Commission on Narcotic Drugs
Letter from the Dais
I hope you are all as excited as I am to get YMUN 45 started! I’m Jose Navas, a sophomore in Ezra Stiles college. I’m mostly interested in philosophy and economics, so I love any opportunity to talk about both and hopefully get others as riled up as I am on these topics. That’s why I’m incredibly excited to run this committee that’s going to focus on one of the most pressing areas of intersection–drug policy. Outside of my passions for economical and ethical questions, drug policy has been one of my main focuses since high school; I think that debating and thinking through this topic can uniquely force people to think about their values and leads to some wonderful introspection. How you end up balancing these values and the conclusions you make once you’ve gone through all the arguments and data might even end up surprising you. Most importantly, talking about drug policy has a way of avoiding labels–once presented with facts, it’s difficult to look at the issue and simply pick a position based solely on how you identify politically. I’m incredibly excited to see what ideas and novel thinking YMUN 45 has to offer in light of what I see as an incredibly nuanced topic!
See you all soon,
My name is Deena Mousa and I’m a junior in Jonathan Edwards college majoring in Ethics, Politics, and Economics and a Global Health Scholar. I’m from Albany, NY and Cairo, Egypt (which has instilled in me an ability to dress for very different climates). Within YIRA, I’m a member of Yale’s competitive Model United Nations team and an editor for the Yale Review of International Studies. Outside of YIRA I’m involved in the Arab Students Association and the Yale Debate Association and head a solar energy social enterprise based in the Egypt. I care about international development, health and environmental equity, and urban planning – along with re-watching The Office and finally tracking down the best hot chocolate in New Haven. I am thrilled to join you all in debating the effort to eliminate and regulate narcotic substances, a timely topic with a mounting price tag and death toll.
If you have any questions, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
History and Role of Committee
Originally established in 1946, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was created near the beginning of what would eventually become known as the “War on Drugs.” While many nations had already begun to heavily regulate and outlaw controlled substance use, the international effort to do so was just picking up. Given the limited role of assisting “the ECOSOC [Economic and Social Council] in supervising the application of the international drug control treaties,” its missions and reach drastically grew in 1991, as it was appointed to govern the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. Today, the CND does more than reaffirm the global status quo approach to drug policy. Among its most important duties are scheduling new and rescheduling old drugs based on recent information. This scheduling is built to categorize drugs by the threat and benefits that it may have for a nation and to advice action. Recently, the CND has adopted a “people first” outlook on drug policy, stating a need to focus more on safety than drug control. In this approach, the CND broke line with almost every member state of the UN by advising the stop of criminal sanctions for possession and use of narcotics. Currently, the CND is charged with offering novel solutions and ways to deal with the global effort to combat narcotic use and the bevy of issues that come with, such as human trafficking, cartel violence, and state corruption.
Structure of Committee
The CND committee will abide by conventional Model United Nations debate format and UNA/USA procedure. Please see the provided document on procedure on the program website. Please write a position paper for each topic. Position papers should be 1-2 pages for each topic, in standard 12 pt. font with double spacing. In your position papers, make sure to outline to your country’s position on the topic, including historical context, past actions taken, current actions (if any) in progress, and future solutions. As always, please email us if you have any questions.
National Strategies to Combat Drug Usage
Drug use has always been an issue in both developed and developing countries due to its negative effects. According to the Gateway Foundation Rehab Center, the medical side effects of drug addiction include:
A weakened immune system, increasing the risk of illness and infection
Heart conditions ranging from abnormal heart rates to heart attacks and collapsed veins and blood vessel infections from injected drugs
Nausea and abdominal pain, which can also lead to changes in appetite and weight loss
Increased strain on the liver, which puts the person at risk of significant liver damage or liver failure
Seizures, stroke, mental confusion, and brain damage
Problems with memory, attention, and decision-making, which make daily living more difficult
Global effects of drugs on the body, such as breast development in men and increases in body temperature, which can lead to other health problems
This can even lead to death: Deaths related to synthetic opioids and heroin have seen the sharpest rise. Every day, more than 90 Americans die due to an opioid overdose.
