In the INCB Annual Report for 2012 released today, the principle of shared responsibility in achieving the aims of the international drug control conventions features as the key theme. The INCB also specifically notes its concerns about increasing opium crop cultivation in Afghanistan, Vancouver’s drug injection room violating the international drug control treaties, measures towards the legalisation of cannabis for non-medical purposes in the United States, and Myanmar not being on track to meet its goal of becoming drug-free by 2014.

In his foreword to the INCB Annual Report for 2012, INCB President Raymond Yans says that: “Ultimately, we all have a shared responsibility to address the global drug problem, whether it be at the individual, community, governmental or international level. We must continue to strive to prevent and minimize the suffering and loss of potential caused by drug abuse and drug-related crime and violence".

Unfortunately, Mr. Yans promotes an unnecessarily narrow scope of concern by only referring to “drug abuse and drug-related crime and violence” and advocates more of the same drug control measures (ie. prevention of drug use and generic controls on the availability of drugs) that have proved ineffective for responding to global drug problems in the past century.

Mr. Yans does not mention the “suffering and loss of potential” directly caused by international and national drug control policies and measures, such as mass incarceration and compulsory detention as treatment for drug use and possession which has led to wide-ranging damage to health, development, security and human rights. (Refer to the Count the Costs campaign for further details).

While it is positive that Mr. Yans seems to acknowledge the legitimate role of individuals and communities when he refers to the need for “shared responsibility” in addressing global drug issues, it remains to be seen whether the INCB will extend its engagement with civil society actors, for example during its country visits, and improve the transparency and accountability of its operation.    

For further commentary on the INCB Annual Report 2012, refer to the article by Daniel Wolfe in the Huffington Post Is the INCB dangerous to your health? 5 ways the UN’s drug watchdog fails on health and human rights, as well as the article by Damon Barrett International Money and Torture in the Name of Drug Treatment.

For more information about the INCB, please visit our INCB Watch page.

Gloria Lai, IDPC Senior Policy Officer