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.

  • 2016: The UN's year to take on drugs

    Injecting realism into the global discussion of drug-policy objectives is crucial for designing and implementing more effective policies
    The National Interest (US)
    Monday, April 27, 2015

    Global disagreement over drug policies provides an important opportunity to reconsider the effectiveness of existing counternarcotics policies, address their problematic side effects, and propose evidence-based alternative strategies. Because of the differences in attitudes on drug policy around the world, a substantial revision of existing counternarcotics treaties is unlikely at UNGASS 2016. (See also: Improving global drug policy: Comparative perspectives and UNGASS 2016)

  • The Road to UNGASS 2016

    Process and Policy Asks from the IDPC
    IDPC Advocay Note
    April 2015

    On 19th to 21st April 2016, there will be a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) held in New York, dedicated to the issue of drug policy. The General Assembly is the highest policy making and representative organ of the United Nations (UN), and its infrequent Special Sessions focus on pertinent topics at the request of member states. The UNGASS on drugs has the potential to be a ground-breaking, open debate about the international drug control system – but there is much work to be done to ensure that it fulfils that potential.

    application-pdfDownload the asks (PDF - outside link)

  • 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.

  • The United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drugs in 2016

    In the war on drugs, as was the case with the HIV epidemic, the poorest and most vulnerable around the world are paying the greatest price
    Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch
    Tuesday, February 17, 2015

    In April 2016, representatives of the world’s nations will gather to evaluate drug policy in a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS). While prohibitionist policies are still the norm, a rising tide of voices are demanding evidence based responses that respect human rights, promote public health, and reduce crime.

  • Preparing for the 2016 UNGASS on drugs

    An opportunity we can’t afford to miss
    Nazlee Maghsoudi (IDPC)
    Thursday, July 31, 2014

    The United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs in 2016 is intended to provide states with the opportunity to openly debate the future of international drug policies. An event at UN headquarters in New York discussed precisely what preparations are necessary to make sure the UNGASS accomplishes this objective.

  • UNODC’s shifting position on drug policy: Progress and challenges

    IDPC Advocacy Note
    February 2014

    In March 2014, country delegations will gather at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) to review progress and challenges in international drug control since the agreement of a Political Declaration on drugs in 2009. Given that the Political Declaration aims to “eliminate or reduce significantly” the use, supply and demand of controlled drugs by 2019, this meeting represents an important opportunity for honest evaluation and an acknowledgement that these targets are not being achieved. With a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs just two years away, this is an important time for international drug control policy.

    application-pdfDownload the Advocacy Note (PDF)

  • UNODC Executive Director releases "contributions" ahead of CND High-Level Segment on drugs

    IDPC blog
    Monday, January 20, 2014

    Ahead of the High-Level Segment on the world drug problem to take place on 13th and 14th January 2014, the UNODC Executive Director, Yuri Fedotov, has released his "contributions" to the debate. This 19-page document is, in parts, refreshingly honest about the “unequal” progress that has been made since 2009 (with reductions in supply or demand for some drugs in some places being offset by increases elsewhere), the setbacks and new challenges, and the fact that “the overall magnitude of drug demand has not substantially changed at the global level”.

  • Latin American leaders bring drug policy debate to the United Nations

    Heather Haase Coletta Youngers
    Monday, September 30, 2013

    At the annual UN General Assembly meeting held in New York, presidents from around the world have the chance to state their views on the key international issues of the day. Not surprisingly, the crisis in Syria, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the Millennium Development Goals took center stage this year.  Yet a careful viewing of the speeches of the Latin American presidents illustrates the growing voice of Latin American leaders calling for meaningful reform of drug control policies.

  • Governing The Global Drug Wars

    LSE Ideas
    October, 2012

    Since 1909 the international community has worked to eradicate the abuse of narcotics. A century on, the efforts are widely acknowledged to have failed, and worse, have spurred black market violence and human rights abuses. How did this drug control system arise, why has it proven so durable in the face of failure, and is there hope for reform?

  • The 2009 Commission on Narcotic Drugs

    The 2009 Commission on Narcotic Drugs and its High Level Segment (HLS) marked the end of the 2-year process of the 10-year review of the 1998 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. The event was marked by the call of the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, to remove the coca leaf from the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which represented the first ever truly open challenge by any nation state to the structure of the international drug control system. The HLS adopted a new Political Declaration and Plan of Action. A dissenting Interpretative Statement by 26 countries on harm reduction, not mentioned in the Political Declaration, marked a clear divide in drug control approaches.


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