By Open Democracy. This April, the UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs will convene in New York – seen by many as a possible breaking point for the global drug control system, and the first session to be held on this theme for two decades. The UNGASS is actually happening two years early, because the governments of Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala have called for it in advance. This time, the UNGASS is expected to be a crucial moment in which dissenting countries could break the UN consensus over the ‘war on drugs’ and the model of prohibition, proposing alternative approaches towards harm reduction and decriminalisation instead.

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the UN preparatory body for the UNGASS, is meeting in Vienna this week with the main focus of finalising the outcome document for the UNGASS. Nearly 200 civil society organisations, representing drug policy experts and involved communities, have released a statement, “Diplomacy or denialism?”, expressing serious concerns over the current negotiations around the outcome document, and the failure of governments in recognising the damaging consequences of the current prohibitionist drug control system.

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