UN Global War on Drugs a Failure?

By | October 25, 2018

The 10 year-old strategy of the United Nations to eradicate the world’s illegal drug market is “a spectacular failure of policy.”

Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

New York, NY, United States (4E) – The 10 year-old strategy of the United Nations to eradicate the world’s illegal drug market is “a spectacular failure of policy.”

This stunning claim was levelled at the UN by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) in its new report, “Taking stock: A decade of drug policy.” Based in London, IDPC is a network of 174 NGOs that promotes objective and open debate on drug policy at national, regional and international levels. IDPC supports evidence-based policies that are effective at reducing drug-related harm.

IDPC evaluated the UN Office of Drug and Crime’s 10-year plan. It concluded the UN plan “continues to generate a catastrophic impact on health, human rights, security and development, while not even remotely reducing the global supply of illegal drugs.”

The IDPC report said there had been a 145 percent jump in drug-related deaths over the last decade. These deaths reached a peak of around 450,000 deaths per year in 2015.

There was a 130 percent increase in the cultivation of opium poppies; a 34 percent rise in the coca bush production and no sign of a reduction in cannabis growing. The plan has a specific target to eliminate or reduce the “illicit cultivation of opium poppy, coca bush and cannabis plant.”

The report says its data “illustrates the carnage that the war on drugs has wreaked over the past decade”.

It noted the main drug used is cannabis or marijuana. The next most popular are opioids and amphetamines. Consumption of the latter jumped 136 percent over thelast decade.

“This report is another nail in the coffin for the war on drugs,” said Ann Fordham, IDPC executive director.

IDPC is urging the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs to consider a different approach to narcotics strategy for the next 10 years in advance of the March 2019 summit in Vienna, Austria.

The fact that governments and the UN do not see fit to properly evaluate the disastrous impact of the last 10 years of drug policy, is depressingly unsurprising.

“Governments will meet next March at the UN and will likely rubber-stamp more of the same for the next decade in drug policy. This would be a gross dereliction of duty, and a recipe for more blood spilled in the name of drug control,” rues the report.

The report also said punitive drug policies focusing on eradicating the illegal drug market has caused human rights violations along with threats to public health and order.

Mass incarceration, fuelled by the criminalization of those who use drugs, has left one in five prisoners incarcerated for drug offences. Most of those imprisoned were locked-up for possession for personal use.

At least 3,940 people were executed for a drug offence in 2017. The report also noted that over 27,000 people died in extrajudicial killings in drug crackdowns in the Philippines.

The report said drug-related deaths skyrocketed by 145% over the last decade, with more than 71,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2017 alone. Read More