U.S. Leading International Progress on Combating the Opioid Crisis at 61st UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs

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Member states voted a the UN Comission on Narcotic Drugs, on March 14,  to put Carfentanil under tighter controls.
Member states voted a the UN Comission on Narcotic Drugs, on March 14, to put Carfentanil under tighter controls.

U.S. Leading International Progress on Combating the Opioid Crisis at 61st UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs

The 61st United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is underway in Vienna, Austria through March 16. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs James A. Walsh is leading the U.S. delegation and delivered the United States national statement on the global response to the opioid crisis.

In his remarks, Deputy Assistant Secretary Walsh said, “Clearly, this international problem requires a smart, strategic, and coordinated international response, and our decisions here at the CND matter. We must work as an international community to curb this new paradigm in drug trafficking – lives depend upon it. We must work together to identify innovative options to curb the rapid proliferation of these new synthetic drugs.” 

The Deputy Secretary emphasized that this new trafficking pattern highlights vulnerabilities we all share. He stated, “Anyone with an internet connection and access to international mail can be next. So the world must be vigilant and respond to this new threat. Whether it is fentanyl or tramadol, or another a new synthetic concocted by a rogue chemist, it is imperative that we work together to get ahead of this problem.”

At CND on March 14th, the United States accomplished a major goal by securing a unanimous vote for international control of carfentanil, a particularly lethal fentanyl analogue that is contributing to thousands of deaths in the United States. The Deputy Assistant Secretary commented on this effort saying, “One of the most dangerous synthetic opioids being trafficked in international criminal markets is carfentanil, which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine…To hinder criminal access to carfentanil and reduce its presence in the illicit drug market, the United States requested that it be controlled under the UN.”

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.

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