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17 March 2004
In particular, the group questioned the undue influence of the United States on global drug policy.
“The dominant role played by the United States in determining UNODC policies should be scrutinised,” said Emmanuel Reinert, Executive Director of ICOS. “It is unacceptable that a UN agency should find itself hostage to the political agenda of one country”, he continued.
The United States’ “War on Drugs” repressive law enforcement orientated policies are causing growing concern for policy makers and experts from international Civil Society. At the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the US delegation criticised “Harm Reduction” policies, which are the cornerstone of AIDS prevention work. Harm reduction policies were endorsed at the recent European Union conference, “Breaking the Barriers – Partnership to fight HIV/AIDS in Europe and Central Asia”, in Dublin.
“The present UNODC global drug policy has become another failed US war, but this time under a UN flag”, Mr. Reinert continued, “For the US to denounce harm reduction policies is deeply irresponsible. It is urgent for these programmes to be fully recognised by the UN drug control bodies to prevent a world health disaster.”
This is one example of the influence of the US repressive approach, which is preventing the consideration of evidence-based realistic policies on which an effective global drug policy should be founded. The group questioned the lack of transparency and accountability in the decision-making processes of the UNODC, expressing their concern that current policy decisions are merely the translation of the political agenda of the US. ICOS appealed to the international community to examine these processes and the governance system of the UNODC.
“Transparency and good governance are needed for developing the credibility for global drug policy,” explained Professor Francisco Thoumi, an American-Colombian Economist and former Regional Coordinator of the UNDCP research programme on the economic effects of the illegal drug industry in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, ”The illegal drug field encompasses public health, economic, political, social, legal and environmental dimensions and is characterised by its complexity and imperfect information. Yet policies are made using moral certitudes. The system needs to be reviewed”, he added.
“How can we hope for an effective global drug policy if a country who imposes a staunchly repressive approach is dominating policy decisions?” continued Mr. Reinert, “There is insufficient accountability to the international community. We need a review of this system.”
“We cannot simply sit back and let this situation continue. Current drug policy is failing dramatically,” he concluded, “It is time to face facts. This is a war without end. The US domination of the global drug policy is a dead end.”