The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS) was held in New York on June 8-10, 1998. It was a disappointing event. No evaluation of current repressive
drug policies took place whatsoever. It was devoted to, as a New York Times editorial phrased it, "recycling unrealistic pledges".
In 1995 the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) announced in a press release the publication of the results of the largest global study on cocaine use ever undertaken. A decision in the World Health Assembly banned the publication of the study. The US representative threatened that "if WHO activities relating to drugs failed to reinforce proven drug control approaches, funds for the relevant programmes should be curtailed". This led to the decision to discontinue publication.
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.
Tensions in US-UNODC relations should be resolved by more sustainable funding mechanisms, not by bowing to Republican flat-earthism. It is time to be guided by the light of science, not by the darkness of ignorance and fear.
NGOs in the drug policy field have criticised the outcome of the recent elections to the United Nation’s International Narcotic Control Board (INCB) because the process of trading votes between member states has led to the exclusion of some of the most highly qualified candidates, and the re-election of at least one candidate who does not fit the stated criteria, Tatyana Dmitrieva.
Numerous UN conferences and summits have been devoted to negotiating a harmonized global approach to illicit drugs. Yet more and more cracks are now beginning to appear in the supposedly universal model which is, in reality, based on a highly fragile consensus.
The UNGASS mid-term review in April 2003 will present Mr Costa with a high-level political opportunity to convince the world of his commitment to take UNDCP in a more rational direction, to say farewell to the years of crisis, to restore donor confidence and to open up the debate.
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 TNIanalyses 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.