The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) was established in 1968 as the monitoring body for the implementation of the United Nations international drug control conventions. Tensions have arisen about the way the INCB performs its duties and about its legal interpretation of the conventions which many feel goes beyond its mandate.

  • Willful Blindness: 
INCB can find nothing good to say on cannabis legalisation

    A response to the annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board
    Transnational Institute (TNI), Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) & Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO)

    Iincb glancen its Report for 2022, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the “independent, quasi-judicial expert body” that monitors the implementation of the UN drug control conventions, focuses on the legalisation of cannabis. Each year, in the first chapter of its annual report, the Board addresses a specific issue it deems important for drug policy discussions and the functioning of the international drug control system. This year, cannabis legalisation is the focus. The Board’s blinkered view completely ignores that in the 60 years since the adoption of the Single Convention, the global drug control regime that it so tenaciously defends has failed dismally.

  • INCB Watch

    incb-watchThe objective of INCB Watch is to promote the transparency and accountability of the International Narcotics Control Board, by publishing news, publications and commentary about its activities.

    Go to the INCB Watch website

  • UN drugs board slams Canada cannabis legalization

    The board said it would remain engaged with the Canadian government
    Deutsche Welle (Germany)
    Wednesday, October 17, 2018

    Viroj SumyaiAfter recreational marijuana became legal in Canada, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) slammed the decision in a statement calling the step incompatible with UN international drug treaties. "The legalization by Canada of cannabis for non-medical purposes is incompatible with the legal obligations incumbent on states parties under the international drug control framework," said the United Nations body that monitors governments' compliance with the three international drug control treaties. INCB President Viroj Sumyai also said the body is "deeply concerned about the public health impact of these policy choices on the health and welfare of Canadians, particularly youth." (See also: Russia warns Canada cannabis legalization will lead to increased trafficking)

  • IDPC response to the INCB Annual Report for 2017

    Dave Bewley-Taylor & Christopher Hallam
    International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
    August 2018

    In the approach to the 2019 Ministerial Segment and its review of international drug control, the INCB’s Annual Report for 2017 is arguably of special importance. The INCB has chosen to stress the core importance of human rights and public health  principles in the implementation of drug control. However, the Board’s conception of human rights within drug control, at times, remains arguably narrow; for example, there is no comment on the human rights impact of crop eradication and drug-policy related violence. The Board’s analysis, as represented here, has shifted to take into account the complexity of contemporary drug markets and of the differing views on the merits and otherwise of international drug policies. To some extent at least, there is a recognition of the validity of divergent visions of drug control, as opposed to a ‘black and white’ understanding of these positions. 

    application pdf

    Download the report (PDF)

  • INCB hearing on the use of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes

    An inter se agreement on cannabis regulation would allow a group of countries to modify certain treaty provisions amongst themselves
    INCB Civil Society Hearing
    Monday, May 7, 2018

    The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) held a meeting with civil society representatives on the “the use of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes”. The meeting brought together a number of representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), selected by the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC), and members of the Board. Transnational Institute associate fellow and director of the Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO) Prof. Dave Bewley-Taylor, delivered a statement on how states can reconcile treaty obligations with democratically mandated policy shifts at the national level to a legally regulated cannabis market, with due regard for international law, and what role can the Board play in this process?

    application pdfDownload the statement (PDF)

  • INCB should exert caution in presenting data on cannabis regulation

    The INCB has a duty to ensure its contribution to debates on drug control remains balanced and rigorous
    Ann Fordham (IDPC)
    Sunday, May 6, 2018

    At the recent 63rd Session of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the Organisation of American States, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) member who was present, Raúl Martin Del Campo Sánchez, spoke on a panel titled “The link between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Drug Policy: A focus on international organisations”. At the end of a wide-ranging presentation that addressed the drug policy related facets of SDGs 3, 5, 10 and 16, Mr Del Campo Sánchez moved to present several final slides on the “Negative Effects of Cannabis Legalization in the USA”. It was unclear as to how the concluding slides related to the earlier part of the presentation, however Mr Del Campo Sánchez seemed quite determined to make the point that cannabis regulation initiatives at the state-level in the USA had only resulted in negative outcomes.

  • In bid to intimidate Canada on cannabis regulation, INCB is reckless and wrong

    Canada should reject the Board’s false claims and thinly veiled effort at intimidation
    John Walsh (WOLA) and Martin Jelsma (TNI)
    Friday, May 4, 2018

    Chrystia FreelandOn May 1, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland appeared before the Canadian Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (AEFA) to discuss the international dimensions of Bill C-45 to regulate cannabis. She acknowledged that regulating cannabis would entail “contravening certain obligations related to cannabis under the three UN drug conventions,” adding that, “we have to be honest about that.” Asked about the ‘inter se’ proposal, whereby like-minded nations can negotiate amongst themselves to contract out of certain provisions of the treaty, Minister Freeland replied that the government had discussed the ‘inter se’ concept and that it was worth thinking about: “We are definitely open to working with treaty partners to identify solutions that accommodate different approaches to cannabis within the international framework.”

  • IDPC response to the INCB Annual Report for 2016

    Dave Bewley-Taylor & Christopher Hallam
    International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
    September 2017

    idpc incb 2016The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) Annual Report for 2016 is, as usual, a mixed bag of high quality data and sometimes doubtful political views. It is the final Report of the Presidency of Mr. Werner Sipp, and as such represents a comparatively progressive text, in contrast to many previous Reports. Despite this, the general – if ambivalent – acceptance of medical uses of internationally controlled drugs is contrasted by the Board’s continuing defence of the conventions in their current form and their opposition to any non-medical use. As evidenced within the Report for 2016, it seems certain that in this post-UNGASS/pre-2019 period, one of the Board’s key predicaments will be how to deal with the issue of regulated markets for the recreational use of cannabis and their operation beyond the confines of the current treaty framework.

    Download the report (PDF - outside link)

  • IDPC response to the 2015 Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board

    International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
    September 2016

    idcp-incb2015The Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB or Board) for 2015 is, like the broader international drug policy debate, coloured by what was then the approaching United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem of April 2016. A number of key themes are reflected in the Report, including the abolition of the death penalty for drug-related offences; the defence of the international drug control conventions, and the availability of controlled drugs for medical and scientific uses. This might be summarised in what the President terms in his Foreword ‘the right way in drug policy’.

    application-pdfDownload the report (PDF)

  • The other opioid crisis – people in poor countries can’t get the pain medication they need

    The INCB worried that too many opioid prescriptions could lead to abuse
    The Conversation (US)
    Friday, March 25, 2016

    Hospitals in the U.S. and Europe routinely prescribe opioids for chronic cancer pain, end-of-life palliative care and some forms of acute pain, like bone fractures, sickle cell crises and burns. But patients with these conditions in much of Asia, Africa and Latin America often receive painkillers no stronger than acetaminophen. Many factors play into this crisis, but I would argue that the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), an independent monitoring agency established by the U.N., is a fundamental cause of untreated pain in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

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