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 The Traffic in Narcotics

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United States Commissioner of Narcotics



United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey Former Chairman, Legislative Commission to Study Narcotics, General Assembly of New Jersey





THERE HAVE BEEN FEW MORE DRAMATIC OR MORE SUCCESSFUL EFFORTS at international collaboration than those in the field of the control of narcotic drugs. The results obtained are outstanding.

The present study surveys not only the historical development of the international control of narcotic drugs under the various treaties, but also explains in detail the somewhat complex administrative, advisory, and policy-making machinery. It reviews the new problems which have arisen and the new solutions which have been sought. The study also deals with such questions as the development of synthetic drugs, the efforts to control opium production and the progress toward streamlining the international control machinery.


The first step in the international campaign against narcotic drugs took place in 1909 when an International Opium Commission met in Shanghai on the initiative of the United States Government which had become seriously concerned over the problem of addiction in the Philippines.

Representatives of thirteen governments--- Austria-Hungary, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Persia, Portugal, Russia, Siam, and the United States--- participated in the conference.


Page 29




The United States Delegation proposed the immediate prohibition of opium smoking, but the conference was not prepared to go further than the following resolution:

Be it resolved:

That in view of the action taken by the Government of China in suppressing the practice of opium smoking, and by other Governments to the same end, the International Opium Commission recommends that each delegation concerned move its own Government to take measures for the gradual suppression of the practice of opium smoking in its own territories and possessions, with due regard to the varying circumstances of each country concerned.

Nine resolutions were adopted unanimously. The representatives recognized that "the use of opium in any form otherwise than for medical purposes is held by almost every participating country to be a matter of prohibition or for careful regulation;" that "the unrestricted manufacture, sale, and distribution of morphine already constitute a grave danger, and that the morphine habit shows signs of spreading; the International Opium Commission therefore desires to urge strongly on all governments that it is highly important that drastic measures should be taken by each government in its own territories and possessions to control the manufacture, sale, and distribution of this drug, and also of such other derivatives of opium as may appear on scientific inquiry to be liable to similar abuse and productive of like ill effects;" . . . that "it is also the duty of all countries to adopt reasonable measures to prevent at ports of departure the shipment of opium, its alkaloids, derivatives, and preparations, to any country which prohibits the entry of any opium, its alkaloids, derivatives, and preparations;" that "all governments possessing concessions or settlements in China, which have not yet taken effective action toward the closing of opium divans in the said concessions and settlements, to take steps to that end as soon as they may deem it possible;" . . . and that "each delegation move its government to apply its pharmacy laws to its subjects in the consular districts, concessions, and settlements in China."





The United States considered it important that international effect and sanction should be given to the resolutions of the International Opium Commission which had met In Shanghai in 1909, and to this end its Government proposed that an international conference be held at a convenient date, at The Hague or elsewhere, composed of one or more delegates of each of the powers, and that the delegates should have full powers to conventionalize the resolutions adopted at Shanghai. The date of the assembling of the conference was finally fixed by The Netherlands for December 1, 1911.

The Hague Convention as finally agreed upon contains a number of general principles which remain as the foundation and mainspring of all drug control. Even the rules for domestic control--vague as they were in some instances--- have stood the test of time and are still the basis of domestic control, although amplified by later conventions. The Convention incorporated the principles adopted at the Shanghai Conference and imposed an obligation on the parties "to use their best endeavours" to put these principles into practice. Its main defect was that it created no administrative machinery for the implementation of the agreed principles. While the production and distribution of raw opium was to be subjected to control, no limitation was placed on the quantity to be produced or distributed except indirectly as to how control over production and distribution was to be effected.

The Hague Convention bound the contracting parties to adopt provisions of control and regulation for raw opium, prepared opium, and the manufactured substances--- medicinal opium, morphine, diacetylmorphine (heroin), and cocaine. The production of raw opium was to be controlled and its distribution regulated. Import or export should be made only by duly authorized persons, and each contracting party was required to limit the number of towns, ports, or other places through which export or import was to be permitted. Export to countries prohibiting the




import of raw opium was to be prevented, and controlled to countries which restricted its import.

The manufacture, internal traffic in, and use of prepared opium were to be gradually suppressed, while imports and exports were to be immediately prohibited. In countries where prohibition of exports was not immediately practicable, however, prohibition should take place as soon as possible. In these countries exports were to be restricted in the ways provided for raw opium; the exporting country was required to adopt the measures necessary for complying with the regulations in force in the country of import.

The manufacture, sale, and use of morphine, cocaine and their respective salts was to be limited to medical and legitimate uses only. The parties "shall use their best efforts to control all those who manufacture, import, sell, distribute and export morphine, cocaine and their respective salts, as well as the buildings where such persons exercise that commerce."

The parties were to examine into the possibility of enacting laws making the illegal possession of raw opium, prepared opium, morphine, cocaine and their respective salts liable to penalties. The Hague Convention did not come into general application until after the end of World War I. On February 11, 1915, the convention came into force for the United States of America, China, and The Netherlands, which were the first three countries to agree to apply its provisions. The original ratification article required that all states which had participated in the conference of 1912 should have ratified the convention before it could come into force. There was considerable delay and for this reason a subsequent special protocol was needed. Many countries became parties to the convention through the Peace Treaties signed at the end of World War I, and all of which contained an article under which ratification of the peace treaty should "be deemed in all respects equivalent to the ratification of that Convention [Hague Convention] and to the signature of the Special Protocol ... for bringing the said Convention into force."

By August, 1952, seventy countries had become parties to the Convention.





The International Opium Conference which sat at Geneva from November, 1924, to February, 1925, and was attended by delegates from thirty-six countries, adopted a new Convention. The aims of the convention are stated in the preamble, which notes that the Hague Convention produced results of great value, but that illicit traffic in and abuse of narcotic substances still continued on a large scale, and that it was necessary to examine "with a view to the conclusion of an agreement, the question of the limitation of the amounts of morphine, heroin, or cocaine and their respective salts to be manufactured; of the limitation of the amounts of raw opium and coca leaf to be imported for that purpose and for other medicinal and scientific purposes; and of the limitation of the production of raw opium and the coca leaf for export to the amount required for such medicinal and scientific purposes ..."

The joint resolution, adopted by the Congress of the United States on May 15, 1924, authorizing participation in the Conference, quoted these principles and stipulated "that the representatives of the United States shall sign no agreement which does not fulfil the conditions necessary for the suppression of the narcotic drug traffic as set forth in the preamble."

After prolonged sessions, neither the plans for the direct limitation of quantities of drugs on the basis of estimated requirements as proposed by the United States Delegation, nor for the limitation of the production of raw opium and coca leaves to amounts required for medical and scientific needs were accepted, and under these circumstances the Delegation of the United States had no alternative other than to withdraw from the Conference. The Chinese Delegation also withdrew because of the refusal. of the governments in whose territories the use of prepared opium was still legal to agree to its suppression.

Abandoning attempts directly to limit the production of raw materials and the manufacture of narcotic drugs, the Conference concentrated on the control of trade and commerce. By the terms of the Convention, the contracting parties agreed to establish control of the manufacture, sale, and movement of dangerous




drugs, and to report annually the quantities manufactured, consumed, stocks on hand, etc., and every three months the quantities exported and imported. Thus governments are made responsible for the legitimacy of exports and imports, and any attempt to divert drugs in transit can be detected. The most important advance was the establishment of the system of compulsory import certificates and export authorizations. Under this system the exporter must obtain from his government an export authorization which. will only be issued on production of the copy of an import certificate issued by the government of the importing country, stating that the drug in question is needed for medical purposes.

