AUSTRALIAN COUNTRY STATEMENT
United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs
Statement by HE Dr Brendon Hammer, Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations, Vienna
15 March 2019
Thank you Chair.
Australia welcomes this opportunity to participate in the general debate of the High Level Segment of the sixty‑second session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
It is important for us that the international community come together to take stock of what we have collectively achieved in addressing the World Drug Problem, and to look forward to how we can continue to work together.
Australia reaffirms its commitment to the three international drug control conventions.
Further, we reaffirm our support for the combined and coordinated work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the International Narcotics Control Board, and the World Health Organization.
This multi-pronged support reflects our aspiration for a balanced, human-centred approach in all domains.
Indeed, at this time, it is worth recalling that the international drug control conventions were founded – and remain grounded in – a concern for the health and welfare of all humankind.
For these reasons, Australian governments – in close cooperation with our non-government partners – take an approach that balances law enforcement and health in addressing the social and individual harms associated with the misuse of controlled substances.
This approach forms the foundation of our National Drug Strategy of 2017 to 2026 and its aims to reduce the demand for illicit drugs, reduce the supply of illicit drugs, and reduce the harm associated with the misuse of illicit drugs.
Australia’s National Drug Strategy recognises the importance of attention to specific groups in our population.
Consistent with this, Australia put forward a resolution at the 61st session of the CND on the importance of recognising the needs of vulnerable members of society in enabling a comprehensive and effective response.
Australia will continue to campaign for increased access to controlled substances for medical purposes, while preventing their diversion and misuse.
It is alarming that so many people should suffer as a result of the misuse of controlled substances, while so many people also suffer because they cannot access controlled substances for pain relief and palliative care.
Australia is pleased to have been able to support the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in improving access to controlled substances.
We acknowledge the work of other Member States and encourage others – who have the capacity – to engage with this vital work.
As testimony to the progress we have made as an international community on this issue, we note that the Outcomes Document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem contained no less than eight operational recommendations on the need to expand the availability of – and access to – controlled substances exclusively for medical and scientific purposes, while preventing their diversion.
While progress has been made on many fronts with regard to the World Drug Problem, new threats continue to emerge and present us with new challenges.
The emergence of synthetic drugs – including new psychoactive substances, synthetic opioids and amphetamine-type stimulants has presented grave problems in different regions and countries.
To add to the range of responses the Commission has developed to deal with the issue of rapidly evolving synthetic drugs markets, Australia is pleased to have presented a resolution on Enhancing Forensic Detection Capability for Synthetic Drugs by Increasing International Collaboration for consideration by this sixty-second session.
We invite other Member States to join us in refining this resolution over the course of the session.
Australia has long been of the view that law enforcement efforts are best focussed on disrupting the serious and organised criminal groups that drive the drug trade.
Minor or nonviolent drug-related crimes demand a proportionate response.
Indeed, we have found that treatment for drug users can be an effective alternative to incarceration in appropriate circumstances.
Australia will also continue to press for the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances.
We believe the death penalty is an inhumane and irreversible form of punishment, and that it is ineffective in deterring drug use.
Australia reiterates that
- the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action,
- the Joint Ministerial Statement of the 2014 high-level review by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs,
- and the outcome document of the thirtieth special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem,
together represent the commitments made by the international community over the preceding decade to address and counter the world drug problem.
We recognize these documents as complementary and mutually reinforcing.
We look forward to building on the consensus of those documents and to participating in a productive session of the Commission.
Before I conclude I would like to join other delegations in expressing Australia’s heartfelt condolences to the people of New Zealand.
Australians and New Zealanders have so much on common that we feel ourselves to be brothers and sisters.
So a terrorist attack on New Zealand feels to Australians like a terrorist attack on our own country as well.
So let me again extend Australia’s deepest condolences to the people of New Zealand.
Thank you, Chair.