UN Drug Conventions

  • The 1961 Single Convention On Narcotic Drugs

    Member States had three principal objectives in mind when drafting the 1961 Convention: the merging of all existing multilateral treaties in the field; the streamlining of control machinery (the functions of two existing bodies, the Drug Supervisory Body and the Permanent Central Board, were merged into the International Narcotics Control Board); and the extension of the existing control system to include cultivation of plants grown as the raw material of narcotic drugs. The overall aims of control measures remained, namely the provision of adequate supplies of narcotic drugs for medical and scientific purposes and of measures to prevent diversion into the illicit market.

    The 1961 Convention exercises control over more than 116 narcotic drugs. They include mainly plant-based products such as opium and its derivatives morphine, codeine and heroin, but also synthetic narcotics such as methadone and pethidine, as well as cannabis, coca and cocaine. The Convention divides drugs into four groups, or schedules, in order to enforce a greater or lesser degree of control for the various substances and compounds. Opium smoking and eating, coca leaf chewing, cannabis resin smoking and the non-medical use of cannabis are prohibited. The 1972 Protocol to this Convention calls for increased efforts to prevent illicit production of, traffic in and use of narcotics. It also highlights the need to provide treatment and rehabilitation services to drug abusers. (Full text, Status of Adherence)

  • The 1971 Convention On Psychotropic Substances

    Growing concern over the harmful effects of psychotropic substances such as amphetamine-type drugs, sedative-hypnotic agents and hallucinogens led to the elaboration of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances. This extended the international drug control system to include hallucinogens such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and mescaline; stimulants such as amphetamine and methamphetamine, and sedative hypnotics such as barbiturates. The Convention categorizes the substances into four schedules according to their dependence creating properties and abuse potential balanced against their varying therapeutic values. Special provisions concerning abuse prevention are aimed at ensuring early identification, treatment, education, after-care rehabilitation and social reintegration of dependent persons. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the International Narcotics Control Board were also given particular responsibilities in the control of drugs covered by this Convention. (Full text, Status of Adherence)

  • United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic In Narcotic Drugs And Psychotropic Substances, 1988

    The 1988 Convention complements the other drug control treaties, both of which were primarily directed at the control of licit activities. It was formulated specifically to deal with the growing problem of international trafficking which had only been dealt with marginally by earlier international legal instruments. The Convention includes money-laundering and illicit traffic in precursor and essential chemicals within the ambit of drug trafficking activities and calls on parties to introduce these as criminal offences in their national legislation. Its objective is to create and consolidate international cooperation between law enforcement bodies such as customs, police and judicial authorities and to provide them with the legal guidelines a) to interdict illicit trafficking effectively, b) to arrest and try drug traffickers, and c) to deprive them of their ill-gotten gains. It also intensifies efforts against the illicit production and manufacture of narcotic and psychotropic drugs by calling for strict monitoring of the chemicals often used in illicit production. (Full text, Status of Adherence)