UN Common Position on drug policy - Consolidating system-wide coherence

03 December 2019
Policy briefing

In November 2018, the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination adopted the ‘UN system common position supporting the implementation of the international drug control policy through effective inter-agency collaboration’, expressing the shared drug policy principles of all UN organisations and committing them to speak with one voice.

The Common Position – a powerful instrument to harmonise the voice and activities of all UN entities – represents a significant step towards improving UN system-wide coherence and can guide the global drug policy debate towards a more health, development and human rights-based approach. Crucially, to ensure that the Common Position does not simply remain a piece of paper, a UN system coordination Task Team has been established to ensure that coherent efforts are undertaken to realise its commitments, and it will serve as an authoritative policy directive to UN Resident Coordinators for implementing drug-related programmes on the ground and assisting Member States in policy development. 

Nevertheless, achieving more UN system-wide coherence, and aligning with the overarching 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, has been a particularly difficult challenge in the area of drug policy. This briefing paper reconstructs the long and troubled process that led to the adoption of this ground-breaking UN System Common Position.