In March 2008, a two-year long 'period of global reflection' on the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem started. What have been the results? What space was there be for civil society to participate in the different stages of the process? What were the key issues on the table? What kind of improvements in the functioning of the UN drug control system have been achieved?
The most recent UNGASS took place in 2016. To follow the preparations and proceedings check the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) special webpage.

  • Why is the outcome of the United Nations drug policy review so weak and inconclusive?

    International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) Briefing Paper
    April 2009

    Political representatives from over 130 countries gathered at a United Nations high level meeting in Vienna on March 11-12, 2009, to conclude a 2-year long review of progress achieved within the global drug control system. Despite calls from other UN agencies and international civil society urging the CND to affirm its support for harm reduction measures, and to rebalance the drug control system towards a public health and human rights approach, the new Political Declaration simply reaffirms the commitments of the 1998 UNGASS - repeating illusionary pledges for a society 'free of drug abuse' and setting another 10-year target date to eliminate or reduce significantly the illicit cultivation of opium poppy, coca bush and cannabis plant. This briefing paper examines the procedural and institutional factors that we believe have contributed to such a weak and incoherent outcome.

    application-pdfDownload the briefing (PDF)

  • Global Illicit Drug Markets 1998-2007

    Peter Reuter (RAND) and Franz Trautmann (Trimbos Institute) (eds.)
    European Commission
    March 2009

    This report commissioned by the European Commission, found no evidence that the global drug problem has been reduced during the period from 1998 to 2007 – the primary target of the 1998 UNGASS, which aimed to significantly reduce the global illicit drugs problem by 2008 through international cooperation and measures in the field of drug supply and drug demand reduction. Broadly speaking the situation has improved a little in some of the richer countries, while for others it worsened, and for some of those it worsened sharply and substantially', among which are a few large developing or transitional countries. Given the limitations of the data, a fair judgment is that the problem became somewhat more severe.

    application-pdfDownload the report (PDF)

  • Alternative development should be unconditional

    Martin Jelsma
    Statement of the Transnational Institute
    Commission on Narcotic Drugs 52nd Session, High-level Segment
    Round Table D - 12 March 2009, 2.30-5.30 pm
    Countering illicit drug traffic and supply, and alternative development

    Martin Jelsma of TNI expressed the disappointment with the agreed texts on alternative development in the Political Declaration and Plan of Action at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) dedicated to the 1998 UNGASS review. No consensus could be reached on the issue of drug control conditionality in development assistance, despite the outcomes of expert evaluations that recommended to "not make development assistance conditional on reductions in illicit drug crop cultivation”, and to "ensure that eradication is not undertaken until small-farmer households have adopted viable and sustainable livelihoods and that interventions are properly sequenced."

    He further referred to the outcomes of the first World Forum of farmers of coca, cannabis and opium poppy from Latin America, Africa and Asia.

    Read the full statement (PDF)

  • Coherence Not Denial

    Alone among UN agencies, CND continues to block support for harm reduction
    A Statement from Harm Reduction Networks to the High Level Segment of the 52nd session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs
    Vienna, March 11, 2009

    As the international community finalises the Political Declaration and work plan that will guide the next ten years of international drug policy, it is inconceivable and indeed unconscionable that support for scientifically proven, evidence-based harm reduction programmes will again be blocked. States must show responsible leadership and act in the best interests of public health and human rights, rather than the narrow and failed language of ‘a drug free world’. This issue is much bigger than ideology, semantics and intergovernmental wordplay. It is about saving lives.

    application-pdfDownload the full statement (PDF)

  • Out of ideas and out of touch

    United Nations drug policy review
    International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
    Press release
    March 9, 2009

    As political leaders from around the world gather in Vienna on 11-12 March to review the last decade of international drug control, and set a framework for the next ten years with the signing of a Political Declaration, any hopes for progress or a new pragmatism in approaches to the world drug problem are fading fast.

    application-pdfDownload the full press release (PDF)

  • International Drug Policy: Animated Report 2009

    Global Drug Policy Program of the Open Society Institute
    March 2009

    Produced by an Oscar-winning studio for the Global Drug Policy Program of the Open Society Institute, International Drug Policy: Animated Report 2009 highlights some of the disastrous effects of drug policy in recent years and proposes solutions for a way forward.

  • UN Human Rights Experts Contribute to UNGASS Review

    December 2008

    The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment – Professor Manfred Nowak – and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health – Mr Anand Grover – have written to the Chairperson of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) to “offer guidance” regarding human rights issues that have arisen during the UN’s ten-year drug strategy review.

  • Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

    Manfred Nowak
    Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
    Human Rights Council A/HRC/10/44
    January 14, 2009

    The Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment submits his third report to the Human Rights Council. The Special Rapporteur focuses on the compatibility of the death penalty with the prohibition of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment discusses a human rights-based approach to drug policies.

    Download the report (PDF)

  • UNGASS review reaches critical stage

    The 'Annex' to the United Nations Political Declaration on Drugs

    Transnational Institute, November 2008

    The review of the objectives and action plans agreed at the 1998 UNGASS on Drugs has reached a critical stage. Following the thematic debate at the 2008 Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and the five expert working groups held in Vienna over the summer, the attention now moves to the political process of negotiating the text of a political declaration to be agreed at the high level meeting in March 2009.

  • Beyond 2008: Final Declaration and Resolutions

    The "Beyond 2008" NGO Forum was held in Vienna, Austria from July 7-9, 2008.  It was the final step in the global consultation of NGOs involved in responding to drug related problems and to provide civil society input for the 10-year UNGASS review.
    Three draft resolutions and the draft declaration were subject to a line by line examination and intense debate. At the end of the Forum the Declaration and three Resolutions were adopted by consensus by all those participating in the Forum.  This was an historic achievement and reflected the maturity and commitment of the global NGO community. 


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