The fourth informal drug policy dialogue took place in Rome in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Social Solidarity. The two-day dialogue had seven sessions focused on (1) New developments in the field of Harm Reduction; (2) Drugs and prisons; (3) Social spending of confiscated criminal assets; (4) Access to controlled medications; (5) Evaluating the UN drug control system and the 1998 UNGASS review; (6) Towards another control model for cannabis and a reassessment of the coca leaf?; and (7) What to expect from the UNGASS review process.
The 50th Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was the last such event before the watershed year of 2008, when the international community will review progress against the objectives set at the General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS), held in New York in 1998. This CND was notable for a significant improvement in civil society involvement in the proceedings – there were a record 81 civil society delegates and NGO representatives included in government delegations. On the other hand, there were repeated moves by some country delegations to marginalise NGO involvement. The global consultation with NGOs to feed in to the UNGASS review process as formally launched.
The fifth informal drug policy dialogue took place in Berlin in cooperation with the German Federal Health ministry. The principal focus of the meeting was the UNGASS review process, the Political Declaration to be adopted at the next CND meeting in March 2009 and future goals in international drug policy. Discussion also took place on the outcomes of the five Working Groups held between June and September as part of the period of “global reflection” and the preparations for the high level segment to be held on the first two days of the 52nd CND session from 11-20 March 2009.
The first meeting of the Informal Dialogue on Drugs Policy in Latin America took place in Montevideo, Uruguay. The meeting had the support of the National Drugs Council in Uruguay (Junta Nacional de Drogas or JND). Twenty-five people took part from eight countries in Latin America, Europe and the US. Three sessions centred around: (1) Consumption of base paste and crack in the South of Latin America; scientific and political responses. (2) Overview of the UNGASS review and evaluation process for the period 2008/2009, and discussion of the contributions from the point of view and practices of Latin American countries. (3) The prison problem in the region associated with drug related crimes: realities, problems and proposals.
The third Informal Drug Policy Dialogue was co-hosted by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. Participants, most of whom are actively involved in policy, included over forty people from 21 countries, six inter-governmental organisations, five international NGOs and several academics. The two-day dialogue had four sessions focused on (1) the effectiveness of law enforcement in supply reduction, (2) recent developments around HIV/AIDS and harm reduction, (3) Bolivia and legal options for the coca leaf and (4) preparations for the 2008 UNGASS Review. In addition, participants were invited to visit the Bern city drug injection facility, where managers explained how the facility functioned and gave a guided tour of the premises.
The second Informal Drug Policy Dialogue was co-hosted by the Department for Drug Strategic Affairs of the Hungarian Ministry of Youth, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. The two-day dialogue was focused on three themes: (1) harm reduction developments at the regional and UN level; (2) alternative development: dilemmas around coca and opium reduction efforts; and (3) preparations for the 2008 UNGASS review. Participants had the opportunity to exchange information and make comments from their own perspective on developments in these policy areas. The aim was to come to workable suggestions and ideas that could be used in the ongoing debate.
The fourth meeting in the series of Informal Drug Policy Dialogues in Latin America was held in Cochabamba and was organised by WOLA and TNI with the support of the Government of Bolivia, in coordination with CONALTID (Ministry of Foreign Relations). People who are directly or indirectly involved in the debates on current policies participated in the meeting. Three sessions covered the following topics: (1) Progress and Challenges in the UNGASS Review Reflection Period; (2) Coca Leaf and Integrated and Sustainable Development: What are the options for the future? (3) No Escape? The Prison Problem and Drug Policy in Latin America: proposals for change.
The meeting is hosted by the Orthodox Academy in Kolymbari (Crete). The thirty participants include ministerial officials from several countries, representatives from UN and European institutions, and non-governmental drug policy experts. The two-day dialogue was focused on three themes: (1) explore common ground within a set of general parameters by which 'best practice' or effective drug policy is judged not on dogma or on moral principle but on scientifically evaluated, empirical evidence; (2) the policy debate on cannabis; (3) harm reduction developments at the regional and UN level; and (4) supply reduction.
The third meeting of the Informal Dialogue on Drug Policy in Latin America took place in Quito and was organized with the support of the Ministry of Internal and External Security and the Ministry of Government of Ecuador. It focused on the evaluation of the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs in 2008 and 2009, and the high level meeting of the Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) in March 2009. The dialogue had four sessions: (1) From the Andean Initiative to Plan Colombia (1989-2005); (2) Perspectives for Latin America in the 2008 – 2009 UNGASS review; (3) Criminal justice, the prison system and drugs: a human rights perspectives; (4) Proposals and strategies for the 2008-2009 reflection period and for the UNGASS review.
The fifth meeting of the Informal Drug Policy Dialogues in Latin America took place in Rio de Janeiro, and was organized by WOLA and TNI, in cooperation with the Department of Mental Health of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice of Brazil. The discussion focused on the UNGASS review process and the Political Declaration to be adopted at the high-level segment of the 52nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna on March 11-12, 2009. The dialogue focused on three key issues: (1) Latin American Perspectives on the Political Declaration; (2) The Effectiveness of the Conventions: The Case of Latin America; and (3) Human Rights and Policies Related to Drug Law Enforcement.
The sixth meeting was held near Buenos Aires and was organized by WOLA and TNI, and sponsored by the Argentine Government through the Chief of Cabinet and its Scientific Advisory Committee with the support of Intercambios. Participants included people involved in the reform processes of national and international legal instruments related to drug issues. Debates centered on three key areas: (1) Reforms in policies regarding the prevention and treatment of problematic use of substances; the future of Harm Reduction programs in Latin America; (2) Decriminalization of possession; limits to and extent of current penal reforms; and (3) Legal reforms in the international arena: the case of the coca leaf.
The Transnational Institute, La Via Campesina, BioWatch/South Africa, FIAN, Friends of the Earth International, Global Justice Now, and Corporate Europe Observatory will be co-organizing a series of workshops at the Peoples' Assembly, linked to the Monsanto Tribunal in the Hague. These workshops will highlight peoples' struggles against corporate power and for peoples' sovereignty, peasant rights, and food sovereignty, and will provide a space to further develop strategies for the future of the movement.
The 53rd Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was a rather uneventful event. After the High Level Segment in 2009, the final agreement on the new Political Declaration and the unprecedented addition of an Interpretative Statement on harm reduction, this year’s CND would be a generally low-key affair. One of the most controversial issues were the comments of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) on the trend to decriminalize possession for personal use in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Both Argentina and Mexico voiced strong objections. This CND also was marked by the imminent departure of Mr. Costa as Executive Director of the nited Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).