A top Russian diplomat, Yuri V. Fedotov, has emerged as the front-runner in the race to become the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) – the world's new drug czar, according to Colum Lynch, a longtime Washington Post correspondent who reports on the United Nations for Turtle Bay.
According to the Transform blog, it has been confirmed that the Russian diplomat Yuri V. Fedotov has been appointed as the new Executive Director of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). What will be the implications? Russia has one of the worst records on drug policy and human rights: it ignores scientific evidence on effective HIV prevention among drug users and its punitive drug laws push drug users to the margins of society. Afghan opium poppy farmers could suffer from this appointment as well. The Russians hold them responsible for the 30,000 drug deaths in Russia every year.
Experts and policymakers have gathered in Vienna for the 18th International AIDS Conference to evaluate current trends in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. Despite the widespread attention given to the subject, countries around the world continue to maintain draconian drug laws that are increasing the spread of the disease. Several leading AIDS, human rights and drug policy reform organisations and leading scientists are calling for urgent action to change current drug laws and incorporate evidence-based approaches to drug and HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention to reverse this trend.
The recent report of the Stoltenberg Committee, set up by the Norwegian Health Minister to review the country’s drug situation, included a recommendation to begin offering Heroin Assisted Treatment (HAT) to the most marginalised users. The government, while supporting the introduction of new harm reduction measures, is still considering whether to follow the recommendation.
This short film by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), a grantee of the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program, outlines how the country successfully resolved these problems through the introduction of an innovative national drug policy based on scientifically proven methods, not rhetoric.
The Prague Declaration is a statement of representatives of municipal governments, decision makers responsible for local and municipal drug policies, workers in the field of drug prevention, regulation, treatment, and harm reduction, and researchers in the field of drugs. It was prepared in Prague for the conference Urban Drug Policies in the Globalised World (September 30 – October 2, 2010) and it is open to be signed by anyone interested in urban, municipal and local drug policy.
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) made some interesting video news items on the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. In this one leading civils society spokespersons comment Mr. Costa, the UNODC Executive Director, opening speech. Costa's opening speech was somewhat surprising in that he coincided on some points that have been raised by civil society groups over the past years. He stressed that too many people in prison, and too few in health services; that there are too few resources for prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation; and that there is too much eradication of drug crops, and not enough eradication of poverty.
An interesting essay discussing the case for decriminalization of cannabis use appeared in the March 2008 issue of Current Opinion in Psychiatry. The Dutch psychiatrist Wim van den Brink of the Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research carefully weighs the currently available evidence regarding advantages and risks of such a policy change.
TNI’s Martin Jelsma participated in the inaugural meeting in Rio de Janeiro of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracyon April 30, 2008. Prominent members of the Commission are three Latin American former presidents: Fernando Henrique Cardoso from Brazil, César Gaviria from Colombia and Ernesto Zedillo from Mexico.
"It is time to develop a proper Latin American response that is detached from the ideology from the United States that has been common in the past decade," Martin Jelsma told the meeting. "It is potentially a good time to try because politically there is now more distance to US policies in a growing part of Latin America and to US domination in general."
The International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harmsis taking place in Barcelona, May 11-15. UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Paul Hunt, made an excellent keynote speech addressing the multiple violations of the human rights of people who use drugs. Our Hungarian friends from the HCLU taped his speech on video.
During IHRA's 19th international conference this month the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) recorded a film which poses a series of questions to Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UNODC, from a range of user representatives, harm reduction experts and drug policy advocates.
In a surprise ruling yesterday, the British Colombia Supreme Court supported Vancouver's experimental supervised injection clinic Insite - North America's first legal supervised injection site - and halted federal attempts to close the facility. That is very good news, but the ruling went even further.
Ignoring all the scientific evidence, Canada Health Minister Tony Clement will move to close Canada's only sanctioned safe-injection site, announcing it will appeal a British Colombia court ruling that Vancouver's Insite should stay open because reducing the risk of drug overdoses is a vital health service.
The head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Costa, recently visited Amsterdam on 24 April. Accompanied by some officials of the Netherlands Ministry of Health and of the City of Amsterdam and UNODC staff, he dropped in on the coffeeshop De Dampkring (the Atmosphere) and a user room (for inhalation and injection of heroin and cocaine). He wrote his personal account for his blog Costa’s corner but it was never published. Apparently it proved to be too controversial with his Dutch host. It now has popped up on the Transform drug policy blog and the ENCOD website.