A Step Forward in Drug Policy: Recognition of Harm Reduction by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

At the 67th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, held in Vienna March 14-22, 2024, Switzerland made history. The adoption of a resolution on overdose prevention and response marked a momentous moment, as for the first time in the Commission's history the concept of harm reduction was officially recognized.

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs, established in 1946, is the body responsible for shaping international drug policy. During the ministerial segment of this session, Switzerland, represented by Anne Lévy, director of the Federal Office of Public Health, stressed the importance of an addiction policy focused on health and human rights.

The Swiss delegation worked actively to promote international dialogue and cooperation, including the involvement of civil society. During the ministerial segment, bilateral talks were conducted with various countries in order to strengthen cooperation.

The regular session of the Commission, held March 18-22, 2024, concluded with the adoption of the landmark resolution on overdose prevention and response. This resolution officially recognizes the importance of harm reduction, an area in which Switzerland has played a pioneering role for more than 30 years.

Switzerland, a past member of the Commission, continues to be an active advocate of drug policies that prioritize health and human rights. With its four-pillar strategy (prevention, treatment, harm reduction and repression), Switzerland has adopted an internationally recognized and respected approach.

This important development in drug policy not only recognizes Switzerland's longstanding commitment to a more humane and pragmatic approach, but also paves the way for greater international collaboration in the fight against drugs and their consequences. Moreover, this decision offers hope and support to those working to improve the health and well-being of people involved in drug use.