The ‘General Assembly’ is the principle policy making organ of the United Nations (UN), and the only one in which all 193 UN member states have equal representation. At the request of member states, it convenes UN General Assembly Special Sessions (UNGASS) on specific issues.

20 Feb 2014

The last UNGASS on drugs was in 1998 at which member states agreed a Political Declaration on Global Drug Control. Ten years later, member states met in Vienna to discuss progress made and to agree a new Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem.

The next UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) was due to be held in 2019 – the target date set out in the 2009 Political Declaration and Action Plan for the achievement of a significant reduction in or the elimination of the demand and supply of drugs. However, subsequently, a provision was included in an annual omnibus resolution on drug policy – to bring forward this global drug policy summit meeting to 2016.

The preparations are already in progress with a mid-term review of the implementation of the 2009 Political Declaration scheduled for March 2014.

The UNGASS on drugs comes at a time when there have been growing calls for drug policy reform based on public health, respect for human rights and harm reduction.

                   UN2 (1)  


The 2016 UNGASS is set to be held at the UN Headquarters in New York, United States. Although UNGASS is three years away, there are a number of key events that can be used to feed into the debates. These include:

The High Level Segment of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), March 2014, Vienna.

The adoption of the Modalities Resolution in New York in either 2014 or 2015, which will outline the process for the proceedings at the 2016 UNGASS, delineating civil society participation, member states’ participation, what (if any) the outcome of UNGASS will be, and what the negotiation process will be. The resolution is usually passed in the autumn prior to an UNGASS, but some are calling for its passage in the autumn of 2014 instead.

The Hemispheric Review of the Organisation of American States, to be held in 2014, which may result in a strategy to be submitted to the General Assembly.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) review, New York, September 2015, which may be used as an opportunity to promote drug policy reform.

Share this on: