Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 (amended by the Protocol of 25 March 1972)

General Detail

General Information

  1. Type: Convention
  2. Date of signature:
  3. Place of signature: New York, USA
  4. Depositary:
  5. Date of entry into force: 08/08/1975


Good Governance

Sub category




What is it about?

This Convention, which replaces the International Opium Convention and the Convention for the Suppression of the Illicit Traffic in Dangerous Drugs, aims to prevent the illegal sale of narcotic drugs normally used for medical or scientific purposes. The drugs covered include opium and its derivates, morphine, codeine, heroin, cocaine, cannabis, and synthetic products such as methadone and pethidine. State parties agree to prohibit the production, manufacture, export and import, trade in, possession or use of any such drugs, except for amounts necessary for medical and scientific research. They also agree cooperate internationally in order to accomplish their goals. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) investigates failures to fulfil the requirements of the Convention. The Board ensures availability of adequate supplies for medical and scientific use and prevents leakages from licit sources to illicit traffic. To this end, it administers an estimates system for narcotic drugs and a voluntary assessment system for psychotropic substances and monitors international trade in drugs through the statistical returns system. The Board also monitors government control over chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of drugs and assists in preventing diversion of these chemicals into illicit traffic. It also identifies existing weaknesses in the national and international control systems and contributes to correcting the situation. Further, the Board is responsible for assessing chemicals used to illicitly manufacture drugs for possible international control. An additional Protocol to the Convention was added on 25 March 1972.

Why is it relevant?

The 1961 Convention provides a legal framework to prevent narcotics with medical or scientific value from being used for unintended purposes.

Additional Information

The United Nations Commission on Narcotics Drugs, under the Economic and Social Council is responsible for maintaining the schedule of controlled substances used by this instrument. Its Secretariat is located in Vienna, Austria.


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