On June 2, 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy presented its report in New York, calling to break the taboo on debate and reform of international drug control policies. The high-profile panel calls the global war on drugs a failure and recommends a paradigm shift towards harm reduction, decriminalization and legal regulation of cannabis. TNI has been closely involved in the initiative and its Latin American predecessor in an advisory capacity. Martin Jelsma of TNI’s drugs policy programme wrote a background paper for the Commission’s meeting in Geneva earlier this year: The development of international drug control: lessons learned and strategic challenges for the future.
In a widely watched You Tube video, U.S. President Barack Obama is asked whether or not the drug war may in fact be counterproductive. Instead of the resounding NO that would have come from any of his recent predecessors, Obama responded: “I think this is an entirely legitimate topic for debate.” He then qualified his remarks by adding, “I am not in favor of legalization.” Nonetheless, even acknowledging the legitimacy of debate on U.S. drug policy is a significant shift from the past, when successive administrations stifled discussion and routinely labeled anyone promoting alternative approaches to the socalled U.S. “war on drugs” as dangerous and surreptitiously promoting massive drug use and poisoning America’s youth.
Fifty years after the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was launched, the global war on drugs has failed, and has had many unintended and devastating consequences worldwide. It empowers criminal cartels, destroys lives, infringes civil rights, and fails to reduce drug use or availability. It is time to consider alternatives to the current criminalising approach to drug control. The Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform, launched at the House of Lords on November 17, 2011, released a Public Letter calling for a new approach. The Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform is an initiative of the Beckley Foundation.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the Beckley Foundation published a public letter calling for a new approach in drug policy. The global war on drugs has failed, and has had many unintended and devastating consequences worldwide. Signed by a group of 60 major thinkers, Nobel Prize winners and celebrities including Sting, Yoko Ono and seven former presidents, this letter calls on members of the public and of Parliament to recognize that "improving our drug policies is one of the key policy challenges of our time."
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) just released its annual report. Martin Jelsma - who has followed the Board's policy for many years now with a critical eye - examines its negative stance towards harm reduction and decriminalization, and questions the Board's tendency to overstep its mandate.
In an online town hall session yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama suggested that, while he is not in favor of drug legalization, he does believe drugs ought to be treated as “more of a public health problem.” Obama went on to add: “On drugs, I think a lot of times we’ve been so focused on arrests, incarceration, interdiction, that we don’t spend as much time thinking about how do we shrink demand.” (See the video clip below for the president’s full remarks.)
It remains unclear what the Western allies were hoping to achieve through their intervention in Libya; but one thing is clear, civilians are still dying as the violence continues, and the UN Secuity Council's mandate went outside the goals of the UN charter.
Anniversaries are always good to catalyize drug policy reform activities – and 2011 is very special anniversary. It is the 50th anniversary of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the first international treaty prohibiting (some) drugs. NGOs launched an international campaign to show the world that the war on drugs creates massive costs, resulting from the enforcement-led approach that puts organised crime in control of the trade.
The drug trade has increased globally in intensity and reach, and substance abuse in South Africa has escalated rapidly. Drug misuse is a major social, legal and public health challenge despite the war on drugs, in which the USA has a disproportionate influence. Why this lack of progress and what can be done about it?
President Obama’s decision comes despite the fact that US government and independent models predict an 80% chance Polar Bears will become mostly extinct by 2050, with total extinction this century without cuts in emissions.
Despite evidence that torture was used to extract false confessions in the lead up to the war in Iraq, the Obama administration continues to block efforts to abolish torture and restore justice and the rule of law.
The Wire has been described by many critics as the greatest television series ever made and it has been praised for its realistic portrayal of urban life - especially the war on drugs. The HCLU video advocacy team are definiteley great fans of the show - just as the TNI team. One of our favourite characters was Detective Kima Greggs. Sonja Sohn - the actress who played Kima - attended the 8th National Harm Reduction Conference in Austin, Texas organized by the Harm Reduction Coalition, where she was so kind to give an interview to HCLU.