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  1. UN green lights medicinal cannabis but fails to challenge colonial legacy of its prohibition

    02 December 2020
    Press release

    Vienna, 2 December 2020

    • In a historic vote, the United Nations (UN) has finally recognised the medicinal value of cannabis.
    • A group of prominent drug policy organisations has welcomed the move, but also expressed disappointment that this reform does not go far enough, as cannabis remains categorised internationally alongside drugs like heroin and cocaine.
    • The review was revisiting cannabis scheduling decisions made in the 1950s, which were driven by prevailing racist and colonial attitudes, and not based on scientific evaluations. This has remained unchallenged.
  2. More U.N. states quietly say no to drug war

    06 December 2013
    Article

    An internal United Nations draft document leaked last weekend has offered outsiders a rare look at longstanding disagreements between member states over the course of U.N. drug policy. The document, first publicised by The Guardian and obtained by IPS, contains over 100 specific policy recommendations and proposals from member states, many at odds with the status quo on illicit drug eradication and prohibition.

  3. INCB speaks out against death penalty

    Martin Jelsma
    05 March 2014
    Opinion

    UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) unprecedented condemnation of the use of death penalty for drug-related offences is welcome if long overdue. The bigger question is whether INCB’s consideration of human rights can be extended into a proper human rights and evidence-based examination of UN’s entire drug control regime.

  4. Political Declaration already ridiculed

    Transnational Institute
    08 March 2009
    Article

    News about the disappointing content of the Political Declaration to be adopted at the High Level Segment of the 52nd Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) next week in Vienna is filtering to the outside media. Meanwhile, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is gearing up to claim success for the failing international drug control system.

  5. 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.

     

  6. Vienna Consensus on Drug Policy Cracks

    Tom Blickman
    07 April 2009
    Article

    A clear divide in drug control approaches became apparent at the end of the High Level Segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) on March 11-12 in Vienna, where countries gathered to review to progress since the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) and set a framework for the next 10 years through a Political Declaration and Plan of Action.

    At one side of the divide a growing number of countries opt for pragmatic evidence-based harm reduction policies, while at the other side countries desperately cling to a zero tolerance approach that has failed to produce any significant result the past decade. Despite the diplomatic façade, the conclusion cannot be otherwise that the Vienna consensus on drug control that has paralysed progress in international drug control for decades, has fallen apart. 

  7. Will UNGASS 2016 be the beginning of the end for the ‘war on drugs’?

    Ann Fordham, Martin Jelsma
    17 March 2016
    Opinion

    Held this April, will the United Nations General Assembly Special Session be the turning point for the international drug control system?

  8. UNGASS ten years on

    01 March 2008
    Article

    Weaknesses in the United Nations drug control system have often been identified, related to the functioning of the key organs – the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) –, related to collaboration with the wider UN system – the World Health Organistaion (WHO), UNAIDS, UN Development Programme (UNDP), etc. – and related to the outdated character of several treaty provisions.

  9. Summary of Drugs & Democracy Activities, January - March 2015

    08 April 2015
    Article

    With the 2016 UNGASS on drugs in one year, it is time to recognize the policy landscape is shifting while  tensions within the UN drug control system continue to grow. A slowly increasing number of governments is expressing their frustrations with the current international drug control framework, particularly Mexico and Colombia, countries that are suffering from violence related to drug markets, are calling for reflection and analysis in order to consider new options, some of which include regulatory measures.

     

  10. tni-gdpo

    New report: UN stuck in denial over cannabis regulation

    10 March 2014
    Press release

    The current trend towards legal regulation of the cannabis market has become irreversible and requires an urgent dialogue by UN member states on the best models for protecting people’s health and safety, argues a new report. The question facing the international community today is no longer whether there is a need to revise the UN drug control system, but rather when and how to do it. 

  11. Intervention of Bolivia at the 2008 Commission on Narcotic Drugs

    12 March 2008

    With a "Causachun coca! (quechua), viva la coca. Long life to coca leaf!" the vice-minister of Foreign Affairs of Bolivia Hugo Fernandez ended his intervention at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). He protested against the request of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to eliminate the traditional use of coca, such as coca chewing and coca tea. Fernandez denounced the lack of respect of the Board. He red the letter President Evo Morales sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

  12. ketamine

    Ketamine: why not everyone wants a ban

    Rachel Wright
    13 March 2015
    In the media

    China is proposing there should be a worldwide ban on ketamine - the class B drug that can lead to users needing to have their bladders removed. But ketamine is used as an anaesthetic drug in much of Africa, and there are fears further international controls could affect medical usage too.

  13. 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. 

  14. Image of UN Flag

    Washington Post Editorial on UN and harm reduction

    20 February 2008
    Article

    The Bush administration is quietly extending a policy that undermines the global battle against AIDS. "The State Department's new leadership needs to end this bullying flat-earthism. It won't help President Bush's current effort to relaunch his image among allies. And it's almost certain to kill people."

  15. Video report of the UN drug debate

    Drugreporter HCLU
    08 April 2015
    Multi-media

    This March, our video advocacy team attended the 58th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the largest drug policy gathering in the world, to find out how governments and NGOs feel about the prospects of drug policy reform. We produced a series of short thematic videos, to give you an overview of the current state of political debate on the burning issues of international drug control.

  16. European Cannabis Policies Under Attack

    • Tom Blickman
    01 April 2002
    Policy briefing

    A strong attack against the European practice of 'leniency' regarding cannabis use and possession took place at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) session (11-15 March, 2002) in Vienna. There was an orchestrated attempt to pass a CND resolution to put a dam against the 'leniency'.

  17. Missing document

    Tom Blickman
    26 March 2008
    Article

    As we noted previously, Mr. Costa opening speech included some remarkably positive - and in the context of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs - sometimes daring statements. His remarks were further elaborated in a so-called Conference Room Paper (CRP) that was distributed at the CND. However, that paper is nowhere to be found on the UNODC website. But you can find it on the Transform blogspot.

  18. The UNGASS outcome document: Diplomacy or denialism?

    14 March 2016
    Declaration

    Drug policy experts and impacted communities from around the world express serious concerns about the preparations and already-drafted outcomes for the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the “world drug problem”.

  19. CND decision to schedule ketamine would undermine WHO treaty mandate

    Martin Jelsma
    16 February 2015
    Article

    The UN Commission considers to bring ketamine under the control of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances contrary to WHO recommendations. The 58th Session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in March 2015 has been asked to consider a Chinese proposal to place ketamine – an essential medicine used for anaesthesia – in Schedule I of the 1971 Convention (E/CN.7/2015/7 and E/CN.7/2015/81). Ketamine is the only available anaesthetic for essential surgery in most rural areas of developing countries, home to more than 2 billion of the world’s people. Scheduling ketamine under any of the 1971 treaty schedules will reduce its availability and further deepen the already acute crisis of global surgery.

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