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Peace efforts and sustainable development top agenda at UN agency's narcotics conference

13 March 2017 – The top United Nations panel dealing with all aspects of narcotic drugs opened its 60th session today with a focus on peace and security, as well as on helping Governments reach their sustainable development commitments.

The international meeting in Vienna is the first since the UN General Assembly special session on the world drug problem in April 2016, where a new framework was adopted which puts people at the centre of global policies on drug control.

In a video message for the session, Secretary-General António Guterres called that framework "rich and forward-looking" and urged Governments to "build on the momentum with joint action to honour commitments."

Mr. Guterres welcomed the current session's "intensive, inclusive and comprehensive follow-up" to the April agreement and urged discussions to draw from the fields of law enforcement, prevention, health care, human rights and development.

This session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs brings together around 1,500 delegates representing Member States, inter-governmental organizations, and civil society for a global discussion on the world drug problem, according to a press release.

In his address, Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), outlined how the UN agency is working with Governments and other partners to combat illicit drugs.

"We are also helping to achieve the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)] and promote peace and security through alternative development in the countries most affected by illicit crop cultivation," Mr. Fedotov said.

He added that "alternative development is aimed at, not only reducing the cultivation of coca, opium poppy and cannabis, but also improving the socio-economic conditions of marginalized farming communities."

The senior UN official noted that this year's World Drug Report – likely out this June – will focus on the nexus between the drug problem and transnational organized crime, corruption, illicit financial and arms flows and terrorism, which are of increasing concern to the Security Council and the entire international community.

Among the UN agency's projects, Mr. Fedotov pointed to work which is helping to build capacities to ensure that drug lords are brought to justice and support for alternatives to conviction or punishment for minor offences.

Also participating at today's opening was Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO). UNODC and WHO had recently signed a new agreement to promote health and science-based and rights-based approach to drug challenges, such as making sure that people treat drug use disorders as an alternative to criminal justice sanctions.

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