By Steve Rolles for Transform. A significant positive outcome has already emerged from next year’s UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS)on drugs in the form of much more direct engagement in key drug policy issues from a range of UN agencies – beyond the prohibitionist silo of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Civil society organisations have, for years, been attempting to highlight the negative impacts of the international drug control system on issues relating to the core UN pillars of human rights, development, and peace and security. But these are not thematic areas that have been routinely evaluated or reported on in any consistent or in-depth way by the key UN drug control bodies – the UNODC, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) or the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). You will not, for example, find chapters on the human rights or development implications of drug enforcement in the UNODC’s flagship annual ‘World Drug Report’.
But the invited submissions to the UNGASS process from the wider family of UN agencies, representing a much more diverse body of thematic expertise, have not held back in tackling what has previously been off limits in the high-level UN drug debate. Stand out contributions include those from the UN Development Program, UN Women, the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, and UNAIDs. And another outstanding submission has arrived this week from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Dainius Pūras.