As the UN General Assembly’s Special Session in New York on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016) approaches, there is a need to consider how criminal justice approaches best fit within efforts to create an integrated and balanced approach for the international drug control regime. This panel, convened by the UN University and hosted by the Permanent Mission of the United States of America to the United Nations, will consider these issues.

About the panel discussion

Criminal justice and law enforcement-based approaches have been at the centre of global drugs policy for many decades. Yet while criminal justice has been a lynchpin for global drug policy, its application varies widely. Many states remain in favour of a punitive approach in the implementation of the global drug control regime, and in the most extreme cases, a minority of states retain the death penalty for drug-related offences. However, the pursuit of criminal justice-based approaches to implementation of the global drug control regime has led to some unenvisaged outcomes: the criminalization of whole communities; mass incarceration; and militarized responses to cultivation and trafficking. As a result, some Member States are seeking a ‘rebalancing’ of the implementation of the role of criminal justice in the implementation of the global drug control regime.

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