Friday, May 27, 2011

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

Media Advisory

Date: 27 May 2011
For Immediate Release:
May 27, 2011
Contact: Tony Newman (646)335-5384

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

Commission of World Leaders Urges New Approaches to Failed Drug War, Move from Criminal Justice toward Public Health Approach

Live Press Conference and Teleconference on Thursday, June 2 in New York City

The Global Commission on Drug Policy will host a live press conference and teleconference on Thursday, June 2 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City to launch a new report that describes the drug war as a failure and calls for a paradigm shift in global drug policy.

The Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders who have ever called for such far-reaching changes in the way society deals with illicit drugs – such as decriminalization and urging countries to experiment with legal regulation. 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.

What: Press Conference and Teleconference to release Global Commission report.
When: Thursday, June 2 at 11 am, EST
Where: The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, 301 Park Avenue, New York (Beekman Suite)

By Phone:

USA: 1-800-311-9404 (Password: Global Commission)
From Outside the USA: 1-334-323-7224 (Password: Global Commission)

Commission Members
(Those italicized will be at the press conference. Those speaking are italicized and 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

An EMBARGOED copy of the report and press release will be made available starting on May 30. Contact Tony Newman (646-335-5384 or to request these materials.

The report and press release are EMBARGOED until 12:01 am GMT on June 2.

To learn more about the Commission, visit:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

AVAAZ seeks 1 million supporters for petition to end the war on drugs


The ever impressive online actvitist organisation AVAAZ are challenging the war on drugs and calling for a new approach based on 'decriminalisation, regulation, public health and education' in their latest mobilisation. AVAAZ describe themselves as follows:
'Avaaz—meaning "voice" in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages—launched in 2007 with a simple democratic mission: organize citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.

Avaaz empowers millions of people from all walks of life to take action on pressing global, regional and national issues, from corruption and poverty to conflict and climate change. Our model of internet organising allows thousands of individual efforts, however small, to be rapidly combined into a powerful collective force.
The latest campaign petition statement - which you can sign here - is as follows:

To Ban Ki Moon and all heads of State

"We call on you to end the war on drugs and the prohibition regime, and move towards a system based on decriminalisation, regulation, public health and education. This 50 year old policy has failed, fuels violent organised crime, devastates lives and is costing billions. It is time for a humane and effective approach."

The preamble text notes that the campaign is timed to coincide with the launch of the Global Commission on Drugs report (produced by 'heads of state and foreign policy chiefs of the UN, EU, Brazil, Mexico' ), set to make similar recommendations next month.

The campaign is seeking to get 1 million supporters - something that AVAAZ, with more than 8 million subscribers is more than capable of achieving (all were emailed today - and as we write the total is already over 100k with many more signing every second).

Petitions can often be ineffectual, but something of this scale, at this key juncture in the debate can have a real impact so we urge all our readers and supporters to help promote this initiative around their contacts and networks in any way you can.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Security experts discuss ending the war on drugs

There can be no question that global security is fundamentally compromised by the world’s commitment to the war on drugs. Could this fact be instrumental in bringing an end to the global prohibition?

As has been demonstrated by the recently launched Count the Costs campaign, the war on drugs detrimentally impacts on numerous policy areas – Crime, Development, Security, Health, Expenditure, Stigma and Discrimination, Human Rights and the Environment. Some of these policy paths have been well-trodden by reformers; others have witnessed almost no footfall. Whilst all of them have the potential to engage policy makers, the question we have been asking is, which of them has the potential for the most engagement and concern? We have come to the conclusion that demonstrating the negative impacts of the war on drugs on security, and bringing security and intelligence agencies into the debate, has substantial untapped potential tomove the debate forward. When current and former military and intelligence personnel critique the war on drugs or indeed, explicitly call for reform to the status quo, formerly uninterested policy makers are likely to pay attention.

Up until relatively recently it had been received wisdom that drugs, crime and insecurity were inextricably linked. As the reform agenda gains traction, it is increasingly understood that the drugs/crime nexus is created, not by primarily by drug use/misuse, but in substantially part by the the prohibtionist policy environment; the war on drugs itself.

In 2008 even the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime conceeded in a discussion paper that prohibition had created a series unintended negative consequences, including 'vast' criminal market. However, there is relatively little engagement in the public debate with the fact that, along with the vast criminal market there are whole regions of the world whose national security is fundamentally compromised by the war on drugs.