The creation of the Permanent Central Board to supervise the statistical system initiated by the Convention represented another important step in international narcotic control. Under the Convention the parties undertook to furnish to the Permanent Central Board estimates of the quantities of each of the substances covered by the Convention to be imported into their territory for internal consumption during the following year, but one of the chief shortcomings of the Convention was its failure to provide a method of determining each country's and the world's total legitimate need of narcotic drugs, as well as binding obligations to keep within those limits.

The Geneva Convention of 1925 came into force on September 28, 1928. By August, 1952, sixty-two countries had ratified the Convention.


Reference has been made to the fact that the Geneva Opium Conference which concluded the 1925 Convention did not accept proposals for the effective limitation of the manufacture of dangerous drugs. In a document published by the Secretariat of the League of Nations, it was revealed that between 1925-29 approximately 100 tons of morphine passed into the illicit traffic. Six tons of cocaine escaped into the illicit traffic in the same period.



The total annual requirements of these drugs were estimated at 39 tons. As knowledge of this situation spread, public opinion in certain countries demanded limitation of manufacture, and in 1931 an International Conference was convened at Geneva to conclude a convention for this purpose.

The system of limitation embodied in the Limitation Convention of 1931 is based upon estimates which each contracting party undertakes to provide, with non-contracting parties also asked to furnish estimates, of the quantities of drugs required during the ensuing year. Each estimate is based solely on medical and scientific requirements, and must be submitted by August 1st of the year preceding that for which the estimate is made. These estimates are examined by an international body of experts--- the Supervisory Body--- which was set up by the Convention. If a contracting or non-contracting country fails to return an estimate, the Supervisory Body is entrusted with the duty of drawing up an estimate for it. This far-reaching provision is absolute in respect of contracting parties.

The estimates for each country, which may be followed by supplementary estimates accompanied by an explanation for their necessity, are required to show for each of the drugs covered by the Convention, whether in the form of alkaloids or of salts or of preparations of the alkaloids or salts:

1. The quantity necessary for medical and scientific needs (this includes the quantities required for the manufacture of preparations for which export authorizations are not required, whether .intended for domestic consumption or not);

2. The quantity necessary for conversion whether for domestic >consumption or export;

3. The amount of the reserve stocks which it is desired to maintain;

4. The quantity necessary for the establishment and maintenance of any governmental stocks.

The Supervisory Body forwards to every government of the world an annual statement containing the estimates for each country.

The estimates system introduced by the Limitation Convention of 1931 differs from that contained in the Geneva Convention




of 1925 in that the estimates under the Convention of 1931 are required for the total quantities necessary for consumption within the country, and are binding, Whereas those which the parties agreed to submit under the Convention of 1925 relate only to imports for medical, scientific, and other purposes, and are not binding.

Under the Limitation Convention of 1931 controls are applied to all stages between manufacture and ultimate consumption of manufactured drugs. This Convention marked a great advance in international supervision of the drug traffic and also of international law. World manufacture was effectively limited, as were also the supplies available for each country. The Convention achieved its purposes, and it is generally recognized that it has been completely successful in its application.

The following opinion on the 1931 Convention was expressed by the Assembly of the League of Nations:

The Convention marks an entirely new and highly important development in international cooperation, since this is the first time that an industry has been brought under international regulation, and that manufacture in its economic aspect has been wholly subordinated to higher humanitarian and moral aims. Thanks to the system established: by this Convention and the Geneva Convention, there will be at the headquarters of the League itself a sort of central counting-house for, the world traffic in drugs.

Noteworthy from the point of view of international law is the fact that a government not a party to the Convention and which has not furnished its estimates, may be prevented from importing drugs from a country which is a party, due to an embargo issued, by the Central Board under Article 14, paragraph 2, of the Limitation Convention on account of excess over the estimates for the non-party state furnished by the Supervisory Body.

The 1931 Convention came into application in its entirety as from. January 1, 1934. By August, 1952, seventy-three countries: had ratified the Convention.





The object of the 1936 Convention is stated in the Preamble to be: "to strengthen the measures intended to penalize offenses" contained in the previous international conventions and "to combat by the methods most effective in the present circumstances the illicit traffic in the drugs and substances covered by the Conventions." The experience gained since 1912 had shown that the illicit traffic could not be effectively suppressed unless there were equally severe penalties in all countries, and also effective measures to make it possible to bring to justice traffickers who escaped from the country where they had violated the drug laws, or who directed illicit traffic in one country through another country.

The 1936 Convention stipulated that offenses defined therein should be included as extradition crimes in any extradition treaty to be negotiated between the contracting parties. In countries where the extradition of nationals is not recognized, the parties undertook to prosecute a national who had returned to his country after committing an offense abroad which came within the terms of the Convention. These provisions were designed to prevent narcotic traffickers from escaping prosecution because the laws of the country in which they resided did not cover smuggling offenses committed abroad. The Convention also provided that the contracting parties should set up a central office to supervise and coordinate all operations necessary to prevent the illicit traffic.

The United States refused to sign the 1936 Convention on the ground that it covered trade in and distribution of manufactured drugs only and did not include raw materials or smoking opium; it would afford no constitutional basis for Federal control of the production of cannabis, opium, and the opium poppy; and furthermore, while in some countries its enforcement might result in improvement in efforts to prevent the abuse of narcotic drugs, the provisions of the Convention would weaken rather than strengthen the effectiveness of the efforts of the American Government




to prevent and punish narcotics offenses and to obtain extradition therefor.

The 1936 Convention came into force in October 1939, one month after outbreak of World War II. By August, 1952, nineteen countries had ratified the Convention.


The supervision of operation of the several narcotic Conventions had been performed by the Opium Advisory Committee of the Council of the League of Nations, which went out of existence upon the organization of the United Nations. In February) 1946, the Economic and Social Council established the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and the U. S. Commissioner of Narcotics was appointed the United States Representative on this Commission. He proposed an agreement which was adopted as the Protocol of 1946, whereby all functions assigned under the several conventions to organs of the defunct League of Nations were transferred to corresponding organs of the United Nations. Thus the new Commission on Narcotic Drugs assumed the functions of the old Opium Advisory Committee.


The Commission on Narcotic Drugs has devoted considerable time to discussion and modification of a draft prepared by the UN Secretariat, of a so-called Unified Convention, that is, a convention designed to include all of the operative provisions of the existing international conventions and protocols controlling the traffic in narcotic drugs including marihuana. In addition, to the usual divergence of views as to the necessity of a given provision, or the appropriateness of a proposed method of reaching a desired aim, there was the difficulty that one or more of the existing international agreements, considered essential for incorporation into the single convention, had not been adopted by, some of the high contracting parties to other conventions.

The object of the proposed unification is not only to combine the eight international agreements on the subject but also to




revise and strengthen these agreements, closing loopholes, and rejecting obsolete provisions. It is obviously most desirable to revise these international agreements, one of which dates back to 1912, and to incorporate them if possible into a single agreement which will provide reasonably effective control over the production of opium, coca leaves, and cannabis, over the manufacture of the dangerous or potentially dangerous products of these substances as well as of synthetic substitutes for them, and over the distribution of such raw material and of the manufactured products or synthetic substitutes.


