Commission of World Leaders Urges End to Failed Drug War, Fundamental Reforms of Global Drug Prohibition Regime


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Commission of World Leaders Urges End to Failed Drug War, Fundamental Reforms of Global Drug Prohibition Regime

June 2, 2011

Former Presidents of Brazil , Colombia , Mexico and Switzerland , Prime Minister of Greece , Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, George Shultz, Paul Volcker and Other Leaders Call for Major Paradigm Shift in Global Drug Policy

Today the Global Commission on Drug Policy will release a groundbreaking report at a press conference and tele-conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City . The report condemns the drug war as a failure and recommends major reforms of the global drug prohibition regime.

The Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders to ever call for such far-reaching changes – including not just alternatives to incarceration and greater emphasis on public health approaches to drug use but also decriminalization and experiments in legal regulation.

The Executive Director of the global advocacy organization AVAAZ, with its nine million members worldwide, will present a public petition in support of the Global Commission’s recommendations that will be given to the United Nations Secretary General.

“Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s global war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed,” said former president of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso. “Let’s start by treating drug addiction as a health issue, reducing drug demand through proven educational initiatives and legally regulating rather than criminalizing cannabis.”

The Commission’s recommendations are summarized in the Executive Summary below this release. They include:

- End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others.

- Encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs (especially cannabis) to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.

- Ensure that a variety of treatment modalities are available – including not just methadone and buprenorphine treatment but also the heroin-assisted treatment programs that have proven successful in many European countries and Canada.

- Apply human rights and harm reduction principles and policies both to people who use drugs as well as those involved in the lower ends of illegal drug markets such as farmers, couriers and petty sellers.

“Overwhelming evidence from Europe, Canada and Australia now demonstrates the human and social benefits both of treating drug addiction as a health rather than criminal justice problem and of reducing reliance on prohibitionist policies,” said former Swiss president Ruth Dreifuss. “These policies need to be adopted worldwide, with requisite changes to the international drug control conventions.”

“We can no longer ignore the extent to which drug-related violence, crime and corruption in Latin America are the results of failed drug war policies,” said former Colombian president César Gaviria. “Now is the time to break the taboo on discussion of all drug policy options, including alternatives to drug prohibition.”

“The war on drugs has failed to cut drug usage, but has filled our jails, cost millions in tax payer dollars, fuelled organized crime and caused thousands of deaths. We need a new approach, one that takes the power out of the hands of organized crime and treats people with addiction problems like patients, not criminals,” said Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and cofounder of The Elders, United Kingdom. “The good news is new approaches focused on regulation and decriminalization have worked. We need our leaders, including business people, looking at alternative, fact based approaches. We need more humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs. The one thing we cannot afford to do is to go on pretending the “war on drugs” is working.”

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