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Home > English (en) > News > 2011 > THE WAR ON DRUGS HAS FAILED. TIME FOR A NEW APPROACH
Published on 21 November 2011  by encod




House of Lords, London

17 November 2011

WE THE UNDERSIGNED call on members of the public and of Parliament to recognise that:-

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Fifty years after the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was launched, the global war on drugs has failed, and has had many unintended and devastating consequences worldwide.

Use of the major controlled drugs has risen, and supply is cheaper, purer and more available than ever before. The UN conservatively estimates that there are now 250 million drug users worldwide.

Illicit drugs are now the third most valuable industry in the world, after food and oil, estimated to be worth $450 billion a year, all in the control of criminals.

Fighting the war on drugs costs the world’s taxpayers incalculable billions each year. An estimated 10 million people are in prison worldwide for drug-related offences, mostly “little fish” – personal users and small-time dealers.

Corruption amongst law-enforcers and politicians, especially in producer and transit countries, has spread as never before, endangering democracy and civil society.

Stability, security and development are threatened by the fallout from the war on drugs, as are human rights. Tens of thousands of people die in the drug war each year.

The drug-free world so confidently predicted by supporters of the war on drugs is further than ever from attainment. The policies of prohibition create more harms than they prevent. We must seriously consider shifting resources away from criminalising tens of millions of otherwise law abiding citizens, and move towards an approach based on health, harm-reduction, cost-effectiveness and respect for human rights. Evidence consistently shows that these health-based approaches deliver better results than criminalisation.

Improving our drug policies is one of the key policy challenges of our time.

It is time for world leaders to fundamentally review their strategies in response to the drug phenomenon. That is what the Global Commission on Drug Policy, led by four former Presidents, by Kofi Annan and by other world leaders, has bravely done with its ground-breaking Report, first presented in New York in June, and now at the House of Lords on 17 November.

At the root of current policies lies the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. It is time to re-examine this treaty. A document entitled ‘Rewriting the UN Drug Conventions’ has recently been commissioned in order to show how amendments to the conventions could be made which would allow individual countries the freedom to explore drug policies that best suit their domestic needs, rather than seeking to impose the current “one-size-fits-all” solution.

As we cannot eradicate the production, demand or use of drugs, we must find new ways to minimise harms. We should give support to our Governments to explore new policies based on scientific evidence.

Yours faithfully,

Signatories to Public Letter

President Jimmy Carter
Former President of the United States, Nobel Prize winner

President Fernando H. Cardoso
Former President of Brazil

President César Gaviria
Former President of Colombia

President Vicente Fox
Former President of Mexico

President Ruth Dreifuss
Former President of Switzerland

President Lech Wałęsa
Former President of Poland, Nobel Prize winner.

President Aleksander Kwaśniewski
Former President of Poland

George P. Schultz
Former US Secretary of State

Jaswant Singh
Former Minister of Defence, of Finance, and for External Affairs, India

Professor Lord Piot
Former UN Under Secretary-General

Louise Arbour, CC, GOQ
Former UN High-Commissioner for Human Rights

Carel Edwards
Former Head of the EU Commission’s Drug Policy Unit

Javier Solana, KOGF, KCMG
Former EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy

Thorvald Stoltenberg
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs (Norway) and UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Gary Johnson
Republican US Presidential Candidate

Professor Sir Harold Kroto
Chemist, Nobel Prize winner

Dr. Kary Mullis
Chemist, Nobel Prize winner

Professor John Polanyi
Chemist, Nobel Prize winner

Professor Kenneth Arrow
Economist, Nobel Prize winner

Professor Thomas C. Schelling
Economist, Nobel Prize winner

Professor Sir Peter Mansfield
Economist, Nobel Prize winner

Professor Sir Anthony Leggett
Physicist, Nobel Prize winner

Professor Martin L. Perl
Physicist, Nobel Prize winner

Mario Vargas Llosa
Writer, Nobel Prize winner

Wisława Szymborska
Poet, Nobel Prize winner

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore
Former President of the Royal College of Physicians

Professor Robert Lechler
Dean of School of Medicine, KCL

Professor A. C. Grayling
Master of the New College of the Humanities

Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta
Professor of Economics at Cambridge

Asma Jahangir
Former UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Extrajudicial and Summary Execution

Dr. Muhammed Abdul Bari, MBE
Former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain

Professor Noam Chomsky
Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT

Carlos Fuentes
Novelist and essayist

Sir Richard Branson
Entrepreneur and Founder of the Virgin Group

John Whitehead
Chair of the WTC Memorial Foundation

Maria Cattaui
Former Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce

Nicholas Green, QC
Former Chairman of the Bar Council

Professor David Nutt
Former Chair of the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs

