The 2009 Commission on Narcotic Drugs

Vienna, March 11-20, 2009

evo-cocaThe 2009 Commission on Narcotic Drugs and its High Level Segment (HLS) marked the end of the 2-year process of the 10-year review of the 1998 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. The event was marked by the call of the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, to remove the coca leaf from the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which represented the first ever truly open challenge by any nation state to the structure of the international drug control system. The HLS adopted a new Political Declaration and Plan of Action. A dissenting Interpretative Statement by 26 countries on harm reduction, not mentioned in the Political Declaration, marked a clear divide in drug control approaches.

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IDPC Proceedings document on the 2009 CND and High Level Segment

This proceedings document provides a summary of what happened at the 52nd session of the CND and its High Level Segment and offers an analysis of some of the key discussions and debates.

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IDPC Briefing paper: Why is the outcome of the United Nations drug policy review so weak and inconclusive?

IDPC and other NGOs have followed the preparations for the 2009 CND closely, in particular the negotiation of the political declaration. We have been disappointed at the unwillingness of member states to meaningfully tackle the policy dilemmas arising from the lack of progress over the last 10 years. The dominant response to the crumbling consensus has been to claim reiterate existing commitments and strategies, and hope that they work better in the next decade. 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 political and institutional pressures that have led to such a weak conclusion and incoherent outcome.

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IDPC Briefing Paper: Antonio Costa’s speech to the High Level Segment of the 2009

Antonio Costa, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), gave a speech to the High Level Segment of the 2009 Commission on Narcotic Drugs on the March 11, 2009. The speech drew heavily on a discussion paper published by the UNODC shortly before the meeting - "Organised Crime and Its Threat to Security " (V.09-81081). This speech, and the paper on which it is based, continues a trend in which Mr Costa presents some interesting and helpful arguments that member states should seriously consider, but sometimes undermines the strength of his analysis with unnecessary rhetorical flourishes and the inaccurate use of data and evidence. The theme of the speech is the threat posed to communities and society by the growing wealth and power of organised crime, which is built on profits from the trade in controlled drugs. This develops the analysis of one of the 'unintended consequences ' listed in Mr Costa's speech to the 2008 CND. It would perhaps have been helpful if the 2009 speech had given more prominence to some of the other areas of collateral damage of the system that also cause huge harm to society and included a stronger reference to harm reduction, the most contentious issue of the review. This briefing paper is an review and analysis of Mr Costa's speech and calls for Mr Costa to acknowledge that there are a wide range of policy options to drug control - including a harm reduction approach to both demand and supply side issues - which ought to be considered in formulating more effective and humane drug control policies.

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IDPC Advocacy Note: Civil Society Engagement - UN High Level Segment 2009

Civil society engagement in during the lead up to the UN High Level Segment has been for the first time a properly structured programmed of NGO involvement put in place by the 'Beyond 2008' initiative. Nine regional seminars were held through the first half of 2008, and 300 delegates drawn from these events gathered in Vienna in July 2008 to put together a NGO consensus declaration for presentation to the CND. The declaration was circulated to all members of the CND and followed up with a formal letter to the Chairwoman of the CND suggesting ways that civil society could make a constructive contribution to the 2009 CND and its High Level Segment. The response has been deeply disappointing with very few member states pushing for a more inclusive approach to civil society engagement in the UN High Level Segment and the 52nd Session of the CND. This advocacy note gives the IDPC perspective on the continued failings of the CND to provide meaningful mechanisms for respectful and constructive engagement with civil society.

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IDPC Advocacy Note: The Political Declaration - A missed opportunity

The Political Declaration sets a framework and priorities for the next 10 years of international drug policy. IDPC and its members have followed with interest the process for reviewing progress against the objectives set at the General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in 1998 – namely, to eradicate or significantly reduce the production of, and demand for, the non-medical use of controlled drugs. The conclusions of that review and the resulting declaration are deeply disappointing. There is an almost total unwillingness to confront the real policy dilemmas, and a series of increasingly surreal political and diplomatic battles over wording that are entirely disconnected from the reality of drug use and problems as experienced in the outside world. This advocacy note explains the reasons for being disappointed with the CND process of review and the resulting political declaration.