CITIZENS AFFECTED BY WORLD DRUG POLICIES QUESTION THE UN
Published on Tuesday 24 February 2009 11:53, by. Modified on Saturday 7 March 2009 15:11 All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English]
Friday 13 March, 11.00 hs
Cafe Landtmann, Vienna.
From 11 to 13 March, the High Level Segment of the UN Commision on Narcotic Drugs will take place in Vienna, with the purpose of establishing new guidelines for international drug policies. The Summit will take place a year after the results of a ten year strategy adopted by the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs in New York in 1998 should have been evaluated. The goal of that strategy was to eliminate or significantly reduce illicit drug supply and demand by 2008.
The sad truth is that there has been no evaluation worthy of that name. The UN Office on Drug Control (UNODC) has written its own story, falsely claiming to have achieved control of the world drug problem. On the other hand, UNODC now acknowledges the serious harmful effects of drug prohibition. We welcome this important recognition, but we deplore the fact that it is immediately made worthless by unfounded predictions of less damaging results.
A more serious evaluation does exist, however, which was ordered by the European Commission, and conducted by a respected group of experts with more distance to the UN and national drug policies. Until the moment this statement is written this report is not open for public scrutiny. It seems evident that, to have a meaningful impact on the deliberations and outcome of the CND, this "counterevaluation" should be made public before and not after the actual start of the CND. We condemn the way publication of this important advice has been held up. This will further reduce the relevance of the outcome of this year’s CND.
Ten years have passed and the supply of cannabis, cocaine and heroin has increased. More people use illicit drugs than ever. The illegal environment in which drugs are produced, distributed and consumed has generated corruption, violent conflicts, criminal profits and dangers to public health.
Independent analysts estimate the cost of drug prohibition in terms of expenses for police and justice operations at 70 billion euro year. There is no evidence whatsoever that these operations have had any positive impact on drugs-related crime.
At the same time these policies have ruined the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the entire world, who have become a victim of executions, military repression, eradication of crops, environmental damage, incarceration and torture, violation of economic, social and cultural rights, marginalisation and stigmatization committed by authorities in the name of the war on drugs.
Meanwhile, the UN drug control bureaucracy continues to reject any possible alternative to the policies of repression and prohibition. Also this year, the International Narcotics Control Board (consisting of 13 so-called drug experts in charge of monitoring the entire world drug situation) criticizes countries for applying non repressive harm reduction strategies such as needle exchange, decriminalization of cannabis use or even defending cultural traditions such as the use of the coca leaf in Bolivia, where this leaf has been a part of culture since thousands of years.
How long will we have to see the UN dictating instructions to carry out policies that are deemed to fail? When will common sense take over the debate on drugs?
This question is brought forward to the Ministerial Summit in Vienna by a coalition of citizens from the entire world. They will represent both producers of illicit plants, consumers of drugs and other citizens who are directly affected by drug policies.
Among others they will maintain that the creation of legal markets for beneficial products that can be made of the coca leaf, cannabis and opium, for consumers in the entire world, could create opportunities for developing a sustainable future for populations in marginalised areas such as Afghanistan, Morocco or the Andean Region.
They will maintain that non-repressive drug policies, such as cannabis policy in the Netherlands or heroin policy in Switzerland, have better results than repressive drug policies. The popularity of cannabis in the Netherlands, where it is legally available, is lower than in many other European countries or the United States, where it is totally prohibited. Mr. Costa has no idea how to explain this. He simply wants to continue the war on cannabis even when the evidence on cannabis use in the Netherlands falsifies the theory of prohibition.
Representing citizens from all over the world they will insist that taking the drugs market out of the hands of criminal organisations will save and improve the lives of millions of people around the planet.
Each day that the United Nations postpone this decision, they make themselves responsible for policies that do not benefit anyone, except the criminal organizations that dedicate themselves to drugs trafficking, as well as the bureaucracies working in the so-called drug control business, among others those who build prisons.
It is time to initiate new strategies in international drug policy. Current strategies cause more problems than solutions. Non-repressive strategies are needed to deal with the drug issue, strategies that do not criminalise producers nor consumers, that are aimed at reducing risks related to drugs within a legal framework in which human rights are respected.
We invite the representatives of the media to a press conference with the members of the delegation to the UN Summit on Friday 13 March, 11.00 hs onwards, in cafe Landtmann, Vienna.
Speakers will be:
If conditions allow: Chakib Alkhayari, president of the Human Rights Association for the people of the Rif (North Morocco).
Representatives of coca producers from Bolivia.
Jude Byrne and Matthew Southwell, members of INPUD, the International Network of People who Use Drugs.
Fredrick Polak, European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD) , who since one year is trying to start an open conversation with the UNODC Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa on the evidence that drug prohibition has no impact on drug use levels.
Adriana Rodriguez Salazar, independent researcher from Colombia, specialised in the impact of the war on drugs on society and environment in Colombia.
Terry Nelson, of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, United States, an association of mainly (ex-) policemen and judges opposed to the war on drugs.
Lennice Werth, Michael Krawitz - Virginians Against Drug Violence, USA
Mikki Norris, Chris Conrad, Human Rights and the Drug War, USA
Human Rights and the Drug War is a multi-media project that puts a human face on the destructive nature of US Drug Policy, which uses incarceration as a first response to drug issues.
Kris Krane, Executive Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, USA
Representative of Legalizace.cz - civil association for effective cannabis policy, Czech Republic
Balázs Dénes, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
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