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  1. Report of the Commission of Enquiry on the Coca Leaf

    01 May 1950

    In 1961 the coca leaf was listed on Schedule I of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs together with cocaine and heroin. The inclusion of coca has caused much harm to the Andean region and a historical correction is long overdue, for the sake of further conflict prevention and out of respect for the Andean culture. The rationale for including the coca leaf in the 1961 Single Convention is mainly rooted in the Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Coca Leaf from May 1950 The report was requested of the United Nations by the permanent representative of Peru that was prepared by a commission that visited Bolivia and Peru briefly in 1949.

     

    • The WHO Cocaine Project

      03 March 1995

      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.

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      Caught in the Crossfire

      • Tom Blickman
      01 June 1998

      Drugs control is one of the most controversial issues of the late twentieth century. US-led efforts to wage a ‘war on drugs' have focused on wiping out production in developing countries, rather than tackling the demand for drugs in rich countries. Over time, eradication strategies have become increasingly militarised, and have led to human rights abuses and environmental degaradation. And the war has failed. The amount of drugs produced and drugs-linked crops cultivated have not decreased.

      This briefing is published in the run-up to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs, to be held in New York in June 1998. The UNGASS provides a rare opportunity to re-think current drugs efforts. Member states are being 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?

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      Presentation of Evo Morales on Coca, UNGASS 1998

      Drugs and Democracy
      01 June 1998
      Article

      Presentation to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) New York, June 8-10, 1998

    • ungass_poster

      Lessons To Learn

      • Tom Blickman, Ken Bluestone
      02 June 1998

      The United Nations Drugs Control Programme (UNDCP) is rallying support for the UN General Assembly Special Session to Counter the World Drug Problem Together (UNGASS). The UNDCP hopes the meeting will raise the profile of drugs issues and place the agency at the centre of a revitalised global approach to drugs. At the meeting, a series of declarations and action plans on a variety of issues will be tabled. Tackling drugs problems, however, involves more than words. What matters most is how such ideas will be put into action.

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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". 

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      Intensive Debatten, doch keine besseren Richtlinien

      Martin Jelsma
      01 April 1999
      Article

      Im Jahr 1998 hatten sich die Vereinten Nationen auf einer Sondergeneralversammlung einen Zehnjahresplan „für eine drogenfreie Welt“ verschrieben. Die Ergebnisse sind hinter den Erwartungen und Erfordernissen zurück geblieben. Nun sollten die Lehren daraus gezogen und ein Fahrplan für die nächsten zehn Jahre abgesteckt werden.

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      United Nations Pulls Out of Plans to Use Anti-Drug Biological Weapons in South America

      01 December 2000
      Article

      Civil society groups need to analyze possibilities to ban Drug War biological weapons at regional and United Nations agencies that work on related issues of environment, genetic resources, health, arms control, and agriculture.

    • New Possibilities for Change in International Drug Control

      • Drugs and Democracy
      01 December 2001

      The main task of the new executive director of the ODCCP would be to guide a process of internal reform that the UNDCP has to undergo and open up to challenging views outside the agency.

    • 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'.

    • Breaking the Impasse

      • Tom Blickman, David Bewley-Taylor, Martin Jelsma, Amira Armenta, Virginia Montañés
      19 July 2002
      Policy briefing

      This issue of Drugs & Conflict attempts to outline the possibilities for a breakthrough in the current impasse of the current international drug control regime.

    • The Erratic Crusade of the INCB

      27 February 2003

      In the Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2002 that was released on February 26, the president of the Board, Dr. Philip O. Emafo from Nigeria, launches a strong attack against groups that advocate legalisation or decriminalisation of drug offences.

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      Alternative development: an introduction

      01 March 2003

      Alternative Development programmes, aimed at encouraging peasants to switch from growing illicit drugs-related crops, play an important role in UN drug control strategies. The record of success, however, is a questionable one. Decades of efforts to reduce global drug supply using a combination of developmental and repressive means, managed to shift production from one country to another, but have failed in terms of global impact.

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      Change of Course

      • Martin Jelsma
      01 March 2003

      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.

      Download the report (PDF)

    • Challenging the UN drug control conventions

      01 March 2003

      Increasing numbers of sovereign states are beginning to review their stance on the prohibition based UN drug control conventions. Recent years have seen nations implement, or seriously discuss, tolerant drug policies that exploit the latitude existing within the legal framework of the global drug control regime. With efforts to implement pragmatic approaches to drug use at the national level, however, comes the growing recognition that the flexibility of the conventions is not unlimited. It seems that the time is not too distant when further movement within states away from the prohibitive paradigm will only be possible through some sort of change in or defection from the regime.

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      Change of Course

      • Martin Jelsma, Tom Blickman, Virgina Montañés
      19 March 2003

      This briefing sets out the history to the original call for a UN special session on drugs and explains why no genuine evaluation has been permitted to date.

    • unwritten

      Drugs in the UN system

      • Martin Jelsma
      01 April 2003

      The "international community" presented an apparent unanimity in its endorsement of prohibitive drug control at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs in 1998. The reality is that there is a longstanding conflict within the UN system between nations wanting to maintain the prohibition regime and those hoping for a more pragmatic approach.

    • Coca, Cocaine and the International Conventions

      • Pien Metaal
      01 April 2003
      Policy briefing

      It is no understatement to claim that there are few plants subject to such tensions as the coca leaf, either in legal and political circuits, or in the medical and anthropological academic world. Before, during and after its inclusion in the number 1 list of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, the controversy on whether the coca leaf is or is not to be considered a narcotic drug, worthy of control by the international institutions and mechanisms, reached apparent irreconcilable positions.

       

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      Geo-political and cultural constraints on international drug control treaties

      • Craig Reinarman
      01 April 2003

      publicationIt is a noble and worthy step to attempt to change the drug control treaties, but this is likely to take a long time and it may not be the essential starting place of reform. The amount of flexibility in the treaties is only partly a function of treaty language, for this language is always interpreted, and interpretations can vary depending upon how many states actively argue for more flexibility.

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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.

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