessing intervention services to prevent dangerous behaviours or lasting harm.
Gathering and understanding data on the needs of vulnerable population sub-groups is a crucial step in developing an informed approach to addressing their special needs. Australia is keen to share and develop these data with the international community.
Access to controlled pain relief
This brings me to highlight another crucial issue – on global disparity in access to pain relief. Effective collaboration and responses are possible within the existing conventions.
We thank the UNODC and partners WHO and UICC, for showing how this can be done through their work in Ghana and in Timor-Leste, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
We also thank the INCB for their work to underline that implications of the drug control conventions need not be an obstacle to the availability of medications for medical and scientific purposes.
In closing, please forgive me for making a statement of the obvious, which is that addressing the challenges of the world drug problem will require further joint work, and this work will take time.
Let me assure you though that Australia is committed to the long haul on this; just as we are committed to the ultimate goal of advancing the health and welfare of humankind, as reaffirmed at UNGASS.
We know we are in good company on this.
We look forward to intensifying the international partnership, and to strengthening efforts to translate UNGASS commitments into action throughout preparations for the high-level review in 2019, and beyond.