The pathetic state of the UN drug policy regime

As you may (or may not) know, the UNODC just had a major event in Vienna with over 1,300 delegates from 127 states, NGOs, and agencies to discuss where we are headed with international drug policy. Missed the coverage on the news? I’m not surprised.

Max Daly has an interesting report on the growing irrelevance of the UNODC: Most Importand UN Drugs Summit For Decades Was Depressing

Echoing the way the century-old drug war has been fought, many speakers just go through the motions, playing drug seizure bingo – relaying meaningless stats about how many tons of drugs they’ve confiscated with how many boats and planes. How drugs is a scourge, a menace, a plague. How we must tackle this head on, otherwise our children will become a generation of drug zombies. [...]

So at the end of the meeting in Vienna, the jargon-filled, 45-point statement was nothing like a consensus, as the UN had claimed, but a list of vague pointlessnesses about how drugs are bad, traffickers should get caught and addicts should be helped so they don’t spread disease. There’s no mention of the huge changes in approach adopted in South America, the USA, New Zealand – or in European countries like Portugal and Czech Republic – and no condemnation of the death penalty for drug offences.

Business as usual, even after all that talking.

“It’s just a bland restatement of previous commitments, meaningless platitudes and delusional self-congratulation,” says Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst at the UK-based Transform Drug Policy Foundation. “What we are looking at is the rather desperate last gasps of the War on Drugs as a global framework.”

In the real world, the global War on Drugs as a joint enterprise is unravelling fast. However, within the walls of the United Nations, everything is just fine.

It may be that there will be no international celebration of the end of the war on drugs with pomp and circumstance, but rather the war will get ignored to death over time as it becomes less and less relevant.

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