Weaknesses in the UN drug control system have often been identified, related to the functioning of the key organs UNODC, INCB, and the CND; related to collaboration with the wider UN system (WHO, UNAIDS, UNDP, etc.) and related to the outdated character of several treaty provisions. What has been attempted to date to achieve more structural reform? Are existing evaluation mechanisms capable of bringing the need for reform to the table? How could a neutral and evidence-based role of UNODC as a centre of expertise be strengthened? How can these issues be related to the UN call for more ‘system-wide coherence’ and ‘delivery as one’?
The UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs – held in New York in April 2016 – was hailed as an opportunity for the international community ‘to conduct a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options’. Although the UNGASS was characterised by many shortcomings and disappointments, it was nonetheless a critical moment for global drug policy reform. Now that the dust has settled, one serious omission from the proces has become increasingly apparent – the fact that nothing was decided or proposed for the next important UN moment for drug policy in 2019.READ MORE...
UN summit cannot hide a growing divergence in the global drug policy landscapeDave Bewley-Taylor Martin JelsmaDrug Policy Briefing Nr 45
A special session of the General Assembly took place in April revealing a growing divergence in the global drug policy landscape. Difficult negotiations resulted in a disappointing outcome document, perpetuating a siloed approach to drugs at the UN level. There is a clear need to realign international drug policies with the overarching 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, embedding the drugs issue comprehensively within the UN’s three pillars: development, human rights, and peace and security. The UNGASS process has helped to set the stage for more substantial changes in the near future, towards the next UN review in 2019.
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Martin JelsmaJournal of Drug Policy Analysis
This paper explores key lessons from the 1990 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Drug Abuse (UNGASS 1990) and the 1998 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 1998), and tracks subsequent policy events and trends. It discusses the wide array of increasing tensions and cracks in the “Vienna consensus,” as well as systemic challenges and recent treaty breaches.
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Some states, particularly in the Americas, see UNGASS 2016 as an opportunity to rethink global drug controlThe Huffington Post (US)
Wednesday, November 3, 2015
The UN's own thinktank, the United Nations University (UNU), published a report entitled What Comes After the War on Drugs? that argues that UNGASS 2016 will largely confirm the current approach to drug control, despite growing calls for change. The report, based on a series of consultations involving over 50 Member States, 16 UN entities and 55 civil society organizations, considers the major political and policy trends leading into UNGASS 2016, and offers recommendations for strengthening global drug policy efforts at a time of deepening divisions.
The UNODC paper also suggests low-level dealing should not be criminal offenceBBC News (UK)
Monday, October 19, 2015
A paper from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been withdrawn after pressure from at least one country. The document, which was leaked, recommends to consider "decriminalising drug and possession for personal consumption", arguing "arrest and incarceration are disproportionate measures". The UNODC has been under pressure for some time to make a clear statement regarding decriminalisation. UN agencies including the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS have been explicit in their opposition to drug users facing criminal sanctions on health and human rights grounds. The UNODC says the document is under review.
Businessman says he is breaking embargo as he fears political pressure will lead to withdrawal of statement at last minuteThe Guardian (UK)
Monday, October 19, 2015
The United Nations is on the verge of issuing a call for all governments to decriminalise the possession and use of all drugs, according to businessman and global drugs campaigner Richard Branson. In a statement on the Virgin website, Branson has claimed that the call is included in an as-yet unreleased, embargoed statement by the UN office on drugs and crime (UNODC) and marks a “refreshing shift” from a body that has “shaped much of global drug policy for decades”. (Transform: Leaked document shows UN agency in charge of drug war wants world to decriminalise all drugs)
Martin JelsmaBrookings Institute
This paper explores key lessons from the 1990 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Drug Abuse (UNGASS 1990) and the 1998 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 1998), and tracks subsequent policy events and trends. It discusses the wide array of increasing tensions and cracks in the "Vienna consensus," as well as systemic challenges and recent treaty breaches. Various options for treaty reform are explored.
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E-Book of Authorities launched at 2015 CND to support international drug policy debates and negotiations
The “E-Book of Authorities” is a civil society-led project to catalogue agreed UN statements and language on a selection of key topics. It aims to show the extent of existing international support for evidence-based drug policies, and to support international drug policy discussions, debates and negotiations.
Visit the E-Book of Authorities
Christopher HallamSeries on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 26
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that some 5.5 billion people around the globe inhabit countries with low to non-existent access to controlled medicines and have inadequate access to treatment for moderate to severe pain. This figure translates to over 80 per cent of the world's population. Only in a small number of wealthy countries do citizens stand a reasonable chance of gaining adequate access to pain care, though even here room for improvement remains.READ MORE...
Wells Bennett and John WalshBrookings Center for Effective Public Management
Two U.S. states have legalized recreational marijuana, and more may follow; the Obama administration has conditionally accepted these experiments. Such actions are in obvious tension with three international treaties that together commit the United States to punish and even criminalize activity related to recreational marijuana. The administration asserts that its policy complies with the treaties because they leave room for flexibility and prosecutorial discretion.
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