Reflections upon this year’s CND are mixed. On the one hand, some states went further than ever before in openly challenging the current regime on the grounds that, after a century, it needs modernising. That the government of Uruguay is currently considering a domestic policy on cannabis that would put it in breach of the Single Convention shows that, in one instance at least, we have moved beyond rhetoric and posturing. Moreover, while couched in terms of ‘containment’ and a confidence in the fundamentals of the treaty framework as it stands, Mr. Fedotov’s  pronouncement that human rights and public health considerations must be at the core of international responses to drug use and to HIV represents the continuation of a welcome shift away from a law enforcement approach, an approach too long privileged within the Commission.

On the other hand, it is difficult to ignore several issues of concern. Vienna remains out of step with many other parts of the UN system in its dealings with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This was at its most startlingly obvious in the Committee of the Whole during discussions of possible civil society engagement in the high-level review next year. This, however, is surely the time when all expertise, inter-governmental and NGO alike, must be brought to bear upon the issue. Moreover, it is hard to be positive about the demeanour of the President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) at this year’s meeting with NGOs. This remained hostile and confused, particularly relative to the INCB’s mandate. Indeed, while in the current atmosphere there is a temptation to become preoccupied with potentialities beyond the present treaty framework, the INCB’s overstepping of its remit regarding scheduling within the current regime has once again become a serious point of unease.

This report aims to provide a summary of what was discussed – and to highlight what was not – at this year’s meeting, including various side events, and offers some analysis of the key discussions, debates and emerging new trends, as well as the Commission’s re-engagement with some that are more familiar.

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