The three major international drug control treaties are mutually supportive and complementary. An important purpose of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances codify internationally applicable control measures in order to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes, and to prevent their diversion into illicit channels and include general provisions on trafficking and drug use. The 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances significantly reinforced the obligation of countries to apply criminal sanctions to combat all the aspects of illicit production, possession and trafficking of drugs. (Commentaries on the conventions)

  • Challenging the UN drug control conventions

    Problems and possibilities
    Dave Bewley-Taylor
    International Journal of Drug Policy (Volume 14, Issue 2)
    Special Issue on the UNGASS Mid-term Review
    April 2003

    Increasing numbers of sovereign states are beginning to review their stance on the prohibition based UN drug control conventions. Recent years have seen nations implement, or seriously discuss, tolerant drug policies that exploit the latitude existing within the legal framework of the global drug control regime. With efforts to implement pragmatic approaches to drug use at the national level, however, comes the growing recognition that the flexibility of the conventions is not unlimited. It seems that the time is not too distant when further movement within states away from the prohibitive paradigm will only be possible through some sort of change in or defection from the regime.

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  • Change of Course

    An Agenda for Vienna
    Martin Jelsma
    TNI Drugs & Conflict Debate Papers 6
    March 2003

    By 1998, when the United Nations convened a special General Assembly on drugs, there was already overwhelming evidence that the current approach to global drugs control had failed miserably, given the continuing rise in consumption and production. However, the evidence was ignored and no evaluation of what was wrong with current drug policy took place. Instead, as a New York Times editorial noted, unrealistic pledges were recycled, this time aiming at eliminating all drug production by the year 2008. In mid-April this year, the mid-term review of the goals and targets set by the special session on drugs is to take place in Vienna.

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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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  • How can Reform be Achieved?

    Revising and Integrating Policies at National and International Level
    Martin Jelsma
    Presentation at the Wilton Park Conference: Drug Policies and Their Impact
    March 27, 2002

    Allow countries and regions more space for policy reform using and stretching the margins of the conventions. Strengthen alliances of like-minded nations to support one another and effectively coordinate efforts at the UN level through informal consultations and strategy meetings. Any crack in the global prohibition regime would not plunge the world into chaos immediately. We should not press for a new global straitjacket but for a model that respects cultural differences. We have to open up the debate about the wisdom of the conventions as they stand.

     

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