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.
Canada’s statement read like a checklist of progressive drug policy positionsThe Hill Times (Canada)
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
The applause persisted until the chair of the session eventually gavelled it to an end. The occasion? Canada’s statement at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna, where countries were negotiating the text of a declaration to be adopted at the UN General Assembly’s Special Session on drugs (UNGASS) in New York. Sadly, at the CND, a faction of states ensured that the document fails to respond to the current realities of the “the world drug problem.” Hence, it was important that Canada’s applause-worthy statement read like a checklist of progressive drug policy positions, reflecting many points Canadian civil society groups have been advocating for years.
Drug policy changes collide with UN bureaucracyMartin JelsmaTuesday, April 12, 2016
At about two o'clock in the morning on March 23rd, after tense negotiations in Vienna, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) reached a disappointing compromise. The hard-bargained draft of the outcome document of the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs taking place in New York from 19-21 April was adopted by ‘consensus’. Although its key features are by no means a surprise the draft is disappointing nonetheless.READ MORE...
It’s outdated drug policy that needs fixingFernando Henrique CardosoThe Huffington Post (US)
Monday, April 11, 2016
Next week the United Nations is convening the largest gathering on drug policy that the world has seen in two decades. It was the brainchild of three Latin American presidents — from Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico — who wanted to end decades of poorly conceived and executed counter-narcotics programs. Their hope was that the General Assembly Special Session, or UNGASS, would stimulate new thinking on ways to reverse the political, social and economic wreckage of a failed war on drugs.
Recommendations to counter money laundering are inadequateTom BlickmanFriday, April 8, 2016
The Panama Papers, a massive leak of confidential documents from Mossack Fonseca, a law firm in Panama that helped wealthy clients and money launderers for drug trafficking organisations set up anonymous shell companies in tax havens, should open the outcome document of the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS 2016) on the world drug problem, that will take place on April 19-21 in New York.READ MORE...
Is it time for a different approach?The Observer (UK)
Sunday, April 3, 2016
A policy of prohibition has put the drugs trade in the hands of criminals and led to suffering for millions. 2008 was the year that the world didn’t eliminate the illicit drugs problem. This quixotic goal had been set a decade earlier at a United Nations general assembly special session when, under the vainglorious slogan “We can do it”, the supranational body pledged that, by 2008, the world would be “drug free”. As the UN prepares to host another special session on drugs in New York, the failure of the 1998 assembly to realise the goal is recorded in the vast amounts of money, resources, time and blood that have been expended in pursuing the apparently impossible.
Agreeing on an outcome document to be approved by the UN General Assembly at the 2016 UNGASS
The Transnational Institute (TNI) attended the 59th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna from the 14-22nd March. The CND negotiated the outcome document to be approved at the 2016 UNGASS on the world drug problem, to be held on April 19-21 in New York. This storify features tweets, blogs and news from the event. (See also: The UNGASS outcome document: Diplomacy or denialism?)READ MORE...
Held this April, will the United Nations General Assembly Special Session be the turning point for the international drug control system?Ann Fordham Martin JelsmaThursday, March 17, 2016
In April 2016, the UN will dedicate, for the third time in its history, a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) to discuss global drug policy. The UNGASS has the potential to be a ground-breaking moment that could change the course of the international drug control system. However, political divisions and entrenched institutional dynamics have dampened hopes that it will go down in history as the beginning of the end of the war on drugs.READ MORE...
The United Nations is supposed to be negotiating a solution to the ‘world drug problem’, and it’s not going well
The UNGASS is now perilously close to representing a serious systemic failure of the UN systemOpen Democracy (US)
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
This April, the UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs will convene in New York – seen by many as a possible breaking point for the global drug control system, and the first session to be held on this theme for two decades. The UNGASS is happening two years early, because the governments of Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala have called for it in advance. The UNGASS is expected to be a crucial moment in which dissenting countries could break the UN consensus over the ‘war on drugs’ and the model of prohibition, proposing alternative approaches towards harm reduction and decriminalisation instead. (See also: The UNGASS outcome document: Diplomacy or denialism?)
Civil Society Statement
Drug policy expertise and impacted communities from around the world express serious concerns about the preparations and already-drafted outcomes for the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the “world drug problem”. We call upon member states – especially those who have been shut out of the Vienna-based negotiations – to challenge the current draft of the UNGASS Outcome Document, to ensure the debate on its contents is not closed in Vienna, and to prepare statements expressing their disappointment and dissent at the UNGASS in April.READ MORE...
Diplomats attending the UN special session on drugs next month must confront the obvious failure of most existing drug lawsFernando Henrique Cardoso, Cesar Gaviria and Ernesto ZedilloLos Angeles Times (US)
Friday, March 11, 2016
Outdated drug policies around the world have resulted in soaring drug-related violence, overstretched criminal justice systems, runaway corruption and mangled democratic institutions. After reviewing the evidence, consulting drug policy experts and examining our own failures on this front while in office, we came to an unavoidable conclusion: The “war on drugs” is an unmitigated disaster. (See also: Public Statement on the UNGASS 2016 process and draft outcome document, by Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP)
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