With 190 States parties, as at 1 November 2020, the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 enjoys near universal adherence. Article 12 of the 1988 Convention provides the basis for activities related to the control of precursors. Effective 3 November 2020, MAPA (methyl alpha-phenylacetoacetate) was added to Table I of the 1988 Convention, bringing the total number of substances listed in Table I to 22 (distinct from the 8 substances listed in Table II). Six of the 22 substances have been added in the last three years alone, indicating the rapid emergence of new substances, some created solely for the purpose of circumventing controls (designer precursors), in recent times. The emergence of such substances, as well as the use of various drug manufacturing methods that avoid the use of controlled precursors, continued to be major challenges faced by the international community in 2020.

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