PRESS RELEASE FROM TRANSFORM
5 March 2009
Tel: 0117 941 5810 or 07970 174747
As the member states gather in Vienna for next week’s meetings to set a new 10 year UN drugs strategy, it is clear that rather than supporting the fundamental UN objective to broker, maintain and promote peace and wellbeing, the UN Office on Drugs Crime (UNODC) and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (the Commission) will announce their continued support for an unwinnable war on drugs.
This is despite even Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of UNODC admitting that the current drug control system has huge negative unintended consequences including:
· a huge criminal market,
· policy displacement, whereby public health is displaced by enforcement
· the ‘balloon effect’ where enforcement just shifts trafficking routes and production from one location to another
Transform Head of Policy, Danny Kushlick said; “Every state that signs up to the Political Declaration at this Commission recommits the UN to complicity in fighting a catastrophic war on drugs. It is a tragic irony that the UN, so often renowned for peacekeeping, is being used to fight a war that brings untold misery to some of the most marginalised people on earth. 8000 deaths in Mexico in recent years, the destabilisation of Colombia and Afghanistan, continued corruption and instability in the Caribbean and West Africa are testament to the catastrophic impact of a drug control system based upon global prohibition.”
“It is no surprise that the Declaration is unlikely even to mention harm reduction, as it runs counter to the primary impact of the prevailing drug control system which, as the past ten years demonstrate, increases harm.”
This latest failure of leadership at the Commission highlights how the entire UN drug control infrastructure is not fit for purpose and should be completely over-hauled.
Transform has three calls:
1 A year-long moratorium on strategic drug policy commitments at the global level
2 A full impact analysis of the ‘unintended consequences’ of the drug control system to feed into a genuine review in 2010
3 A commission to explore alternatives to the failed war on drugs
Danny Kushlick added; “The unwillingness of the UNODC and other international bodies to formally evaluate the negative impacts of the war on drugs is the classic modus operandi of bodies scared of letting the outside world know that their policies are failing. As a result the Commission will be a succession of speeches that amount to little more than self-congratulatory propaganda or bellicose exhortations to fight the war with more vigour.”
“ A year long moratorium on global drug policy commitments would allow a meaningful process of evaluation on which to build a policy based on principles of peace, security and wellbeing, as opposed to militarisation, securitisation and incarceration – especially in light of a change in tone on drug policy from the Obama Administration.”
“This is a watershed moment for the UN, member states and the NGO world. The last ten years has seen a continuation of the war on drugs and a complete stasis in progressing more effective, just and humane policies. World leaders need to take a stand for the principles upon which the UN was created and provide the leadership required to end the war on drugs. If not, we risk finding ourselves in a decade’s time seeing the UN as a war council not a peace making body.”
Danny Kushlick, Head of Policy and Communications 07970 174747
Steve Rolles, Head of Research 07980 213943
Notes for Editors:
· The 52nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs will be meeting in Vienna. First the government ministerial High Level Segment (11th –12th March 2009) will sign off the Political Declaration, and then the Commission meeting itself (16th-20th March 2009) will debate the details.
· The global market in illegal drugs is estimated at £160 billion a year. If the current regime remains in place for the next decade, the total could approach £2 trillion.
· The crime costs accrued over the last ten years in the UK alone, are estimated to be in the region of £100 billion.
· Executive Director of UN Office on Drugs and Crime declares international drug control system is not ‘fit for purpose’Republish