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Statements in International Organisations


United Nations CND: Agenda item 4 - Drug Demand Reduction

Statement of the Republic of Slovenia on behalf of the European Union at the 51st session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs


Thank you, Mr. Chairman

1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union*.

2. The European Union would like to thank the Secretariat for their valuable work in producing the documentation for this agenda item. The European Union has taken note of the report on the "World situation with regard to drug abuse" covering the period 1998 – 2006. The EU would like to express its concern about the quality and quantity of the data on which the report is based. We would like to stress the importance that member states collect objective, comparable and reliable data on the drugs problem.

3. The European Union remains firmly committed to reducing the high level of drug use in Europe and worldwide. According to the last report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, heroin use has remained stable while the use of ATS may be a growing problem in some parts of Europe. The use of cocaine has risen again and is after cannabis the second most commonly used illicit drug in Europe. Therefore, there is a constant need for better identification and understanding of problems related to these stimulants and a need for continuing to develop effective responses.

4. Mr. Chairman, in response to the world drug problem, the European Union reaffirms its commitment to shared responsibility and underlines that it is vital to adopt an integrated, multidisciplinary and balanced approach, in which demand reduction plays a crucial role. Therefore, drug demand reduction represents a key element in the EU Drugs Strategy 2005 – 2012 and the EU Action Plan on Drugs for the years 2005 – 2008 which signal the Union’s ongoing commitment to measurably reduce the use of illicit drugs and the harm it causes to public health and society.

5. In order to achieve these objectives, the Action Plan calls for numerous actions of which many have already been successfully implemented at national and EU levels. They include measures to improve access to and the effectiveness of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programmes, targeted in particular at socially disadvantaged groups, children and families at risk. Furthermore, the Action Plan includes a wide range of harm-reduction measures as an integral part of overall drug prevention and treatment policies.

6. The EU stresses the importance of prevention, including discouraging the initial use, improving information, education and training, as an essential part of drug demand reduction activities.

7. The EU takes note with appreciation of the Discussion paper from the UNODC in consultation with the INCB on Reducing the adverse health and social consequences of drug abuse: A comprehensive approach. We share the view of the UNODC and the INCB that harm reduction measures inter alia, needle/syringe exchange programmes, low-threshold services and substitution treatment, pharmacological interventions, vaccination programmes against hepatitis, condom distribution etc., can help prevent adverse health and social consequences and help long term reduction of drug related harm for individuals, communities and society. The importance of a broad policy with an overall aim to reduce the demand of illicit drugs, for example through drug abuse prevention activities, can not be stressed enough. At the same time harm reduction is now a well established part of drug policy in EU member states. There is a steadily growing evidence base that supports harm reduction interventions including opioid substitution treatment, which show that those interventions can effectively reduce risk behaviour and opiate use. In this context we would like to highlight the First World Conference on Medication Assisted Treatment of Opiate Dependence which was held in July 2007 in Ljubljana. At the Conference the World Federation for the Treatment of Opiate Dependence was established.

8. Mr. Chairman, the European Union would like to stress the adverse effects that use of illicit drugs has on society, especially as it impacts on public health, social cohesion and public order. Acknowledging the negative role that poverty, social exclusion and the lack of prospects may have with regard to increased drug use, the European Union continues to support demand reduction initiatives in many developing and transition countries, stressing all these initiatives should be fully consistent with the dignity and human rights of drug addicted persons. Drug demand reduction projects funded by the European Union in those countries amount to about 70 million € per year, according to its most recent figures, and covers projects in different parts of the world. Furthermore, the EU stresses the importance of the role and commitment of NGOs in the field of drug demand reduction.

9. At this point, Mr. Chairman, the European Union would like to call attention to the alarming situation with regard to HIV/AIDS. We continue to actively support the activities undertaken to confront HIV/AIDS in different parts of the world. The continuing lack of awareness of drug-related health risks, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases is of great concern to us. We are deeply concerned by the global presence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and its linkages in particular with injecting drug use, as highlighted also in the World Drug Report 2007. In June 2006, the General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS unanimously adopted a Political Declaration in which Member States reaffirmed 

the targets set out in the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, and committed themselves to pursuing all necessary efforts towards the goal of universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support by the year 2010. The alarming situation in many regions requires an innovative and pragmatic approach toward the development of effective responses in line with International Drug Control Treaties and other binding international instruments.

10. The European Union recognises the importance of the role of international organisations in coordinating and streamlining the global response to HIV/AIDS, and welcomes the improvements already made. In this context, we welcome Second Informal Inter-country Consultation: HIV Prevention and Care among Injecting Drug users and in prison settings organised by the UNODC from 19 to 21 February. Over 50 countries and UNODC, WHO, UNAIDS, UNDP and INCB took part in this meeting which brought experts on law enforcement, prison officials and health ministries together to explore solutions to the problem of Injecting drug users and HIV in prisons. The meeting produced a set of recommendations that we hope all member states will consider.

11. Finally, Mr. Chairman, the European Union looks forward to building upon the Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction and its concomitant Action Plan adopted in 1998 and is engaging fully in the assessment process in order to identify successful practices and elements which require further action or need to be reconsidered.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

* The Candidate Countries Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia  and Turkey, the Countries of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, the EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Moldova and Ukraine, associate themselves with this statement.


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Date: 07.05.2008