Commission on Narcotic Drugs celebrates failure

Currently taking place in Vienna, is the 55th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). This commission, which was established at the very first meeting of the League of Nations in 1920, is the central arena for discussion on drug policy and, more importantly, where many decisions about international drug policy are unofficially made. Whilst this may appear to be a genuine chance to promote, and potentially see, real change in international drug policy, it is not the case. The CND, in actuality, is more of a chance for those attending – summarised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as “Ministers and top counter-narcotics officials from the 53 Member States of the Commission” – to cement old opinions and minimally tweak pre-existing policies to appear harder or softer on specific drugs, as has been the case for many years. Though members may be aware of the nearby Drug Peace Festival, it will likely be ignored with a hard-line attitude pushed throughout proceedings.

A chance for change? We doubt it.

One of the scheduled events, which has already taken place, shows precisely how unmoving the CND’s stance on policy is likely to be. Last Tuesday, the members were treated to the most undeserved, self-appreciative pat on the back as they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the signing of the International Opium Convention, which many see as a precursor to 1961’s Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Both of these can be fairly argued to be the start point of the failing War on Drugs; An unjust war which, more than any of the drugs it tries to eradicate, has cost lives, damaged the environment and wasted money. Whilst the beginning of this war is being touted as a cause for celebration, the CND cannot be said to be an objective or rational forum to discuss the matter of drug policy.

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