Background

The ‘General Assembly’ is the principle policy-making organ of the United Nations (UN), and the only one in which all 193 UN member states have equal representation. At the request of member states, it convenes UN General Assembly Special Sessions (UNGASS) on specific issues. There was an UNGASS on drugs in 1998 at which member states agreed on a Political Declaration on Global Drug Control. Ten years later, member states met in Vienna to discuss progress made and to agree on a new Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem.

The next UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) was due to be held in 2019 – the target date set out in the 2009 Political Declaration and Action Plan for the achievement of a significant reduction in or the elimination of the demand and supply of drugs. However in September 2012, the presidents of Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico called on the UN to host an international conference on drug policy reform. Subsequently, a provision was included in an annual omnibus resolution on drug policy – sponsored by Mexico, and co-sponsored by 95 other countries – to bring forward this global drug policy summit meeting to 2016.

The UNGASS was held from 19th to 21st April 2016, gathering member states, UN agencies and civil society representatives. 

Key resources on the UNGASS

Get the latest news and publications on the UNGASS