ACTION APPEAL OF THE EUROPEAN COALITION FOR JUST AND EFFECTIVE DRUG POLICIES
Tomorrow, June 26, is the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1987, this day serves as a reminder of the goal agreed to by Member States of creating a world free of drug abuse. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) selects themes for the International Day and launches campaigns to raise awareness about the global drug problem. Health is the ongoing theme of the world drug campaign.
In our view UNODC is now sending an ambiguous message (not to say hypocritical). On the one hand it is mobilizing people to support the current drug control system, which not only failed miserably to prevent drug use, but also generated immense harms. On the other hand it compels young people to make healthy choices.
We agree that not only young people but all people should make healthy choices in their lives and we believe that the actual drug control system is not helping them to do so.
Due to the criminalization of some drugs that was established in three UN treaties, the UN system is not promoting a healthier approach to drugs in its member states. It is now clear that criminalization of drugs is causing the majority of health and social problems related to drug use. UNODC is aware of that and even acknowledged it in some extent last year, when its Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, started talking about the “unintended consequences” of drug prohibition. Therefore, to continue defending the same system could be considered criminal negligence.
The current system based on prohibition is damaging the health and wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people and impeding the development of creative alternative solutions to solve drug related problems and use the currently illegal substances for industrial, medicinal and other purposes that are benefitial for human kind.
In this atmosphere of fear for the “drug menace”, generated by UNODC’s anti-drug campaigns, member states do not apply any other policy but ’the war on drugs’. A majority of states still criminalizes drug consumption and some use extremely disproportionate punishments, such as the death penalty. Harm reduction and voluntary-treatment approaches receive less support and are in fact loosing force in many countries that are in desperate need of creative solutions to their drug related problems.
Drug consumers are often exposed to poor quality and contaminated drugs, because under this system drugs are offered exclusively by illegal ways. Consumers are being deprived of potential therapeutic benefits of plants and other substances (morphine, cannabis, MDMA, coca leaves, etc) that are strictly controlled by the UN conventions or considered of no therapeutic relevance. Drug law enforcement expenses (aimed to reduce supply) still represent the bulk of “drug budgets”, leaving in many countries less then 30% to be invested in prevention, harm reduction and treatment./
A healthy approach to drugs is incompatible with the current UN drug control system. If the United Nations really want to promote health, they should first make a healthier choice for themselves, which means a profound revision of the conventions, allowing more flexibility to member states and end once and for all this unsustainable war on drugs.
On June 26, let’s help UNODC to make a healthy choice. Send an e-mail to UNODC chief Antonio Maria Costa telling him how drug prohibition damages your health more then the drugs itself. You can also use UNODC campaign page on facebook