Bolivia's Reservations

Bolivia's Reservations to 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances [PDF]

Reservation made upon signature and confirmed upon ratification:

The Republic of Bolivia places on record its express reservation to article 3, paragraph 2, and declares the inapplicability to Bolivia of those provisions of that 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.

For Bolivia such an interpretation of that paragraph is 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.

Bolivia’s legal system recognizes the ancestral nature of the licit use of the coca leaf, which, for much of Bolivia's population, dates back over centuries. In formulating this reservation, Bolivia considers that:

  • The coca leaf is not, in and of itself, a narcotic drug or psychotropic substance;
  • The use and consumption of the coca leaf do not cause psychological or physical changes greater than those resulting from the consumption of other plants and products which are in free and universal use;
  • The coca leaf is widely used for medicinal purposes in the practice of traditional medicine, the validity of which is upheld by WHO and confirmed by scientific findings;
  • The coca leaf can be used for industrial purposes;
  • The coca leaf is widely used and consumed in Bolivia, with the result that, if such an interpretation of the above-mentioned paragraph was accepted, a large part of Bolivia's population could be considered criminals and punished as such, such an interpretation is therefore inapplicable;
  • It must be placed on record that the coca leaf is transformed into cocaine paste, sulphate and hydrochloride when it is subjected to chemical processes which involve the use of precursors, equipment and materials which are neither manufactured in or originate in Bolivia.

At the same time, the Republic of Bolivia will continue to take all necessary legal measures to control the illicit cultivation of coca for the production of narcotic drugs, as well as the illicit consumption, use and purchase of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.