The Permanent Central Board,* a semi-autonomous organ, was created by the Geneva Convention of 1925, and its main function was defined as continuously to "watch over the course of the international trade in narcotic drugs." Its duties have been discharged without interruption since 1928.

The Permanent Central Board consists of eight persons who, by their technical competence, impartiality, and disinterestedness, command general confidence. Originally the members of the Board were appointed by the Council of the League of Nations. Since the amendments to the 1925 Convention contained in the Protocol of December 11, 1946, came into force, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations is the appointing authority.

The 1925 Convention laid down certain conditions for the appointing authority. The membership of the Board must include in equitable proportion persons possessing a knowledge of the drug situation both in the producing and manufacturing countries and in the consuming countries.

It was also stated in the Convention that the members of the Central Board, who are appointed for five years, should not hold any office which put them in a position of direct dependence on their governments. This provision, which was inserted in order to make it possible for the Board to carry out certain semijudicial


*Generally referred to as the Permanent Central Opium Board.




functions under the Convention, has created problems in the selection of its personnel. It was pointed out at the first session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs that changing social systems in various countries might make it difficult for these governments to propose candidates who fulfilled these conditions. At the second session the Commission adopted a resolution concerning the meaning of this provision which was approved by the Economic and Social Council at its sixth session.

According to this resolution, it is possible for the Council to elect members who, although they might originally have been in a position of direct dependence on their government, undertook to relinquish their government office during their term of duty with the Permanent Central Board, provided that they also agreed not to act under the instructions of their governments while exercising their functions as members of the Board. It was also agreed that it was possible for the Council to elect professional men and women in academic positions, from universities or other institutions supported by the state.

In 1925 it was decided that the Hague Convention of 1912 should be reinforced, because its provisions and the national laws governing the movement of drugs did not prevent illicit traffic, in large part because of the lack of an administration or the machinery to supervise the traffic. The Permanent Central Board fills this need. The High Contracting Parties were convinced, says the 1925 Convention, that contraband trade and abuse of narcotic drugs could not be suppressed without more effective control of production or manufacture and closer supervision of the international trade. Accordingly, the parties undertook to institute certain measures for the internal control of narcotic drugs and the raw materials from which they are made, pledging themselves to institute legislation to limit exclusively to medical and scientific purposes the manufacture and distribution of narcotic drugs.

Precise and definite obligations were imposed by the 1925 Convention. The participating countries agreed to set up a system of issuing import certificates and export- authorizations. They were also to submit annual estimates of the quantities of narcotic drugs which they needed to import each year for medicinal and




scientific purposes. Further, they undertook to furnish statistics of the production of raw materials, of the manufacture, consumption, export, import, and stocks of narcotic drugs, and the amount seized on account of illicit import.

The international body which was created to receive these statistics was the Permanent Central Board. In order that it should be able to carry out its duties in a truly impartial manner, careful provision was made in the Convention that it should be constituted in such a way as to be completely independent of governments.

In addition to the functions mentioned, the Board was vested with the power of recommending sanctions against a country importing or manufacturing narcotic drugs in excess of its legitimate needs. Several sanctions have been enforced. Each year the Board publishes a report showing the statistics it has received under various headings and stating whether any countries have exceeded their estimates. In this way, the parties to the Convention are kept informed of any undue accumulation of drugs in any particular country and can act on this information for their own protection.

An instance of the effectiveness of the work of the Board was exemplified when it reported, prior to the 1931 Convention, that a Central American country had imported one hundred times its medical needs, or a supply of narcotic drugs sufficient for one hundred years. American authorities immediately began investigating, and found that narcotics were leaving that country and were being smuggled into the United States in exchange for arms and ammunition which were being sent for use in a revolution. When the Director of Health of the country then refused to issue licenses for the release of narcotics, he was assassinated. After a civil investigation, the entire gang of smugglers was rounded up and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.

The 1925 Convention worked satisfactorily in regard to trade, but it was found that the provisions relating to the manufacture of narcotic drugs had to be strengthened. It was to achieve this that a new Convention, a Convention to supplement the provisions of those of 1912 and 1925, was negotiated in 1931.





Under the 1931 Convention, a more rigorous system of submitting estimates was instituted to bring about a strict limitation of the amounts of narcotic drugs to be manufactured in each country. It had been found that knowledge of the movements and quantities of narcotics was not sufficient to control the illicit traffic. The new estimates submitted to the Permanent Central Board were to be examined by a Supervisory Body especially created for the purpose, and, once approved, were to be binding. It was, however, given to the Permanent Central Board to supervise the extent to which the parties to the Conventions carried out their obligations in respect of their estimates. Under Article 14 of this Convention, if the import and export returns show that the estimates of an importing country are or will be exceeded, the Board is under an obligation to inform all the High Contracting Parties "who will not during the currency of the year in question authorize any new exports to the country except in the special circumstances set forth in the Convention."

At the entry into operation of the 1931 Convention, information at the disposal of the Permanent Central Board under the 1925 Convention could be used more effectively. The Board now not only published statistics and recommended sanctions, but by comparing its statistics with the estimates approved by the Supervisory Body, it could ascertain if any country was violating its obligations under the 1931 Convention by exceeding its estimates.

The Board admitted that the degree of the success of international control varied from one narcotic drug to another. In the case of raw materials falling under the Convention of 1925, the control was vitiated by the inability of some of the most important producing countries to report their production accurately. In the findings of the annual report of the Permanent Central Board summarizing the work of the Board in 1951, it was noted that the Iranian Government had, for the first time in seventeen years, sent statistics for raw opium, so that it was possible to strike a balance, for the year 1950, of the quantities disposed of and available. According to this balance, 333 tons of raw opium




disappeared in Iran in 1950. (This is an example of the searching scrutiny of the Permanent Central Board.)

The Board then asked the Iranian Government for an explanation. It was pointed out by the Board that so long as such incidents occur and remain unexplained, the situation must continue to be most disquieting.

In the case of manufactured drugs, the chief aims of the 1925 Convention (a complete account of the supplies available) and of the 1931 Convention (the limitation of the manufacture to medical and scientific requirements) had, the Board felt, to a large extent been achieved. Broadly speaking, the Board described the satisfactory elements in the situation as being the wide extent of the control, which demanded a high degree of cooperation between governments, and the general reduction in drug addiction, of which there is considerable evidence. The Board, however, did not hesitate to criticize certain technical aspects of the submission of estimates and statistics.

One of the chief advantages derived from this method of control seems to be that governments do not resent the fact that a board is continuously checking them. During World War II, the offices of the Permanent Central Board were moved to Washington, and Germany and her satellites continued to permit their narcotic agencies to function and to submit figures to this Board, an indication that even in time of war this Board has been able to function. The attitude of the Board has always been that it is helping governments to fulfil their voluntary obligations. This Point of view has set an interesting precedent.

In its quasi-judicial capacity, the Board supervises fulfillment of certain obligations voluntarily assumed by governments, specified in the following provisions of the 1925 and 1931 Conventions:


Article 24

1. The Central Board shall continuously watch the course of the international trade. If the information at its disposal leads the Board to conclude that excessive quantities of any substance covered by the present Convention are accumulating in any country, or that there is




a danger of the country becoming a centre of the illicit traffic, the Board shall have the right to ask, through the Secretary-General of the League, for explanations from the country in question.

