History: UN and Coca

Commission of Inquiry on the Coca Leaf

In 1961 the coca leaf was listed on Schedule I of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs together with cocaine and heroin. The inclusion of coca has caused much harm to the Andean region and a historical correction is long overdue, for the sake of further conflict prevention and out of respect for the Andean culture.

The rationale for including the coca leaf in the 1961 Single Convention is mainly rooted in a report requested of the United Nations by the permanent representative of Peru that was prepared by a commission that visited Bolivia and Peru briefly in 1949. In this section you will find part of the original report (which is now almost impossible to find) and an overview of the discussions in the UN bodies on the coca issue.

  • Report of the Commission of Enquiry on the Coca Leaf, May 1950 (Conclusions and Recommendations) [PDF]. Report to the CND and UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that led to the scheduling of the coca leaf in the 1961 UN Single Convention. See also:
    • Commission of Inquiry on the Coca Leaf
      Bulletin on Narcotics - 1949 Issue 1 - 005
      Abstract: At the beginning of September of 1949 the United Nations dispatched a Commission of Enquiry to South America to study certain aspects of two uses to which the leaf of the coca bush is put.
    • Commission of Inquiry on the Coca Leaf
      Bulletin on Narcotics - 1950 Issue 4 - 004
      Abstract: At the request of the Government of Peru, then of the Government of Bolivia, the United Nations sent, during the autumn of 1949, to these countries, a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the effects of chewing the coca leaf and the possibilities of limiting its production and controlling its distribution (see Bulletin on Narcotics, vol. I, no. 1, October 1949). The Commission and its secretariat left New York on 10 September 1949 and returned on 4 December 1949. Its report was completed in May 1950: two parts of this report are hereby reproduced, namely, the methods of work of the Commission, and its conclusions and recommendations.
    • Coca Chewing, Geography and Nutrition
      Bulletin on Narcotics - 1950 Issue 4 - 001
      Abstract: Coca-leaf chewing, or "coqueo" as it is called, is related to a wide diversity of factors: social, economic, biopsychological, cultural, geographical, nutritional, etc. In this paper, climate altitude and nutrition will be considered. It is a widely held opinion that because of these three factors coca-leaf chewing can to a great extent be regarded as a necessity in some parts of South America. The purpose of this paper is to inquire whether the generalization is correct or not. The three closely interrelated factors are studied in the light of social, economic and cultural factors, as well as to strictly geographical and nutritional considerations, since geography and nutrition are closely related to various social, economic and cultural factors and vice versa.
  • CND Res.1(VII). The Problem of the Coca Leaf (1952)
  • Bulletin of Narcotics from 1949 until 1996: 90 documents on the coca leaf and cocaine
  • Bolivia's reservations to 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Bolivia declared the provisions of the paragraph which could be interpreted as establishing as a criminal offence the use, consumption, possession, purchase or cultivation of the coca leaf for personal consumption, inapplicable because they are contrary to principles of its Constitution and basic concepts of its legal system which embody respect for the culture, legitimate practices, values and attributes of the nationalities making up Bolivia's population.