Brooklyn Journal of International Law


Robert C. Zitt

First Page



This Note examines the deterioration of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (“Convention”), as Member State circumvention of treaty spirit continues to highlight the disconnect between progressive drug policies and an enforcement regime armed with little or no power to monitor compliance. It first provides a brief history of the Convention with discussion underscoring the governing bodies of the treaty itself, particularly the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). Further discussion will note the procedural mechanisms whereby parties can propose amendments or reservations to the Convention itself. With such procedures in mind, subsequent examination will analyze how Member States have come to skirt their responsibilities owed to the Convention, particularly Bolivia’s withdrawal and reaccession and the United States’ “flexibility” approach in interpreting the guidelines of the treaty. Additionally, this Note will examine what threats and problems have been posed to the international narcotics community and to the Convention itself as a result of such circumvention and the inability of the INCB to effectively ensure strict compliance of the treaty. In light of these problems, this Note will highlight several possible solutions to the problem of circumvention, including a blanket amendment preventing party withdrawal and reaccession with reservation and empowering governing bodies like the INCB so that compliance may be ensured in more effective fashion.