Report of a GDPO/ICHRDP/TNI/WOLA Expert SeminarFinal report of proceedings
Drug policy reform is currently higher on the international agenda than it has been in recent memory. With a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs set for 19-21 April 2016, the prominence of this issue will further increase. Significant legal and policy reforms at the national level have taken place in recent years that pose considerable challenges to the international legal framework for drug control, and beg important questions regarding states’ international legal obligations.
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Vanda Felbab-Brown and Harold Trinkunas (eds)Brookings Institute
As the world prepares for the 2016 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016), an increasing number of countries around the world now find the regime’s emphasis on punitive approaches to illicit drugs to be problematic and are asking for reform. In this moment of global disagreement, the Brookings project on Improving Global Drug Policy provides a unique comparative evaluation of the effectiveness and costs of international counternarcotics policies and best approaches to reform.
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An open debate is no longer open when certain ideas for improvement are declared to be off-limitMartin JelsmaStatement at the 58th Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND)
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Just over one year away from the 2016 UNGASS, denying the reality that the drug policy landscape has fundamentally changed and that tensions with the UN drug conventions are occuring, is no longer a credible option. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged member states to use the 2016 UNGASS on drugs "to conduct a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options." TNI calls for a special advisory group that should be tasked with recommending how to better deal with the contentious issues following the 2016 UNGASS, in preparation for the next UN high-level review in 2019.Read more...
The assumptions and the facts behind the retail drug trade and the responses to itIsaac De León Beltrán and Juan Carlos GarzónBriefing Series on Drug Markets and Violence Nr 2
The retail drug trade has been identified by the authorities as a strategic priority, under the hypothesis that it is one of the main triggers of violence and crime, as well as a response by the criminal organisations to their loss of influence in global markets. How valid is this argument? The aim of this briefing is to put to the test the starting points and assumptions underlying the definition of this ‘new’ threat, and provide an overview of local drug markets and their relationship with violence and crime in Colombia’s cities.
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Modernizing drug law enforcement in Latin AmericaJuan Carlos Garzón VergaraSeries on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 29
Despite efforts by governments in Latin America, illicit drugs continue to provide one of the largest incomes for criminal organizations, enabling them to penetrate and corrupt political and social institutions. Criminal organizations exploit the vulnerabilities of the state and take advantage of governments’ inability to provide security to their citizens. With few exceptions, the weak capacity of Latin American governments is reflected in high rates of homicides, notorious levels of impunity, and the feeling of mistrust that citizens harbour regarding justice institutions and the police.
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Bottom up rather than top downTom BlickmanSeries on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 28
While in the Americas cannabis policy reform is taking off, Europe seems to be lagging behind. That is to say, in European nations at the level of national governments – where denial of the changing policy landscape and inertia to act upon calls for change reigns. At the local level, however, disenchantment with the current cannabis regime gives rise to new ideas. In several countries in Europe, local and regional authorities are looking at regulation, either pressured by grassroots movements – in particular the Cannabis Social Clubs (CSCs) – or due to the involvement of criminal groups and public disorder.Read more...
An historical and ethnographic approach to the Regulation of Plant-based StimulantsAnthony Henman* Pien MetaalSeries on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 27
The chemically-based frame of reference adopted by the UN Single Convention is mistaken in the culturally loaded and falsely “scientific” manner in which it was applied to different plants. With the proliferation of new stimulant substances – many of them based on plants used in “traditional” cultural settings in different parts of the world – a need has arisen to monitor not just the substances themselves, but also the social contexts in which they are being used.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...Marcus DayBriefing Series on Drug Markets and Violence, Nr 3
Caribbean states face challenges of youth involvement in crime, violence, gangs and other anti-social activities. It is not uncommonly heard the “drug problem” is to be blamed for this. This briefing wants to show this relation is far more complex and often misunderstood.
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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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