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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. Connecting the dots... Human rights, illicit cultivation and alternative development

    • Martin Jelsma
    22 October 2018
    Report

    How can we resolve the tensions between current drug control policies and states’ human rights obligations? The international human rights framework clearly establishes that, in the event of conflicts between obligations under the UN Charter and other international agreements, human rights obligations take precedence. As legally regulated cannabis markets start to grow, now is the time to secure a legitimate place for small farmers using alternative development, human rights and fair trade principles.

  3. brookings-paper

    Marijuana legalization is an opportunity to modernize international drug treaties

    • Wells Bennett, John Walsh
    14 October 2014

    Two U.S. states have legalized recreational marijuana, and more may follow; the Obama administration has conditionally accepted these experiments. Such actions are in obvious tension with three international treaties that together commit the United States to punish and even criminalize activity related to recreational marijuana. The administration asserts that its policy complies with the treaties because they leave room for flexibility and prosecutorial discretion.

  4. Moeizame veranderingen na de War on Drugs

    20 April 2016
    In the media

    Volkskrant - De Verenigde Naties houden voor het eerst in twintig jaar een conferentie over drugs, op verzoek van drie Latijns-Amerikaanse landen die vinden dat het tijd wordt een alternatief te zoeken voor de War on Drugs.

  5. New agreement brings no end to war on drugs in ASEAN

    26 April 2016
    In the media

    Myanmar Times - A global meeting on drugs failed to deliver a highly anticipated shift from a punitive approach to narcotics, disappointing Myanmar advocacy groups.

  6. Governing The Global Drug Wars

    23 October 2012
    Report

    Since 1909 the international community has worked to eradicate the abuse of narcotics. A century on, the efforts are widely acknowledged to have failed, and worse, have spurred black market violence and human rights abuses. How did this drug control system arise, why has it proven so durable in the face of failure, and is there hope for reform?

  7. Victims of the Latin American war on drugs make the case for reform

    Kristel Mucino
    09 November 2012
    Article

    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.

  8. A call to reprioritise metrics to evaluate illicit drug policy

    02 April 2016
    In the media

    The Lancet - On April 19–21, 2016, the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) will convene to chart a course for the future to tackle the world's drugs problem. The 2016 UNGASS represents a rare opportunity to reassess the global approach to drugs and to move towards drug policies that more effectively address the three UN pillars of peace and security, human development, and human rights. We believe that we need a new consensus that includes a commitment to revise the range of indicators used to assess and improve drug policy effectiveness.

  9. Thumbnail

    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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  10. 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.

  11. 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.

     

  12. unwritten

    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.

  13. The International Drug Control Treaties

    • Heather J. Haase, Nicolas Edward Eyle, Sebastian Scholl , Joshua Raymond Schrimpf
    31 July 2012
    Paper

    The way the world looks at drug control is changing. There has been a growing awareness of the issue for the past decade, as well as increasing public outcry over what many see as a failure of the once popular "war on drugs." Nowhere is this battle more pronounced than in the so-called "marijuana wars," which are slowly growing into an old-fashioned standoff between the states and the federal government.

     

  14. Thumbnail

    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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  15. Addicted to punishment

    Rodrigo Uprimny Yepes
    08 April 2013
    Article

    Over the past several decades, Latin America has seen penalties for drug crimes—even low-level selling—skyrocket. And in many Latin American countries, non-violent drug offenses receive significantly longer sentences than many violent crimes, such as homicide and rape. A new study of criminal legislation explores this phenomenon in seven Latin American countries (Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, and Argentina).

  16. Fifty Years of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs: A Reinterpretation

    • David Bewley-Taylor, Martin Jelsma
    15 March 2011
    Report

    Fifty years after its entering into force, it is time for a critical reflection on the validity of the Single Convention today: a reinterpretation of its historical significance and an assessment of its aims, its strengths and its weaknesses.

  17. UNGASS 2016: Background memo on the proposal to establish an expert advisory group

    08 December 2015
    Policy issue

    Several countries have recently expressed support for the idea to use the mechanism of an expert advisory group again for the UNGASS in 2016

  18. 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. 

  19. Drug Laws and Prison in Mexico

    02 July 2010

    Over the years, the Mexican government has adopted increasingly heavy prison sentences and militarized drug policies to confront drug trafficking. The result has been an increase of vulnerable populations in Mexico’s prisons, but no impact on the drug trade or violence.

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