Weaknesses in the UN drug control system have often been identified, related to the functioning of the key organs UNODC, INCB, and the CND; related to collaboration with the wider UN system (WHO, UNAIDS, UNDP, etc.) and related to the outdated character of several treaty provisions. What has been attempted to date to achieve more structural reform? Are existing evaluation mechanisms capable of bringing the need for reform to the table? How could a neutral and evidence-based role of UNODC as a centre of expertise be strengthened? How can these issues be related to the UN call for more ‘system-wide coherence’ and ‘delivery as one’?

  • Rescheduling cannabis at the UN level

    Here’s all you need to know about the WHO’s recommendations to reschedule cannabis and cannabis-related substances
    Thursday, October 15, 2020

    Following its first-ever critical review of cannabis, in January 2019 the World Health Organization's Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) issued recommendations to reschedule cannabis and cannabis-related substances. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) are set to vote on these recommendations in December 2020. Eagerly awaited, the ECDD recommendations contain some positive points, such as acknowledging the medicinal usefulness of cannabis by removing it from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs and clarifying that cannabidiol (CBD) is not under international control. But the ECDD recommendations also reveal problematic underlying evaluation methods and scheduling procedures along with a very questionable rationale for keeping cannabis in Schedule I. Read more ...

  • Cannabis rescheduling

    What could it mean for Africa?
    Dania Putri
    International Drug Policy Consortium / Transnational Institute
    Briefing Paper
    June 2020

    In January 2019 the World Health Organization issued a collection of formal recommendations to reschedule cannabis and cannabis-related substances, these present an opportunity for African governments and civil society to further decolonise drug control approaches on the continent, as well as to strengthen the international legal basis for emerging medicinal cannabis programmes in several African countries.

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  • UN Common Position on drug policy

    Consolidating system-wide coherence
    Martin Jelsma
    Briefing paper
    December 2019

    In November 2018, the UN System CEB adopted the ‘UN system common position supporting the implementation of the international drug control policy through effective inter-agency collaboration’, expressing the shared drug policy principles of all UN organisations and committing them to speak with one voice. The CEB is the highest-level coordination forum of the UN system, convening biannual meetings of the heads of all UN agencies, programmes and related institutions, chaired by the UN Secretary General. 

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  • Regulating Drugs: Resolving Conflicts with the UN Drug Control Treaty System

    John Walsh & Martin Jelsma
    Journal of Illicit Economies and Development, 1(3), pp.266–271
    November 2019

    There are good reasons to legally regulate drugs markets, rather than persist with efforts to ban all non-medical uses of psychoactive substances. Regulated cannabis and coca markets are already a reality in several countries, with more likely to follow. But ignoring or denying that such policy shifts contravene certain obligations under the UN drug control treaties is untenable and risks undermining basic principles of international law. States enacting cannabis regulation must find a way to align their reforms with their international obligations.

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  • The WHO’s First-Ever Critical Review of Cannabis

    A Mixture of Obvious Recommendations Deserving Support and Dubious Methods and Outcomes Requiring Scrutiny
    Transnational Institute (TNI), Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO-Swansea University) & Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
    March 2019

    The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD or Expert Committee) released in January 2019 the outcomes of the first-ever critical review of cannabis, recommending a series of changes in the current scheduling of cannabis-related substances under the UN drug control conventions. Eagerly awaited, the ECDD recommendations contain some clearly positive points, such as acknowledging the medicinal usefulness of cannabis by removing it from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs; clarifying that cannabidiol (CBD) is not under international control; and addressing some long-standing scheduling inconsistencies.

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  • The UN Chief Executives Board unanimously endorses decriminalisation of people who use drugs

    The Chief Executives Board of the UN represents 31 UN agencies
    Transform
    Monday, March 11, 2019

    The Chief Executives Board of the UN, representing 31 UN agencies, has adopted a common position on drug policy that endorses decriminalisation of possession and use. This comes just days before a key meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, which will review, the UN’s 10-year Global Drug Strategy, and plan for the next one.

     

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  • Taking stock: A decade of drug policy

    A civil society shadow report
    International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
    October 2018

    ‘Taking stock: A decade of drug policy’ evaluates the impacts of drug policies implemented across the world over the past decade, using data from the United Nations (UN), complemented with peer-reviewed academic research and grey literature reports from civil society. The important role of civil society in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of global drug policies is recognised in the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action on drugs, as well as in the Outcome Document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs. It is in this spirit that the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) has produced this Shadow Report, to contribute constructively to high-level discussions on the next decade in global drug policy.

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  • What comes next?

    Post-UNGASS options for 2019/2020 – Version 4
    IDPC Advocacy Note
    January 2018

    The 2016 UNGASS on drugs was hailed as an opportunity ‘to conduct a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options’. Although the UNGASS process had some challenges, it was nonetheless a critical moment for global drug policy reform. In June 2017, the UN Secretary General welcomed the UNGASS Outcome Document as a ‘forward-looking blueprint for action’ and called on governments to ‘honour the unanimous commitments’ made.

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  • Edging forward

    How the UN’s language on drugs has advanced since 1990
    Jamie Bridge (IDPC), Christopher Hallam (IDPC), Marie Nougier (IDPC), Miguel Herrero Cangas (IDPC) Martin Jelsma (TNI), Tom Blickman (TNI) & David Bewley-Taylor (GDPO)
    IDPC Briefing Paper
    September 2017

    Diplomatic processes at the United Nations are notoriously slow and difficult, perhaps increasingly so in a modern world of multi-polar geopolitics and tensions. This is certainly no different for the highly charged and provocative issue of international drug control. After the latest high-level UN meeting on drug control – the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the ‘world drug problem’ in New York in April 2016 – many stakeholders came away with mixed feelings at best. Despite acknowledgements of the progress made in certain areas of the debate, and the rich content of some of the country and civil society statements, the UNGASS failed to deliver the ‘wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options’ that had been called for by the UN Secretary-General at the time, Ban Ki-Moon.

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  • International cooperation against the world drug problem

    Report of the Secretary-General
    UN General Assembly A/72/225
    July 19, 2017

    This report prepared by the UN Secretary-General for the 72nd Session of the General Assembly provides an overview of the global situation on drugs, and crucially highlights cross-UN efforts to implement the UNGASS Outcome Document. In April 2017, the Secretary-General tasked UNODC with coordinating efforts across the UN system to support governments in operationalising the UNGASS Outcomes. This work should promote “efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as well as strategies to strengthen human rights-based and health-based approaches” and should further elaborate “a comprehensive organization-wide strategy across the three founding pillars of the United Nations system — development, human rights, and peace and security — in support of the preparations for the sixty-second session of the Commission, to be held in 2019” (para 20).

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