In 1998, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs adopted the slogan “A drug-free world, we can do it!” for its ten-year drug strategy. By 2008, the strategy had ended, along with any possibility that the world could be deemed drug-free. The best claim that can be made for the achievements of the past decade was that for certain types of drugs, and in some areas of the world, the market had stabilised or been ‘contained’.
This belief that eradication or significant reduction of drug markets was possible, has justified severely punitive policies and law enforcement measures against people who use drugs – leading to many negative consequences for public health and communities, including escalated HIV transmission risks and criminalisation of a large number of already vulnerable individuals.
As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) undertakes a mid-term review of its current drug strategy, regional leaders need to acknowledge these realities. In envisaging the successful implementation of the existing drug strategy, ASEAN leaders need to refocus their efforts away from eradicating drug markets, and towards tackling the health and social problems associated with drug markets and drug use.
This note makes recommendations for ASEAN to shift towards drug policies that can more effectively tackle drug-related crime, while ensuring the health and social integration of people who use drugs.
The note is available below in English and Indonesia Bahasa.
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