November 24, 2017

Statement by the Minister of Health of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Georgios Pamboridis

Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem

General Debate, 21 April 2016

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, my delegation subscribes to the statement delivered by the European Union.

 I would like to add some remarks in my national capacity. I appreciate the opportunity to address on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus this high level meeting which aims to address all the achievements put forward since the 2009 “Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem”, as well as the challenges that remain. Cyprus strongly believes that UNGASS 2016 is an opportunity to achieve feasible and supportable solutions to the world drug problem, as well as find a common ground based on the international treaties.

The Republic of Cyprus is fully aligned with the EU position and supports a balanced and evidenced based approach with a main focus on the individual and the protection of society as a whole. We consider drug dependence as a public health and human rights policy priority that has to be managed in an integrated manner that recognizes its complexity. Cyprus, together with the fellow EU Member States, has a strong and unequivocal opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances and especially as regards drug related offences.

We believe that the death penalty undermines human dignity and errors made in its application are irreversible. We also strongly believe that sanctions provided for, under national law for all drug-related offences should be proportionate to the severity of the offence. Along these lines, alternatives to imprisonment should be offered to drug users in order to keep them out of prison and provide them with a second chance to seek treatment. In Cyprus, a relevant legislation on the alternatives to imprisonment for drug dependent offenders was recently approved by the House of Representatives and these measures are currently being forwarded.

To address the drugs’ challenge and the negative related consequences, we believe that, drug Policies should promote evidence based and costeffective measures. Such measures that have been implemented in the EU and have proven to be effective as regards the reduction of drug-related deaths, crime and infectious diseases are harm reduction measures such as opioid substitution therapy, needle and syringe exchange programmes and naloxone provision.

We strongly advise Member States to consider implementing or reinforcing these measures in the context of the drug demand reduction part of the balanced approach.

Dear Excellencies, Cyprus would also like to stress the following issues as important points for consideration today:

 – The access to controlled substances for use by the scientific and medical community should be increased.

– The promotion of the participatory role of civil society and the scientific community regarding all aspects of drug policy.

– The recognition of the different needs for men, women, young people and children when addressing the drug phenomenon.

– The challenge of new constantly emerging psychoactive substances and the role of the internet on drug supply should be addressed.

 – The promotion of an effective law enforcement policy towards the illicit production, manufacturing and trafficking of drugs should also be an integral part of the balanced approach.

Ladies and Gentlemen, We regret that a drug-free world is not realistic. Nonetheless, all of us participating in this meeting today have the obligation to strive, for the establishment of achievable measures and policies that will be crowned with success and will benefit the lives of people who struggle with drug dependency.

Thank you