This article was originally published on the Dianova website. 

In March 2019, the international community gathered in Vienna for a high-level Ministerial Segment. The goal: to take stock of the past 10 years of global drug policy and chart the course for the coming decade in UN drug control. No only a key opportunity for civil society to influence the debates. But also call for more effective drug policies going forward.

Finally, building upon the momentum created in 2016 by the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs and its relatively progressive Outcome Document.

Acknowledging the failures of the past decade of drug policy

Ahead of the 2019 event, there was the absence of any meaningful official review of progress made in international drug policy since the adoption of the 2009 Political Declaration on drugs. Hence, IDPC – a global network of more than 180 NGOs working towards more humane drug policies – conducted its own analysis of the past decade.

Our analysis ‘Taking stock: A decade of drug policy’ utilised the available research from the UN, governments, academia and civil society. Specifically, to find out what the international community had achieved over the past ten years.

It underscored that cultivation, trafficking and consumption have all increased since 2009. As have the numbers of drug use-related deaths, in particular a recent surge in preventable overdose deaths. The report also highlights the catastrophic human rights toll of repressive drug policies. Including: severely overcrowded prisons, the continued use of the death penalty, extrajudicial killings, compulsory detention and corporal punishment.

Instead of promoting development and security, punitive approaches towards drugs have exacerbated violence, corruption, poverty, stigma and marginalisation.