By Daniel Wolfe & Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch for Open Society Foundations. What do drug experts in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the United States have in common? They all recognize that the war on drugs has failed, and that it’s time for a change.
It’s been 17 years since world leaders assembled at the 1998 special session of the United Nations to discuss the global drug problem. The slogan of that meeting was, “A Drug-Free World: We Can Do It.” But they couldn’t do it. The effort to eliminate all drug production and impose a zero-tolerance approach to drug use didn’t work. In fact, these efforts have done more harm than good the world over.
In April 2016, the world will gather at the UN once again to revisit the problem. This time, the secretary-general and the nations of the world must listen to voices of experience: those from the streets of Rio to the parliaments of Europe, from West Africa to New York, who are looking at the impacts of drug policy and calling for a rethink. Here are some key points of consensus: