EU Statement on the occasion of the 2nd Intersessional Meeting of the 63rd Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs Vienna, 8 October 2020
Agenda Item 3: Intersessional considerations of the WHO scheduling recommendations for cannabis and cannabis-related substances; follow-up to CND Decision 63/14
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. Mr. Chair, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The European Union and its Member States would like to thank you, Mr. Chair, for giving us again the opportunity to exchange views on the WHO's proposed scheduling recommendations on cannabis and cannabis-related substances. We would also like to thank the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), and UNODC for the clarifications provided during this process, as well as all the experts who intervened during the topical meetings. We reiterate that a full understanding, based on facts and evidence, of the precise scope, content and consequences of the recommendations, is key to informing the vote by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
Mr. Chair, please allow us to make a few important remarks in light of recent discussions on the WHO recommendations.
The EU and its Member States welcome the broad consensus of the international community that the three main drug control Conventions and the relevant international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are the cornerstone of the international drug control system. We support the important role played by the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD), and we acknowledge that the recommendations of the WHO are based on the available scientific, medical and public health evidence and comply with the criteria established in the conventions.
Member States had a first opportunity to discuss the recommendations during intersessional meetings of the CND in 2019. The EU and its Member States were grateful for the answers and explanations given by WHO. And we also welcomed the contributions of the INCB and of UNODC to this discussion at that time.
The EU and its Member States were ready to vote on the WHO recommendations during the 63rd session of the CND in March this year. But we acknowledged the position of those Member States of the CND who were not able to do so, and thus we did not oppose the postponement of the vote until the reconvened session of the 63rd CND in December this year.
We welcomed the three topical meetings on the recommendations and the current opportunity, once again given by you, Mr. Chair, to discuss aspects in connection with the WHO recommendations, such as economic, social, legal, administrative and other implications, in order to try and find an answer to the question of how to address them in case of adoption. We also congratulate the UNODC Secretariat on finding satisfactory technical solutions during these challenging times of the COVID- 19 pandemic. Let me stress that we particularly value the contribution of civil society organisations on the WHO recommendations, and their participation in the meeting today.
Mr. Chair, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As always, the EU and its Member States, would like to assure you of our full cooperation along the process. We have no doubt that the recent discussions during the three topical meetings and today in the intersessional meeting provided further clarity about the consequences of the WHO recommendations, their scope and content, as well as the considerations on which they are based, and thus allow the finalisation of national assessments based on facts and evidence. One of the elements we would like to stress is that in our opinion, these recommendations do not aim at and should not be seen as a step towards a liberalisation of the use of cannabis, or as minimising the risks and dangers it represents for our society.
Speaking for our side, taking all available information into account, we will finalise and adopt a Union position, to be expressed during the vote, on behalf of the European Union, by the EU Member States that are members of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. In this regard, the EU and its Member States strongly believe that the right time has come to vote on the WHO recommendations at the reconvened 63rd session of the CND in December this year, thus respecting the commitment we collectively made last March and preserving the integrity of the international scheduling system as well as supporting scientific progress.