By Dr James Cockayne and Ms Summer Walker for United Nations University. On 3 November 2015, UNU’s Office at the UN hosted a launch event for the Drug Policy Project’s new policy report, What Comes After the War on Drugs?, exploring the upcoming UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem in April 2016.
The report is based on a year-long series of consultations “Identifying Common Ground for UNGASS 2016″, which has involved 50 Member States, 16 UN entities, and 55 civil society organizations. The report analyses major policy trends leading up to UNGASS 2016; cautions that the push for ‘flexibility’ in implementation of the drug control regime risks leading to policy fragmentation unless it is embedded in a larger, principle-based discussion; and offers six operational recommendations for strengthening the outcome of UNGASS 2016.
The report argues that states should use the period until 2019, when a new UN Plan of Action is expected, to hold inclusive discussions in New York to work towards Global Drug Policy Goals. This approach could take the recent process that designed the Sustainable Development Goals as a model, and be framed as an Open Working Group on Drug Policy, open to all states and to civil society, and guided by a Scientific Advisory Committee. Creating shared goals has proven to be an effective way for states to define the key objectives of a regime, direct resources, and work towards a shared vision on a global issue.