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.
EditorialThe New York Times (US)
Tuesday, June 9, 1998
Manhattan is filled this week with world leaders attending a well-intentioned but misdirected United Nations conference on drugs. With drugs more plentiful and cheaper than ever worldwide, the leaders are mostly extolling failed strategies to combat the problem. Pino Arlacchi, the Italian official who heads the organization's International Drug Control Program, is promising to eliminate coca leaf and opium poppies, the basis of cocaine and heroin, in 10 years. Such claims get in the way of effective programs to reduce drug use.READ MORE...
Ken Bluestone Tom BlickmanThe World Today (Volume 54, Issue 6)
The United Nations Drugs Control Programme (UNDCP) is rallying support for the UN General Assembly Special Session to Counter the World Drug Problem Together (UNGASS). The UNDCP hopes the meeting will raise the profile of drugs issues and place the agency at the centre of a revitalised global approach to drugs. At the meeting, a series of declarations and action plans on a variety of issues will be tabled. Tackling drugs problems, however, involves more than words. What matters most is how such ideas will be put into action.
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Developing countries, the UNDCP, and the war on drugsTom BlickmanA Joint publication of the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR)
Drugs control is one of the most controversial issues of the late twentieth century. US-led efforts to wage a ‘war on drugs' have focused on wiping out production in developing countries, rather than tackling the demand for drugs in rich countries. Over time, eradication strategies have become increasingly militarised, and have led to human rights abuses and environmental degaradation. And the war has failed. The amount of drugs produced and drugs-linked crops cultivated have not decreased.
This briefing is published in the run-up to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs, to be held in New York in June 1998. The UNGASS provides a rare opportunity to re-think current drugs efforts. Member states are being asked to endorse a plan, known as SCOPE, for the eradication of drugs-linked crops by 2008. Is SCOPE viable? And what impact would it have on poor farmers who grow drugs-linked crops to survive?
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On the occasion of the United Nations Special Session on Drugs New York, June 1998Andean Council of Coca Leaf Growers (CAPHC)
May 18, 1998
The Andean Council of Coca Leaf Growers (CAPHC), which groups together men and women coca growers from Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, met in Puno May 17-18, 1998, to analyze the situation of our people, put a distance between ourselves and the anti-drug policies currently being implemented and propose alternatives that need to be put in practice at the grassroots, demanded from the Andean governments in office today and proposed to the international community.READ MORE...
The United Nations wants to eliminate illicit drug cultivation by 2008Tom BlickmanMay 1998
An elderly cleaning lady enters the huge empty UN aula in New York with her polishing cart, to get the venue spic-and-span for an important upcoming meeting. A voice in the background explains: "Here, in this room, on the 8, 9 and 10 of June world leaders will join forces to confront the drug problem". As the lady dusts off a globe, in the swaying movement, a roaring helicopter appears spraying herbicides, followed by a fast sequence of images like burning drug crops, heavily armed soldiers and a farmer processing coffee. The voice ends with the slogan: "A drug free world - We can do it!"READ MORE...
Background on the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drug Control
TNI Briefing, March 1998
The "Special Session of the General Assembly to Consider the Fight Against the Illicit Production, Sale, Demand, Traffic and Distribution of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and Related Activities and to Propose New Strategies, Methods, Practical Activities and Specific Measures to Strengthen International Cooperation in Addressing the Problem of Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking" (UNGASS from now on) will take place on 8, 9 and 10 June 1998 in New York. The original impetus for such a global meeting came from Mexico, who back in 1993 proposed to hold a real Summit on the drugs issue, like the ones in Rio (on environmental issues), Kopenhagen (on social issues) and Bejing (on women's issues).READ MORE...
UNDCPs 1998 plan to eradicate the cultivation of both coca and opium poppy by the year 2008 was a rare opportunity to re-think current drugs efforts. Member states were asked to endorse a plan, known as SCOPE, for the eradication of drugs-linked crops by 2008, and have it presented at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in June 1998 in New York. Is SCOPE viable? And what impact would it have on poor farmers who grow drugs-linked crops to survive?READ MORE...
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