An event at UN headquarters in New York discussed precisely what preparations are necessary to make sure the UNGASS provides states with the opportunity to openly debate the future of international drug policies.
UNAIDS explicitly state that “In order to close the programming gap for people who inject drugs”, countries must “Transform punitive laws that criminalize the use of drugs” and “End the criminalization of people who use drugs”.
The Deputy Chief of the Russian Drug Control Service has announced that there are around 100, 000 drug-related deaths in Russia each year, with a steeply increasing trend - a shocking figure resulting from Russia's punitive approach towards drug users.
The Global Day of Action was an incredible show of people power, but we need to keep this pressure on and keep pushing for reform. If we do, we can change the public and political rhetoric around drugs.
It was refreshing to hear so many government officials at this COPOLAD meeting discussing the need for evidence-based drug treatment, but also for access to harm reduction services and for the decriminalisation of drug use.
Though now under military control, it is hoped that some space for open, inclusive drug policy debate can be sustained, especially as Thailand is likely to chair the next CND in 2015, a key moment in preparations for UNGASS 2016.
On April 17, representatives from the development sector gathered to discuss the negative impacts of current drug policies on impoverished populations, and the importance of bringing the development perspective to the 2016 UNGASS.