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- The first global attempt to control the traffic in opium and other dangerous drugs (such as morphine, heroin, and cocaine) occurred via the Hague Convention, signed by 42 nations in 1912. The signatory states agreed to allow the import only of such drugs as were considered necessary for medicinal and scientific purposes. World War I broke out before the convention could be implemented, but after the war the League of Nations was entrusted with reactivating the convention. It soon became evident that in order to prevent the illicit smuggling of drugs, drug manufacture and production had to be controlled at the source. Thus, in 1924 and 1925 the League organized two opium conferences to deal with this issue. The convention adopted by the first conference strengthened the original convention of 1912; the second conference added practical control measures regarding the production and manufacture of narcotic substances. In 1936, the international community adopted the Convention for the Suppression of the Illicit Traffic in Dangerous Drugs. Thirty-five countries became parties to the agreement, which went into effect in October 1939. Shown here is China’s ratification of the agreement, dated July 31, 1937. The document is in the archives of the League, which were transferred to the United Nations in 1946 and are housed at the UN office in Geneva. The archives were inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 2010.
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