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65th Session UNODC: Intervention by Ms. Celine Burke (Research Analyst EFSAS) Item 7

17-03-2022, Vienna

Text and video of Ms. Celine Burke's Intervention on Item 7: Inter-Agency Cooperation and Coordination of Efforts in Addressing and Countering the World Drug Problem - during the 65th Session of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna.

Video of Ms. Celine's Burke's Intervention on Item 7 during the 65th Session of the UNODC in Vienna.


"Mr. Chair,

The adoption of the UN System Common Position on drugs in November 2018 presents a strong commitment to strengthened cooperation in order to promote evidence- and human-rights based drug policies within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

I want to use this statement to highlight the importance of gender-sensitive drug policies and improved inter-agency cooperation as a crucial tool to counter gender-based discrimination and violence in drug control.

Resolution 59/5 of the CND "requests the [UNODC] to continue to mainstream a gender perspective in all its practices, policies and programmes related to the world drug problem", and the inclusion of human rights and gender as a pillar of drug control has been praised as historic broadening of the drug control system. The time to act upon these important commitments is now.

However, the reluctance of Member States to collect gender-sensitive data presents a major impediment to a more nuanced understanding of gendered dynamics in the drug economy. People who use drugs continue to be discriminated, stigmatized, incarcerated and killed.

We know that women in particular are disproportionately affected by the harsh penalties for minor drug-related offences in many countries around the world that continue to take punitive approaches. Nonetheless, more gender-aggregated data is needed to design evidence-based interventions that promote harm reduction, sustainable development and peacebuilding.

The UNODC gender strategy states that "Gender equality and the empowerment of women are integral parts […] in making the world safer from drugs, crime and terrorism". As conflict fuels the drug trade as well as gender-based violence, these discussions necessarily belong together.

Bodies like the UNODC have a normative function and can drive policy change on the national and regional level. Improved inter-agency cooperation is urgently needed in order to achieve these goals.

Drugs are more than a threat to national security. Drugs are a health issue, a human-rights issue, a development issue and an environmental issue. We need to change not only the way we debate about drugs, but also the way we position them in the international framework and address the global challenges they pose. In this regard, a commitment to gender mainstreaming and gender sensitivity is not only about adding gender topics to the discussion, but about reflecting how policies differently impact marginalized groups.

The UNODC as the leading entity in this endeavor must honor the important commitments made at the 2016 UNGASS and the UN System Common Position on drug policy by promoting drug-related issues in all UN forums to strengthen system-wide coherence and drug policies grounded in human-rights and social justice that take lived realities as well as gendered impacts into account.

Thank you for your attention".


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