Historic recognition of harm reduction principle at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs

Bern, 25.03.2024 - From 14 to 22 March 2024, Switzerland took part in the 67th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna. Switzerland is a member of the Commission during the 2022–2025 period. This session concluded with the adoption of a resolution on overdose prevention and management, in which the Commission for the first time explicitly recognises the principle of harm reduction.

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), established in 1946, is the central UN body responsible for formulating international drug policy. The CND Secretariat, hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), determines the level of control of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals under international control.

The high-level segment of the 67th session of the CND took place in Vienna from 14 to 15 March 2024. Its objective was to conduct a midterm review, taking stock of the implementation of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration. An outcome document was adopted at the opening of the high-level segment.

Switzerland’s delegation in Vienna was led by Anne Lévy, Director-General of the Federal Office of Public Health. During the preparatory work and at the high-level segment, Switzerland expressed its ongoing commitment to the promotion of a coherent addiction policy prioritising health and human rights and integrating development policy aspects. Switzerland is also committed to supporting efforts to promote dialogue and collaboration between Vienna, Geneva and New York, and to engage with civil society in particular. On the margins of the high-level segment, the Swiss delegation also held a number of bilateral meetings.

The delegation continued its work at the regular segment of the 67th CND session (18–22 March 2024). This session concluded with the adoption of a resolution on overdose prevention and management. This can be described as a historic resolution, as it is the first time that the importance of harm reduction measures has been explicitly recognised within the CND. Switzerland has played a pioneering role in this area for more than 30 years.

Switzerland has served as a member of the CND for a number of terms (1961–1975, 1988–1995, 1997–2001, 2004–2011 and 2018–2021) and has always been actively involved in the CND’s work and discussions. Within the CND, Switzerland works to promote a drug policy that prioritises health and human rights. Switzerland’s strategic four-pronged approach (prevention, therapy, harm reduction and law enforcement), subsequently developed into a national addiction strategy, is internationally recognised and respected.

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