2. If no explanation is given within a reasonable time or the expanation is unsatisfactory, the Central Board shall have the right to call the attention of the Governments of all the Contracting Parties and of the Council of the League of Nations to the matter, and to recommend that no further exports of the substances covered by the present Convention or any of them shall be made to the country concerned until the Board reports that it is satisfied as to the situation in that country in regard to the said substances. The Board shall at the same time notify the Government of the country concerned of the recommendation made by it.

3. The country concerned shall be entitled to bring the matter before the Council of the League.

4. The Government of any exporting country which is not prepared to act on a recommendation of the Board shall also be entitled to bring the matter before the Council of the League.

If it does not do so, it shall immediately inform the Board that it is not prepared to act on the recommendation, explaining, if possible, why it is not prepared to do so.

5. The Central Board shall have the right to publish a report on the matter and communicate it to the Council, which shall thereupon forward it to the Governments of all the Contracting Parties.

Article 26

In the case of a country which is not a party to the present Convention, the Central Board may take the same measures as are specified in Article 24, if the information at the disposal of the Board leads it to conclude that there is danger of the country becoming a centre of the illicit traffic; in that case the Board shall take the action indicated in the said Article as regards notification to the country concerned.

Paragraphs 3, 4 and 7 of Article 24 shall apply in any such case.


Article 14

1. Any Government which has issued an authorization for the export of any of the drugs which are or may be included in Group I to any country or territory to which neither this Convention nor the Geneva Convention applies shall immediately notify the Permanent





Central Board of the issue of the authorisation; provided that, if the request for export amounts to 5 kilogrammes or more, the authorisation shall not be issued until the Government has ascertained from the Permanent Central Board that the export will not cause the estimates for the importing country or territory to be exceeded. If the Permanent Central Board sends a notification that such an excess would be caused, the Government will not authorize the export of any amount which would have that effect.

2. If it appears from the import and export returns made to the Permanent Central Board or from the notifications made to the Board in pursuance of the preceding paragraph that the quantity exported or authorised to be exported to any country or territory exceeds the total of the estimates for that country or territory as defined in Article 5, with the addition of the amounts shown to have been exported, the Board shall immediately notify the fact to all the High Contracting Parties, who will not, during the currency of the year in question, authorise any new exports to that country except:

(i) In the event of a supplementary estimate being furnished for that country in respect both of any quantity over-imported and of the additional quantity required; or

(ii) In exceptional cases where the export in the opinion of the Government of the exporting country is essential in the interests of humanity or for the treatment of the sick.



The Supervisory Body was created by the 1931 Conference for the Limitation of the Manufacture of Narcotic Drugs. It was composed of four members, of which one was to be appointed by the Permanent Central Board, one by the Advisory Committee on Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs, one by the Health Committee of the League of Nations, and one by the Office International d'Hygiene Publique. The Protocol of December 11, 1946 substituted the Commission on Narcotic Drugs for the Advisory Committee, and the World Health Organization for the Health Committee and the Office International d'Hygiene Publique, as appointing bodies.





The 1931 Convention does not expressly establish any requirements as to the personal qualifications of the members of the Body. A study of the minutes of the 1931 Conference reveals, however, that the framers of the 1931 Convention thought of the members of the Body as independent experts, some of whom should have the medical knowledge necessary for the performance of the functions of the Body.


No provisions were made as to the period of tenure of office of the members of the Body. This omission would perhaps justify the interpretation that it is left to the appointing bodies to determine the period, and by agreement between them, it was fixed at three years when the first appointments were made in 1933. Later renewals made during the lifetime of the League of Nations were also made for the same period. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs, at its third session, recommended that the terms of office of the members of the Supervisory Body should be five years, and accordingly, in 1948 the members were appointed for a period of five years.


The Secretariat of the Supervisory Body shall be provided by the Secretary-General of the United Nations (formerly, by the League of Nations). The Secretary-General shall ensure close collaboration with the Permanent Central Board.


The Supervisory Body, by examining estimates submitted by countries and framing estimates for states which have not submitted them, guarantees that each country and territory may obtain drugs sufficient (but not more than sufficient) to meet medical and scientific needs. It limits, through the estimates, world manufacture and international trade. The task is delicate and responsible, for upon the accuracy of the final estimates will very largely depend the practical success or failure of the principle




of limitation. An overestimate may permit the manufacture of surplus drugs, which will inevitably find their way sooner or later into the illicit trade.

FIRST, the Body is required to examine the estimates furnished by various governments and has the right to demand, if it thinks fit, further information or details from a government with regard to the latter's estimates. (The estimates must be furnished in accordance with Articles 2 and 5 of the Convention.) With the government's consent, the Supervisory Body may amend any estimate in accordance with the information obtained. With the independent information already at its disposal, through the work of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Permanent Central Board, the Body is in a position to check the figures in the national estimates for each drug and to form an idea of their relationship with the known needs of different countries. The Body can only request further information with regard to the national estimates actually presented. It cannot go beyond this and request information on any other basis or relating to matters which are not directly connected with the fuller explanation of the figures shown. It has no competence to infringe upon the more general sphere of activity of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

SECOND, the Body itself as far as possible draws up estimates (a) for those territories to which the Convention applies but for which estimates are not furnished in accordance with Articles 2 and 5 of the Convention, that is, when no estimates at all are furnished by the given date, August 1st, preceding the year to which they refer, or when the estimates are in an imperfect or incomplete form, as, for example, when separate figures are not shown for each drug; (b) for those territories to which the Convention does not apply, including both non-contracting countries and colonial areas for which the metropolitan state has not accepted the obligations of the Convention.

Recently the Supervisory Body has found it necessary to provide estimates for Russia, Romania, Poland, Albania, Afghanistan, China and the German Democratic Republic. It may be noted that Article 5, paragraph 7, refers without qualification "to the determining by that Body as provided in Article 2 of the estimates for each country or territory on behalf of which no estimates




have been furnished." In such cases, nations must surrender sovereignty to this international body. The system of limitation of manufacture on the basis of estimated needs would be seriously impaired if estimates could be neither requested nor prepared for territories for which a government was unwilling to accept the obligations of the Convention.

Estimates made by the Body itself are in every way indistinguishable from estimates furnished by the countries themselves to the Permanent Central Board. A country can, of course, attempt to modify them by submitting a supplementary estimate.

THIRD, the Body is required to draw up a statement consisting of the estimates furnished by governments or, in their absence, by the Supervisory Body, of requirements for medical and scientific needs. The statement of the Body is a plan for the world's drug industry for the coming year. The responsibility of the Body is clear when it is remembered that this statement is not merely a guide to the industry and the trade. The function which it is called upon to fulfil invests it with a more solemn character. It constitutes, on the date of its communication to governments, a statement of obligations binding upon the contracting governments and, eighteen months later through the international accounting system of the Permanent Central Board, a standard by which the action of governments in observing their obligations will be judged. Thus the essential function of the Supervisory Body is to ensure that the estimates are kept within reasonable limits.