The behavioural effects include:
Loss of self-control
To this end, countries have adopted multiple strategies in combating drug use. Prevention can be broadly defined as “an array of non-coercive activities intended to prevent, reduce, or delay the occurrence of drug-taking or associated complications, such as clinical syndromes of drug dependence and threats to public safety.” (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine)
Past Prevention Strategies
Mass media campaigns: the goal is to change norms by illustrating the negative effects of drug use as well as the positive effects of non-use through the use of billboards, newspapers, radio, and television, as well as collaborations with the entertainment industry, music videos, and interactive media. For example, the National Youth Anti-Drug Campaign of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Community organizing and coalitions: this consists of representatives from community agencies working together to specify goals for reducing substance use, develop collaborative strategies for reaching those goals, and implement those strategies over a period of several years. For example, Project STAR (1989) and Project Northland (1996).
Family training, counseling, and case management: This includes attempts to alter family management practices or to build parenting skills in general through instruction or training. For example, the Strengthening Families Program (1996)
Classroom instruction: The most common strategy used in schools, it consists of information-only interventions, skill-building intervention, and normative education interventions. For instance, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program and Life Skills Training.
Cognitive behavioral, behavioral modeling, and behavior modification strategies: The focus is to directly alter behavior. For example, the Good Behavior Game (1993)
Other counseling, social work, psychological, and therapeutic strategies: student assistance and peer counseling.
Mentoring, tutoring, and work-study strategies: the goal is to increase the stakes in conformity and reduce individuals’ predispositions to use drugs.
- Recreational, community service, enrichment, and leisure activities: these are intended as fun, productive, and safe alternatives to recreational drug use. For example, Midnight Basketball campaign.
School and discipline management: interventions to change the decision-making processes or authority structures to enhance the general capacity of the school and to punish drug use. For example, Project PATHE (1986) and Comer’s School Development Process (1985).
Establishment of norms and expectations for behavior: These activities include school-wide or community-wide efforts to redefine norms for behavior and signal appropriate behavior through newsletters, posters, ceremonies, etc. For example, Red Ribbon Week, sponsored through the Department of Education’s Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities program.
Limited Evidence of Effectiveness:
US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):
A notable player has been the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), who has greatly contributed in the research of prevention and treatments of drug abuse and addiction, as well as alleviated the magnitude of their consequences. These consequences include the HIV/AIDS epidemic as well as the spreading of other infectious diseases through shared needles, for instance.
NIDA specifically has aimed to tackle the following priorities:
Foster research on other health conditions that may inform, influence, or interact with drug abuse and addiction, for example, pain, compulsive behavioral disorders, etc.;
Reduce health inequalities related to drug addiction and its consequences based on socio-economic class;
Educate a variety of audiences, including but not limited to criminal justice, medical, and educational systems in the community, media, and legislators about the science underlying drug abuse by focusing on the training and dissemination of science-based information on drug abuse;
Train and attract new investigators with diverse experiences and to actively recruit chemists, physicists, bioengineers, and mathematicians to conduct translational research on drug abuse, especially those of minority or disadvantaged backgrounds;
Promote collaborative international research activities that address nicotine addiction, HIV/AIDS, and emerging trends, as well as the previously outlined objectives
NAP states that research in the following domains is still needed. We need to find out:
Which of the non-educational methods are effective for reducing drug use;
Whether prevention activities affect the subsequent drug use of different user groups differently. To what extent do prevention messages spread to individuals and groups not initially targeted, and can this “diffusion effect” be harnessed to reduce drug use in high-risk peer groupings?
Whether prevention activities affect the quantity, frequency or problems associated with the use of non-gateway substances;
What prevention content is most effective, with which groups;
How the timing, duration, and characteristics of the deliverer condition the effects of prevention programs. Does the effectiveness of prevention effects vary relative to the timing of drug epidemics? Are there important trade-offs between total dosage delivered and timing of delivery of prevention messages?
