UNGASS review restart

Monday, November 3, 2008


The review of the objectives and action plans agreed at the 1998 UNGASS on Drugs has reached a critical stage. Today and tomorrow, government representatives will start discussions in Vienna on a draft of the annex to the proposed political declaration. TNI has elaborated a series of comments and recommendations.

The IDPC also has sent around an advocay note. The draft annex will provide the input for the political declaration that should be adopted at the high-level meeting in March 2009 in Vienna. The main body of the declaration will most likely be presented on December 12, 2008, at an Intersessional meeting of the CND, once the contents of the annex have been debated.

There is a general disappointment about the draft. It avoids to address new issues and does not stimulate forward-looking debate. It lacks any ambition to work towards a paradigm shift as aired in Mr. Costa’s report "Making drug control 'fit for purpose': Building on the UNGASS decade". This contribution to the thematic debate last March aimed to open the discussion about humanising the regime, address its adverse consequences, introduce seriously guiding principles of human rights, proportionality, harm reduction and evidence base.

The draft annex, however, largely proposes to continue on the same course, simply coordinate better the same things the international community has done the past decade, continue to 'administer' the drugs issue rather than genuinely focus on the most problematic aspects of it. 

Besides improving what is already in the draft, it would therefore be important to also think beyond March 2009 and to include some operational paragraphs that open the door for a continued debate aimed at achieving a paradigm shift in the following decade. That could include an assessment of the performance of the UN drug control system as a whole, including the issue of interpretations and inconsistencies in the conventions and the role and functioning of the agencies.