INCB Expert Group Discusses Sale of Opioids Online


By Bennett Oghifo

An expert group meeting convened by the International Narcotics Control Board has discussed better prevention of the trafficking of dangerous substances through social media and online, and new ways to strengthen partnerships with internet companies such as Facebook, Google and others in the private sector.
A statement released in Nigeria by Sylvester Tunde Atere, Outreach and Communications Officer, UNODC Nigeria Country Office, Abuja, said the INCB Second Vice-President Ambassador David T. Johnson noted in his opening statement at the six-day online meeting on 30 June, that many legitimate businesses are regularly exploited by traffickers and that the ever-growing Internet sphere allows drug traffickers to easily market their products to a global audience. INCB, therefore, supports broad cooperation with relevant industry, including Internet domain services and service providers, search engines, and social media platforms.

The panelists included speakers from academia (American University), governments (Australia, Austria, Canada, India, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States), international organizations (INCB, Interpol and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime), non-profit organizations (Center for Advanced Defense Studies), industry associations (Internet Service Providers Austria), regional Internet registries (Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre and RIPE Network Coordination Centre), domain registries/registrars (Public Interest Registry and Neustar) and Internet-related service companies (Facebook and Google).

The speakers from the private-sector emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships to combat the illegal sale of opioids online. Similar views were expressed by the law-enforcement officers who attended the meeting: “to prevent and combat the misuse of social media, initiatives that strengthen public-private cooperation, establish contacts, and provide information on the diverse media should be supported. In particular, the efforts that the INCB has been making for years, including in the field of information and the promotion of this cooperation worldwide, cannot be emphasized enough.” INCB has, for example in its annual reports and at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, encouraged such voluntary partnerships.

On 16 July, the meeting concluded with the adoption of a set of practical recommendations developed by the experts aimed at preventing dangerous substance trafficking through social media and other Internet services, particularly by strengthening public-private partnerships.

The meeting was supported with project funding provided by the Government of Canada and the Government of Japan.