The 57th annual United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs commenced today in Vienna, attended by Steve Rolles (Transform senior policy analyst), and Aram Barra and Lisa Sanchez from the Mexico office of the Transform/MUCD Latin America project. Transform has ECOSOC UN cosultative status so can send a delegation of up to five each year (making the remaining slots available to other partner NGOs). This will be the 8th year Transform has attended the CND, and given the momentous events in drug policy and law refrom of the past year, it promises to be the most interesting and important CND yet. The consensus around the global drug prohibtion regime contiues to crumble, and dissent breaks out into the open in the most important drug policy forum of all.
For details on the CND including updates and extensive background analysis, see the excellent CND resources provided by the International Drug Policy Consortium. You can also follow the proceedings as they unfold on the entirely independent NGO maintained CNDblog, as well as following #CND2014 on twitter. @Transformdrugs and @IDPC-net will be amongst many others live tweeting over the next week.
This years CND is unusual, and arguably even more importantm as it runs over two weeks instaed of the usual one. The extra week features what is called the 'High Level Review' (see offical microsite and IDPC resources) - a ministrial level meeting to review progress at the half way stage of the 2008 10-year global drug strategy.
Transform's first formal particpation was today when we delivered a statement at one of three roundtable debates during the High Level Review. This one was on supply reduction, the other two being demand reduction and money laundering. Aram Barra delivered Transform's neccassarily short statement (they only give NGOs three minutes) which is copied below:The view from the hotseat
- The experience of the past 50 years clearly demonstrate that enforcement-based supply reduction efforts have not been effective in the face of high and growing demand.
- The profit opportunities now available to organised crime groups mean that 'success' has only ever been localised and temporary.
- More often, enforcement efforts have simply displaced drug production or transit geographically - this is the so-called 'balloon effect' as noted by UNODC WDR 2008
- Beyond this long term failure, supply reduction efforts have additionally been associated with a range of what the UNODC has described as negative ‘unintended consequences’
- These include severe environmental and health harms associated with arial crop eradication, and the displacement of already impoverished and vulnerable populations involved in drug crop production
- Furthermore, supply reduction efforts have often led to increases in drug market related violence – demonstrated most graphically by the more than 100,000 drug market related killings in Mexico since the 2006 ‘crack down’
- Drug enforcement interventions have also frequently been associated with human rights abuses committed by enforcers themselves – and a lack of accountability for such abuses amongst enforcement agencies
- In this historic context of demonstrably ineffective and counterproductive supply reduction efforts, talk of 'rebalancing' demand and supply reduction efforts are meaningless
- Supply reduction has never, and can never achieve its stated long term goals
- We therefore propose, instead, that the goal of drug market enforcement should, in the short to medium terms at least, shift towards reducing social harms associated with drug markets, rather than a futile and counterproductive pursuit of reductions in total production
- In other words, moving from a market eradication based approach to market management and harm reduction based approach.
- De-prioritising enforcement low level market operatives - such as peasant farmers and drug mules
- Strategically targeting criminal organisations associated with the highest levels of violence and social harms
- Avoiding militarisation of drug enforcement and ensuring accountability and compliance with human rights amongst drug enforcers
- Including evaluation of ‘unintended consequences’ such as violence, human rights abuses, and environmental harms, in national and UN annual drug policy evaluations, inclding those of the UNODC, INCB and various UN human rights agencies, and establishing meaningful metrics and resources for doing so
- In the longer term - the roll of the drug control framework, as the UNODC acknowledges, in fuelling the creation of the vast 'criminal black market' needs to be considered
- A meaningful debate needs to take place at the CND, The upcoming UNGASS and other key UN forums, around the possibilities for regulated market alternatives that could dis-empower organised crime groups by moving control of key drug markets back into the sphere of responsible government agencies.
Aram in action at the CND ministerial roundtable