The machinery established by the Supervisory Body emerged from its initial trial in 1933 with considerable success. Estimates were received that year for 45 countries (including 14 countries which had not ratified the Convention) and for 83 colonies, protectorates and territories. The Supervisory Body was called upon to provide estimates for 23 countries and 31 colonies for which no estimates had been furnished. For 1952, estimates were furnished by 73 governments and 78 territories, and the Supervisory Body was called upon to provide estimates for only 10 countries and 6 territories.




The effectiveness of the Supervisory Body is attested to by the fact that in the first year of its existence, it succeeded in reducing the total amount of morphine required for all purposes (in 1934) by more than three tons.


Extract from Article 5 of the International Convention of July 13, 1931, as amended by the Protocol of December 11, 1946:

6. Estimates will be examined by a Supervisory Body . . . The Supervisory Body may require any further information or details, except as regards requirements for Government purposes, which it may consider necessary.

7. After examination by the Supervisory Body as provided in paragraph 6 above of the estimates furnished, and after the determination by that Body as provided in Article 2 of the estimates for each country or territory on behalf of which no estimates have been furnished, the Supervisory Body shall forward, not later than December 15th in each year, through the intermediary of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to all the Members of the United Nations and nonmember States referred to in Article 28, a statement containing the estimates for each country or territory, and, so far as the Supervisory Body may consider necessary, an account of any explanations given or required in accordance with paragraph 6 above, and any observations which the Supervisory Body may desire to make in respect of any such estimate or explanation, or request for an explanation.


Although international cooperation in the drug field was begun before the League of Nations came into being, supervision by special international bodies did not exist in the pre-League days. This supervision was created by the League of Nations.

Under the Versailles Peace Treaty, the Opium Convention of 1912 was automatically put into effect; and through the insertion of Article 23 (c) in the Covenant of the League of Nations, which stated "in accordance with the provisions of international Conventions existing or hereafter to be created, the members of the League . . . will entrust the League with the general supervision over the execution of agreements with regard to ... the traffic in





opium and other dangerous drugs," the League was entrusted with the execution of this Opium Convention. On December 15, 1920, the first Assembly of the League of Nations passed a resolution creating an Advisory Committee which was to be appointed by the Council "to exercise a general supervision over the traffic in opium and other dangerous drugs and to secure the full cooperation of the various countries in this field." The Council of the League actually appointed the Advisory Committee on the Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs in 1921 and included in accordance with the provisions of the Assembly Resolution representatives from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, France, India, Japan, China, Siam, and Portugal, as the countries specially concerned. The Assembly Resolution had provided that the Council should be authorized to add to the Advisory Committee, in the capacity of member or assessor, a representative of any non-member State specially concerned in the traffic which had ratified The Hague Convention, and to send a special invitation to the United States of America, which sent an observer after 1923.


The Secretariat of the League of Nations was charged by the Assembly with the duty of collecting information concerning the arrangements made in the various countries for carrying out the Hague Convention, and concerning the production, distribution, and consumption of narcotic drugs which was of great assistance to the Advisory Committee in presenting its annual report to the Council on all matters regarding the execution of agreements concerning the traffic in opium and other dangerous drugs. The Advisory Committee performed the functions of a policy-making body for the international control system, under which great advance was made in the control of the legal trade in narcotics and in reducing illicit traffic and drug addiction.

In the early years of the activities of the Opium Advisory Committee of the League, much time was devoted to discussions of policy. At the outset the Opium Advisory Committee was largely composed of representatives of opium-producing countries, the




great manufacturing countries and those countries which maintained opium-smoking monopolies in certain Far Eastern countries and territories, and this aroused certain suspicions and misgivings in the minds of those who had the drug problem at heart. Under the impact of this situation the Advisory Committee was repeatedly enlarged and from 1930 it was really representative of all countries which were affected by the drug problem as producers of raw materials, as manufacturers, as consumers, or as victims of illicit traffic and drug addiction.

The Advisory Committee was enabled to strengthen the administration of the system of control at several of its weakest points as the authority for the discussion of the annual reports which the governments of States-members undertook to send in to the Secretariat and as the clearing-house for all information about seizures. It incessantly urged governments to impose stricter internal regulation and in particular to adopt what has now become one of the most effective weapons of control, the import-certificate system. Through the information gradually collected by the Committee, the disquieting fact began to emerge that the amount of dangerous drugs manufactured was several times the quantity required for the medical and scientific needs of the world.

As the result of the Opium Advisory Committee's turning the pitiless spotlight of the world press on specific narcotic conditions from time to time, it was able to drive the illicit traffic from France, Switzerland, Holland, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia. It repeatedly exposed the manner in which loose controls over manufacture, and lack of effective laws had encouraged the building up of large scale illicit trafficking in these countries.

The Advisory Committee, by revealing the extent of the abuses and by gaining recognition as a highly efficient instrument for guiding and encouraging the collaboration of governments in this field, prepared the ground for advance to the second phase reached in 1925 when the First and Second Geneva Opium Conferences met.

Under the terms of the Geneva Convention of 1925, which came into force on September 28, 1928, a strict check was made




possible over the international trade in narcotic drugs. In its review of the general situation concerning the manufacture and trade of drugs between 1931 and 1935, the Advisory Committee stated that it was in a position to calculate the legitimate needs of the world for manufactured drugs and that up to the year 1931 there had been considerable discrepancy between the amounts manufactured and legitimate needs. It showed that in 1929, 58 tons of morphine for all purposes had been manufactured, and that in the period 1931-35 the legitimate needs of the world averaging 29 tons a year had been completely satisfied by an annual production of that amount. In 1929, 3.6 tons of heroin and 6.4 tons of cocaine had been manufactured, and in 1935, only 674 kilograms of heroin and 3.9 tons of cocaine, which represented a reduction of 82 percent in the manufacture of heroin and about 40 percent in the manufacture of cocaine. In 1929, 6 tons of morphine, 850 kilograms of heroin, and 2.2 tons of cocaine had been exported. In 1935, the export of morphine and heroin was only a quarter of this amount and the export of cocaine one half, without any resulting damage to medical requirements.

The Advisory Committee estimated that in the period 1925 to 1931 at least 90 tons of morphine had escaped into the illicit traffic. It emphasized that since 1931 there was no surplus of legal manufacture to supply the illicit traffic. The review of the period between 1931 and 1935 showed that the application of the Geneva Convention of 1925 had not only considerably reduced the manufacture of narcotic drugs, but had stabilized the quantity at the level of the world's medical and scientific needs.

By 1939, the international cooperation for the control of narcotic drugs was firmly established and was showing real results. Order had been brought out of comparative chaos, and in most countries there was an effective system of national control. In its report to the Council on the work of its twenty-fifth session the Opium Advisory Committee pointed out that every effort should be made to prevent the achievement of twenty years from being jeopardized by the war. It was clear that special measures would have to be taken to prevent a repetition of the chaotic




conditions which followed World War I, and to enable the international bodies concerned with the control of narcotic drugs to continue their work. Through the courtesy of the Government of the United States, branch offices of the Secretariats of the Supervisory Body and the Permanent Central Board were opened in Washington in February of 1941. The Conventions were not impaired by World War II: while some domestic controls disappeared or were disorganized, the majority of controls survived the war, and continued in operation even in countries subjected to enemy occupation. This in itself was a striking tribute to the vigor and effectiveness of the international control.

