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  1. Opium harvest in early 2019 in Pekhon Township, southern Shan State (TNI)

    A Distortion of Reality: Drugs, Conflict and the UNODC’s 2018 Myanmar Opium Survey

    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    05 March 2019
    Article

    The recently-released “Myanmar Opium Survey 2018” by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) entails specific accusations against several of the conflict actors. This commentary explains how this further distorts, rather than reflects, the complex realities in Myanmar.

  2. UNGASS 2016: Watershed event or wasted opportunity?

    Martin Jelsma
    12 April 2016
    Article

    The outcome of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was a disappointing compromise, based on a non-inclusive process and one that fails to reflect the fractured global consensus on drug policy.

  3. UN High-Level Segment on Drugs, March 2014

    28 February 2014
    Article

    On March 13-14, 2014, UN member states will gather in Vienna, Austria, for a High Level Segment of the annual UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). The purpose of this meeting is to review the progress made, and the challenges encountered, since the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action on the World Drug Problem. The main focus of the High Level Segment will be the negotiation of a Joint Ministerial Statement, which will set the scene for the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS), as well as recording member states’ views of progress.

  4. UNODC Executive Director releases "contributions" ahead of CND High-Level Segment on drugs

    19 January 2014
    Article

    Ahead of the High-Level Segment on the world drug problem to take place on 13th and 14th January 2014, the UNODC Executive Director, Yuri Fedotov, has released his "contributions" to the debate. This 19-page document is, in parts, refreshingly honest about the “unequal” progress that has been made since 2009 (with reductions in supply or demand for some drugs in some places being offset by increases elsewhere), the setbacks and new challenges, and the fact that “the overall magnitude of drug demand has not substantially changed at the global level”.

  5. domino

    INCB vs Uruguay: the art of diplomacy

    Martin Jelsma
    17 December 2013
    Article

    International tensions over Uruguay’s decision to regulate the cannabis market reached new levels when Raymond Yans, president of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), accused Uruguay of negligence with regard to public health concerns, deliberately blocking dialogue attempts and having a "pirate attitude" towards the UN conventions. President Mujica reacted angrily, declaring that someone should "tell that guy to stop lying," while Milton Romani, ambassador to the Organisation of American States (OAS), said that Yans "should consider resigning because this is not how you treat sovereign states."

  6. 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.

  7. An opportunity lost

    Pien Metaal
    09 November 2012
    Article

    At the International Conference on Alternative Development (ICAD), held in Lima from 14 to 16 November, the Peruvian Government supported by the UNODC claimed that currently in Peru the surface planted with alternative development crops is superior to the amount of coca, used for the production of cocaine. Allegedly, the 80 thousand hectares with cocoa and coffee have successfully replaced an illicit economy, or prevented it to establish itself.

  8. UN International Guiding Principles on Alternative Development

    Coletta Youngers
    08 November 2012
    Article

    In November 2011 I was invited by the Thai government to take part in an international delegation to develop a set of UN International Guiding Principles on Alternative Development. Our work began with a five-day journey along the Thai-Burma border to see first-hand the development programs that have been successful in virtually eliminating poppy production in that country. Over 100 government officials and experts from 28 countries visited the Thai “Royal Project,” which has research stations and development projects in five Northern provinces of the country.

  9. How International Aid for Drug Enforcement Fuels Human Rights Abuses

    Damon Barrett
    02 October 2012
    Article

    It is increasingly clear that there is a fundamental lack of oversight of how international aid – provided by the US, Europe and the United Nations to poorer countries – is used to pursue anti-drug efforts. In this article Damon Barrett highlights some of the systematic human rights abuses this aid is facilitating.

  10. voice-of-russia

    Do we really want a Russian UN Drug Czar?

    Tom Blickman
    09 July 2010
    Article

    According to the Transform blog, it has been confirmed that the Russian diplomat Yuri V. Fedotov has been appointed as the new Executive Director of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). What will be the implications? Russia has one of the worst records on drug policy and human rights: it ignores scientific evidence on effective HIV prevention among drug users and its punitive drug laws push drug users to the margins of society. Afghan opium poppy farmers could suffer from this appointment as well. The Russians hold them responsible for the 30,000 drug deaths in Russia every year.

