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.
For more than ten years, TNI’s Drugs & Democracy programme has been studying the UN drug control conventions and the institutional architecture of the UN drug control regime. As we approach the 2016 UNGASS, this primer is a tool to better understand the role of these conventions, the scope and limits of their flexibility, the mandates they established for the CND, the INCB and the WHO, and the various options for treaty reform. (PDF version: Primer: The UN Drug Control Conventions)READ MORE...
The UN exerts little energy toward ensuring that the domestic drug laws mandated by the treaties are drafted and implemented in a manner that safeguards human rightsRick Lines, Richard Elliott, Julie Hannah, Rebecca Schleifer, Tenu Avafia & Damon BarrettHealth and Human Rights Journal
The international drug control treaties contribute directly to an environment of human rights risk and violations. The drug treaties are what are known within international law as “suppression conventions.” Suppression regimes obligate states to use their domestic laws, including criminal laws, to deter or punish the activities identified within the treaty, and are therefore “important legal mechanisms for the globalization of penal norms.” However, while suppression treaties mandate all states to act domestically and collectively to combat crimes defined as being of international concern, they offer no obligations or guidance on what is and is not an appropriate penal response.
Pre-Review ReportH. Valerie Curran, Philip Wiffen, David J. Nutt & Willem ScholtenDrugScience
The scheduling under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs assumes a scientific justification. However, cannabis and cannabis resin have never been evaluated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) since it was mandated the review of psychoactive substances in 1948. The last evaluation for the international substance control conventions were therefore when the League of Nations evaluated them in 1924 and 1935. In 80 years since that decision, both the social context of cannabis use and the science of drug dependence have dramatically changed.
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Legalizing pot will violate international treaties. What should Canada do?CBC (Canada)
Monday, October 3, 2016
As Canada moves forward with its plan to legalize marijuana, government officials have at least one international conundrum to sort out: what to do about the global treaties Canada has signed that prohibit making pot legal? A senior government official said there are essentially two options available. On the one hand, Canada could take a "principled stand" in favour of the international legalization of pot. The other, quieter approach, would be to withdraw from the treaties and attempt to re-enter with a special exemption for legalized marijuana. (See also: Cannabis Regulation and the UN Drug Treaties)
Strategies for ReformWOLA, GDPO, TDPF, TNI, ICHRDP & CDPC
As jurisdictions enact reforms creating legal access to cannabis for purposes other than exclusively “medical and scientific,” tensions surrounding the existing UN drug treaties and evolving law and practice in Member States continue to grow. These treaty tensions have become the “elephant in the room” in key high-level forums, including the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs — obviously present, but studiously ignored.READ MORE...
'Canada cannot pick and choose which international laws to follow,' say authors in CMAJ commentaryCBC (Canada)
Monday, May 16, 2016
The federal government's plan to legalize marijuana contravenes Canada's adherence to the UN drug control conventions, according to a commentary in the CMAJ medical journal. Canada is legally obligated to follow three international treaties. "The federal government should immediately take proactive steps to seek a reservation to the marijuana provisions of these treaties and/or to initiate their renegotiation," write the authors. "If these diplomatic efforts fail, Canada must formally withdraw from these treaties to avoid undermining international law and compromising its global position." (See also: Will Canada violate international conventions if it legalizes pot? | Cannabis Regulation and the UN Drug Treaties)
Cannabis is clearly the elephant in the room at UNGASS
With an increasing number of jurisdictions enacting or contemplating reforms creating legal access to cannabis for purposes other than exclusively "medical and scientific," tensions regarding the drug conventions and evolving law and practice in Member States continue to grow. How might the UN system address these growing tensions in ways that acknowledge the policy shifts underway and explore options that reinforce the UN pillars of human rights, development, peace and security, and the rule of law?
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Martin JelsmaJournal of Drug Policy Analysis
This paper explores key lessons from the 1990 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Drug Abuse (UNGASS 1990) and the 1998 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 1998), and tracks subsequent policy events and trends. It discusses the wide array of increasing tensions and cracks in the “Vienna consensus,” as well as systemic challenges and recent treaty breaches.
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Report of a GDPO/ICHRDP/TNI/WOLA Expert SeminarFinal report of proceedings
Drug policy reform is currently higher on the international agenda than it has been in recent memory. With a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs set for 19-21 April 2016, the prominence of this issue will further increase. Significant legal and policy reforms at the national level have taken place in recent years that pose considerable challenges to the international legal framework for drug control, and beg important questions regarding states’ international legal obligations.
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David NuttPLoS Biology 13(1)
January 27, 2015
The United Nations drug control conventions of 1960 and 1971 and later additions have inadvertently resulted in perhaps the greatest restrictions of medical and life sciences research. These conventions now need to be revised to allow neuroscience to progress unimpeded and to assist in the innovation of treatments for brain disorders. In the meantime, local changes, such as the United Kingdom moving cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, should be implemented to allow medical research to develop appropriately.
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