Change of Course

An Agenda for Vienna
19 March 2003

This briefing sets out the history to the original call for a UN special session on drugs and explains why no genuine evaluation has been permitted to date.

By 1998, when the United Nations convened a special General Assembly on drugs, there was already overwhelming evidence that the current approach to global drugs control had failed miserably, given the continuing rise in consumption and production. However, the evidence was ignored and no evaluation of what was wrong with current drug policy took place. Instead, as a New York Times editorial noted, unrealistic pledges were recycled, this time aiming at eliminating all drug production by the year 2008. In mid-April this year, the mid-term review of the goals and targets set by the special session on drugs is to take place in Vienna.

This briefing sets out the history to the original call for a UN special session on drugs and explains why no genuine evaluation has been permitted to date. It also offers a constructive agenda for the Vienna mid-term review in the hope that this can contribute to a more rational, pragmatic and humane approach to the global drugs phenomenon. The views expressed here draw on years of critical dialogue between TNI and drug policy officials from around the world. As such, they have considerable backing from officials and experts in the field who, until now, have been curtailed in airing their doubts about current policy, presenting their evidence and tabling their proposals for a way forward.

Pages: 28

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