Statement by Singapore at the 2nd Intersessional Meeting of the 61st Commission on Narcotic Drugs, 25 June 2018

25 Jun 2018

Madam Chair, 

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) both issued statements on 21 June 2018 to express deep concern and regret at the Canadian legislature's decision to legalize cannabis for nonmedical use. 

The INCB and UNODC emphasised that this decision contravenes the provisions of the drug control conventions, and undermines the international legal drug control framework and respect for the rules-based international order.

Singapore shares their views, and notes with deep concern the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use by Member States.

We maintain the view that the three international drug control conventions are the cornerstone of the international drug control system.

The three conventions represent an established consensus in international drug control, and they provide a framework for joint action by countries, which is based on a shared common understanding of the world drug problem. 

Their effectiveness as instruments of global drug control depends on their universal acceptance and application.

In the last three decades, Member States have repeatedly reaffirmed their commitments and the need for ratifying countries to fully comply with their provisions under the international drug control conventions in political declarations, resolutions and joint action plans to address the world drug problem.

More recently, all Member States endorsed the 2016 UNGASS Outcome Document, which underscores the three conventions and reaffirms our collective determination to actively promote a society free of drug abuse.

While we agree that countries should have the freedom to pursue drug control policies best suited to their national circumstances and laws, their actions and policies must be pursued within the framework of the international drug control conventions.

We recognise that some existing provisions in the conventions are open to interpretation. 

However, the legalisation of cannabis, or for that matter any other scheduled drug for recreational use, is not one of those.

The conventions clearly state that controlled drugs are permitted for medical and scientific purposes only.

When Member States ratify these drug control conventions, it means that they agree to be bound by their provisions and to implement them in good faith.

A deliberate and outright breach of the provisions will only serve to devalue the integrity of the three international drug conventions, weaken a long-established consensus for drug control, and undermine the UN system and international rules-based order.

Madam Chair,

We urge all Member States to adhere to their legal obligations and for the international community to uphold the provisions of the international drug control conventions, which we have jointly affirmed as the ‘cornerstone of the international drug control system’.

Thank you.

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