Improving global drug policy: Comparative perspectives and UNGASS 2016

Vanda Felbab-Brown and Harold Trinkunas (eds)
Brookings Institute
April 2015

un_general_assemblyAs the world prepares for the 2016 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016), an increasing number of countries around the world now find the regime’s emphasis on punitive approaches to illicit drugs to be problematic and are asking for reform. In this moment of global disagreement, the Brookings project on Improving Global Drug Policy provides a unique comparative evaluation of the effectiveness and costs of international counternarcotics policies and best approaches to reform.

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Brookings Senior Fellows Vanda Felbab-Brown and Harold Trinkunas have gathered leading drug and crime experts to conduct a set of case studies of drug trends and policies in 15 countries in Latin America, North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Two additional functional studies examine legalization breakout scenarios and the possibilities and need for U.N. treaty revision. The studies draw implications for UNGASS 2016 and also for improving drug policies at the national level.

The Transnational Institute (TNI) contributed with two case studies:

REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader - United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Yuri Fedotov addresses a news conference presenting the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2010 in Vienna September 30, 2010. UNGASS 2016: Prospects for Treaty Reform and UN System-Wide Coherence on Drug Policy

Martin Jelsma reviews the history of past Special Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS) on drugs and argues that UNGASS 2016 is unlikely to reach a consensus declaration due to global disagreements over drug policy.

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj - A policeman holds poppy plants after a field was destroyed above the village of Tar-Pu, in the mountains of Shan State January 27, 2012. Current State of Counternarcotics Policy and Policy Reform Debates in Myanmar

Tom Kramer reviews the consequences of Myanmar’s decades of internal violence on the drug trade and the problematic consequences of drug suppression without securing alternative livelihoods.