WCO participates in the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem

25 April 2016

The WCO participated in the 30th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the high priority issue of the world drug problem, from 19 to 21 April 2016.  

Throughout the session, numerous heads of state, ministers and high level government representatives, representatives of international organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Economic Cooperation Organization, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and INTERPOL, made interventions on the various dimensions of the world drug problem.

Members endorsed the outcomes document presented to the General Assembly as draft resolution A/S-30/L.1, entitled “Our joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem”. The outcomes document reiterates the commitment and resolve to use all available avenues to confront the challenges of the world drug problem.

Throughout the course of this UNGASS, many heads of state and distinguished delegates spoke about the incredible efforts underway with regards to prevention and rehabilitation of drug users. There was much emphasis placed on the importance of sensible deterrence and punishment practices for the individual drug user.  There were also many interventions from narcotics transit and producing countries that have experienced significant increases in crime and other detrimental effects on their societies caused by organized crime groups. Despite the many interventions in support of more humane and better medical approaches for individual drug users, it was stressed that the world drug problem unquestionably requires adherence to the rule of law in civil societies.

The WCO, represented by Ana Hinojosa, Director of Compliance and Facilitation, spoke on the significant role that Customs administrations play as the first line of defence at national borders. The WCO highlighted the significant evolution of Custom’s role from purely revenue oriented to a much more complex one that has expanded in some countries to include interdicting drug trafficking, fighting terrorism, especially through the detection of small arms and strategic goods, and combating trafficking of currency, counterfeit products and environmentally-sensitive goods. All of these areas are directly connected to the methods and means employed by organized crime groups.

The WCO further shared details of the WCO Drugs and Precursor Programme, including efforts under the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme and Project AIRCOP. This venue provided an excellent opportunity to showcase examples of our Members’ interdiction successes in the area of illicit drug trafficking and some of the very disturbing trends identified by our Members, especially as they relate to New Psychoactive Substances (NPS).

The WCO concluded by reiterating the important role that Customs administrations play in combating the trafficking of drugs, and its strong commitment to working collaboratively with other national and international organizations in helping WCO Members address the significant challenges they are facing as they deal with the world drug problem.