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Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work

The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) in 2016 is an unprecedented opportunity to review the future of the global drug control regime

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Bouncing Back: Relapse in the Golden Triangle

ASEAN's 'drug free' strategy is failing and needs a new approach.

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Cannabis and the Conventions

The question facing the international community today is no longer whether or not there is a need to reassess the UN drug control system, but rather when and how ...

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Unscheduling the coca leaf

The coca leaf has been chewed for centuries in the Andean region – and does not cause any harm. Yet the leaf is treated as if it is comparable to…

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  • International Law and Drug Policy Reform

    Report of a GDPO/ICHRDP/TNI/WOLA Expert Seminar
    Final report of proceedings
    July 2015

    un-building-ny2-ildpfDrug 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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  • Improving global drug policy: Comparative perspectives and UNGASS 2016

    Vanda Felbab-Brown and Harold Trinkunas (eds)
    Brookings Institute
    April 2015

    un_general_assemblyAs 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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  • TNI calls for a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options at UNGASS 2016

    An open debate is no longer open when certain ideas for improvement are declared to be off-limit
    Martin Jelsma
    Statement 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.

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  • Cannabis policy reform in Europe

    Bottom up rather than top down
    Tom Blickman
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 28
    December 2014

    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.

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  • The International Drug Control Regime and Access to Controlled Medicines

    Christopher Hallam
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies No. 26
    December 2014

    dlr26-e_cover 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.

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    application-pdfTélécharger ce rapport en français (PDF)

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  • Marijuana legalization is an opportunity to modernize international drug treaties

    Wells Bennett and John Walsh
    Brookings Center for Effective Public Management
    October 2014

    brookings-paper-102014Two 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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  • Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work

    Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP)
    September 2014

    CoverReportThe upcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) in 2016 is an unprecedented opportunity to review and re-direct national drug control policies and the future of the global drug control regime. As diplomats sit down to rethink international and domestic drug policy, they would do well to recall the mandate of the United Nations, not least to ensure security, human rights and development.

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  • Scheduling in the international drug control system

    Christopher Hallam Dave Bewley-Taylor Martin Jelsma
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 25
    June 2014

    dlr25While often viewed as an obscure technical issue, the problem of scheduling lies at the core of the functioning of the international drug control system. Scheduling – the classification of a substance within a graded system of controls and restrictions, or 'schedules' – must take place in order for a substance to be included in the international control framework, and determines the type and intensity of controls to be applied. For this reason, the topic is of central importance.

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  • The Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition

    The History of Cannabis in the UN Drug Control System and Options For Reform
    Dave Bewley-Taylor Tom Blickman Martin Jelsma
    Transnational Institute / Global Drug Policy Observatory
    March 2014

    rise-decline-coverThe cannabis plant has been used for spiritual, medicinal and recreational purposes since the early days of civilization. In this report the Transnational Institute and the Global Drug Policy Observatory describe in detail the history of international control and how cannabis was included in the current UN drug control system. Cannabis was condemned by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as a psychoactive drug with “particularly dangerous properties” and hardly any therapeutic value.

    application-pdfDownload the report (PDF 5MB)
    application-pdfRésumé en français (PDF)
    application-pdfDownload the press release (PDF)

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  • Human Rights and drug policy

    Drug control should respect human rights

    hr-declaration-smallThe Transnational Institute (TNI) has always believed in the need to find global answers to global problems, been a strong defender of multilateralism and an advocate of a well-functioning United Nations which stands as the guarantor of universal human rights. On the drugs question, our position is straightforward: drug control should respect human rights.

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TNI Drug Law Reform Project

Drug Law Reform in Latin America is a project of the TNI Drugs & Democracy programme

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"Promoting a more effective and humane drug policy in Latin America"

UN Drug Control

In 2011 the 1961 UN Single Convention on drugs will be in place for 50 years. In 2012 the international drug control system will exist 100 years since the International Opium Convention was signed in 1912 in The Hague. Does it still serve its purpose or is a reform of the UN Drug Conventions needed? This site provides critical background.