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, this research is necessary in order to better understand:
effects of the entire spectrum of plausible approaches to prevention proposed or in use, rather than those that are most easily evaluated;
effects of drug prevention programs implemented under conditions of normal practice, outside the boundaries of the initial tightly controlled experimental tests of program efficacy under optimal conditions
effects of different combinations of prevention programs, for example, how they complement each other or detract from one another when used in combination, as they most often are;
the extent to which experimentally induced delays in tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use yield reductions in later involvement with cocaine and other illegal drugs specifically, and long-term effects of prevention programming more generally.
The United Nations posits that substance abuse “continues to be a strategy...to cope with various socioeconomic and psychological problems” and states that it is “crucial for the international community to address this matter.” Under current laws, governments around the world utilize various strategies to combat the use of illicit drugs. Illicit drugs, in the context of international drug control, means any of the substances in Schedule I and II of the 1961 Convention, whether natural or synthetic. The basic problem remains throughout the world that despite many drugs being known to be addictive and have clearly detrimental health effects, they remain in high demand for use and abuse, across class and geography. Ultimately, the reasons for the massive prevalence of drug abuse around the planet are many and diverse, from certain areas of excess wealth, all the way to coping strategies of the poorest populations.
A few facts are key to understanding the drug abuse problem worldwide. In recent years, though overall drug use has remained stable, the demographics of said use is rapidly changing. As it may be intuitive, the group of people most vunerable to the issue by far is young people. They are disproportionately subjected to or participate in addictive drug abuse across all locations and classes, peaking at ages 18-25 years. In addition, though the numbers of people reported having used drugs has not seen an unusual increase, between 2000 and 2015, deaths caused by the use of drugs have increased by 60%. Clearly, the quantities and kinds of drugs being used have become more deadly. With the rise of new threats, including the opioid crisis, the vast prevalence of electronic cigarettes and vaporizing devices, prescription drug abuse, and more, it remains up to a combination of players, including CND and the nations it represents, to determine how the situation can best be handled and improved for the future.
Illicit drugs include a vast variety of types of controlled substances with very different prevalences and characteristics. The most widely used drugs are those that tend to be least controlled, as is intuitive. These substances include alcohol, tobacco, and increasingly, cannabis. In fact, the UNODC, which does not consider alcohol or tobacco to technically be drugs, states that cannabis is the world’s most widely utilized drug.
Meanwhile, other types of drugs also have been changing in popularity in recent years. Common, more addictive and therefore more dangerous drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and other opioids, and hallucinogens. Each class of drugs is controlled in slightly different ways by different sovereign nations, has very different physical characteristics, and has very different pathways and effects in the global drug trade. Many nations tend to focus their efforts mostly on what they consider to be the most dangerous due to their higher death rates. Today, new classes of drugs are having potentially even more detrimental effects. Synthetic drugs such as fentanyl are more potent than their naturally derived counterparts and are instantly deadly if not taken in careful doses or if they are contaminated. The issue of prescription drug abuse goes even deeper, with roots in multiple industries, from illicit drug growers to pharmaceutical and research companies.
Though the United States consumes the highest amount of opioids in the world by far, the Opioid Crisis has become far-reaching and widespread throughout nearly the entire planet. According to the UNODC, “From 2016-2017, global opium production jumped by 65 percent to 10,500 tons, the highest estimate recorded by UNODC since it started monitoring global opium production at the start of the twenty-first century. A marked increase in opium poppy cultivation and gradually improving yields in Afghanistan resulted in opium production there last year reaching 9,000 tons.”
The jump in opioid production has been rather extreme, and the jump in its consumption has been equally extreme. Opioids are known to be among the most addictive and most deadly drugs in the case of overdose. They target chemical receptors in the brain more directly than other substances, and for this reason, tend to be very powerful addictives with severe withdrawal symptoms. Different variations of the crisis have hit different populations, but it has tended to disproportionately affect the poor, especially in regions where overprescription of legal narcotics and painkillers is highly prevalent. In these areas, once prescription opioids become too expensive, users will often become desperate and turn to black market alternatives, such as heroin or illicitly obtained fentanyl. As deaths increase and the issue spreads to even more diverse populations, it is up to the nations in the CND to decide what action to take first.
