In March 2008, a two-year long 'period of global reflection' on the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem started. What have been the results? What space was there be for civil society to participate in the different stages of the process? What were the key issues on the table? What kind of improvements in the functioning of the UN drug control system have been achieved?
The most recent UNGASS took place in 2016. To follow the preparations and proceedings check the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) special webpage.
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...
Report of proceedingsIDPC
In October 2012, the governments of Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico issued a joint declaration calling for a UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) to be held on the urgent issue of drug policy. The conference – the 30th Special Session, and the third focused on drugs – took place in New York from 19th to 21st April 2016. The meeting comprised a Plenary – at which a pre-negotiated Outcome Document was adopted at the very start, followed by a varied and long list of country statements – and a series of five thematic "roundtable" debates.
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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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A provision within the UNGASS resolution offers an opportunity for the two regimes to bridge the human rights gapRick Lines and Damon BarretMonday, May 9, 2016
The April 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem offered a unique opportunity to re-examine the approach of punitive suppression that underpins global drug control. As the first such meeting to be held since 1998, it was a chance to set a new course, leaving behind what the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has called the negative ‘unintended consequences’ of the ‘war on drugs’.READ MORE...
We need to improve public understanding of the concept of "harm reduction" as the primary goal of drug policyVice (US)
Monday, May 2, 2016
Last month, the United Nations General Assembly met for the first time in history to reconsider international drug prohibition with an eye toward policies focused on health and human rights. Facing unprecedented drug gang–related violence, Mexico, Colombia, and Guatemala had insisted the global confab be moved up by two years. Yet somehow there was no sense of urgency, and no actual changes were made, in large part due to the intransigence of Russia and China.
A global meeting on drugs failed to deliver a highly anticipated shift from a punitive approach to narcotics, disappointing Myanmar advocacy groupsThe Myanmar Times (Myanmar)
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
The outcome of the UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs in New York resulted in an outcome document that brings little new to the table. Nang Pann Ei, a coordinator of the Drug Policy Advocacy Groups, called the UNGASS meeting significant because Myanmar civil society was able to speak up for opium farmers facing the constant threat of crop eradication. But she voiced disappointment about the resulting policy document, saying it has "some serious gaps". "It did not mention harm reduction specifically, and decriminalisation of drug use and abolishing the death penalty for drug-related offenses was not mentioned," she said.
World leaders met at the UN in a special session to discuss saner ways to fight the drug trade. They did not get very far toward a shift in approachOpEdThe New York Times (US)
Monday, April 25, 2016
The U.S. is in the untenable position of violating the existing treaties — now that four states have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana. The Canadian government announced that it will introduce a bill next spring to decriminalize the sale of marijuana. Mexican leaders announced that their country intends to legalize medical marijuana and loosen restrictions on the amount of drugs people can possess for personal use. These new policies could render the existing drug treaties obsolete. Clearly, those accords need to be updated, heeding the experiences and lessons learned by the nations that have paid the highest price in the drug war.
Enrique Peña Nieto says laws would stop "criminalising consumption"The Guardian (UK)
Friday, April 22, 2016
Following his statement at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in which he called for more prevention, partial decriminalization and a public health approach, Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto has announced plans to introduced laws to legalise medical marijuana and increase the quantity anyone can carry and consume for recreational purposes from five grams to 28 grams. His plan would also free some prisoners convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana. The initiative, which will now go to the senate for debate, signals a shift for Peña Nieto, who says he has never smoked marijuana and has openly opposed its legalisation.
By ignoring the available science and examples of best practice on drug policy and harm reduction, the UN will become increasingly irrelevantThe Influence (US)
Thursday, April 21, 2016
At a packed press conference in Manhattan, a formidable panel – including former presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Switzerland, a former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, a former UK deputy prime minister and entrepreneur Richard Branson – declared itself "profoundly disappointed" by the failure of the UNGASS 2016 outcome document to produce substantive change. The nine panelists represented half of the membership of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a body which unites international leaders to advocate for wide-ranging drug policy reform. (See also: Decriminalize all drugs, business and world leaders tell UN)
Jamaica is disappointed that the document does not allow countries sufficient flexibility to design our domestic policies to fit national circumstancesVice (US)
Thursday, April 21, 2016
On 4/20, the unofficial holiday celebrated by marijuana enthusiasts around the world, Jamaica called for the UN to review the status of cannabis, questioning why the drug is still legally considered as dangerous as heroin under international law. Speaking before the UN General Assembly, Jamaican Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith said that scheduling cannabis as a dangerous drug with no medical use — a status that dates back to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs — is outdated and out of touch.
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