The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) remains one of the least transparent and most secretive of UN bodies.

It meets in secret, and while agendas can now be found on the INCB’s website, no minutes of its meetings are published, nor are the analyses by which it arrives at its positions on policy issues. Although retrospective reports are available on-line, the Board’s country visits are conducted behind a veil of secrecy. There is no advance publicity, criteria for country selection or opportunities for public forums while Board members are incountry.

The governments visited undoubtedly value the chance to discuss their drug policies in confidence. Yet the secrecy surrounding the planning of such visits and the lack of mechanisms for input from health professionals or non-governmental experts surely impedes the effectiveness of the Board’s visits. Such secrecy insulates the INCB from healthy dialogue about its focus and priorities.

The Board’s culture of secrecy insulates it from much needed oversight in general; a point well illustrated by current practice surrounding INCB-country correspondence - the main focus of this IDPC briefing paper.