20. April 2016 Talk/Interview

Thirtieth Special Session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem- General Debate

Statement by H.E. Jan Kickert, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations

Click here to download statement in pdf format!

New York, 19-21 April 2016

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Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 Austria fully aligns herself with the statement made by the European Union.

First of all, I would like to congratulate all delegations and other stakeholders for the excellent work that they have done in Vienna and which resulted in the successful adoption of the Outcome Document at this Special Session.

Much has been achieved but some challenges still persist: The world drug problem remains a complex challenge to the health and well-being of humankind. It poses a major threat to human dignity, safety as well as international security and development.

We are here at the UNGASS to discuss this challenge – a challenge that cannot be addressed in isolation but rather needs to be tackled through a comprehensive, integrated and balanced approach.

Building on experience and evidence, drug policies should be based on an appropriate balance between demand and supply reduction measures. The Plan of Action stresses this quite clearly. It still remains a global challenge to guarantee a stronger focus on health and social problems related to drug consumption and drug addiction. At this UNGASS we all should engage in open debates about appropriate solutions at the national, regional and international level while ensuring full respect for human rights, the three international drug control conventions and other relevant documents of international law.

More focus on science and evidence could allow us to address critical issues apart from ideological controversies and political disputes. In this regard, Austria stands ready to offer her experience and best practices concerning risk and harm reduction measures including maintenance therapy, needle exchange programs or substitution treatment in prison facilities.

Austria is strongly committed to human rights. As a cross-cutting issue a human rights based approach must be the basis for any drug policy. We regret that no reference to capital punishment is included in the UNGASS Outcome Document. We need to discuss the abolition of punishments that are against human dignity as well as the proportionality of drug-related sentences.

We are also pleased to see the importance of alternative development underlined in the UNGASS Outcome Document. Austria is devoted to addressing drug-related socio-economic issues while preventing illicit cultivation of narcotic plants through alternative development programs.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The world drug problem can only be tackled through successful international cooperation. In this regard the Vienna-based United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as the leading entity in the United Nations system for addressing and countering the world drug problem has proved to be the principal reference point, based on its broad mandate, comprehensive expertise and established partnerships.

On behalf of Austria I express our appreciation for the responsible way the Commission on Narcotic Drugs has fulfilled the task of preparing the UNGASS 2016. We are looking forward to continuing the cooperation with all our partners, including civil society, under the trusted coordination of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Office on Drugs and Crime on our path to 2019 and beyond.

Thank you!