The year 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the bedrock of the current UN drug control system. TNI will host a side event at the 54th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Several speakers will critically examine the significance and shortcomings of the Convention, explain how plants and traditional use are treated under its provisions, and discuss the current state of affairs of Bolivia's amendment proposal on coca chewing.
Bolivia has denounced the International Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which bans the traditional practice of chewing coca leaf. Adam talks with Martin Jelsma, who coordinates the Drugs and Democracy Program at the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute.
On March 12, 2009, the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, sent a letter sent a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, requesting the suspension of the paragraphs 1c and 2e of Article 49 of 1961 UN Single Convention that prohibit the traditional chewing of coca leaf.
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.
Reports of the discovery of a coca plant in Colombia's Sierra Nevada that have a high cocaine content and a higher level of purity, and also resistant to the effects of aerial spraying is based on evidence that is riddled with errors and distortions. It reflects badly on the INCB and the media that unquestioningly reported it.
Following Bolivia's 2002 parliamentary elections, the success of the political party headed by cocalero leader Evo Morales, rekindled debate regarding cocalero organisations in the Andes and their vindications. Disinformation around these organisations has contributed to a rise in terms like narcoguerrilleros and narcoterroristas, etc. being applied to the various cocalero peasant movements.
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.
In 2009, the Bolivian government requested that the United Nations amend the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The proposed amendment would remove the unjustified ban on coca leaf chewing while maintaining the strict global control system for coca cultivation and cocaine. The 18-month period to contest Bolivia’s requested amendment ends January 31, 2011. Several countries, including the United States, Colombia, the Russian Federation, Japan, France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Denmark, are considering submitting formal objections to the Secretary General. The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) calls on these governments to think again. The continuation of the ban clearly conflicts with official multilateral government declarations, including the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
This note provides an overview of human rights and international law concerns raised by the 2011 Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board. These include questionable legal reasoning by the Board; the absence of broader human rights norms; problematic statements on specific issues; unqualified comments and support for policies despite human rights risks; and stigmatising language unbecoming a UN entity. These are patterns that are evident in previous Annual Reports.
The Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), an agency affiliated with the OAS, recently joined the large number of existing scientific studies on the possible health and environmental effects of Round Up, the glyphosate formula being sprayed on illicit crops in Colombia. CICAD’s investigation, under the direction of an international scientific team, concluded that the chemicals used in the spraying — glyphosate and Cosmo-Flux — do not affect human health or the environment, and that at most they could cause temporary skin and eye irritation, but serious doubts exist. The National University of Colombia’s Environmental Studies Institute published a critical analysis of the CICAD study, which considered technical aspects of the investigation, finding methodological shortcomings, as well as omissions and inconsistencies throughout the report. Those findings could point to a lack of impartiality in the CICAD study.
The forced crop eradication policy implemented by the Peruvian government over the past 25 years has failed. The official strategy has exacerbated social conflicts; contributed to various types of subversive violence; jeopardized local economies, also affecting the national economy; and destroyed forests as crops have become more scattered. Worst of all, it has not resolved any of the underlying causes of drug trafficking, such as poverty, marginalisation and government neglect.
An impressive reduction of the coca-cultivated area has been achieved within the framework of Plan Dignidad, but this ‘success’ has exacted a heavy toll in terms of the impoverishment and criminalisation of the Bolivian coca leaf-growing peasantry, or cocaleros, as they are known.
Afghanistan remains the world’s largest producer of opium and has an under-reported but growing heroin-use problem. Current drug control policies in Afghanistan are unrealistic, reflecting a need for immediate signs of hope rather than a serious analysis of the underlying causes and an effort to achieve long-term solutions.
On 29 June 2011, the Bolivian government denounced the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol, indicating its intention to re-accede with a reservation allowing for the traditional use of the coca leaf. This decision was triggered by Bolivia’s need to balance its obligations under the international drug control system with its constitutional and other international legal commitments. The move follows the rejection of Bolivia’s proposal to amend the Single Convention by deleting the obligation to abolish coca leaf chewing (Article 49) earlier this year.