Central to the issues of drug abuse are the intricacies of the international drug trade, which is a combination of legal and illicit pathways, spanning across continents and national borders, made specifically to gather as many addicted customers as possible for producers and middle-men. The nature of the drug trade is such that increased sales create increased future demand, so it is incredibly difficult to combat without extreme multilateral and international cooperation.
The evidence of this issue is clear in the proclaimed “War on Drugs.” The black market drug trade is so lucrative that it has spawned cartels and paramilitary organizations across the globe to facilitate and execute the trade with minimal governmental interference. In some cases, such cartels even take advantage of corruption in order to work with governments despite their illicit activities. All of these effects only serve to augment the long-term effects of drug abuse.
Though other drugs may be more deadly, it is important to keep these other drugs in mind, primarily because of how common they are. Abuse of alcohol and tobacco cause far more deaths, directly and indirectly, than any illicit drugs because of the effects of their prevalence. Any resolution that seeks to find a comprehensive set of national and international strategies to combat drug abuse will have to contend with the issues of all types of drugs.
In finding and optimizing national strategies to combat drug abuse around the world, nations tend to fall into different categories that may speak to the types of blocs and factions they choose to form in debate and in writing resolutions. In the drug crisis, highly developed nations tend to be largely drug consumers, while some developing nations, especially in Latin America and the Middle East, tend to be net drug producers. Other nations, still, tend to be middle market transport centers or peripherally related to the overall conflict.
Highly developed nations and smaller affluent nations in North America, Europe, and Asia (for example) tend to be net importers and consumers of drugs in the international drug trade. Due to the black market nature of controlled substances, inflated prices often limit their use to the most affluent people in the world. Such a bloc would very likely focus on strategies to limit importation and increasing checkpoint security that would halt drugs before they enter these nations. In addition, with large amounts of resources, these nations will have to work within themselves to reduce abuse by their populations and will have to work with outside nations to cut off production lines at their roots.
Developing nations, such as those in the Middle East and Latin America, tend to be net drug producers and exporters. With heavy agricultural reliance in such economies, it can be difficult to discern where controlled substances are being grown among otherwise unassuming farms. In addition, abuse problems can be common within these nations. Working together with each other and with outside nations will be imperative to improving internal conditions, such as the armed conflict that often results from the drug trade.
All other nations tend to take more niche viewpoints on the international drug trade, and every single nation has some type of drug abuse problem. It will be up to these nations to find this common ground, such that they work with the two above groups to mitigate abuse at their sources and destinations, but also prevent transport through their own borders. All nations will need to work together on many issues, including but not limited to education and awareness, treatments and scientific advancements, and mitigation of illicit trade and production.
Questions to Consider
To what extent should the usage of drugs be combatted? Should they be combatted at all, and which drugs and substances should be prioritized over others and why? Is it the job of the state to decide on drug policy, and to what extent should the UN become involved?
How should the United Nations balance their goals as an international organization to decisively decrease global drug trade with conflicting national policies? How does the concept of sovereignty play into this topic?
How should nations combat the opioid crisis around the globe? How should the UN work to assist countries in their national policies, and what angles of the drug cycle should the CND target first?
How should CND look at other classes of drugs, such as cannabis, tobacco, and alcohol? How involved should the UN and international bodies be in their regulation, trade, and use?
How can CND improve education on drugs around the world? Should the UN first tackle education and awareness, should they take more direct action, or should they employ a combination of both?
What is the CND’s role in examining and changing the world’s use of prescription narcotics?
How should your nation go about following its best interests and working to compromise with blocs with differing opinions?
Suggestions for Further Research
Preventing Drug Use." National Research Council. 2001. Informing America's Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don't Know Keeps Hurting Us. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10021.
Violations of Counter-Narcotic Agreements
The violations of counter-narcotic agreements on the international level have become an issue of great concern in recent years for the UN. As the use and trade (both illegal and legal) of narcotics, known as drugs that can be fatal in excessive doses, has increased in an exponential manner.
