UN Drug Control Conventions

There are three drug control conventions (treaties). The purpose of the first two treaties is to codify internationally applicable control measures in order to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes, while preventing their diversion into illicit channels. This explains why the terms ‘controlled’ or ‘illicit’ are used interchangeably when referring to substances scheduled in accordance with these conventions. The  third treaty was introduced in response to the increasing problem of drug abuse and trafficking during the 1970s and 1980s.

  •  The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961) establishes  a universal system to control the cultivation, production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use and possession of narcotic substances, especially plant-based substances including opium/heroin, coca/cocaine and cannabis. Specific substances are listed in the schedules attached to the convention.
  •  The Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971) introduces controls over the licit use of more than a hundred psychotropic drugs such as amphetamines, LSD, ecstasy and valium. Schedules listing specific substances are appended to this convention.
  •  The Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988) provides for comprehensive measures against drug trafficking, including money laundering, the diversion of precursor chemicals, and agreements on mutual legal assistance.