When the United Nations adopted the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961, most people did not expect that 50 years later nobody will celebrate the anniversary of global drug prohibition but a group of drug lords. Drug prohibition created a lucrative black market that generates annual revenue of 320 billion dollars for organized crime: who else have a better reason to celebrate?
International efforts to tackle the "global threat" of illicit drugs must be "rejuvenated" in accordance with a 50-year-old convention despite a series of major failings, said the head of the UN drugs and crime agency Yury Fedotov. Champions of drug-policy reform agree that trafficking is a major global problem, but some worry that a call to invigorate the convention could be interpreted as a call to reinforce punitive approaches to drug problems.
In his opening speech at the 54th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov disagreed with critics that the 50 year old 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is out of date, but urged the international community to rejuvenate the convention. There is a bewildering inconsistency in Fedotov’s statement: if the convention is not out of date, one wonders why it needs to be rejuvenated.
The International Narcotics Control Board yesterday presented its annual report for 2010. Every year the Board selects a thematic issue of focus, dedicating its opening chapter to that issue. This year it is corruption. In an earlier blog post we asked whether the INCB would have the impartiality to be able to look at the drug control system itself, and its role in the generation of corruption, as the UNODC had done in 2008. The answer is no. At no point is the international criminal market in drugs recognised as a creation of drug control.
Today the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) released its annual report. I’ve been following the Board for many, many years now, have often criticized its narrow interpretation of the treaties, have questioned the validity of its usually negative comments about any policy changes in the direction of harm reduction or decriminalization, and have warned repeatedly about its tendency to overstep its clearly defined mandate.
After the closure of the January 31, 2011, deadline to file objections to the Bolivian amendment to remove the ban on coca leaf chewing in the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 18 objections were submitted. Although not required, four countries explicitly submitted their support: Spain, Ecuador, Venezuela and Costa Rica. Egypt, Macedonia and Colombia withdrew their objections.