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 and related to the outdated character of several treaty provisions.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’?

  • The WHO’s First-Ever Critical Review of Cannabis

    A Mixture of Obvious Recommendations Deserving Support and Dubious Methods and Outcomes Requiring Scrutiny
    Transnational Institute (TNI), Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO-Swansea University) & Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
    March 2019

    The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD or Expert Committee) released in January 2019 the outcomes of the first-ever critical review of cannabis, recommending a series of changes in the current scheduling of cannabis-related substances under the UN drug control conventions. Eagerly awaited, the ECDD recommendations contain some clearly positive points, such as acknowledging the medicinal usefulness of cannabis by removing it from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs; clarifying that cannabidiol (CBD) is not under international control; and addressing some long-standing scheduling inconsistencies.

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  • The UN Chief Executives Board unanimously endorses decriminalisation of people who use drugs

    The Chief Executives Board of the UN represents 31 UN agencies
    Transform
    Monday, March 11, 2019

    The Chief Executives Board of the UN, representing 31 UN agencies, has adopted a common position on drug policy that endorses decriminalisation of possession and use. This comes just days before a key meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, which will review, the UN’s 10-year Global Drug Strategy, and plan for the next one.

     

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  • Taking stock: A decade of drug policy

    A civil society shadow report
    International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
    October 2018

    ‘Taking stock: A decade of drug policy’ evaluates the impacts of drug policies implemented across the world over the past decade, using data from the United Nations (UN), complemented with peer-reviewed academic research and grey literature reports from civil society. The important role of civil society in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of global drug policies is recognised in the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action on drugs, as well as in the Outcome Document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs. It is in this spirit that the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) has produced this Shadow Report, to contribute constructively to high-level discussions on the next decade in global drug policy.

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  • What comes next?

    Post-UNGASS options for 2019/2020 – Version 4
    IDPC Advocacy Note
    January 2018

    The 2016 UNGASS on drugs was hailed as an opportunity ‘to conduct a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options’. Although the UNGASS process had some challenges, it was nonetheless a critical moment for global drug policy reform. In June 2017, the UN Secretary General welcomed the UNGASS Outcome Document as a ‘forward-looking blueprint for action’ and called on governments to ‘honour the unanimous commitments’ made.

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  • Edging forward

    How the UN’s language on drugs has advanced since 1990
    Jamie Bridge (IDPC), Christopher Hallam (IDPC), Marie Nougier (IDPC), Miguel Herrero Cangas (IDPC) Martin Jelsma (TNI), Tom Blickman (TNI) & David Bewley-Taylor (GDPO)
    IDPC Briefing Paper
    September 2017

    Diplomatic processes at the United Nations are notoriously slow and difficult, perhaps increasingly so in a modern world of multi-polar geopolitics and tensions. This is certainly no different for the highly charged and provocative issue of international drug control. After the latest high-level UN meeting on drug control – the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the ‘world drug problem’ in New York in April 2016 – many stakeholders came away with mixed feelings at best. Despite acknowledgements of the progress made in certain areas of the debate, and the rich content of some of the country and civil society statements, the UNGASS failed to deliver the ‘wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options’ that had been called for by the UN Secretary-General at the time, Ban Ki-Moon.

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  • International cooperation against the world drug problem

    Report of the Secretary-General
    UN General Assembly A/72/225
    July 19, 2017

    This report prepared by the UN Secretary-General for the 72nd Session of the General Assembly provides an overview of the global situation on drugs, and crucially highlights cross-UN efforts to implement the UNGASS Outcome Document. In April 2017, the Secretary-General tasked UNODC with coordinating efforts across the UN system to support governments in operationalising the UNGASS Outcomes. This work should promote “efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as well as strategies to strengthen human rights-based and health-based approaches” and should further elaborate “a comprehensive organization-wide strategy across the three founding pillars of the United Nations system — development, human rights, and peace and security — in support of the preparations for the sixty-second session of the Commission, to be held in 2019” (para 20).

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  • WHO and UNDP change in leadership: What views on drug policy and harm reduction?

    The commitment of the aspiring leaders to evidence-based policies must be one of the criteria taken into account
    Khalid Tinasti, Ann Fordham, David R Bewley-Taylor
    Thursday, May 4, 2017

    The UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs held in April 2016 has been organized by the international drug control entities, but has confirmed the inclusion of other UN agencies in the global debates on drugs. Out of these, WHO and UNDP have played a major role in linking drug policy with the priorities of protecting human rights and promoting sustainable development. In May 2017, the leadership of both agencies will change. This letter reviews the aspiring leaders of these agencies’ positions on drug policies through existing literature, providing more clarity on their past or current commitment to the issue of drug policy and harm reduction stakeholders.

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  • What comes next?

    Post-UNGASS options for 2019/2020 – Version 2
    IDPC Advocacy Note
    March 2017

    The 2016 UNGASS on drugs was hailed as an opportunity ‘to conduct a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options’. Although the UNGASS fell short of expectations, it was nonetheless a critical moment for global drug policy reform. The next opportunity to build on progress made will be in 2019, when the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action will be up for review. The document established 2019 ‘as a target date for States to eliminate or reduce significantly and measurably’ illicit drug supply and demand, the diversion and trafficking of precursors and money laundering. Evidence from the UN itself shows that these targets are unachievable.

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