  11. Image of UN Flag

    A Russian Drug Czar for the world?

    Tom Blickman
    06 July 2010
    Article

    A top Russian diplomat, Yuri V. Fedotov, has emerged as the front-runner in the race to become the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) – the world's new drug czar, according to Colum Lynch, a longtime Washington Post correspondent who reports on the United Nations for Turtle Bay.

  12. Call to Action: Support Global Drug Policy Reform

    25 June 2009
    Article

    Call to Action
    World Drug Day, 26 June 2009

    As the United Nations launches the 2009 World Drug Report this week, more than 40 international groups and experts worldwide today issued a call to action that presses governments to adopt a humane approach to drug policy.

    The call to action, signed by the Transnational Institute (TNI), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, former president of Brazil Fernando Cardoso, and others, urges governments to enact policies that are based on scientific and medical research rather than politics.

    Download the Press release
    Download the Call to Action: Support Global Drug Policy Reform

  13. 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. 

  14. 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.

  15. ecstacy-pils

    Trees for Ecstasy

    Tom Blickman
    04 February 2009
    Article

    Many people believe that ecstasy is merely a synthetic drug that is manufactured solely with chemicals, so-called precursors. However, the main raw material for ecstasy, safrole, is extracted from various plants and trees in the form of safrole-rich oils—also known as sassafras oil. Preventing ecological damage and unsustainable harvesting of safrole-rich oils is urgently needed to preserve fragile ecosystems.

  16. Image of UN Flag

    UNGASS review reaches critical stage

    03 November 2008
    Article

    The review of the objectives and action plans agreed at the 1998 UNGASS on Drugs has reached a critical stage. Following the thematic debate at the 2008 Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and the five expert working groups held in Vienna over the summer, the attention now moves to the political process of negotiating the text of a political declaration to be agreed at the high level meeting in March 2009.

  17. Beyond 2008: Final Declaration and Resolutions

    23 July 2008
    Article

    The "Beyond 2008" NGO Forum was held in Vienna, Austria from July 7-9, 2008.  It was the final step in the global consultation of NGOs involved in responding to drug related problems and to provide civil society input for the 10-year UNGASS review.
    Three draft resolutions and the draft declaration were subject to a line by line examination and intense debate. At the end of the Forum the Declaration and three Resolutions were adopted by consensus by all those participating in the Forum.  This was an historic achievement and reflected the maturity and commitment of the global NGO community. 

  18. World anti-drugs day: mixed feelings

    Martin Jelsma
    26 June 2008
    Article

    Today, June 26, is the official UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. At the TNI Drugs & Democracy programme we have always found it a difficult day to deal with, full of mixed emotions. Too often the day has been desecrated by countries eager to highlight their toughest anti-drug actions. That includes each year a high number of executions in China especially saved up for June 26th. Killing drug law offenders to celebrate a UN day, in spite of the General Assembly adopting last year a resolution opposing the death penalty.

  19. Humane drug policies

    Tom Blickman
    13 June 2008
    Article

    At the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS, a group of civil society organisations collaborated to draft an open letter to senior UN officials to raise concerns about the UN-sponsored International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26th. Many governments use the day to highlight repressive drug control efforts by publicising executions, arrests and drug seizures.

  20. The current state of drug policy debate

    09 June 2008
    Article

    Martin Jelsma, from the Transnational Institute, prepared an analysis for the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, explaining the drug policy situation in the European Union and the current state of debate in the United Nations agenda. The commission is an initiative born of former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso, from Brazil, César Gaviria, from Colombia and Ernesto Zedillo, from Mexico, to respond to concerns related to the problems of drug consumption and traffic in Latin America. The idea to constitute a commission capable of consolidating a debate concerning this problematic also responds to the necessity of reviewing the world drug policies in the scope of the United Nations, which began in March 2008.

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