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Bulletin on Narcotics

A Century of International Drug Control

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The present issue of the Bulletin on Narcotics contains a historical review of the international drug control system, one of the oldest consensus-based multilateral systems in existence. It is rooted in efforts made a century ago to address the largest substance abuse problem the world had ever faced: the Chinese opium epidemic. With this as a starting point, the article outlines the development of international mechanisms to tackle issues related to illicit drugs.

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Development of the legal framework and codification of the international control system

The international conference on narcotic drugs convened in Shanghai represented the first time that the actual situation related to the main producing and consuming countries was analysed in detail. In addition, the first attempts were made to reach an agreement on limiting shipments of narcotic drugs ([43], p. 283). It can thus legitimately be considered the starting point of the international drug control system. The sections that follow detail the evolution of the central concept of this system: action by individual States, within the limits of their jurisdiction, national policies, legislation and resources, in compliance with the provisions of the international drug treaties ([44], p. 63).

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