In the same manner that the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs does today, the Opium Advisory Committee afforded a world forum where the problem of the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs was publicly discussed every year, and where any government whose territory was used as a base for the illicit traffic was without fear or favor publicly asked to account for its stewardship. Most of the progress made has been due to publicity, and the value of this Committee as an instrument of publicity was widely recognized, and in some quarters, feared.


The beginning of the modern movement for the suppression of the opium traffic may be said to date from the action of the United States Government in 1905 in forbidding the use of opium in the Philippine Islands, where opium smoking was a widespread evil. That Government had appointed a committee to investigate thoroughly not only the Philippine opium problem but the entire problem as it then existed in the Far East.

When the Shanghai International Opium Commission met in 1909, the United States Delegation proposed the immediate prohibition of opium smoking, but the conference was not prepared to go that far.

The Convention of 1912 established the duty of gradual suppression of the opium-smoking habit as a principle of international law.




Two Agreements* of the countries having territories in which opium smoking constituted a serious problem attempted to advance the process of suppression by such measures as establishing opium monopolies providing for government ownership of retail shops selling smoking opium, licensing and rationing of smokers, prohibition of sale to minors, educational measures, etc. None of these measures proved adequate, however, and when war broke out in 1939, the smoking of opium was still legalized in The Netherlands Indies, British Malaya, the Unfederated Malay States, Brunei, Formosa, Kwantung Leased Territory, Sarawak, Burma, India, Ceylon, British North Borneo, Hong Kong, French Indochina, Thailand, Kwangchow-wan, Macao, and Iran. Much of this territory in the Far East was occupied by Japan during World War II, and curtailment of the opium traffic there became a matter of immediate concern to the United States in view of its military operations in the Far East and the large number of young troops deployed in that area.

From the standpoint of the health and safety of the men of the Armed Forces of the United States, the Government was convinced that it was imperative immediately upon the occupation by the United States forces of a part or the whole of any one of the Japanese-occupied territories to seize all drugs intended for other than medical and scientific purposes. American expeditionary forces under American command were therefore instructed to close existing opium monopolies, opium shops, and dens. That was the immediate problem. The long-range problem was what should be done in regard to the opium monopolies and the opium problem in general. Another question was, "What will happen if the British or the Chinese alone should reoccupy Burma, for example?" Would the British license the sale of opium for nonmedical needs, while the Chinese refused to license the opium smokers?

The competent authorities of the United States were of the


* Agreement concerning the Manufacture of, Internal Trade in, and Use of Prepared Opium, signed at Geneva, February 11, 1925; and Agreement for the Control of Opium-Smoking in the Far East, signed at Bangkok on November 27, 1931; generally referred to as 1925 Agreement and 1931 Agreement.





opinion that there would be an increase in addiction among Americans after the war because of the close association of their troops with Opium in the Far Eastern areas. This Opinion was based on the knowledge that drug addiction springs from association with drugs and addicts; a person easily falls a victim to such addiction through association and contacts; the opium smoker should be regarded as a focus of infection for susceptible individuals; also that experience in the past Proves that wars tend to give rise to drug addiction. As long as opium smoking was permitted in the Far Eastern war theater, it was probable that troops would acquire addiction and that drug smuggling would continue from countries in the Far East to countries in the West, unless some counter action was taken. It was pointed out that the Americans had never allowed the sale of opium in the Philippines and that when the Japanese moved in the United States would not likely have gotten the support which it did get from the Filipinos if the United States Government had been selling the Filipinos opium for a generation as had been done, for instance, in Far Eastern territories under control of European governments.

Beginning on January 13, 1943, a series of informal meetings were held in the Treasury Department office of the Commissioner of Narcotics in Washington, attended by representatives of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands, and China; also by representatives of the State Department and the Foreign Policy Association, regarding the question of what should be done in case some island or territory where a smoking-opium monopoly existed was occupied by the military forces of the United Nations.

At the conclusion of the informal discussions it was apparent that the representatives of governments present were in agreement as to the final objective to be reached, viz., total prohibition of opium smoking, and that any differences of opinion expressed Concerned only the methods to be applied to attain this objective. It was pointed out that monopolies did not reduce the number of smokers; that international cooperation would be the solution of the problem; and that the production of opium had a bearing on the control of the monopolies. It was emphasized that opinion




in America was crystallizing against the opium monopolies because they feed the illicit traffic in the United States and elsewhere; that if the American Navy were to capture Hong Kong, for instance, under the status quo the official opium stores would probably be reopened immediately; that the American Navy could not indirectly license the opium trade abroad when it is condemned at home.

It was suggested that the other countries represented start discussions with a view to formulating policies to be pursued, as the United States had a clear-cut policy on the matter under discussion.

The observation was made that in some countries the command might shift from the Americans to the British and that in such event the Americans did not want a situation to arise in which some other country would say that opium was in and the Americans would say it was out; therefore it was desirable that agreements be reached.

As a result of these discussions the United States Government on September 21, 1942, addressed an aide-memoire to the British, The Netherlands and other interested governments on this subject. On November 10, 1943, the British and Netherlands governments announced their intentions to abolish the legalized sale of opium in their Far Eastern territories, and similar action was later taken by the governments of France and Portugal. Opium smoking has now been declared illegal in all parts of the world except in Thailand.

This action by the United States Government was a long step in advance, and brought about a quick solution to the troublesome opium-smoking problem which had been under discussion for settlement since 1905, and for which numerous international conferences and agreements had failed to evolve a satisfactory solution.


In compliance with requests made by the governments of Peru and Bolivia, the Economic and Social Council sent a Commission of Enquiry to these countries in 1949 to investigate the effects of




chewing the coca leaf. The Commission in the conclusions of its report declared that this habit induces harmful effects and decided in favor of the possibility of suppressing it gradually, as well as of the possibility of limiting the production and of controlling the distribution of the coca leaf.

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs considered the report during its seventh session (1952), and recommended: (a) that the Council request the technical assistance services of the UN to study the possibility of undertaking certain experiments under their program in Bolivia and Peru; (b) that the Council request the governments of Bolivia and Peru to take steps to limit immediately the production of coca leaves to manufacture; and (c) that the Council urge licit consumption and urge the governments of Bolivia and Peru to take measures to Prevent coca leaves and cocaine from entering channels which could supply the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs.


Since 1912 the United States has sought to obtain an international convention for limiting the production of opium to the world's medical and scientific needs, in the belief that such limitation will be of immeasurable benefit in the reduction of drug addiction and the curtailment of the illicit drug traffic. In 1912 we failed in our attempt to have an effective provision included in the Hague Convention. In 1925 our Delegates withdrew from the conference because it refused to consider this subject. In 1931 our Delegates presented an amendment to the Convention but the question was ruled as not within the scope of the conference as prescribed by the League of Nations Assembly.

The 1939 the Opium Advisory Committee of the League of Nations began studies for the purpose of preparing a convention to solve the problem of effective limitation of opium production, but its work was interrupted by the war.

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs decided to tackle the problem by stages, the first and most important stage being to secure the accession of the principal opium-producing countries to the necessary agreements for the limitation




of production. It was for this purpose that the Economic and Social Council approved a proposal by its Commission on Narcotic Drugs for a meeting of the Ad Hoe Committee of the principal opium-producing countries, which met at Ankara in 1949, the Governments of India, Iran, Turkey and Yugoslavia being represented. They elaborated in some detail the proposed structure for an interim agreement under which the Governments would have been enabled to put into effect their intention of limiting the production of raw opium to medical and scientific requirements. They agreed on allocation of shares in the world production of opium as follows: approximately 50 percent for Turkey, 25 per cent for Iran, 14 percent for Yugoslavia, 6 percent for India; the balance undetermined.

