Change of Course

An Agenda for Vienna
TNI Drugs & Conflict Debate Papers 6
March 2003

By 1998, when the United Nations convened a special General Assembly on drugs, there was already overwhelming evidence that the current approach to global drugs control had failed miserably, given the continuing rise in consumption and production. However, the evidence was ignored and no evaluation of what was wrong with current drug policy took place. Instead, as a New York Times editorial noted, unrealistic pledges were recycled, this time aiming at eliminating all drug production by the year 2008. In mid-April this year, the mid-term review of the goals and targets set by the special session on drugs is to take place in Vienna.

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This briefing sets out the history to the original call for a UN special session on drugs and explains why no genuine evaluation has been permitted to date. It also offers a constructive agenda for the Vienna mid-term review in the hope that this can contribute to a more rational, pragmatic and humane approach to the global drugs phenomenon. The views expressed here draw on years of critical dialogue between TNI and drug policy officials from around the world. As such, they have considerable backing from officials and experts in the field who, until now, have been curtailed in airing their doubts about current policy, presenting their evidence and tabling their proposals for a way forward.

The briefing was launched at two major events:

6-8 March 2003: High Level Conference in Athens, Greece, organised by the EU Presidency, the European Commission and the EMCDDA under the title "Towards an Effective Policy on Drugs: Scientific evidence, day-to-day practice and policy choices". Aims are to overcome obstacles to evidence-based drug policies and to make suggestions for an EU-position for Vienna in April.

At the session on Supply Reduction and Law Enforcement which considered the effectiveness of various supply reduction measures, and proposed issues for consideration in the current reviews of policy and programmes at European and international level, Martin Jelsma made a presentation called What do we know about the effectiveness of crop eradication/alternative development, and issues raised to promote effective practice.

The aim of the Conference was to contribute to the establishment of an EU position at the UNGASS Mid-term Review (see under paragraph 3 of the Report of the Greek Presidency on the High Level Conference on Drugs). Het rapport is hier te vinden maar moet worden overgenomen in de site

4 March 2003: Hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels under the title "Vienna 2003: A Chance for the world - For Another Drug Policy". The Hearing was organised by the International Coalition of NGO's for a Just and Effective Drugs Policy (ICN). Martin Jelsma delivered one of the key-note speeches: Change of Course. An Agenda for Vienna.