The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is the annual gathering in Vienna of all United Nations member states to discuss and make decisions on a wide range of issues related to the global drug control system, and the work programme of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). In March 2014, a UN High-Level Segment on Drugs will be held in Vienna.

  • The United Nations and Harm Reduction

    Martin Jelsma
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 12
    March 2005

    In March 2005 the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) will meet in Vienna. The confrontation between zero-tolerance ideologists and harm reduction pragmatists will be fiercer than ever before. The US government – the biggest donor of UNODC – threatened to cut funding to UNODC unless the agency assured that it would abstain from any support for harm reduction, including needle exchange programmes and substitution treatment. Conflicting views within the UN system on harm reduction have become a major concern. Consistency in messages is crucial especially where it concerns joint global programmes such as the efforts to slow down the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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  • Cracks in the Vienna Consensus

    The UN Drug Control Debate
    Martin Jelsma Pien Metaal
    WOLA Drug War Monitor
    January 2004

    Numerous UN conferences and summits have been devoted to negotiating a harmonized global approach to illicit drugs. Yet more and more cracks are beginning to appear in the supposedly universal model which is based on a highly fragile consensus. The failure to counter the ever-growing problems related to the use of illicit drugs has led countries to question current policies and to experiment with approaches less driven by the US-inspired ideology of "zero tolerance" and more rooted in pragmatism. This has led to increasing acceptance of the concept of harm reduction for consumers, where drug use is treated as a public health rather than a law enforcement problem. On the production side, discussion centers on the need to secure alternative livelihoods for involved farmer communities and how to most effectively promote alternative development.

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  • Breaking the Impasse

    Polarisation & Paralysis in UN Drug Control
    David Bewley-Taylor Martin Jelsma
    TNI Drugs & Conflict Debate Paper 5
    July 2002

    The past decade has seen an increasing polarisation between divergent trends in global drug policies. On the one hand, there has been an escalation in the US driven War on Drugs, which has created a drug gulag domestically and increased and militarised forced eradication abroad. On the other hand, in Europe and several like-minded countries, a more flexible and pragmatic approach has gained ground in domestic drug policy-making, taking distance from indiscriminate repression and the zero-tolerance approach. In these countries, the trend towards greater leniency has become irreversible and rational thinking is gradually replacing the dogmas of the past. Such tolerant approaches have reached their legal limits within the framework of the current UN Drug Conventions.

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  • European Cannabis Policies Under Attack

    Tom Blickman
    TNI Briefing
    April 2002

    A strong attack against the European practice of 'leniency' regarding cannabis use and possession took place at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) session (11-15 March, 2002) in Vienna. There was an orchestrated attempt to pass a CND resolution to put a dam against the 'leniency'.

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