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

C├ęsar 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:


Rory said...

Is it me? Is it because I am being deluded and optimistic?

OR - are we really beginning to see a shift in the debate?
Are we really beginning to see more and more people question the utility of Prohibition?

Steve Rolles said...

theres definitely a shift, and we are definitely approaching some sort of tipping point. The time scale is hard to predict but I think we can be optomistic.

Rory said...

I think this press conference is evidence of that shift. And I am hopeful that we can get people to see that there is an alternative to using the criminal justice system.

keep up the good work Transform

Jake said...

will there be any way of watching the press conference or teleconference (is it being streamed?).

A welcome shift, even with the oft one step forward and two back, progress is slowly demolishing the integrity of the old policies. All we need now are more 'current' and less 'former' advocates.. hopefully the response to this will help current politicians gauge their position a bit more thoughtfully..?

Steve Rolles said...

re the event, Im afraid I dont know. Transform's work has informed some of this but we havent been directly involved in the report. It sounds like you can phone in, and no doubt there will be lots of coverage.

Rob said...

The media dosn't really report drugs that much unles it involves a row in the westminster bubble. This press conference will get a mention in the guardian with a guardian editorial and that will be it. The British media is just obsessed with pathetic westminster gossip. Then again, I am very cynical.

Steve Rolles said...

It depends what else is happening in the news that day. Ian Gilmore and Bob ainsworth coming out in support of similar positions dominated the news for at least 24 hours. These are , with respect to Ian and Bob - much bigger names. so lets see.

Anonymous said...

its about time !

Anonymous said...

barrack Obama stated on camera back in 2004 that the war on drugs was not working and decriminalisation of certain drugs should be considered..Now the man is in charge and havent heard a peep out of him about it...hate to be the opposition here but i dont think its going to happen.."Meet the new boss.Same as the old boss"

Steve Rolles said...

Anon - i dont think we should be under any illusion that this will lead to an immediate change of direction for the UN or US - however it is an important milestone in the journey of the pragmatic reform position into the mainstream. This report will create space for others - particularly at a high level - to support reform. It helps build momentum and make it a safe issue to at least talk about rationally.

Rob said...

I think 2012 will be D-day if California votes to legalise cannabis. Other countries around the world (especially the poor ones) will wonder why the hell they're spending money to stamp the stuff out when the country that pushed them into doing it in the first place is now selling and taxing it.
Also, the age of cheap credit and cheap oil appears to be over meaning countries will be much tighter on what they spend. It was the great depression in the U.S that ended alcohol prohibition, after all.

John Chase said...

Ruth Dreifuss deserves has earned a place in history by leading the Swiss to a rational policy against addiction.

Pastorius said...

June 2nd, my birthday! The beginning of a shift away from the policy of prohibition would be a great present.

Nicholas said...

Great news, Danny and Steve and team. Really pleased for you.

Danny said...

I think if nothing else we can be pretty much guaranteed one of two things. Either there'll be some excellent soundbites from trusted and respected indivuals or one of them will say something so blatantly absurd we'll have a field day ripping it to shreds. Good times!

Gart Valenc said...

I do hope this ‘Global’ Commission (which to me looks more like the Latin American Initiative on Drugs and Democracy on steroids) will have substantive and real repercussions on drug policy and will not become another casualty of the realpolitiks of Prohibition and the War on Drugs.

Gart Valenc

Steve Rolles said...

some Transform coverage:

Anonymous said...

Dont be a bitch to US drug policy and pressure put on the UN, the people are behind you- just our government isnt =\

Anonymous said...

Teleconference was amazing some of the viewpoints on it!!! lasted one hour we can only hope they hear the humanity of our call and end the war on drugs and striving to bring do REAL CRIMINALS!!!