At meetings of the principal drug-manufacturing countries and the principal opium-producing countries held in Geneva in 1950, a tentative agreement was reached on the general principle of limiting the production of opium. The plan contemplated the establishment of an international opium monopoly to which the producing countries would sell their opium and from which consuming countries would purchase their opium requirements. This plan presented many complicated problems, two of which were that the producing countries refused to permit international inspection, and there was disagreement on the prices at which the proposed monopoly should conduct its opium transactions. Discussions were held at several sessions of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs until 1951, when the Commission concluded that it would be advisable to forgo further discussion of the monopoly plan at the time.

The French Delegate to the Commission, however, proposed another plan based on the 1931 Convention for Limiting, the Manufacture and Regulating the Distribution of Narcotic Drugs. The Commission decided to make the French proposal the basis for further discussion. A protocol was signed at the United Nations June 23, 1953.





In addition to receiving cooperation under the various provisions of international treaties, the American Government has concluded administrative arrangements with twenty-two governments which provide for the direct informal exchange between the Commissioner of Narcotics at Washington and the heads of their respective enforcement agencies of police information concerning the illicit traffic. This system has been found of inestimable value. In some cases, the Bureau of Narcotics has been able to reach around the world to prosecute international traffickers either by bringing the offender within United States jurisdiction from foreign lands or by securing his prosecution under the laws of his own country. For example, in the celebrated Louis (Lepke) Buchalter-Katzenberg case the Bureau was able to bring back to this country and prosecute defendants who attempted to take refuge in Greece and France. The famous Elie Eliopoulos Ring which controlled the world's illicit narcotic supply was broken through this arrangement.


The marked success achieved in the international narcotic drug control program has prompted numerous suggestions that some of its principles be used as a pattern for control in other fields such as atomic energy and disarmament.

Studies of the analogies between control of the traffic in narcotic drugs and that of the trade in and manufacture have been made since 1932, by League of Nations experts and more recently by the United Nations. When the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments met in Geneva in 1933, it was suggested in the Council of the League that attention be given to the results obtained in connection with the supervision of the traffic in narcotic drugs. The Secretariat prepared a memorandum on the subject which was submitted to the Conference under the title "Analogies between the Problem of the Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and That of the Trade in and Manufacture




of Arms." An article entitled "Narcotics Control--- A Pattern for Disarmament" was published in the United Nations World magazine for September, 1947.

A study entitled "Narcotic Drugs and Atomic Energy-Analogy of Controls" has been published by an international drug expert, Mr. Herbert L. May.


The United Nations Conference on International Organization met in San Francisco on April 20, 1945. In instituting the Economic and Social Council, the Conference anticipated that it would be concerned with the control of the traffic in and suppression of abuses of opium and other dangerous drugs.


By a resolution adopted on February 16, 1946, the United Nations Economic and Social Council established the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to:

(a) Assist the Council in exercising such powers of supervision over the application of international conventions and agreements dealing with narcotic drugs as may be assumed by or conferred on the Council;

(b) Carry out such functions entrusted to the League of Nations Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs by the international conventions on narcotic drugs as the Council may find necessary to assume and continue;

(c) Advise the Council on all matters pertaining to the control of narcotic drugs and prepare such draft international conventions as may be necessary;

(d) Consider what changes may be required in the existing machinery for the international control of narcotic drugs and submit proposals thereon to the Council;

(e) Perform such other functions relating to narcotic drugs as the Council may direct.





The Council stated that the Commission should be composed

of fifteen Members of the United Nations which are important producing or manufacturing countries or countries in which illicit traffic in narcotic drugs constitutes a serious social problem. Finally the Council requested the governments of Canada, China, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Turkey, and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Yugoslavia to designate one representative each to constitute the Commission. The Commission holds annual sessions.


The resolution of February 16, 1946 provided for a tenure of three years for the fifteen members of the Commission. The Economic and Social Council, at its 8th session, amended this provision, and decided that ten countries should serve for an indefinite period and five countries for three years.


The Commission on Narcotic Drugs is the direct successor of the Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs of the League of Nations, and under the Protocol of December 11, 1946 all the functions formerly exercised by that body are now its responsibility. It is both the advisory organ to the Economic and Social Council in its task of applying and supervising the application of the various international instruments on narcotic drugs, and at the same time the policy-formulating body on all questions relating to the control of narcotic drugs. It is responsible for making the preliminary studies and drafts for new international agreements. In addition, the Commission has certain supervisory functions.

Under the 1931 and 1936 Conventions the governments undertake to submit to the Secretary-General annual reports on the working of the Conventions in their countries. The Commission is responsible for drawing up the form of these reports and in practice reviews them at each of its annual sessions. From the




Opium Advisory Committee the Commission also inherited the task of examining the seizure reports submitted under Article 23 of the 1931 Convention. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs is a governmental commission. In this capacity it affords a meeting place for many of the officials who are directly responsible for the control of narcotic drugs in their national administrations. Their regular collaboration in this Commission is of enormous service in coordinating the policies of the various governments in this field.

The Commission is, moreover, the appointing authority for one member of the Supervisory Body and one of the three experts appointed from time to time under the 1931 Convention to decide on the control of substances which are capable of being converted into habit-forming drugs.


Some of the more important recommendations the Commission has made are the following:

That the legalized use of opium for smoking be prohibited;

That countries submit statistics of drugs brought under the 1925 Conventions whether synthetic or not;

That governments which have not submitted annual reports be urged to do so;

That the Secretary-General be instructed to draft a protocol, in accordance with principles approved by the Commission, to bring under international control drugs outside the scope of the 1931 Convention;

That a Commission of Inquiry be sent to Peru to study the effects of coca chewing and investigate the possibilities of limiting the production and regulating the distribution of coca leaves;

That the Secretariat be authorized to begin work on the draft of a single convention to replace the eight existing instruments relating to narcotics, including provisions for limiting the production of narcotic raw materials;

That all countries be urged to submit reports of seizures;

That the United Nations publish a periodical on narcotic drugs;

That synthetic drugs be placed under international control.




These recommendations were approved by the Economic and Social Council.

During the sixth session of the Commission, the United States Delegation reported on illicit heroin traffic in Italy, Turkey, Greece, and China and also illicit opium traffic in Thailand. As a result of this report, the Commission requested the Secretary-General of the United Nations to ask Italy to discontinue the manufacture of heroin and to take punitive measures to bring about cessation of this traffic. Turkey placed restrictions on chemicals required in the manufacture of heroin. As a result of the disclosures regarding Thailand, Burma asked for a United Nations Commission to give guidance to Far Eastern territories in the control of opium.

The Italian situation, which gave rise to wide-spread criticism and anxiety owing to the escape from that country of heroin into the illicit traffic, was confirmed by the fact that, whereas the stock of the drug in Italy at the end of 1950 should have been 306 kilograms, the Italian Government reported a stock of only 142 kilograms, and declared that this disappearance of 164 kilograms was in the course of investigation in the national territory and in the Free Territory of Trieste. Italy temporarily discontinued new production of heroin until the stocks should be disposed of and supervision over the trade in that drug intensified. At least 600 kilograms of diverted Italian heroin was smuggled into the United States and elsewhere from 1948-1952.

