Leaked U.N. Document Highlights Drug War Dissent

An internal U.N.
document leaked to The Guardian offers a

rare glimpse
of disagreement about drug policy among member
states, several of which are advocating a less violent approach.
The document, a draft of a policy statement scheduled to be
released next spring, suggests a breakdown in the international
consensus supporting the forcible suppression of politically
disfavored pharmacological tastes:

Ecuador is pushing the UN to include a statement that recognises
that the world needs to look beyond prohibition. Its submission
claims there is “a need for more effective results in addressing
the world drug problem” that will encourage “deliberations on
different approaches that could be more efficient and

Venezuela is pushing for the draft to include a new
understanding of “the economic implications of the current
dominating health and law enforcement approach in tackling the
world drug problem”, arguing that the current policy fails to
recognise the “dynamics of the drug criminal market.”…

Norway wants the draft to pose “questions related to
decriminalisation and a critical assessment of the approach
represented by the so-called war on drugs.” Switzerland wants the
draft to recognise the consequences of the current policy on public
health issues. It wants it to include the observation that member
states “note with concern that consumption prevalence has not been
reduced significantly and that the consumption of new psychoactive
substances has increased in most regions of the world.” It also
wants the draft to “express concern that according to UNAids, the
UN programme on HIV/Aids, the global goal of reducing HIV
infections among people who inject drugs by 50% by 2015 will not be
reached, and that drug-related transmission is driving the
expansion of the epidemic in many countries.”

The EU is also pushing hard for the draft to emphasise the need
for drug-dependence treatment and care options for offenders as an
alternative to incarceration.

“Drug users should be entitled to access to treatment, essential
medicines, care and related support services,” the EU’s submission
suggests. “Programmes related to recovery and social reintegration
should also be encouraged.”

With the exception of Ecuador, this is pretty mild stuff,
especially at a time when former presidents of Latin American
countries have publicly called
 an end to the war on drugs and two U.S. states, along
with Uruguay, have taken a big step in that direction by legalizing
marijuana. But in the context of U.N. policy statements, which are
usually organized around mindless mantras like “A Drug-Free World
by 2000,” these deviations from prohibitionist orthodoxy seem
almost radical.

“The idea that there is a global consensus on drugs policy is
fake,” Damon Barrett, deputy director of Harm Reduction
International, tells The Guardian. “The differences
have been there for a long time, but you rarely get to see them. It
all gets whittled down to the lowest common denominator, when all
you see is agreement. But it’s interesting to see now what they are
arguing about.”

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/02/leaked-un-document-highlights-drug-war-d

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