Tensions Rise on the International Stage as Leaders Admit the Failures of Drug Prohibition

A mix of excitement and tension was felt yesterday as leaders from 193 U.N. member States, International Organisations, NGOs and drug experts squeezed into a packed hall this morning in the Vienna International Centre to mark the opening of the 59th U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

As the Chair of the CND and UNODC Yury Fedotov opened the Session, the failures of global drug policy were impossible to deny. Speaking in typical diplomatic fashion, Fedotov implied support for harm reduction as he called on Member States to recognise the benefits of a holistic health-based approach to drugs. “200,000 people die from drug overdose ever year” anounced Fedotov. It is clear drug policy has failed these people, was the indirect conclusion from such a statement. The challenges were crudely put to the floor. Next we needed a solution.

Similar criticism was echoed by the President of the INCB, Werner Sipp, the most...

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