As the United Nations launches the 2009 World Drug Report this week, more than 40 international groups and experts worldwide today issued a call to action that presses governments to adopt a humane approach to drug policy.

The call to action, signed by IDPC, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, former president of Brazil Fernando Cardoso, and others, urges governments to enact policies that are based on scientific and medical research rather than politics.

Rather than receiving treatment, millions of nonviolent drug users are languishing in prisons as a result of current drug policies. The drug trade continues to grow while families are torn apart by the global war on drugs. As the HIV and AIDS crisis spreads, policies that drive away drug users are creating public health disasters.

Instead of continuing with these ineffective and harmful policies, the call to action urges governments to focus on reducing the harms of drug trade and use. It is time for governments to support needle exchange, substitution therapy, and decriminalization of possession for personal use. Drug control measures must respect human rights with penalties that are proportional and humane, and recognize that drug cultivation is primarily a development issue—not simply a security threat.