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    A Lost Opportunity

    • Martin Jelsma
    15 June 1998

    United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS)
    New York, 8-10 June 1998

    The "United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem" held from 8 to 10 June in New York, did not bring any surprises. The drug summit adopted a global strategy to reduce illicit drug supply and demand by 2008. In the General Assembly room, it was an uninterrupted three day sequence of political speeches. All countries could give their own emphasis to the agenda items and present in seven minutes their own more general view on the drugs issue and their policies to deal with it. But, all in all, it has been a lost opportunity, no evaluation of current drug policies took place whatsoever, it was devoted to (as a New York Times editorial phrased it) "recycling unrealistic pledges". 

  2. 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'.

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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.

    application-pdfDownload the publication (PDF)

  4. Cracks in the Vienna Consensus

    • Martin Jelsma, Pien Metaal
    01 January 2004

    Numerous UN conferences and summits have been devoted to negotiating a harmonized global approach to illicit drugs. Yet more and more cracks are beginning to appear in the supposedly universal model which is based on a highly fragile consensus. The failure to counter the ever-growing problems related to the use of illicit drugs has led countries to question current policies and to experiment with approaches less driven by the US-inspired ideology of "zero tolerance" and more rooted in pragmatism. This has led to increasing acceptance of the concept of harm reduction for consumers, where drug use is treated as a public health rather than a law enforcement problem. On the production side, discussion centers on the need to secure alternative livelihoods for involved farmer communities and how to most effectively promote alternative development.

     

  5. The UN and Harm Reduction - Revisited

    • Martin Jelsma
    01 April 2005
    The US pressure on the UNODC to withdraw support from needle exchange and other harm reduction approaches backfired at the 48th session of the CND in March 2005. Delegates from around the globe stood up to defend the overwhelming evidence that harm reduction measures are effective against the spread of HIV/AIDS. In this briefing TNI analyses the proceedings and results of the CND meeting in Vienna in March 2005, and outlines several options for follow-up and recommends next steps to take.

     

  6. 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. 

  7. The 2007 Commission on Narcotic Drugs

    16 March 2007 - Event

    The 50th Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was the last such event before the watershed year of 2008, when the international community will review progress against the objectives set at the General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS), held in New York in 1998. This CND was notable for a significant improvement in civil society involvement in the proceedings – there were a record 81 civil society delegates and NGO representatives included in government delegations. On the other hand, there were repeated moves by some country delegations to marginalise NGO involvement. The global consultation with NGOs to feed in to the UNGASS review process as formally launched.

     

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    Resources

    01 February 2008
    Other news

    Other resources on the United Nations and Harm Reduction

  9. Image of UN Flag

    UN: conflicting views on harm reduction

    18 February 2008
    Article

    Conflicting views and policies within the UN system on harm reduction have become a major concern. Consistency in messages is crucial especially where it concerns joint global programmes such as the efforts to slow down the HIV/AIDS epidemic; efforts in which harm reduction practices like needle exchange and substitution treatment play a pivotal role. 

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    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."

  11. cnd

    Open letter to CND

    20 February 2008
    Article

    "We respectfully urge you to support syringe exchange, opiate substitution treatment and other harm reduction approaches demonstrated to reduce HIV risk; to affirm the human rights of drug users to health and health services; and to reject efforts to overrule science and tie the hands of those working on the front lines."

    In this open letter to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, 334 organisations express their concern about U.S. efforts to force a UNODC retreat from support of syringe exchange and other measures proven to contain the spread of HIV among drug users.

  12. UNGASS review 2008-2009

    21 February 2008
    Article

    The 50th Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), held in Vienna from 12-16 March 2007 was the last such event before the watershed year of 2008, when the international community will review progress against the objectives set at the General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS), held in New York in 1998. The key decision that had to be taken at the 2007 CND was the timing and procedure for the UNGASS review.

  13. SCOPE: Strategy for Coca and Opium Poppy Elimination

    24 February 2008
    Article

    UNDCPs 1998 plan to eradicate the cultivation of both coca and opium poppy by the year 2008 was a rare opportunity to re-think current drugs efforts. Member states were asked to endorse a plan, known as SCOPE, for the eradication of drugs-linked crops by 2008. Is SCOPE viable? And what impact would it have on poor farmers who grow drugs-linked crops to survive? 

     

  14. 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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    International AIDS Society calls for Harm Reduction

    25 February 2008
    Article

    25 February 2009

    The International AIDS Society (IAS) wrote a letter to the Chair of the Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) to express concern about the absence of language on harm reduction in the draft outcome documents to be adopted by the 52nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2009.

    The International AIDS Society is world’s leading independent association of HIV professionals with over 11,000 members from 183 countries; and the custodian of the International AIDS Conference to be held in Vienna in 2010.

  16. 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.

  17. Civil Society Events at 2008 CND

    02 March 2008
    Article

    NGOs of different background organise events during the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in March 2008. Some of the main events are listed here.

  18. Letter Evo Morales to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

    08 March 2008

    In response to the 2007 annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which called on countries to 'abolish or prohibit coca leaf chewing and the manufacture of coca tea', President Evo Morales of Bolivia sent a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon to express profound concern and discontent with the INCB in relation to the coca leaf, the practice of chewing it and the other traditional uses that have 3,000 years of history and are fully legally recognised in Bolivia.

  19. Statement about the coca leaf

    11 March 2008
    Declaration

    Statement in support of the Bolivian announcement to ask for the un-scheduling of the coca leaf from the list controlled substances of the 1961 UN Single Convention.

    Transnational Institute / International Drug Policy Consortium (IDCP)

    March 12, 2008

     

  20. 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.

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