The UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs


What is the UNGASS?

The United Nations General Assembly Special Session, or UNGASS, is a meeting of UN member states to assess and debate global issues such as health, gender, or in this case, international drug policy.

Why was the 2016 UNGASS important?

Before 2016, the last Special Session on drugs was held in 1998. The event accomplished very little, culminating in most member states simply reaffirming their commitment to pursue existing strategies and create a “drug-free world” by 2008.

This time UNGASS was brought forward to 2016, from the original date of a 2019 meeting, at the request of the presidents of Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala. In 2012, this group of heads of state called on the UN General Assembly to convene a Special Session as part of a wider collective call to “analyse all available options, including regulatory or market measures, in order to establish a new paradigm that prevents the flow of resources to organized crime organizations.”

As a result, the drug policy reform movement had higher hopes for the productivity of UNGASS. 

What did Transform do around the UNGASS?

Transform is part of a broad coalition of NGOs organising around a shared reform platform, pushing for an open and meaningful debate both in and outside of the UNGASS. 
We worked closely with three key civil society forums operating on the drugs issue at the UN: the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs, which focuses on Vienna based UN activities; the New York NGO Committee on Drugs, which focuses on New York-based UN activities and includes Transform/MUCD’s Aram Barra as Committee Secretary; and the new Civil Society Task Force, established by both VNGOC and NYNGOC to provide a formal channel for civil society to input into the UNGASS. 
You can read more about our activities around UNGASS 2016 on our blog:
Read about the outcomes of UNGASS here: