• The Alternative World Drug Report

    Counting the Costs of the War on Drugs
    June 2012

    The Alternative World Drug Report, launched to coincide with publication of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s 2012 World Drug Report, exposes the failure of governments and the UN to assess the extraordinary costs of pursuing a global war on drugs, and calls for UN member states to meaningfully count these costs and explore all the alternatives.

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  • The War on Drugs and HIV/AIDS

    The global war on drugs is driving the HIV pandemic among people who use drugs and their sexual partners. Throughout the world, research has consistently shown that repressive drug law enforcement practices force drug users away from public health services and into hidden environments where HIV risk becomes markedly elevated. Mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders also plays a major role in spreading the pandemic. Today, there are an estimated 33 million people worldwide living with HIV – and injection drug use accounts for one-third of new HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

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  • The Prohibition of Illicit Drugs is Killing and Criminalising our Children

    ... and we are all Letting it Happen
    Bob Douglas and David McDonald
    Report of a high level Australia21 Roundtable
    April 2012

    It is time to reopen the national debate about drug use, its regulation and control. In June 2011 a prestigious Global Commission stated that the 40-year “War on Drugs” has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. It urged all countries to look at the issue anew. In response to the Global Commission report, Australia21, in January 2012, convened a meeting of 24 former senior Australian politicians and experts on drug policy, to explore the principles and recommendations that were enunciated by the Global Commission.

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  • Considering New Strategies for Confronting Organized Crime in Mexico

    Eric Olson
    Mexico Institute
    Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
    March 2012

    Mexico has experienced an unprecedented rise in crime and violence over the past five years with over 47,000 people killed in crime related violence during this period. For some, the increase in violence is a tragic by-product of President Calderón’s full frontal assault on criminal organizations. For others, the government’s actions, while well intended, have only marginally impacted trafficking while exacerbating the violence.

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  • Drug Policy in the Andes

    Seeking Humane and Effective Alternatives
    Socorro Ramírez Coletta Youngers
    International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance - International & The Carter Center
    December 2011

    Fifty years after signing the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and 40 years after the U.S. government declared a "war on drugs," many obstacles remain despite the partial successes of efforts to counter the problem. The Andean-United States Dialogue Forum, noted with concern how drug policy has monopolized the diplomatic and economic agenda between the Andean countries, contributing to tensions among the governments and impeding cooperation on other crucial priorities, such as safeguarding democratic processes from criminal networks.

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    Download the Executive Summary (PDF)

  • The global war on drugs has failed

    Fifty years after the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was launched, the global war on drugs has failed, and has had many unintended and devastating consequences worldwide. It empowers criminal cartels, destroys lives, infringes civil rights, and fails to reduce drug use or availability. It is time to consider alternatives to the current criminalising approach to drug control. The Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform, launched at the House of Lords on November 17, 2011, released a Public Letter calling for a new approach.

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    The Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform is an initiative of the Beckley Foundation.

  • Drug Control Policy: What the United States Can Learn from Latin America

    Coletta Youngers
    LASA Forum
    Spring 2011

    Since the 1912 signing of the Hague Opium Convention—the agreement that formally established narcotics control within international law—the United States has established itself as the dominant actor in determining drug control policies around the world. A chief architect of the international drug control regime, Washington has done its best to ensure that all subsequent international conventions obligate countries to adapt their domestic legislation to criminalize virtually all acts related to the illicit market in controlled substances, with the important exception of drug consumption. The predominant focus on prohibition and criminalization has been exported to Latin America, where the vast majority of the cocaine and heroin consumed in the United States originates.

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  • Global Commission on Drug Policy Report

    Global Commission on Drug Policy
    June 2011

    The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.

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  • The development of international drug control

    Lessons learned and strategic challenges for the future
    Martin Jelsma
    Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 10
    February 2011

    The emergence of more pragmatic and less punitive approaches to the drugs issue may represent the beginning of change in the current global drug control regime. The spread of HIV/AIDS among injecting drug users, the overcrowding of prisons, the reluctance in South America to remain a theatre for military anti-drug operations, and the ineffectiveness of repressive anti-drug efforts to reduce the illicit market have all contributed to the global erosion of support for the United States-style war on drugs.

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  • Toward a Paradigm Shift

    Prohibitionist policies based on the eradication of production and on the disruption of drug flows as well as on the criminalization of consumption have not yielded the desired results. We are further than ever from the announced goal of eradicating drugs.

    Breaking the taboo, acknowledging the failure of current policies and their consequences is the inescapable prerequisite for the discussion of a new paradigm leading to safer, more efficient and humane drug policies.

    Drugs and Democracy: Toward a Paradigm Shift
    Statement by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy
    February 2009


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