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UNGASS 2016: in de Weense houdgreep

Tijdschrift Tijdschrift over Cultuur & Criminaliteit, Aflevering 2 2016
Trefwoorden UNGASS, drug policy, war on drugs, harm reduction
Auteurs Pien Metaal MA
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This contribution aims to discuss the main outcomes of the recent UNGASS (United Nations General Assembly Special Session) on Drugs that took place in New York from 19 to 21 April 2016. Based on my own participation in the preparatory discussions and political negotiations as civil society representative (through the work of NGO Transnational Institute), I argue that political divisions and entrenched institutional dynamics have transformed what could have been the beginning of the end of the war on drugs into a wasted opportunity for changing the status quo of the present world regime regarding the production, trafficking and use of illegal drugs. Despite high initial expectations after several governments expressed a clear concern about the effects of purely repressive policies, and the UN decision to organize the session 3 years earlier than planned, very soon it was clear that the session would not imply real changes in the current policies. The agenda setting was non-transparent and controlled by the most conservative factions and countries, largely excluding the views from NGO’s and academics in the final adopted resolution. The final document poorly reflects the rich discussions and developments that are taking place in many countries of the world, particularly the debates and policy developments in ‘the Americas’. A positive note is that the unchanged international UN conventions on drugs can hardly cope with developments taking place on cannabis policies in countries such as Canada, Uruguay, United States or Jamaica. Also other countries are more and more prepared to push for change on other essential questions, including the application of death penalty for drug offences, the access to controlled medicines, or the explicit application of ‘harm reduction’ approaches.


Pien Metaal MA
Pien Metaal, MA, is programmacoördinator van het Drugs & Democracy programma van het Transnational Institute (TNI), waar ze werkzaam is sinds 2002. Ze heeft veel artikelen, rapporten en bijdragen voor boeken geschreven over drugsbeleid in Latijns Amerika sinds 1996.
Artikel

Roesmiddelen en regulering: oude wijn in nieuwe regels?

Inleiding

Tijdschrift Tijdschrift over Cultuur & Criminaliteit, Aflevering 2 2016
Trefwoorden pleasurable substances, regulation, cannabis, war on drugs
Auteurs Prof. dr. Tom Decorte en Dr. Damián Zaitch
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In contrast with the critical, innovative ideas developed between the 1960s and the 1980s regarding the way we deal with illegal drugs in our societies, the current dominant approaches frame the issue of drugs as a matter of crime, public order, and control. Pleasurable substances have always existed and always will, and so the efforts to cope with them. However, we witness today remarkable developments at local, national and international levels in the fields of drug policies (on cannabis for example), drug trafficking (new routes, new actors) and drug use (new substances, new drug cultures), all of which deserve our attention and push us to think beyond the repressive paradigm. This contribution, which also serves as an introduction for this special issue of ToCC on drugs, aims to present an overview of the main developments taking place, and challenges ahead, within the three above-mentioned fields. There are new markets and trends in the use of legal and illegal pleasurable substances, particularly regarding synthetic drugs (amphetamines, methamphetamines and new psychoactive substances or NPS), tobacco and alcohol. Illegal drugs are supplied from changing countries and through new routes, while retailing increasingly takes place through the so-called cryptomarkets (online). Effective policies are rendered impossible by the fundamental repression paradox: the more intensive and effective the repression, the larger the profits of drug traffickers and the balloon effects (displacement). Despite the harms and negative effects of repressive policies have extensively been documented, a societal debate towards the regulation of illegal drugs is hindered by the use of false dichotomies or presuppositions, by the use of ethical or moral appeals, or by lack of political will. Also the debate in the media is static, superficial and full of clichés. Scientific research on drugs also follows specific agendas and it is focussed on particular aspects of the problem. Changes to end the ‘war on drugs’, certainly regarding cannabis, are however underway in many places at local and national level (Uruguay, Canada, US, Spain, etc.), this despite UN bureaucracies and international conventions that fiercely resist those changes.


Prof. dr. Tom Decorte
Prof. dr. Tom Decorte is antropoloog en hoogleraar criminologie aan de Universiteit Gent, en directeur van het Instituut voor Sociaal Drugsonderzoek (ISD). Hij publiceert geregeld over drugsbeleid, cannabisteelt en drugsgebruik.

Dr. Damián Zaitch
Dr. Damián Zaitch is universitair docent bij het Willem Pompe Instituut voor Strafrechtswetenschappen, Universiteit Utrecht. Hij onderzoekt en publiceert over drugshandel, drugsbeleid en georganiseerde misdaad in Nederland en Latijns-Amerika, en over diverse vormen van transnationale misdaad, globale criminele markten en organisatiecriminaliteit.
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