What are the benefits and risks of eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana possession for personal use?
What are the risks and benefits of distinguishing international narco-trafficking from small-scale dealing?
The war on drugs has failed. What are the alternatives?
These and other questions will be discussed by the new Global Commission on Drug Policy, to be launched on the 24th and 25th of January, 2011, in Geneva. The Commission will include eminent personalities such as Mario Vargas Llosa, Javier Solana, Ernesto Zedillo, Ruth Dreifuss, Michel Kazatchkine, Cesar Gaviria, Carlos Fuentes and Thorvald Stoltenberg, among others. The Global Commission will be chaired by Fernando Henrique Cardoso, (former president of Brazil).
The purpose is to bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies.
Drugs are a complex and controversial issue. There is a growing perception that the 'war on drugs' approach has failed. Eradication of production and criminalization of consumption did not reduce drug traffic and drug use. In many countries the harm caused by drug prohibition in terms of corruption, violence and violation of human rights largely exceeds the harm caused by drugs.
The Global Commission on Drug Policies will build on the successful experience of the Latin American Commission convened by former presidents Cardoso of Brazil, Gaviria of Colombia and Zedillo of Mexico. Persuaded that the association between drug trade, violence and corruption was a threat to democracy in Latin America , the Commission reviewed the current 'war on drugs' policies and opened a public debate about an issue that tends to be surrounded by fear and misinformation.
It is clear that the polarization between legalization and prohibition blocks the debate. In many countries repressive policies remain firmly in place. Hence the need for engaging many actors - legislators and policymakers, scientists and health professionals, educators, law enforcement officers, parents and the young - in a constructive debate about viable alternatives, both at the national and international level.
The Global Commission on Drug Policies will build on the successful experience of the Latin American Commission convened by former presidents Cardoso of Brazil, Gaviria of Colombia and Zedillo of Mexico. Persuaded that the association between drug trade, violence and corruption was a threat to democracy in Latin America, the Commission reviewed the current 'war on drugs' policies and opened a public debate about an issue that tends to be surrounded by fear and misinformation.
These goals were fulfilled with the publication on February 2009 of the Commission's statement, Drugs and Democracy: Toward a Paradigm Shift.
See also: The development of international drug control: Lessons learned and strategic challenges for the future, written by TNIs Martin Jelsma for the Commission, describing the foundations of the global drug control system, it's degeneration into the 'war on drugs', and the reform process toward a modernization and humanization of the control system’s international legal framework as laid down in the UN drug control conventions.
MAIN AREAS OF INQUIRY
The current international drug control regime
The 'logical framework' behind drug policies: what objectives it sets out to achieve and what assumptions it makes about how best to meet these objectives. The extent to which these objectives have been achieved over the past 50 years and the problems encountered. Main impediments to the reform of drug policies.
Global overview of drug policies and laws
Good practices and innovations in drug law reform. Main contested issues: harm reduction and decriminalization by law or in practice of cannabis and other drugs. Opportunities and pathways for improving national drug laws and for changing the UN drug control system.
Confronting the production and supply chain
Effectiveness of law enforcement activities aimed at production controls, including eradication and interdiction. Changes in production, transportation, retail and wholesale caused by the supply reduction approach. Trends in crimes associated with the production and supply chain, including money laundering, arms trafficking and corruption.
Criminal justice challenges
The criminalization and incarceration of people involved in retail drug markets and of people charged with possession or use of illicit drugs. Risks and benefits of eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana possession for personal use and other forms of sentencing reform. Risks and benefits of distinguishing trafficking from small-scale dealing and of compulsory drug treatment.
Demand reduction: prevention, harm reduction and treatment
The effectiveness of drug prevention campaigns: a cultural and educational challenge. Lessons learned from the successful campaigns to reduce tobacco consumption and to prevent the spread of HIV-AIDS. Harm reduction and treatment: practices, consequences and results. Recommendations for improving public health and community safety.
Drug trade and organized crime: economic and political implications
The rising scope and ramifications of the global drug business and market. Drug trade, violence and corruption: the risk to undermine democratic institutions. Drug trade, money laundering and illegal arms smuggling. Drug trade and armed conflict. Transnational drug trade and 'failed' or 'rogue' states. The evolving and elusive nature of global drug networks.