The first illegal drugs, like opioid and other addictive drugs, seemed to have emerged in the eighteenth century, in countries in Asia and South America. Because of international migration and mobility, the use of such drugs and their prominence became increasingly large. “In the early 19th century, an illegal drug trade in China emerged. As a result, by 1838 the number of Chinese opium-addicts had grown to between four and twelve million.” However, the trafficking of narcotics spread not only in Asia but in different markets throughout the world. “Drug trafficking in the United States dates back to the 19th century. From opium to marijuana to cocaine, a variety of substances have been illegally imported, sold and distributed throughout U.S. history, often with devastating consequences.”
In increase in use and trade of narcotics and drugs is a major concern because of the dangerous implications that non-governmentally spread drugs could possess, and the effect they could have on populations. Black market drugs are especially dangerous. Illegal drugs are not regulated by any official body or organization, and thus can have unknown, unpredictable, and potentially fatal side effects.
The illegal use of narcotic drugs is a main concern because of their known and unknown side effects on their users. Addictive drugs and narcotics have serious impacts on populations such as:
Brain damage due to hypoxia
Dependency and withdrawal
Not only are these known concerns a concern, but illegal drugs have unknown side effects and impacts that do not necessarily have readily accessible solutions and cures. Chronic use of dangerous drugs often in the past has lead to overdose and death.
While the major trafficking routes are known on the international level, the prominence of black market drug trade proves a governmental lack of power over an industry that is illegal and still thriving. “The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's World Drug Report 2005 estimates the size of the global illicit drug market at US$321.6 billion in 2003 alone. With a world GDP of US$36 trillion in the same year, the illegal drug trade may be estimated at nearly 1% of total global trade.”
This lack of control of global governance is a major area of concern for the international community. In the past, many international organizations, NGOs, and governments have worked to control and eliminate these prominent black markets, but such narcotics trade has remained a prominent issue that concerns governments throughout the world.
Past Actions and Resolutions of the CND:
Since the 1940s, the CND has been passing resolutions and treaties attempting to slow the illegal trade of narcotics that implement solutions such as:
Controlling the use of narcotics in an educational setting (for youth and students alike)
“Addressing the specific needs of vulnerable members of society in response to the world drug problem”
“Enhancing and strengthening international and regional cooperation and domestic efforts to address the international threats posed by the non-medical use of synthetic opioids”
Promoting the availability of health and rehabilitation systems in vulnerable communities
While the CND has published many treaties relating to the topic, the violation of counter-narcotic agreements is a main issue of concern: how can the CND fight against black market trade of narcotics if treaties and prevention programs are being ignored and disrespected?
While many of the UN published policies have failed, the CND alongside the UN has had some success as well (See here). This committee will hope to recreate this success in order to implement it towards all black market hyper centers throughout the world.
Organizations Currently Partnering with the UN against Illegal Narcotics Trade:
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
The International Narcotics Control Board
World Health Organization
As seen in the Topic History above, the basics of counter-narcotic agreements and their importance in the world are largely the same as the basics of drug abuse and finding strategies to combat it worldwide. Both topics will require comprehensive resolutions and multilateral cooperation in order to make meaningful progress. The difference in this topic, however, is that it focuses on the existing treaties and agreements that have been made between nations in order to combat the trade of narcotics, and how they can be changed and improved, especially when certain nations do not follow the terms of these agreements. The primary concern, then, is deciding what actions to take regarding nations that are unable to live up to the promises they made on paper, especially considering the nuances of each nation’s situation that could have made them physically unable to follow through with their terms. The issues of corruption, lack of resources, lack of coordination, factors from outside nations, and internal drug use can all impact how well counter-narcotic agreements work, and these are all issues that every nation in this committee is expected to contend with.
Current Multilateral Agreements:
There currently exists a large number of counter-narcotic agreements between nations in the UN, with a variety of terms and signing parties. Many of these agreements include only two individual nations, who decide to work directly together to halt a certain part of the narcotics trade. On the other hand, some of these agreements are signed by the vast majority of UN member nations, many of which are made in meetings such as those of the CND. In such a watershed era for the “War on Drugs,” counter-narcotics agreements have become very popular among small groups of nations to maximize efficiency in stemming the movements of drugs across borders.
