The year 2012 is particularly fitting to discuss the future of the UN drug control conventions as it marks the 100th anniversary of the first fully-fledged multilateral agreement on drug control held in The Hague. Last year was the 50th anniversary of the legislative bedrock of the current treaty regime: the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. These historic moments highlight not only its longevity, but also represent appropriate moments to reflect on the continuing relevance of the existing drug control regime in its entirety for the contemporary era.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 13:00, Mozart Room in the Vienna International Centre (VIC Restaurant - Ground Floor, F Building) invitation only
Two years ago, California’s bid to legalize marijuana—Proposition 19—achieved great notoriety in Latin America, but ultimately fell short at the ballot box. Next Tuesday, voters in the state of Washington appear ready to do what Prop 19’s supporters could not quite achieve—an Election Day victory.
Latin American drug policies have made no dent in the drug trade; instead they have taken a tremendous toll on human lives. In 2009, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and the Transnational Institute (TNI) embarked on an ambitious project to document the real impact of Latin America’s “war on drugs” and to show its human cost through the video testimonies of the victims themselves.
The media and government celebration over the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to allow the extradition of five individuals accused of terrorist offences from Britain to the USA obscures one of the most undemocratic, one-sided and duplicitous treaties that our political masters have ever signed.
The last few years have witnessed a boom in new cannabis user associations in Spain. Although there are no reliable figures for them, most are known to have been created for the collective cultivation of marihuana crops, and are now several hundred-strong. They are mainly found in Catalonia, which is also home to the largest of them: some have existed for only a short time but already have several thousand members.
The world-wide debate over cannabis reform appears to be gaining uncommon speed and unexpectedly it is in Latin America that the winds of change have greatest force. So where is Mexico in this panorama?
The world-wide debate over cannabis reform appears to be gaining uncommon speed and unexpectedly it is in Latin America that the winds of change have greatest force. So where is Mexico in this panorama? There are currently eight Bills on the question of marihuana gathering dust in the annals of various parliamentary commissions.
Remarkable drug policy developments are taking place in Latin America. This is not only at the level of political debate, but is also reflected in actual legislative changes in a number of countries. All in all there is an undeniable regional trend of moving away from the ‘war on drugs’. This briefing explains the background to the opening of the drug policy debate in the region, summarises the most relevant aspects of the ongoing drug law reforms in some countries, and makes a series of recommendations that could help to move the debate forward in a productive manner.
In recent years there has been much talk of the so-called “Portuguese model,” based on an initiative that led to the use of illicit drugs being decriminalised in 2001. In fact, it is often said that Portugal was the first country in Europe to decriminalise drug use de jure, while Spain, for example, took that step de facto for the first time in 1974, except that it was not through a specific law but rather as a result of a Supreme Court ruling.
We are currently witnessing renewed attempts to open a debate on alternatives to the current drug control policies in Latin America. The failure of present drug control policies and the disproportionate social, economic, and political costs have led academics, advocates, and officials to search for approaches that promise to be both more humane and more effective.
Thursday, March 15, 13:15 – 14:45 in the Mozart Room, Vienna International Centre (VIC Restaurant - Ground Floor, F Building)
As the hemisphere’s leaders gather in Colombia this week for the VI Summit of the Americas, their on-camera discussions will be dominated by perennial convention topics: poverty, cooperation, the need for roads. But behind closed doors, they are expected to tackle a more contentious issue: the narcotics trade.
Present international drug control policies are deeply-rooted and change will no doubt come slowly. However, as a result of the Cartagena summit, for the first time a meaningful debate on developing and implementing drug control policies that are more humane and effective is underway. The genie is out and will be very hard to put back in the bottle, as much as U.S. officials might try.
The terms used in the preface to the 2011 INCB annual report leave no doubt as to the illness afflicting this UN body: a (deep) regret  is running through its old veins. Yet again, its poison is directed at Bolivia, that small country which dares to challenge and stretch what is allegedly firm and static, and all in the name of an old indigenous habit. This saga must come to a close sometime soon, both parties must have thought, but as yet no happy ending is in sight.
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"The implementation of harsh drug laws has fueled rising incarceration rates and has contributed to severe prison overcrowding," the Washington Office on Latin America and the Transnational Institute wrote in a study two years ago.