14. March 2017
STATEMENT BY DR JOHNNY THABO PITSWANE, DEPUTY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA AT THE 60TH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON NARCOTIC DRUGS, 14 MARCH 2017, VIENNA
AGENDA ITEM 6:
FOLLOW-UP TO THE SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON THE WORLD DRUG PROBLEM HELD IN 2016, INCLUDING THE SEVEN THEMATIC AREAS OF THE OUTCOME DOCUMENT OF THE SPECIAL SESSION
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In April 2016, the international community adopted the UNGASS Outcome Document during the 30th United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem. This document represents the latest global consensus to elevate the collective fight against the world drug problem. Of particular importance is the complementarity and mutual reinforcement between this document and the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action, the 2014 Joint Ministerial Statement and the 3 international drug control conventions.
In this regard, my delegation is grateful for this opportunity to provide feedback on progress made in the implementation of the 2016 UNGASS Outcome Document.
South Africa associates itself with the statements delivered on behalf of the Africa Group and Group of 77 and China respectively.
In the implementation of the UNGASS Outcome Document, particularly demand reduction and related measures, the South African Government has put in place a Technical Task Team to elaborate on policy proposals and key actions to be undertaken by the health sector in addressing and countering the world drug problem.
Among other responsibilities, the Technical Task Team is also expected to align the revised National Drug Master Plan for the period 2018-2022 with the recommendations of the UNGASS Outcome Document, as indicated by the International Narcotic Control Board in its 2016 Annual Report.
It is also foreseen that the revised National Drug Master Plan will inform the necessary update of the Health Sector Drug Master Plan and the reviewal of the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act, Act No. 70 of 2008, as informed by the fundamental public health principles of equity, social justice and human rights, in furtherance of the rights of youth, children, women and communities.
South Africa attaches great importance to the issue of availability and access to controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes, while preventing their diversion and abuse. My delegation recalls that the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 recognized that “medical use of narcotic drugs continues to be indispensable for the relief of pain and suffering and that adequate provision must be made to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs for such purposes”.
Although South Africa notes that considerable progress has been made in some regions, the adoption of the UNGASS Outcome Document gives renewed impetus to the obligations of Member States in ensuring the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes.
At the national level, South Africa’s Medicines Control Council has strengthened its system of control to ensure adequate access to, and availability of certain substances for medical and scientific purposes, consequently preventing their abuse and diversion.
The South African Government remains committed to the implementation of the Operational recommendations pertaining to Supply reduction and related measures. Further to the collaborative work of the relevant agencies, South Africa is working on building specialist skills for investigating and prosecuting crimes related to narcotics, counterfeit, tobacco, under-valuation fraud, piracy, human trafficking, anti-terrorism, weapons and money-laundering.
Through on-going researches of syndicated smuggling activities, media campaigns, use of technology to detect and combat drug smuggling as well as local and international collaboration, the South African Government is optimistic that it will positively contribute towards building and promoting a society free of drug abuse in order to ensure that all people can live in health, dignity and peace.
South Africa is not immune to the emerging and persistent challenges and threats that confront the international community in the fight against drugs and drug abuse. As a transit and destination country, we remain vulnerable to multiple challenges ranging from cocaine drops on high seas; illegal synthetic drug laboratories as well as the use of the internet for illicit activities resulting in increased substance abuse among youth, children and women. The emerging heroin routes in Southern and Eastern Africa aggravates the situation and necessitates the changes in the patterns of abuse and associated social ills.
Despite these challenges, South Africa is resolute that the three (3) international drug control conventions remains the cornerstone of the international fight against the world drug problem. To this end, the South African Government calls for enhanced international cooperation to realise the aims and objectives of the international drug control system.
I thank you