A Drug Policy Moratorium is needed, and a true Year of Reflection.
By Fredrick Polak, European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies
5 March 2009
Next week, the CND (Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the policy making organ of the UNODC, UN Office on Drugs and Crime) will try to decide on the policies for the next period, possibly the next ten years. This was on the agenda at last year’s CND, but because the data were not in, it was decided to introduce a “Year of Reflection”.
This call for a moratorium in UN drug policy is based on the following three reasons.
1. The Year of Reflection has not been used properly, and cannot be concluded in March 09. There has been no evaluation, nor reflection worthy of that name, at least not within UNODC, INCB, nor CND. As usual, CND only evaluates itself.
And let us not forget that the Mexico’s call for an evaluation, shortly before UNGASS 1998, was refused by CND.
In the past year, there has been no discussion on any independent evaluation within CND. The input from the global NGO-assembly “Beyond 2008” was all but ignored. The preparations for CND ‘09 concentrated on the Political Declaration that had to be produced in consensus for the “High Level segment” of CND, and are in an ideological stalemate on the subject of Harm Reduction.
2. The only independent evaluation that should have reached CND-members before and during their deliberations starting next week, was the one commissioned by the European Commission. This evaluation, by a commission chaired by Prof. Peter Reuter was ready in draft in December, but was held up for unclear reasons and will not be made public before the beginning of the CND. This means that there is no more chance of this evaluation to have any influence on the outcome of CND ‘09.
However, on 4 March at a meeting in Brussels of the Civil Society Forum on drug policy of the European Union, a week before the start of CND, the core conclusion of the Reuter evaluation was disclosed: international drug policy has done more harm than good.
3. During the last weeks, it has become clear that the USA is on the verge of significant changes of position on drug policy. After the election of President Obama the American delegation continued for as long as possible to resist the acceptance of Harm Reduction and Human Rights principles, which are widely accepted throughout the United Nations. Only a few days ago the US representative at the CND announced a minor, but important shift in stance on Harm Reduction. It is clear that the Obama administration needs more time to devise its new policy. Of course, the UN cannot let its policies be determined by one country. On the other hand, the USA is the dominant global power, possibly even more in drug policy than in other areas. It makes little sense to adopt a global policy for a long period, knowing that the USA is in the process of changing its positions, which will probably influence a lot of other member states.
The need for a period of true reflection is greater than ever. Deciding on drug policy now, which means determining policy for many years, possibly again the next ten years, would be highly irresponsible.
This year’s CND cannot be accepted to be the final chord of the “Year of Reflection”. The publication of the independent evaluation by the Reuter Commission can and should be the beginning of serious discussion and reflection.
A Drug Policy Moratorium is needed, and a true Year of Reflection.Republish