Australian national statement to the High-level Segment of the 67th Commission on Narcotic Drugs

Read a transcript of Assistant Minister McBride's statement in Vienna, Austria.

The Hon Emma McBride MP
Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Assistant Minister Rural and Regional Health

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Chair, honourable ministers, distinguished representatives,

It is an honour to be in Vienna, and to participate in the High-level Segment of the 67th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

I firstly wish to acknowledge the efforts of Ambassador Johnson in chairing the negotiations of the Outcome Document of the 2024 Midterm Review – a significant undertaking and a demonstration of his determination to commence this session with a renewed commitment to improving the global drug situation for all.

Chair, and distinguished delegates,

Addressing the dynamic and diverse challenges posed by the global drug situation is complex; however, we know there is undeniable power in coordinated effort and collective action.

This year, it is vitally important that we seize the opportunity to channel our shared commitment and resolve to not only address but to improve the global drug situation for all.

Australia’s longstanding commitment to harm minimisation considers the health, social and economic consequences of drug use on individuals, families and communities, and recognises that preventing or reducing the wide range of drug-related harms requires multifaceted and human rights-based responses.

This is the foundation of our National Drug Strategy.

Within and beyond our borders we need to increase discussion and coordinated action to implement and improve community-led and -driven approaches, that are based on scientific evidence.

Australia reinforces the importance of ensuring actions are balanced between health and law-enforcement approaches.

We support actions which take into account gender equality and human rights principles and obligations, address broader social determinants, and reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with drug use.

In doing this, Australia is committed to working with all relevant stakeholders, including other member states, the broader UN system, international partners, civil society and affected communities to ensure meaningful and tangible progress is made.

We want to elevate the voices of those affected by drug policies and programs, in order to promote and protect rights-based and public health-driven harm-reduction efforts.

Australia will continue to call for global abolition of the death penalty, particularly its abolition for drug-related offences. We believe the imposition of the death penalty for drug-related offences is inconsistent with international human rights law and an ineffective deterrent.

Australia is pleased to lead a side event at next week’s Regular Segment on wastewater analysis, with a view to sharing new insights and exploring how it is a complementary tool in understanding drug markets, monitoring the effectiveness of initiatives and responses, and informing policies and priorities.

Australia acknowledges with appreciation the leadership of the United States in driving the work of the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats.

We welcome this partnership of more than 140 countries in bolstering international efforts to respond to, identify, and prepare for the varied and expanding threats posed.

Australia remains concerned about synthetic drugs, particularly amphetamine-type stimulants, new psychoactive substances, and the diversion of precursor chemicals used to manufacture these substances.

We are committed to continuing to engage constructively in the work of the Coalition, recognising the value in sharing experiences, best practice and lessons learned.

Furthermore, Australia welcomes the UNODC’s #ScaleUp Initiative, and is encouraged by efforts to expand international research, bridge the global treatment gap for stimulant-use disorders, and facilitate the development and implementation of scalable interventions to benefit different regions, contexts, and population groups.

Distinguished delegates,

We have 5 more years to demonstrate our impact in addressing not only the challenges outlined in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration, but other emerging challenges, trends and situations that are inextricably linked to the ever-evolving global drug situation.

Chair, we welcome the opportunity to participate in and contribute to your Pledge4Action Initiative.

I pledge for Australia to contribute to global efforts which enhance the implementation of international drug policy commitments.

I pledge for Australia to join and be a leading partner in the International Narcotics Control Board’s industry mapping project aimed at preventing the diversion from chemical industries, of internationally controlled and non-scheduled chemicals, including designer precursors, for the illicit manufacture of synthetic drugs, new psychoactive substances (NPS) and controlled precursors.

I pledge for Australia to ensure a range of prevention, treatment and harm-reduction services are available to the Australian community, acknowledging where drug treatment and health services fall short of meeting needs and where deaths occur as a result of drug use. 

These services need to be delivered in a variety of modalities and settings, with particular priority on tailoring services and initiatives to priority populations most affected by drug use, including young people, First Nations Australians, and clients referred from the criminal justice system.

To further extend this pledge, Australia will continue to have meaningful and ongoing engagement with civil society and community-led organisations, researchers and other key stakeholders to ensure drug-related research and data is available, with particular consideration given to the Pacific region.

Lastly, in addressing the fact that the rate of transmission of HIV, the Hepatitis C virus and other bloodborne diseases associated with drug use remains high, I pledge for Australia to continue its leadership in driving scientific evidence-based and community-driven action.

We commit to working to eliminate the transmission of HIV, Hepatitis C and other bloodborne diseases, and ensuring affected communities can access a full range of interventions and health services that are gender-responsive, inclusive, culturally safe, and free from stigma and discrimination.

Thank you.


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