UN declaration on drugs does not address unprecedented calls for reform

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UN declaration on drugs does not address unprecedented calls for reform

24 March 2014

After more than six months of negotiations, UN member states gathered today In Vienna at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the chief drug policy making body of the United Nations, and will shortly adopt an international statement on global drug policy. The statement does not acknowledge the serious shortcomings of the dominant approach to drug control, despite the numerous and unprecedented calls for reform made by European and Latin American countries.

"We should not be driven by ideologies and wishful thinking. We unfortunately know today that the idea of a drug-free world based on the belief that, if we eradicate supply, we will reduce demand, is not achievable. We should look to and evaluate alternative regimes appearing in North and South America and in Europe rather than just be silent about it", said the Czech Republic delegate, echoing the calls for drug policy reform made yesterday by Colombia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay.

The discussions "reflect a polarised climate with predictable and inflexible positions and the status quo as the best achievable result. With respect to the costs and all those who are currently suffering from drug-related problems we need to do better from now on", said the Norweigan delegation. "There is a need for a radical and revolutionary change", added the Ukrainian representative.

"We call for more effective ways to achieve the objetives stated in the international agreements. Alternatives are needed. Drug policies can not travel at the speed of a telegraph while drug problems develop at the speed of broadband Internet", said the Colombian delegation.

In addition many other countries expressed a range of concerns at the current state of global drug policy.

Ann Fordham, Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Consortium, said,"This is a critical point in history and many governments are ready for change but sadly today's weak UN statement does not reflect this reality. It is a missed opportunity. Many frustrated governments made forceful remarks during this meeting that make it clear that they no longer have the stomach to continue with the charade of a global consensus on drugs."

"The Vienna event is exposing both the strength of support for reform and the stagnant but dangerous insistence on maintaining prohibition. If the Commission on Narcotic Drugs fails to engage seriously with the reform agenda it will increasingly find itself marginalized and ignored, as heads of state prioritise the health of their citizens over tough on drugs rhetoric and counterproductive drug law enforcement." Danny Kushlick, Head of External Affairs, Transform Drug Policy Foundation.

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