This paper seeks to analyse the content and implications of resolution 52/1 of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations (UN) titled ‘‘Promoting international cooperation in addressing the involvement of women and girls in drug trafficking, especially as couriers’’.

Drawing on socio-legal analysis and an extensive search of UN databases, the resolution is contextualised and the findings of the resulting report which examines the scale of women’s participation in the global drug trade is summarised.

The article demonstrates that the data produced are unreliable as a measure of women’s participation in the international drug trade.  It is argued that this resolution is weakened by lack of clarity about how gender ought to be mainstreamed in global drug control.

However, as the first resolution on women and girls’ participation in the international drug trade, Resolution 52/1 is a significant step towards raising awareness and systematically accounting for their participation.