There have been lone voices – for example David Passage (former director of Andean Affairs at the US State Dept), Eliza Manningham Buller (former Director General of MI5), and there is some literature. Notable amongst them is Chasing Dragons. But now the security issue is emerging, blinking into the sunlight. In October 2010, (entirely by coincidence) NOREF, the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) both ran workshops exploring the connection between drug trafficking and security.

Papers from NOREF are available here, here and here.

Transform took part in the IISS project, which consisted of two workshops and will culminate in an IISS Adelphi publication. The first workshop involved an exploration of the security issues for key geographical regions involved in production and trafficking. As a contribution to the discussion, Transform (and PhD student Emily Crick) produced a paper exploring drugs and security using the International Relations theory of Securitisation. This theory helps demonstrate that there are in fact two drug wars being fought – one ostensibly fighting against ‘drugs’ and ‘drug abuse’ because of their ‘threat’ to mankind; the other, fighting against organised crime (whose power is based on the opportunities created by the primary securitisation) because of the ‘threat’ they present to nation states (see previous blog on securitisation)

Workshop 1, 5 October 2010: Participants and agenda

A wide ranging discussion explored the scope of the drugs and security connection, including contributions from Dr. Mohammed Zafar Khan, Former Deputy Minister, Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics, Sanho Tree from the Institute for Policy Studies, the Colombian Ambassador to the UK, and others. The discussion effectively took place on two levels with some engaging wholeheartedly with the question of the impact of prohibition upon security and others remaining in their comfort zone by effectively giving country reports of security impacts.

The second workshop was intended to provide participants with the opportunity both to critique the status quo and to engage in some blue skies thinking around the impact of ending the overwhelmingly security oriented approach. To help facilitate dialogue Emily Crick presented a critique of the securitised approach and Danny Kushlick of Transform demonstrated the various policy options that are made available under a de-securitised regime of legal regulation and control. (The Transform/Crick papers on securitisation and de-securitisation are being disseminated to intelligence agencies, security/strategic think tanks and the military both in the UK and beyond)

Workshop 2, 19 April 2011: Participants and agenda.

It attracted participants from a wide range of countries, organisations and agencies, including representatives from the UK (Serious and Organised Crime Agency, FCO), Russia, China, and Mexico. Many participants found the blue skies element challenging (as you would expect from officials who spend their lives working within the prevailing paradigm of prohibition).

Despite being invited the Americans were notably absent from the workshops – a glaring gap, given the US’s deep and abiding commitment to maintaining the status quo.
There are many potentially fruitful policy veins that remain untapped. For example the development world has been reluctant to involve itself in the reform agenda. But members of the security field appear only too willing to get stuck in and are to be congratulated for doing so.
There are those who have expressed concern that engaging in the security agenda has significant risks, not least of which is that it could further solidify the security-oriented regime and discourse. We are not naïve enough to forget that some significant security and intelligence fiefdoms are predicated on and resourced by the commitment to a global war on drugs. Indeed for some it is their very lifeblood. However, our experience thus far is that some in the security and intelligence world are willing to play their part in exposing the tragic irony of the overwhelmingly negative impact of the war on drugs on national, international and human security.

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Journal on Human Rights and Drug Policy available in full online

ISSN 2046-4843 (print)
ISSN 2046-4851 (online)
The first edition of the new International Journal on Human Rights and Drug Policy is now available online in full. Produced by the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy the journal critically engages with many of the frequently neglected human rights issues raised by drug policy and law enforcement. It is also open access, so available to all. Highly recommended.   


R. Lines, ‘Deliver us from evil’? – The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 50 years on

Original Articles

P. Gallahue, Targeted Killing of Drug Lords: Traffickers as Members of Armed Opposition Groups and/or Direct Participants’ in Hostilities

Y. McDermott, Yong Vui Kong v. Public Prosecutor and the Mandatory Death Penalty for Drug Offences in Singapore: A Dead End for Constitutional Challenge?


Litigating against the Death Penalty for Drug Offences: An interview with Saul Lehrfreund & Parvais Jabbar


D. Barrett & P. Veerman, Children who use Drugs: The Need for More Clarity on State Obligations in International Law

A. Crocket, The Function and Relevance of the Commission in Narcotic Drugs in the pursuit of Humane Drug Policy (or the ramblings of a bewildered diplomat)

Case Summary

S. Ka Hon Chu, Canadian Court of Appeal Upholds Supervised Injection Site’s Right to Operate

Download full volume with cover

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Public Meeting: War on Drugs - or Time for Peace?

On Friday 13th May, Professor David Nutt and Danny Kushlick will take part in a discussion on drug policy at Cotham School, Bristol. Join us from 6.30pm.

Click on the image below to view details: