By Samuel Oakford for VICE. After decades of prohibition, 2016 could be the year governments around the world admit that the war on drugs has failed. Or, just as easily, they could maintain the status quo.

Next month, the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) will endorse a resolution that many hoped would encourage countries to stop locking up and marginalizing drug users, and instead embrace harm reduction, alternatives to incarceration, and even decriminalization.

But, as the UN’s Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) convened in Vienna on Monday for its annual meeting ahead of UNGASS, nearly 200 civil society groups and opponents of the drug war released a joint letter that said the planning for next month’s event is “perilously close to representing a serious systemic failure of the UN system.” They called the process “non-inclusive and non-transparent,” adding that “challenges to the status quo, even from member states and many UN agencies, have been marginalised and dissent stifled.”

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