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  1. Alternative development and human rights

    Martin Jelsma
    24 October 2018
    Article

    Around the world, millions of people depend on the cultivation of coca, opium poppy and cannabis for basic subsistence. The 1961 Convention introduced strict controls on the cultivation of these plants and banned centuries-old traditional medicinal, cultural and ceremonial uses. The 1988 Convention reinforced those provisions, obliging states to eradicate illicit cultivation and to impose criminal sanctions.

  2. In Search of Rights

    • The Research Consortium on Drugs and the Law (CEDD)
    09 July 2014

    The Research Consortium on Drugs and the Law (Colectivo de Estudios Drogas y Derecho, CEDD) has published a new study that assesses state responses to illicitly-used drugs in eight countries in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. The study found that Latin American governments’ approach to drug use continues to be predominantly through the criminal justice system, not health institutions. Even in countries where consumption is not a crime, persistent criminalization of drug users is common.

     

  3. The United Nations and Harm Reduction - Revisited

    01 April 2005

    In this briefing the Transnational Institute (TNI) analyses the proceedings and results of the CND meeting in Vienna, 7-11 March 2005, outlines several options for follow-up and recommends next steps to take.

  4. Region's harsh drug policy slammed by experts

    05 May 2016
    In the media

    The Globe - Southeast Asia - Following a UN conference on drugs last month, countries in the region are being accused of sticking with ineffective and harmful anti-drug policies

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    The Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the United Nations International Drug Control Programme

    • Cindy S.J. Fazey
    01 April 2003

    publicationMeetings of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) are no forum for debate and change. The author, a former senior officer of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), shows how CND meetings are manipulated in the interests of 17 developed countries that largely fund UNDCP – the CND’s ‘civil service’. However, these major donors are not united on policy or on how to apply the UN drug Conventions, so CND decisions reflect the lowest level of disagreement, with major splits on policy ignored.

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  6. The development of international drug control

    • Martin Jelsma
    15 February 2011
    Policy briefing

    The emergence of more pragmatic and less punitive approaches to the drugs issue may represent the beginning of change in the current global drug control regime.

  7. Illegal drugs laws: Clearing a 50-year-old obstacle to research

    • David Nutt
    26 January 2015

    The United Nations drug control conventions of 1960 and 1971 and later additions have inadvertently resulted in perhaps the greatest restrictions of medical and life sciences research. These conventions now need to be revised to allow neuroscience to progress unimpeded and to assist in the innovation of treatments for brain disorders. In the meantime, local changes, such as the United Kingdom moving cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, should be implemented to allow medical research to develop appropriately.

  8. New Report Offers Strategies for Regulating Cannabis in Ways that Uphold and Modernize International Law

    16 June 2016
    Press release

    As an increasing number of jurisdictions consider whether and how to legalize and regulate access to cannabis, tensions are growing between these initiatives and countries’ obligations under the UN drug control conventions. A groundbreaking new report produced by a coalition of legal and drug policy experts offers strategies for countries exploring regulatory approaches to cannabis to do so in ways that ensure that their domestic reforms align with their international legal obligations.

  9. UN Drug Conventions Reform

    24 February 2008
    Article

    TNI briefing for the 2003 UNGASS mid-term review

    March 2003

    The backbone of the United Nations drug control system consists of three UN Drug Conventions. The prohibition of potentially harmful substances has its origin in the desire to protect human well-being. However, the way in which the global regime was set up decades ago and the escalation of repression it has brought about since, has been an historical mistake increasing rather than diminishing the problems.  There is no point now in dreaming about how the world might have looked without it, or deluding ourselves that all the problems could be solved by scrapping the conventions. The challenge is to create the political space which would allow a reform process to move ahead. A process guided by pragmatism, open-mindedness and evaluation of practices on the basis of costs and benefits; providing leeway for experimentation and freedom to challenge the wisdom of the existing conventions.

