For 10 days in April, the UN held a special meeting to discuss the progress of their ongoing 10-year plan to annihilate every marijuana, coca, and poppy plant from the face of the earth. Yet the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs’ 46th session in Vienna revealed dissent in the ranks of the world’s drug warriors.
Some had hoped that the upcoming Vienna conference might usher in an era of change, including Interpol’s Honorary Secretary General Raymond Kendall. Before the meeting he presented a report to the UN calling the US-spearheaded war on drugs a failure.
Even more striking was a special pre-Vienna meeting called by the Greek president of the European Union, to discuss alternatives to the drug war. That meeting included elected representatives from all European Union countries and concluded that “users are not criminals but people.” They asked that UN anti-drug conventions give member countries more freedom to explore harm reduction and alternative strategies to imprisonment.
This pre-meeting dissent got some UN members angry. France lambasted Greece for allowing drug reformers to mix with EU parliamentarians and UN officials. The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs joined with France, further criticizing Europe’s overall “leniency” toward drug users. Then, on April 8, the head of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime released a report claiming that the UN’s 10-year plan to destroy all euphorant plants showed “encouraging” progress.
Typical of the Vienna conference speakers was Conference Chairwoman Patricia Olamendi, who paints drug war failures as the fault of countries that want more humane laws. “They can’t expect us in our countries to put a halt to drug crop cultivation while they keep those policies,” she hissed.
The day after the conference, pro-legalization Transnational Radical Party members Marco Cappato and Marco Perduca expressed what a let-down the meeting was for those who came with hopes of drug law reform.
“Not only has the UN not devoted any time at the 46th session … to evaluate what prohibition has not been able to achieve, but also no member state has dared to put the issue of the reform of the three UN Conventions [against drugs]on the table for formal consideration,” they told the media.
The conference did give many nations the chance to declare themselves as pro-drug law reform, including Canada, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, and Bolivia.
As the respected Dr Martin Jelsma of the Transnational Institute noted, the time is ripe for these countries to join together to form a strong international coalition. This could halt the oppressive and unjust war against innocent plants and the people who love them.