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.
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.
By 1998, when the United Nations convened a special General Assembly on drugs, there was already overwhelming evidence that the current approach to global drugs control had failed miserably, given the continuing rise in consumption and production. However, the evidence was ignored and no evaluation of what was wrong with current drug policy took place. Instead, as a New York Times editorial noted, unrealistic pledges were recycled, this time aiming at eliminating all drug production by the year 2008. In mid-April this year, the mid-term review of the goals and targets set by the special session on drugs is to take place in Vienna.
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.
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.
In April 2016, representatives of the world’s nations will gather to evaluate drug policy in a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS). While prohibitionist policies are still the norm, a rising tide of voices are demanding evidence based responses that respect human rights, promote public health, and reduce crime.
Earlier this week, 7-9 July, 300 delegates met in Vienna for the Beyond 2008 NGO Forum meant to provide civil society input for the 10-year UNGASS review. It was the culmination of a series of regional NGO consultations that took place over the past six months all across the globe. Given the wide range of views held by NGOs many – including myself – were sceptical about the outcomes of the process. Would it really be possible to agree by consensus on a joint declaration and resolutions? Well, we did it…
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.