     

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    Geo-political and cultural constraints on international drug control treaties

    • Craig Reinarman
    01 April 2003

    publicationIt is a noble and worthy step to attempt to change the drug control treaties, but this is likely to take a long time and it may not be the essential starting place of reform. The amount of flexibility in the treaties is only partly a function of treaty language, for this language is always interpreted, and interpretations can vary depending upon how many states actively argue for more flexibility.

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  11. The Case of Peru

    08 December 2010

    In Peru, the law on drugs does not punish drug use or drug possession for personal use by imprisonment. Nonetheless, as the Peru chapter of the study Systems Overload: Drug Laws and Prisons in Latin America concludes, the Peruvian authorities treat drug use as if it were criminal conduct. As a result, the police are overwhelmed, trials are delayed, and the prisons are filled.

  12. Cannabis and the Conventions: UNGASS and Beyond

    25 April 2016
    Multi-media

    With an increasing number of jurisdictions enacting or contemplating reforms creating legal access to cannabis for purposes other than exclusively "medical and scientific," tensions regarding the drug conventions and evolving law and practice in Member States continue to grow.

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    Drugs in the UN system

    • Martin Jelsma
    01 April 2003

    The "international community" presented an apparent unanimity in its endorsement of prohibitive drug control at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs in 1998. The reality is that there is a longstanding conflict within the UN system between nations wanting to maintain the prohibition regime and those hoping for a more pragmatic approach.

  14. The UN Drug Control Debate

    • Martin Jelsma
    24 October 2005

    The 48th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), 7-11 March 2005 in Vienna, was plagued by controversy about the legitimacy of harm reduction policies. Ending in stalemate, guidance for UNODC to operate in this field remains ambiguous. In June, at the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB), a consensus was reached regarding a mandate for UNAIDS to be involved in needle exchange programmes and other harm reduction activities among injecting drug users. What options are available to clarify UNODC’s mandate in this area and more in general to achieve a breakthrough in policy dilemmas that surfaced recent years at the UN level. 

  15. The Case of Brazil

    08 December 2010

    The number of people imprisoned for drug offenses in Brazil has increased over the last 20 years, but this has not affected the availability or consumption of drugs, reveals a study by the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). The study also shows that those who are locked up for drug offenses are mainly small-scale dealers who represent the lowest links in drug distribution operations, and not the large-scale wholesale traffickers who dominate the country’s illicit drug trafficking trade.

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    The Case of Mexico

    08 December 2010

    Mexico’s security crisis’ most evident toll is the unacceptable level of violence linked to drug trafficking. However, a report published today by the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) reveals that there are other damaging consequences, such as increased number of prisoners and the fact that the majority of the prisoners are small-scale offenders or users, and are from the most vulnerable sectors of society.

  17. The Case of Colombia

    08 December 2010

    In Colombia, most of the people incarcerated for drug-related crime are merely small-scale participants in the drug trafficking networks, reveals the study Systems Overload: Drug Laws and Prisons in Latin America published by the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).

  18. Drugs and prisons in Bolivia

    09 December 2010
    Article

    Bolivia has announced its intention to reform its drug law (Law 1008), which has been criticized for resulting in sentences that are disproportionate to the crimes committed. But nothing has happened.

  19. Drugs and prisons in Brazil

    09 December 2010
    Multi-media

    In Brazil, possession of drugs for personal consumption is punished with educational measures and community service, not prison. In this video, a young man tells of the disparity in sentencing between the wealthy and the poor.

  20. Drug Laws and Prisons in Colombia

    03 December 2010

    During the 20th century, drug policies in Colombia were increasingly repressive, largely ineffective, and heavily influenced by the international legal framework that was put in place. In effect, in just a few years Colombia went from having a scattered set of regulations, with an emphasis on prevention and medical-administrative treatment, to having legislation abundant in definitions of criminal conduct and sanctions that included the full drug cycle, from production through marketing and trafficking to consumption.

     

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