Drug Policy in the New South An Expert Debate (FR)

February 8, 2022

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the declaration of the “war on drugs” by President Richard Nixon. Since then, law-enforcement responses are primarily used to counter the production, trafficking and consumption of illegal drugs. The international control regime based on the prohibition paradigm, and grounded in the three international drug conventions (1961, 1971 and 1988), consolidated national and regional fights against illegal drugs and supported the focus on drug elimination in national laws. In parallel, and while the regime focused on its main objective and countries implemented international agreements, the “unintended consequences” –as they are referred to by the UN since 2008– of this same regime became more dire, to the point of slowing other global development objectives. Public health efforts have been destabilised by current drug policies. For people who inject drugs’ (PWID), access to services has been impeded by the criminalisation of their behaviour. As a result, today, 17.8% of PWID live with HIV, 52.3% are infected with hepatitis C, and the prevalence of tuberculosis among this population is 9.1%. Another unintended consequence is that access to controlled essential medicines, including morphine for pain relief, is inadequate for 80% of the world’s population, affecting mainly low- and middle-income countries (the New South). Drawing on the poorest populations for its workforce, the illegal drugs market creates enormous profits to criminal organizations, with an estimated annual turnover between USD 426 and 652 billion. The high market value of this illegal market and its attractiveness to people with few economic opportunities then feeds mass incarceration, with one in five of the eleven million prisoners worldwide incarcerated for a drug offense. The result is a complex situation that undermines, in turn, the achievement of just and fair societies as part of sustainable development. Other issues include the inadequate collection of data directly related to the international drug control regime. In 2018, 269 million people were estimated to use drugs globally. Yet that figure represents only people who were arrested or sought treatment. It is therefore not currently possible to have disaggregated and effective data on problematic drug use. The use and conditions referred to as ‘problematic’ have the potential to undercut health, social integration, economic prosperity, and all other development indicators. Within that perspective, this event will serve as a platform for experts to discuss common approaches to drug policies, appreciate current policies’ interactions with the rule of law, health, and the fight against organized crime, and to discuss pathways to address contemporary and emerging challenges related to drugs. The objectives of this expert debate are three-fold: - To discuss drug policy in the New South and in Africa, and attract attention to its cross-cutting economic, social, and cultural challenges; and to reenergize the debate on drug policy control as the policies on the ground are taking diverging directions; - To facilitate the exchange of experiences, lessons learned, and good practices between countries that have been reforming their policies in the last decade; - To provide a space where emerging solutions for the next decade are discussed and defined by experts and global leaders.

Khalid Tinasti
Director of the Global Commission on Drug Policy; Fellow at the GSI at the University of Geneva
Adeolu Adebiyi
Member, West Africa Commission on Drugs
Adeolu Adebiyi (he/him) is a public health expert who has worked on wide range of issues such as HIV/AIDS, Sexual Reproductive Health, Drug control response and Youth Development. His leadership and work have gained several recognitions. He is a member of the West Africa Commission on Drugs, convened by the late Kofi Annan and facilitated the formation of the West Africa Drug Policy Network, a coalition of over 300 CSOs and was also the founding executive director of YouthRISE Nigeria. He served on the Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission on Drug Policy and Health and on the expert reference group of Amnesty International. He has also worked with multilateral agencies such UNODC, UNICEF and ...
Ved Baruah
Associate Professor, Shanghai University
Asmin Fransizka
Senior Human Rights Lecturer, Atma Jaya University
Asmin Fransiska is a Senior Human Rights Lecturer at Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia. She holds LLM in International Human Rights Law, from Northwestern University with scholarship from Fulbright. She obtains her Ph.D. in International Public Law from Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany ...
François Patuel
Research Officer for West and Central Africa, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Isabel Pereira
Drug Policy Research Coordinator, DeJusticia
Isabel is currently the research coordinator of the Drug Policy area of the Center for Law, Justice and Society Studies (Dejusticia), with special emphasis on access to controlled medicines for palliative care and drug dependence, and implications of the peace process in Drug policies in Colombia. Additionally, Isabel is a member of the Research Consortium of Drugs and the Law (CEDD). She is also a member of the Advisory Board of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) in representation of the Latin American region. ...


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