Posted on 20 Dec 2009
The end of the first century of drug control (it all started in Shanghai in 1909) coincided with the closing of the UNGASS decade (launched in 1998 by a General Assembly Special Session on Drugs). These anniversaries stimulated reflection on the effectiveness, and the limitations, of drug policy. The review resulted in the reaffirmation that illicit drugs continue to pose a health danger to humanity. That’s why drugs are, and should remain, controlled. With this sanction in mind, Member States confirmed unequivocal support for the UN Conventions that have established the world drug control system.
At the same time, UNODC has highlighted some negative, obviously unintended effects of drug control, foreshadowing a needed debate about the ways and means to deal with them. Of late, there has been a limited but growing chorus among politicians, the press, and even in public opinion saying: drug control is not working. The broadcasting volume is still rising and the message spreading.
Much of this public debate is characterized by sweeping generalizations and simplistic solutions. Yet, the very heart of the discussion underlines the need to evaluate the effectiveness of the current approach. Having studied the issue on the basis of our data, UNODC has concluded that, while changes are needed, they should be in favour of different means to protect society against drugs, rather than by pursuing the different goal of abandoning such protection.