UK Minister Chris Philp Advocates for Stronger International Cooperation at UN Narcotics Commission in Vienna

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: May 2, 2024; 19:37 ♦ (Vindobona)

The Rt Hon Chris Philp MP, Minister for Crime, Policing, and Fire, represented the United Kingdom at this year's United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) meeting in Vienna. The CND serves as the UN's foremost policymaking body in the sphere of drug control, tasked with overseeing the application of international drug control treaties.

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) meeting in Vienna was honored by the visit of the Rt Hon Chris Philp MP representing the United Kingdom. / Picture: ©

This year's CND session marked an important milestone in the decade-long strategy initiated by the 2019 Ministerial Declaration to combat the global drug crisis. Midway through this period, the session provided a critical platform for evaluating progress and addressing emergent threats like synthetic opioids, which are increasingly affecting global communities.

UK’s Comprehensive Response to Drug Challenges

During the session, Minister Philp outlined the UK's multi-layered strategy in combating drug use. His address highlighted the significance of the UK’s Addiction Mission, a pioneering program aimed at fostering collaboration and innovation in drug treatment and recovery services. This mission is part of the UK's broader strategy to reduce drug demand and the associated criminal activities through a substantial commitment of nearly £1 billion over three years.

A major focus for Minister Philp was the rising threat posed by synthetic opioids, including the nitazenes class. To address this, he hosted a high-level panel that featured key international figures such as Dr. Rahul Gupta, the U.S. White House drug "czar". During this session, Gupta commended the UK for its leadership and proactive measures in confronting these potent substances.

The discussions covered the UK's efforts at multiple levels—from international collaboration with bodies like the National Crime Agency and UK Border Force to intercept drug shipments to domestic measures aimed at dismantling organized crime groups linked to drug trafficking.

Strengthening International Alliances

Minister Philp's engagements at the CND were supported by a series of bilateral meetings with global leaders, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and EU DG HOME Commissioner Ylva Johansson. These discussions underscored the UK’s commitment to enhancing international cooperation to tackle the complex drug supply chains effectively.

The panel also provided insights into the strategies of other countries, with contributions from the South African Narcotics Enforcement Bureau and the UNODC’s Executive Director, Ghada Waly, who discussed the global response to synthetic opioids.

In addition to the discussions at the CND, Minister Philp's strategy includes legislative actions such as the recent UK decision to ban 15 types of synthetic opioids. This move signifies the country's resolve to lead a stringent international response against the evolving drug threat.

Advocacy and Future Directions

The UK’s role at the CND was further highlighted through Minister Philp’s op-ed in The Times, where he articulated the need for a sustained, integrated approach to drug policy that incorporates public health, security, and human rights considerations.

As the CND continues to serve as a crucial platform for global drug policy dialogue, the UK is positioned as a key player in shaping international strategies that are not only reactive but also preventive. Minister Philp’s active participation and the collaborative efforts discussed during the session pave the way for innovative solutions to combat the international drug crisis in the coming years.

With the 2024 CND meeting, the UK has reaffirmed its leadership in addressing complex global drug issues, emphasizing a balanced approach that leverages international cooperation, robust enforcement, and compassionate treatment strategies. As the world continues to face the challenges of synthetic opioids and other narcotics, the UK’s role and strategies will be crucial in shaping a safer global environment.

UK Government