Peter Reuter (RAND), Franz Trautmann (Trimbos Institute) (eds.)
15 March 2009
This report commissioned by the European Commission, found no evidence that the global drug problem has been reduced during the period from 1998 to 2007 – the primary target of the 1998 UNGASS, which aimed to significantly reduce the global illicit drugs problem by 2008 through international cooperation and measures in the field of drug supply and drug demand reduction. Broadly speaking the situation has improved a little in some of the richer countries, while for others it worsened, and for some of those it worsened sharply and substantially', among which are a few large developing or transitional countries. Given the limitations of the data, a fair judgment is that the problem became somewhat more severe.
The UK and the Netherlands commissioned distinguished scholars and experts to study the social and clinical harms of khat. These experts argued that any harms associated with khat did not require a criminal law response. In rejecting that conclusion and banning khat, these two governments have created an enabling environment for organized criminal networks and may exacerbate racial discrimination in drug law enforcement. Moreover, these policies put in danger the livelihood of thousands of people in some of the world’s lowest-income settings.
The main purpose of this evaluation was to determine to what extent the principal goal of Dutch drug policy has been achieved, as stated in the 1995 Policy Document on Drugs (Drugsnota). This asserts the primacy of protecting public health, and thus gives priority to drugs prevention and to the management of the individual and social risks that arise from drug use.
The European Union (EU) has had some form of formal drug strategy since the early 1990s. These successive strategies have attempted to articulate a common Europe-wide position, and set out the role for the European Commission (EC) and other agencies in supporting the activities of EU member states given that the main decisions on policy, strategy and resource allocations are made at the national level.
The seminar entitled “Modernising the global drug control system – Can Europe lead?” was organised in the European Parliament by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), and the Global Commission on Drug Policy, and co-hosted by the Member of European Parliament (MEP) Nikos Chrysogelos. The event aimed to present the recommendations of the Global Commission and discuss the role that the European Union (EU) could play in current drug policy reform debates taking place within Europe and around the world. The seminar also comes at a time when the EU is working on drafting a new Drug Strategy to replace the one that will expire at the end of 2012.
With the Lisbon Treaty now in place, the European response to drugs needs to be strong and decisive, addressing both drug demand and drug supply. New legislation involving the European Parliament, and implemented by the Member States, will be subject to the scrutiny by the European Commission and ultimately the Court of Justice of the European Union.
In recent years of global debate on policies and strategies on controlled drugs, the European institutions (European Commission and Council, and the EMCDDA) and member states have broadly been a progressive and civilizing factor in pushing for balanced, evidence based and humane drug policies and programmes. However, just when the wider global debate is shifting in accordance with these principles, and there are real political opportunities to create more balanced, humane and effective drug policies, there are worrying signs that the European institutions are taking a wrong turn – the vision and leadership on this issue is notably absent, and some of the more recent positions taken seem to indicate a return to the simplistic messages and priorities of the failed policies of the past.
The expert seminar “Where next for Europe on drug policy reform?” analysed the new EU strategy on drugs and its action plan and discussed ways to improve and innovate European drug policy. The seminar comprised of four major sessions : the EU Drugs Strategy and Action Plan and its public health implications; the EU Drugs Strategy and Action Plan and its law enforcement implications; regional challenges and the issue of new psychoactive substances; the role of Europe in global drug policy and the European voice in preparation for the 2016 UNGASS. This report also contains the key note speech presented by the former President of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio.