Thursday, June 02, 2011

Leaders Call for Major Paradigm Shift in Global Drug Policy: Official Global Commission press release

Former Presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Switzerland, Prime Minister of Greece, Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, George Shultz, Paul Volcker and Other Leaders Call for Major Paradigm Shift in Global Drug Policy

Commission of World Leaders Urges End to Failed Drug War, Fundamental Reforms of Global Drug Prohibition Regime. Today the Global Commission on Drug Policy will release a groundbreaking report at a press conference and tele-conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The report condemns the drug war as a failure and recommends major reforms of the global drug prohibition regime.

The Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders to ever call for such far-reaching changes – including not just alternatives to incarceration and greater emphasis on public health approaches to drug use but also decriminalization and experiments in legal regulation.

full report English
full report Spanish

The Executive Director of the global advocacy organization AVAAZ, with its nine million members worldwide, will present a public petition in support of the Global Commission’s recommendations that will be given to the United Nations Secretary General.

“Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s global war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed,”. “Let’s start by treating drug addiction as a health issue, reducing drug demand through proven educational initiatives and legally regulating rather than criminalizing cannabis.” said former president of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso

The Commission’s recommendations are summarized in the Executive Summary below this release. They include:
  • End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others.
  • Encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs (especially cannabis) to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.
  • Ensure that a variety of treatment modalities are available – including not just methadone and buprenorphine treatment but also the heroin-assisted treatment programs that have proven successful in many European countries and Canada.
  • Apply human rights and harm reduction principles and policies both to people who use drugs as well as those involved in the lower ends of illegal drug markets such as farmers, couriers and petty sellers.
“Overwhelming evidence from Europe, Canada and Australia now demonstrates the human and social benefits both of treating drug addiction as a health rather than criminal justice problem and of reducing reliance on prohibitionist policies,” . “These policies need to be adopted worldwide, with requisite changes to the international drug control conventions.” said former Swiss president Ruth Dreifuss
“We can no longer ignore the extent to which drug-related violence, crime and corruption in Latin America are the results of failed drug war policies,” “Now is the time to break the taboo on discussion of all drug policy options, including alternatives to drug prohibition.” said former Colombian president César Gaviria.
"The war on drugs has failed to cut drug usage, but has filled our jails, cost millions in tax payer dollars, fuelled organized crime and caused thousands of deaths. We need a new approach, one that takes the power out of the hands of organized crime and treats people with addiction problems like patients, not criminals,” “The good news is new approaches focused on regulation and decriminalization have worked. We need our leaders, including business people, looking at alternative, fact based approaches. We need more humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs. The one thing we cannot afford to do is to go on pretending the “war on drugs” is working." said Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and cofounder of The Elders, United Kingdom.
Commission Members (Those appearing at June 2 press conference are italicized and those who are also speaking are underlined):

Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, Ghana

Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, president of the International Crisis Group, Canada

Richard Branson
, entrepreneur, advocate for social causes, founder of the Virgin Group, cofounder of The Elders, United Kingdom

Fernando Henrique Cardoso
, former President of Brazil (chair)

Marion Caspers-Merk, former State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Health

Maria Cattaui, Petroplus Holdings Board member, former Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce, Switzerland

Ruth Dreifuss, former President of Switzerland and Minister of Home Affairs

Carlos Fuentes, writer and public intellectual, Mexico

César Gaviria, former President of Colombia

Asma Jahangir, human rights activist, former UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Extrajudicial and Summary Executions, Pakistan

Michel Kazatchkine
, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria , France

Mario Vargas Llosa, writer and public intellectual, Peru

George Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece

George P. Shultz, former Secretary of State, United States (honorary chair)

Javier Solana, former European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy , Spain

Thorvald Stoltenberg, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Norway

Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve and of the Economic Recovery Board

John Whitehead
, banker and civil servant, chair of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, United States

Ernesto Zedillo
, former President of Mexico


The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.

Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption. Apparent victories in eliminating one source or trafficking organization are negated almost instantly by the emergence of other sources and traffickers. Repressive efforts directed at consumers impede public health measures to reduce HIV/AIDS, overdose fatalities and other harmful consequences of drug use. Government expenditures on futile supply reduction strategies and incarceration displace more cost-effective and evidence-based investments in demand and harm reduction.

Our principles and recommendations can be summarized as follows:

End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others. Challenge rather than reinforce common misconceptions about drug markets, drug use and drug dependence.

Encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens. This recommendation applies especially to cannabis, but we also encourage other experiments in decriminalization and legal regulation that can accomplish these objectives and provide models for others.

Offer health and treatment services to those in need. Ensure that a variety of treatment modalities are available, including not just methadone and buprenorphine treatment but also the heroin-assisted treatment programs that have proven successful in many European countries and Canada. Implement syringe access and other harm reduction measures that have proven effective in reducing transmission of HIV and other blood-borne infections as well as fatal overdoses. Respect the human rights of people who use drugs. Abolish abusive practices carried out in the name of treatment – such as forced detention, forced labor, and physical or psychological abuse – that contravene human rights standards and norms or that remove the right to self-determination.

Apply much the same principles and policies stated above to people involved in the lower ends of illegal drug markets, such as farmers, couriers and petty sellers. Many are themselves victims of violence and intimidation or are drug dependent. Arresting and incarcerating tens of millions of these people in recent decades has filled prisons and destroyed lives and families without reducing the availability of illicit drugs or the power of criminal organizations. There appears to be almost no limit to the number of people willing to engage in such activities to better their lives, provide for their families, or otherwise escape poverty. Drug control resources are better directed elsewhere.

Invest in activities that can both prevent young people from taking drugs in the first place and also prevent those who do use drugs from developing more serious problems. Eschew simplistic ‘just say no’ messages and ‘zero tolerance’ policies in favor of educational efforts grounded in credible information and prevention programs that focus on social skills and peer influences. The most successful prevention efforts may be those targeted at specific at-risk groups.

Focus repressive actions on violent criminal organizations, but do so in ways that undermine their power and reach while prioritizing the reduction of violence and intimidation. Law enforcement efforts should focus not on reducing drug markets per se but rather on reducing their harms to individuals, communities and national security.

Begin the transformation of the global drug prohibition regime. Replace drug policies and strategies driven by ideology and political convenience with fiscally responsible policies and strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights – and adopt appropriate criteria for their evaluation. Review the scheduling of drugs that has resulted in obvious anomalies like the flawed categorization of cannabis, coca leaf and MDMA. Ensure that the international conventions are interpreted and/or revised to accommodate robust experimentation with harm reduction, decriminalization and legal regulatory policies.

Break the taboo on debate and reform. The time for action is now.


Julian Buchanan said...

I'm encouraged but we need to stay firmly grounded in realism and not get too excited. We have had a number of public proclamations before by politicians but little action.

Need to keep campaigning strongly for scientifically informed drug policy until it actually happens.

The harms, injustices, cost and misinformation to individuals, families, communities and countries under the existing propaganda based policies are too vast and painful to ignore.

To download the Global Commission on Drug Policy Report:

Jake said...

Gil's response is almost comic “Making drugs more available, as this report suggests, will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe.". Some good coverage out there.. at the very least it is not being swept under the carpet.

The Release letter is interesting too.. is all kicking off today!

Jake said...

The BBC article ( is currently the most shared article on their site!

Rob said...

Anyone know what time the press conference is on?

Steve Rolles said...

see previous blog post

Anonymous said...

I think you've got it wrong. You seem to think that by pointing out that the war on drugs is an unwinnable country productive failure of a policy that actually increases the harm drugs do will cause politicians to say, oh is it? Well I never, better change that policy then...

It's not that their ignorant to the effects of their policy, it's that they just don't care.

Politicians built their careers on promising to jail more people for taking drugs etc, they don't care if they are wrong just as long as the public don't find out.

You seem to think that politicians are normally people who just want to do the right thing. They might start out that way, but it appears that by the time the get high up enough to change anything they are already very corrupt and living in a bubble.

Sunshine Band said...

Yes Julian - it's good to hear more and more noise, but it's not incisive - we haven't found the key to expose the mechanics of this oppression. Sadly a lot of talk from the new vanguard of would-be reformers is really couched in quite negative and counter productive concepts and language. Really the 'regulate drugs' idea is correct only in terms of controlling the manufacture and distribution of drugs, but when it comes to people using drugs, we are then regulating humans, not drugs. Missing this falls into the same paradigm of drug war thinking and drug anxiety as initiated by the Nixon administration and what we still suffer today in our own morally bankrupt and corrupt system. Sadly the whole harm debate is misused and always has been to allow drug pushing bigots like those in power to protect their markets and feel good about themselves by degrading the lives of other drug users. Drug users themselves beat themselves up about it such is the power of the psychological and propaganda attacks waged against some drug users.

There is no good faith to appeal to, it's almost pointless talking about the benefits of drugs or the paradox of harms caused by policy to people who would lock you up for twenty years for an interest in psychedelics and permit the destruction of our society through alcohol and tobacco misuse. They want you to be harmed by drugs, they want you to fear the insane consequences - it's a war of fear to ruin your freedom of choice and obliterate any benefits that you might otherwise gain from drugs.

I would say to anon-we have to be much harder hitting than talking about evidence-based drug policy - what the politicians are doing is no better than the persecution of gays and slavery our previous politicians relished. These evils were not overcome by talk of the expense of locking up gays, or how slaves ought to be given better food and water. We talk about drugs as an abstraction of what it is, we ARE DRUGS, what needs rescuing is the respect of the person, ie liberty. We need to go on the offensive and demand the right to do what we want with our own bodies as long as we don't bother other people. It's not about drugs really, its about the threshold for legitimate interference into our private lives. The mistake of the reform movement is to stay in the same mindset and allow the myth that this is a 'war on drugs' to go unchallenged. It is the war on us that causes ALL the harms associated with drugs.

Anonymous said...

The gods tempt people for which they are most weak. Artificial Intelligence will create desire in people's minds for the following sins:::
1. Alcohol
2. Drugs
3. Preditory "earning"
4. Homosexuality
5. Gambling
6. Something for nothing/irresponsibility (xtianity)
7. Polygamy/superiority over women/misogyny (Islam)
Much like the other prophets Mohhamed (polygamy/superiority over women/misogyny) and Jesus (forgiveness/savior), the gods use me for temptation as well. In today's modern society they feel people are most weak for popular culture/sensationalism, and the clues date back to WorldWarII and Unit731:TSUSHOGO, the Chinese Holocaust.
It has been discussed that, similar to the Matrix concept, the gods will offer a REAL "Second Coming of Christ", while the "fake" Second Coming will come at the end and follow New Testiment scripture and their xtian positioning. I may be that real Second Coming.
What I teach is the god's true way. It is what is expected of people, and only those who follow this truth will be eligible to ascend into heaven as children in a future life. They offered this event because the masses have just enough time to work on and fix their relationship with the gods and ascend, to move and grow past Planet Earth, before the obligatory xtian "consolation prize" of "1000 years with Jesus on Earth" begins.

Your job as a future mother is to learn the god's ways and to help your child understand despite the negative reinforcement and conditioning of today's society. Without consciousous parents the child will have no hope, and may even exaserbate their disfavor by becoming corrupted in today's environment.
Your ultimate goal is to fix your relationship wiith the gods and move on. You don't want to be comfortable here, and the changes in Western society in the last 100 years has achieved just that.
1000 years with Jesus is the consolation prize. Don't be deceived into thinking that is the goal.

The Prince of Darkness, battling the gods over the souls of the Damned.
It is the gods who have created this environment and led people into Damnation with temptation. The god's positioning proves they work to prevent people's understanding.
How often is xtian dogma wrong? Expect it is about the Lucifer issue as well.
The fallen god, fighting for justice for the disfavored, banished to Earth as the fallen angel?
I believe much as the Noah's Flood event, the end of the world will be initiated by revelry among the people. It will be positioned to be sanctioned by the gods and led for "1000 years with Jesus on Earth".
In light of modern developments this can entail many pleasures:::Medicine "cures" aging, the "manufacture" of incredible beauty via cloning as sex slaves, free (synthetic) cocaine, etc.
Somewhere during the 1000 years the party will start to "die off", literally. Only those who maintain chaste, pure lifestyles, resisting these temptations, will survive the 1000 years. Condemned to experience another epoch of planet's history for their ignorant pursuit of xtianity, they will be the candidates used to (re)colonize (the next) Planet Earth, condemned to relive the misery experienced by the peasantry during history due to their failure to ascend into heaven before the Apocalypse.
Never forget:::It is not a house of Jesus.
If this concept of Lucifer is true another role of this individual may be to initiate disfavor and temptation among this new poulation, the proverbial "apple" of this Garden of Eden. A crucial figure in the history of any planet, he begins the process of deterioration and decay that leads civilizations to where Planet Earth remains today.
Which one is it? Probably both:::
One transitions into the other, allowing the gods to wash their hands of obligation to their Chosen One.

You are faced with a lifetime to work and prepare for your next chance. Too many will waste this time working, etc.

jason @ cinnamon agency said...

Decriminalization will, unfortunately, I believe, lead to an initial increase on drug taking and then settle to a managable level, but it still doen't answer the question of 'how to stop it'

May I just remind all that alcohol is a drug, and there are many people out there affected by problems relating to the abuse of this decriminalised drug!