During the seventh session of the Commission, the United States Delegation reported a menacing situation in the wholesale smuggling of opium and heroin from Communist China. At the previous session, the United States Delegation had reported that there was offered for sale in Hong Kong 500 tons of opium then in China. This was made the subject of a Resolution by the Economic and Social Council requesting the organs entrusted under the international treaties with the control of narcotic substances to ascertain, if possible, the origin of this opium, the period in which it was collected, the total stocks of opium in China, and whether the cultivation of the opium and the export of opium are still prohibited in China.





An example of the type of discussion held at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs will be found in the following chapter.




Article 10 of the Convention of 1925 provided for recommendations of the Health Committee of the League of Nations in order to place additional drugs under control. These recommendations, however, are binding only on such countries as expressly accept them. The Health Committee was also authorized to exempt certain preparations containing narcotic drugs from control.

Article 11 of the Convention of 1931 established also a procedure by which new drugs, obtained from the phenanthrene alkaloids of opium or the ecgonine alkaloids of the coca leaf, could be placed under control without requiring consent from the contracting parties. The Paris Protocol of November 19, 1948, created a procedure for placing other drugs, whether synthetic or natural, under international control without requiring consent.

The aforementioned responsibilities of the Health Organization of the League of Nations under the International Conventions of 1925 and 1931, as well as the responsibilities under the Protocol of 1948, for technical consultation on the' suppression of drug traffic devolved upon the World Health Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations. To meet this responsibility, a Committee of five experts technically qualified in the pharmacological and clinical aspects of drug addiction was appointed to advise the WHO on any technical questions concerning this subject which may be referred to it. This Expert Committee is available to the Narcotics Commission of the Economic and Social Council to advise it on technical matters within the competence of WHO. At its fifth session, the executive board decided




to change the name of the Expert Committee on Habit-Forming Drugs to Expert Committee on Drugs Liable to Produce Addiction.


The WHO (as formerly the Health Committee of the League of Nations) is authorized:

I. To exempt certain preparations, that cannot give rise to drug addiction on account of the medicaments with which their narcotic components are compounded, and which, in practice, preclude the recovery of the narcotic substances, from the application of the 1925 Convention;

2. To recommend to the parties to the 1925 Convention to place additional narcotic drugs under the control provisions of the Convention; and

3. To decide whether any phenanthrene alkaloid of opium or any ecgonine alkaloids of the coca leaf, which were not in use on 13 July, 1931, are capable of producing addiction or convertible into a drug capable of producing addiction.

The Health Committee had to consult the Permanent Committee of the Office International d'Hygiene Publique before taking these decisions. The WHO, replacing the Health Committee in this capacity, has to consult the Expert Committee on Drugs Liable to Produce Addiction appointed by the Organization, by virtue of the Protocol of 11 December 1946. This expert committee, therefore, takes the place of the former Permanent Committee of the Office International d'Hygiene Publique.


The World Health Organization was designated by the 1948 Protocol to decide whether a drug, outside the scope of the 1931 Convention, is capable of producing addiction or of conversion into a product capable of producing addiction, and, therefore whether this drug should be placed under the regime laid down in the 1931 Convention for drugs of Group I or Group II of this Convention. This authority of the WHO is added to the above-mentioned




powers originally possessed by the Health Committee and transferred to the new organization.

It should be pointed out that under the procedure of the 1931 Convention-in contradistinction to that of the 1948 Protocol--- the WHO, like the Health Committee before it, cannot always decide the regime under which a drug, that is not by itself addiction-forming but convertible into an addiction-forming drug should fall, is decided under this procedure by a body of three experts of whom one member is elected by the Government which initiated the procedure, another member by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (formerly by the Advisory Committee on Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs) and the third by the two members so selected.


The Health Committee of the League of Nations and the Office International & Hygiene Publique each had the right to appoint one member of the Supervisory Body. The WHO, replacing the Health Committee and the Office International d'Hygiene Publique, has therefore the right to appoint two members of the Supervisory Body. [Article 5 (6) of the 1931 Convention (original and amended versions).]


Speed in extending international control to new drugs is essential. Otherwise addiction may be established in various parts of the world and additional stores of dangerous drugs, not accounted for, may be piled up before effective measures of protection can be taken. The procedure by which the WHO (or formerly the Health Committee of the League) examines the properties of a new drug which is suggested for international control, is, of necessity time consuming. Therefore, provisional measures are necessary. The so-called May proposal aimed at preventing manufacture or trade in a new drug (which might be likely to cause addiction), until it should be decided whether to place it under international control. The Convention of 1931 adopted the idea underlying this proposal, by providing that, pending the decision of the Health Committee of the League of




Nations (or, at present, the WHO), control would apply to a new drug obtained from any of the phenanthrene alkaloids of opium or ecgonine alkaloids of the coca leaf.

The new Protocol of 1948 dropped the limitation to certain groups of alkaloids and abandoned the automatic character of these provisional measures. Article 2 authorizes the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to decide whether such measures should be applied. The Commission is the only organ of the United Nations, other than the Security Council and the International Court of justice, entitled to adopt decisions that are binding on individual Governments-excepting, of course, "Corporate" decisions within the jurisdiction of the General Assembly, such as allocation of financial contributions.


At the request of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs definition of "drug addiction," the Expert Committee on Drugs Liable to Produce Addiction drafted the following:

Drug addiction is a state of periodic or chronic intoxication, detrimental to the individual and to society, produced by the repeated consumption of a drug (natural or synthetic). Its characteristics include:

I. An overpowering desire or need (compulsion) to continue taking the drug and to obtain it by any means;

2. A tendency to increase the dose;

3. A psychic (psychological) and sometimes a physical dependence on the effects of the drug.


The committee was of the opinion that the expression addiction-forming and its related grammatical forms should be replaced by addiction-producing, etc. The committee then adopted the following definition: An addiction-producing drug is one which produces addiction as defined.

The Committee wished to emphasize that all available evidence at the present time indicates that any substance which will sustain an established addiction-that is, which will adequately replace




the drug which has produced the addiction-must be considered as also capable of producing an addiction.


A habit-forming drug is one which is or may be taken repeatedly without the production of all of the characteristics outlined in the definition of addiction and which is not generally considered to be detrimental to the individual and to society.

The committee was of the opinion that the expression habit-forming in the sense of addiction-producing should be eliminated from all texts.


The committee was of the opinion that the fundamental structure of an addiction-producing drug is that particular arrangement of atoms within the molecule which is responsible for the addiction properties of the drug. In the present state of our knowledge it is not possible to say what part of the molecule of a drug is responsible for its addiction properties. Nevertheless, it is known that certain drugs having, in the main, a common structure produce in some degree a similar addiction. Therefore other substances which have a similar structure must be liable to suspicion as being addiction-producing. It is such analogues which are referred to under Section 1 of this report. Examples of common structure with relation to addicting-production include the groups of which morphine, pethidine, Methadon and cocaine are members. The committee would emphasize that this list is not complete and that probably new compounds of different structure will be developed which are also addiction-producing. Therefore the question of the relation of chemical structure to addiction-producing properties must remain open.

The definition of drug addiction drafted by the committee has been the subject of controversy in the Narcotics Commission and in other quarters.