Nick Clegg wants the UK to take a lead role in forging an alliance between European and Latin American countries aiming to reform global drugs laws focused on prohibition.

The deputy prime minister believes that the UN special session on drugs in 2016 offers a “unique opportunity” to push for alternatives to the current system. “We need to seize it,” Clegg said. “The war on drugs has failed and there are now a large number of states who agree on the need for change.”

Clegg was speaking after meeting Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, for talks about his country’s peace negotiations with the Farc guerrillas and what both see as an emerging international consensus for reform of international drugs policy.

The talks between Santos and Clegg will be seen as a significant strengthening of the emerging liberal alliance on drugs reform, a move heavily resisted by the Lib Dems’ coalition partners.

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