The 2016 UNGASS on drugs was hailed as an opportunity ‘to conduct a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options’. Although the UNGASS process had some challenges, it was nonetheless a critical moment for global drug policy reform. In June 2017, the UN Secretary General welcomed the UNGASS Outcome Document as a ‘forward-looking blueprint for action’ and called on governments to ‘honour the unanimous commitments’ made.
The next opportunity to build on the progress made is the high-level ‘Ministerial Segment’ of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), which has already been agreed in CND Resolution 60/1 on ‘Preparations for the sixty-second session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2019’.4 2019 is the target date established in the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action ‘for States to eliminate or reduce significantly and measurably’ illicit drug supply and demand, the diversion and trafficking of precursors and money laundering. Evidence from the UN itself shows that these targets are unachievable and in the 2017 World Drug Report, UNODC states clearly that the ‘drug market is thriving’.
In CND Resolution 60/1, member states decided that the Ministerial Segment will be the moment ‘to take stock of the implementation of the commitments made to jointly address and counter the world drug problem, in particular in light of the 2019 target date’. At present, member states have not defined the procedure for a review of progress towards these targets, however it is imperative that there is a transparent, scientific, evidence-based and inclusive process of evaluation that honestly reflects on the progress, or lack thereof, that has been made over the past 10 years. A genuine review process will also allow member states to reflect on the ongoing validity and utlity of targets focused on the elimination of the drug market and the establishment of a society free of drug abuse.
With the 2019 moment fast approaching, a review process will soon need to be defined and will likely be agreed at the 61st Session of the CND (March 2018) that further builds on CND Resolution 60/1. To inform these deliberations, this IDPC advocacy note outlines the key issues and possible options for 2019, drawing lessons from the 2009 process.