Professor Trevor Robbins
Professor of Neuroscience at Cambridge

Professor Niall Ferguson
Professor of History at Harvard University

Professor Peter Singer
Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University

Professor Jonathan Wolff
Professor of Philosophy at UCL

Professor Robin Room
School of Population Health, University of Melbourne

Sir Peregrine Worsthorne
Former Editor of The Sunday Telegraph

Dr. Jan Wiarda
Former President of European Police Chiefs

Musician and actor

Yoko Ono
Musician and artist

Sean Parker
Founding President of Facebook, Director of Spotify

Bernardo Bertolucci
Film Director

Gilberto Gil
Musician, former Minister of Culture, Brazil

John Perry Barlow
Co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Tom Lloyd
Former Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire

Bob Ainsworth, MP
Former UK Secretary of State for Defence

Peter Lilley, MP
Former Secretary of State for Social Security

Tom Brake, MP

Dr. Julian Huppert, MP

Caroline Lucas, MP

Paul Flynn, MP

Dr. Patrick Aeberhard
Former President of Doctors of the World

Lord Mancroft
Chair of the Drug and Alcohol Foundation

General Lord Ramsbotham
Former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Lord Rees, OM
Astronomer Royal and former President of the Royal Society

Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss
Director of the Beckley Foundation

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2 Forum posts
  • It is time for a new approach. I have some ideas how we can get it legalized. This is a bit complicated, but basically it involves using the benefits of competition. We start small, dividing land into economic regions that compete to get people to live and work there. Popular regions get more land, while unpopular ones go out of business and their land is given to the better regions. Each region is managed by its own company, nonprofit, or other organization. There are a lot of details needed to make this work, but all the problems are fixed. It is practical because it can start very small, like some gated communities. One of the reasons this will work is because companies make profit from the regions, and the more popular regions get more land and more people and more profits. The power of money is unstoppable. Corporations will lobby to get it legalized because they can get more land and more profits. Competition works, and will result in all regions improving, so we get a better economy and legalization. If anybody doesn’t believe we can develop this and make it work, please see the website at: www.endworldsuffering.org

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  • self - determination in the light of ’61 & ’71. 30 November 2011 22:26, by H.Kooistra
    Friday 18 november 2011- Dear prof Nutt; Recently there was the press-relase with the rewriting of the UN drugsconvention ’61 request where you ware among the signers/acceptances... i read this in the afternoon and had some time to reflect and am focused on the cannabis issue specially with the ecological meaning on hemp for the environment and earth-vertilisation at the background (and the ethics of care from Carol Gilligan where the receiver of care has to be considered as well, that is a legitimate -one size that fits all purpose- with respect of selfdetermination of a human beingl!!!) and i have the following issue in my afternoon-reflections : How is the preamble of the Vienna meeting of ’71 to place next to the ’61?: Vienna ’71 convention...: Preamble The Parties, Being concerned with the health and welfare of mankind, Noting with concern the public health and social problems resulting from the abuse of certain psychotropic substances, Determined to prevent and combat abuse of such substances and the illicit traffic to which it gives rise, Considering that rigorous measures are necessary to restrict the use of such substances to legitimate purposes, Recognizing that the use of psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes is indispensable and that their availability for such purposes should not be unduly restricted, Believing that effective measures against abuse of such substances require co-ordination and universal action, Acknowledging the competence of the United Nations in the field of control of psychotropic substances and desirous that the international organs concerned should be within the framework of that Organization, Recognizing that an international convention is necessary to achieve these purposes..... http://lexius.nl/verdrag-inzake-psychotrope-stoffen-wenen-21-02-1971 1. Is it necesary to rewrite the ’61 UN convention texts when the ’71 already gives legitimate purposes-space? Is it not just focusing on legitimate purposes before rewriting- is more efficient says my intuition... although i really apreciate the motivation behind the press-release...looking out for a swift reply on the vienna convention issue if your agenda has space for that, so to speak... And complementary: How is the policy on opiumexemptions organized within the UN-states under this conventions? There is more efficient space available already than getting all the governments with the nose in the same direction....that could very well be the direction within... Ingenium saluti soli colatur- may the intellect be used solely for the well-being of mankind. insigna medal KNAW P. Drenth - Gardening in science. 1996 Heartgreetz drs. Hester Kooistra- humanistica from Amsterdam

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The European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies, is a pan-European network of currently 160 NGO’s and individual experts involved in the drug issue on a daily base. We are the European section of an International Coalition, which consists of more than 400 NGOs from around the world that have adhered to a Manifesto for Just and Effective Drug Policies (established in 1998). Among our members are organisations of cannabis and other drug users, of health workers, researchers, grassroot activists as well as companies.

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