Friday, August 29, 2008

Commentaries on UN conventions now available online

The International Harm Reduction Association recently received digital copies of the Official Commentaries on the 1961, 1971 and 1988 UN Drug Conventions, as well as the Commentary to the 1972 Protocol amending the 1961 Convention, from the Legal and Treaty Affairs team at UNODC, all now available online.

These four volumes, each several hundred pages in length, are the official (although non-binding) explanatory notes from the UN to member states on how to interpret each of the articles in the Conventions. In essence, the Commentaries put ‘meat on the bone’ in providing detailed guidance to states on what the drug conventions mean, don’t mean and how they are to be interpreted and implemented.

Unfortunately the pdf files for these important and hard to find documents are massive (some as much as 50mb each), and the IHRA HR2 team has been struggling to find a way to make them available online.

As an interim solution they have stored them on an online document storage website.

The 1971, 1972 and 1988 Commentaries are now available in English, Spanish and French at

The 1988 Commentary is also available in Chinese, Arabic and Russian.

Simply enter the email address damon.barrett(at) and the password commentaries

Bear in mind, however, that they are quite large in some cases and if you are on a dial up connection may take some time to download.

Unfortunately the Commentary to the 1961 Convention is too large even to go onto this website! However, it has been online (English only) for many years at DrugText.

IHRA are currently working out a permanent, faster and more simple solution which will include the English, French and Spanish versions of the 1961 Commentary.


MttJocy said...

Humz, if the 1961 commentary on that site you gave there is the full text of the 1961 document I am unsure how it can be too large, I just downloaded it and stuck it in a zip file and it weighs in at 493.5 KB. I lack the facilities to generate PDF files though but I would be happy to send the zip file to you Steve.

Steve Rolles said...

thanks. Aend it over. I will forward it to IHRA. I think the large file size is because they are scanned documents stored as pdfs