Drug Policies

Preventing and addressing drug challenges in all their complexity is essential to delivering on a fundamental global pledge, enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals: to leave no one behind.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Message on the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, New York, 2019

The global drug problem, which affects approximately 275 million people, presents a complex global challenge that is closely interlinked with sustainable development, peace and security and human rights. Combatting the problem is therefore integral to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By adopting the outcome document of the 2016 special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem, entitled “Our joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem”, global leaders reaffirmed the need to address the key causes and consequences of the world drug problem in a coherent and coordinated manner.

In response to the call of Member States to United Nations system entities to strengthen inter-agency coordination and enhance coherence at all levels with regard to the world drug problem, CEB adopted a common position among United Nations system entities to support the implementation of international drug control policy through effective inter-agency collaboration, in November 2018. The common position, which was developed on the basis of a discussion paper prepared under the auspices of the High-level Committee on Programmes (HLCP), was also to guide the United Nations system support to Member States in advance of the ministerial segment of the sixty-second session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs held in March 2019 in Vienna.

The common position reiterated the strong commitment of the United Nations system to supporting Member States in developing and implementing truly balanced, comprehensive, integrated, evidence-based, human rights-based, development-oriented and sustainable responses to the world drug problem. It contains the shared principles and commitments for action across the United Nations system on this issue. Further, it reflects a strong system-wide commitment to continue to harness synergies and strengthen inter-agency cooperation and collaboration, making the best use of expertise across all United Nations entities, with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as the lead Secretariat department on the issue and with the Commission on Narcotic Drugs as the United Nations policymaking body with prime responsibility for drug-related matters.

At its first regular session of 2023, CEB held a discussion on international drug policy from a human rights perspective. It was time to precede the 2024 mid-term review by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the 2019 Ministerial declaration on "strengthening our actions at the national, regional and international levels to accelerate the implementation of our joint commitments to address and counter the world drug problem", which had  encouraged inter-agency cooperation and enhanced coherence within the United Nations system at all levels with regard to the world drug problem. Recognizing the complex and multifaceted challenges in this field of work, the Board reflected on concrete ways to fully realize the commitments in and strengthen implementation of its 2018 United Nations system common position supporting the implementation of international drug control policy. Members underscored the role of the United Nations system in providing data, knowledge and evidence to inform national policies and agreed that the United Nations system needed to redouble efforts to promote a human rights-based and people-focused approach to drug policy, guided by the shared objectives in the common position. The discussion concluded that the United Nations system common position remained the reference point for informing organizations’ policy work, advocacy and capacity-building activities.


  • Drug Policies
  • Chief Executives Board (CEB)
  • High-Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP)

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