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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.
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