Weaknesses in the UN drug control system have often been identified, related to the functioning of the key organs UNODC, INCB, and the CND; related to collaboration with the wider UN system (WHO, UNAIDS, UNDP, etc.) and related to the outdated character of several treaty provisions. What has been attempted to date to achieve more structural reform? Are existing evaluation mechanisms capable of bringing the need for reform to the table? How could a neutral and evidence-based role of UNODC as a centre of expertise be strengthened? How can these issues be related to the UN call for more ‘system-wide coherence’ and ‘delivery as one’?

  • Legislative Innovation in Drug Policy

    Martin Jelsma
    Latin American Initiative on Drugs and Democracy
    November 2009

    This briefing summarizes good practices in legislative reforms around the world, representing steps away from a repressive zero-tolerance model towards a more evidence-based and humane drug policy.

    The examples provide lessons learned in practice about less punitive approaches and their impact on levels of drug use and drugrelated harm to the individual and society. Evidence suggests that legislation lessening criminalization combined with shifting resources from law enforcement and incarceration to prevention, treatment and harm reduction is more effective in reducing drug-related problems.

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  • Drug policy reform in practice

    The academic journal Nueva Sociedad recently released an issue to promote the debate in Latin America on drug policy reform. TNI contributed with the article Drug policy reform in practice: Experiences with alternatives in Europe and the US. The article aims to give inputs for the Latin American debate providing an overview of European drug policy practices regarding harm reduction, decriminalization of consumption and possession, and more tolerant policies towards cannabis, particularly in The Netherlands and several states in the US.

  • Call to Action: Support Global Drug Policy Reform

    Call to Action
    World Drug Day, 26 June 2009

    As the United Nations launches the 2009 World Drug Report this week, more than 40 international groups and experts worldwide today issued a call to action that presses governments to adopt a humane approach to drug policy.

    The call to action, signed by the Transnational Institute (TNI), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, former president of Brazil Fernando Cardoso, and others, urges governments to enact policies that are based on scientific and medical research rather than politics.

    Download the Press release
    Download the Call to Action: Support Global Drug Policy Reform

  • 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.

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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

  • UNODC rewrites history to hide failure

    In the new 2008 World Drug Report the UNODC is trying to hide failures behind a bad history lesson. Instead of a clear acknowledgement that the 10-year UNGASS targets have not been met – on the contrary, global production of cocaine and heroin has increased – the WDR decided to go back 100 years into history claiming success in comparison with Chinese opium production and use in the early 20th century. Twisted logic is used to fabricate comparisons with higher production last century.

    Read the Press release
    See also: Rewriting history. A response to the 2008 World Drug Report, TNI Drug Policy Briefing nr. 26, June 2008

  • The current state of drug policy debate

    Martin Jelsma, from the Transnational Institute, prepared an analysis for the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, explaining the drug policy situation in the European Union and the current state of debate in the United Nations agenda. The commission is an initiative born of former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso, from Brazil, César Gaviria, from Colombia and Ernesto Zedillo, from Mexico, to respond to concerns related to the problems of drug consumption and traffic in Latin America. The idea to constitute a commission capable of consolidating a debate concerning this problematic also responds to the necessity of reviewing the world drug policies in the scope of the United Nations, which began in March 2008.

  • The UNGASS Evaluation Evaluated

    Dave Bewley-Taylor Tom Blickman
    International Drug Policy Consortium Briefing Nr. 1
    May 2006

    At the 49th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), held in Vienna in March 2006, a draft resolution was tabled by the European Union (EU) to guide the process of evaluation of the implementation of political declaration and action plans of the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in 2008. This briefing describes the fortunes of the resolution and its proposals to strengthen the upcoming UNGASS evaluation process. It explores how the resolution’s aims for more objective and transparent assessment were ultimately watered down. This was a result not only of opposition from states wary of transparency, objectivity and a possible re-evaluation of some current UN policies, but also the EU’s own approach to operating at the CND.

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  • The UN Drug Control Debate

    Current Dilemmas and Prospects for 2008
    Martin Jelsma
    Presentation at the 48th ICAA Conference on Dependencies
    Budapest, October 24, 2005

    The 48th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), 7-11 March 2005 in Vienna, was plagued by controversy about the legitimacy of harm reduction policies. Ending in stalemate, guidance for UNODC to operate in this field remains ambiguous. In June, at the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB), a consensus was reached regarding a mandate for UNAIDS to be involved in needle exchange programmes and other harm reduction activities among injecting drug users. What options are available to clarify UNODC’s mandate in this area and more in general to achieve a breakthrough in policy dilemmas that surfaced recent years at the UN level. 

  • The UN and Harm Reduction - Revisited

    An unauthorised report on the outcomes of the 48th CND session
    Martin Jelsma
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 13
    April 2005

    The US pressure on the UNODC to withdraw support from needle exchange and other harm reduction approaches backfired at the 48th session of the CND in March 2005. Delegates from around the globe stood up to defend the overwhelming evidence that harm reduction measures are effective against the spread of HIV/AIDS. In this briefing TNI analyses the proceedings and results of the CND meeting in Vienna in March 2005, and outlines several options for follow-up and recommends next steps to take.

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