For example, the United States alone currently holds twenty-four individual counter-narcotics agreements with separate nations, all with slightly different purposes. Many of them agree to combine military forces between the involved governments in order to, for example, use aerial and naval surveillance to track and disrupt drug shipments over land and water before they can even reach the borders of respective countries.
Multilaterally, many counter-narcotic agreements have been signed on the larger world stage to facilitate cooperation between many governments to stop illicit trade. For example, in 1988, the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances met in Vienna, where an agreement was signed by 169 parties and widely agreed on as the best move forward for countering the rapidly growing international trade of controlled substances, even despite varying laws in different nations. For another example, in 2003, the Agreement Concerning Co-operation in Suppressing Illicit Maritime and Air Trafficking in Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances in the Caribbean Area was signed by the US and five nations in the Latin American and Caribbean region to watch out for and disrupt trade across the Caribbean Sea. When these agreements are followed, they certainly have a positive effect in stemming the tide of the illicit drug trade.
Violations of Agreements:
Issues arise, however, when some of these agreements are violated, often due to a combination of any of the issues described previously. Most important to remember is that there are countless different and nuanced agreements that are made regarding this issue between a huge variety of parties across the globe, and it is up to individual nations to decide what to do in the situation that the terms of an agreement are breached, whether those terms were contractually obligated or simply part of a memorandum of understanding.
Sometimes, such violations are due to changing policies in certain nations that do not match the viewpoints of the overall United Nations. In one interesting example, Canada is currently considering withdrawing from several counter-narcotics agreements because its impending legalization of recreational cannabis would be in violation of several treaties it has signed in the past. In the other hand, other times, economic or political issues stand in the way of a nations ability or desire to abide by their agreements. Some Latin American nations are often stuck bargaining with powerful drug lords that control large areas of land more than the government itself, to the point where local people treat these drug cartels as the de facto governments.
In the end, solutions to these violations of counter-narcotic agreements will have to come from both sides of the agreements. Though violations are frequent, evidence from many such situations has shown little intent of malice, but rather a combination of factors including shifting public opinion and sheer economic inability that ultimately leads to a breach of agreements. As seen in the graph above, in recent times, more countries than ever before have been contributing to pooling resources to combat the international drug trade with more effective agreements and cooperation. Instead of only developed nations controlling the “War on Drugs,” more nations have seen the harmful effects of the illicit drug industry and are ready to make reforms. It remains up to the nations and their delegates in this meeting of the CND to decide how transgressions of agreements will be dealt with, and how positive change to these agreements will be made for a better future.
Largely, the bloc positions for this topic are the same as the previous one. Developed nations with drug abuse problems will tend to work together, as their common interest in improving awareness, reducing importation, and overall decreasing drug dependency will require common solutions. Developing nations that tend to be drug producers and exporters will likely gravitate together on their shared interests. Other nations will group based on their more niche concerns and specific drug abuse problems.
However, an additional concern is added to this topic with the violation of international counter-narcotics agreements. Nations that tend to create and follow these agreements will find shared ground in their desire to increase accountability, while nations that have difficulties in following agreements due to interior structural issues or lack of resources will work together well. Nations will certainly find synergies in their policies on the idea of counter-narcotic agreements, especially within the intricacies of their economics, effects on international politics, feasibilities, and obedience to national sovereignty.
Questions to Consider
How should the CND and the UN interact with individual nations when it comes to internationally agreed upon counter-narcotic agreements?
Where does the requirement of respecting national sovereignty come into play in violations of such counter-narcotic agreements?
Which types of agreements should be kept as they exist today, and which types should be modified in order to better reflect the standards and aspirations of the modern world?
How should the UN manage agreements made on different classes of drugs, and which should be prioritized?
What issues should a resolution tackle first in this committee, and which angles of combatting agreement violations will be most effective and why?
How should your nation go about following its best interests and working to compromise with blocs with differing opinions?
Suggestions for Further Research
UNODC 2009 Report:
UN Passed Resolutions on Illegal Drug Trafficking:
More information on Drug Trafficking Programs: