Report of the GDPO/ICHRDP/TNI/WOLA Expert Seminar

Drug policy reform is currently higher on the international agenda than it has been in recent memory. With a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs set for 19-21 April 2016, the prominence of this issue will further increase. Significant legal and policy reforms at the national level have taken place in recent years that pose considerable challenges to the international legal framework for drug control, and beg important questions regarding states’ international legal obligations.

The Expert Seminar “International Law and Drug Policy Reform,” organized by The Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO), International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy (ICHRDP), Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), took place in Washington, D.C., on 17-18 October 2014.The meeting convened international legal scholars from academia, the United Nations, and governmental agencies to discuss and debate international legal challenges and dilemmas raised by ongoing drug policy developments.

It marked the first phase of an ongoing collaboration between the host organizations intended to inform a fluid and fast-moving debate with robust international legal analysis.

This report, representing the outcome of the seminar, is intended to help shape the research agenda around the implications of national drug policy reform for the UN drug control conventions and international law more broadly and orient the discussion for follow-up expert seminars and papers in 2015 and 2016.

The aim of this process is to inform discussions and debate at the 2016 UNGASS and beyond and to provide nuanced and well-grounded legal argumentation relating to the future of the UN drug control framework.

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