The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), a global network of more than 180 NGOs that come together to promote drug policies that are based on human rights, human security, social inclusion and public health, express our disappointment with, and concerns about, the Ministerial Declaration ‘Strengthening our actions at the national, regional and international levels to accelerate the implementation of our joint commitments to address and counter the world drug problem’, adopted today in Vienna by the United Nations.

While we acknowledge that the statement represents limited progress in some areas, we regret that it repeats the mistakes of the past and was negotiated in the absence of a genuine and honest evaluation of the past decade, since the adoption of the 2009 Political Declaration and Action Plan on Drugs.

In the lead up to this Ministerial Segment, IDPC called repeatedly on Member States to formally and honestly evaluate progress made towards the overarching goal, in the 2009 Political Declaration, to significantly reduce or eliminate the illicit drug market, as well as in the implementation of the UNGASS Outcome Document. Unfortunately, a formal and comprehensive review of the past decade of drug policies was not conducted by governments or the UNODC. The lack of appetite for a formal review illustrates the fact that governments are still unable to accept that decades of attempting to eradicate the global illicit drug market through punitive and repressive measures have failed.

In the void left by the lack of such a review, IDPC produced a civil society ‘shadow report’ titled Taking stock: A decade of drug policy which clearly demonstrates the impossibility of credibly claiming any progress made to date, given that the illicit drug market is larger and more robust than ever before, while drug-related and devastating policy harms are on the rise. Ten years ago, the previous UNODC Executive Director, Mr. Costa had already referred to the ‘unintended negative consequences’ of drug control as part of the previous 10-year review – that paper is unfortunately as relevant today as it was ten years ago.

Ahead of the 2019 Ministerial Segment, the IDPC network had developed four policy recommendations which remain relevant for our assessment of the Ministerial Declaration adopted today.