One year ago, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) elaborated five main “asks” for the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs – developed through consultations with their membership and partners. The UNGASS in New York is now just a few weeks away – so how close have we come to realising these demands?

29 Mar 2016

The 59th Session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) closed at around midnight on Tuesday 22nd March. This was one of the final stepping stones on the road to UNGASS and after protracted negotiations and bargaining, the member states present finally agreed on an outcome document for the General Assembly to adopt in April. It was a tense 10-day meeting in Vienna, with country delegations locked in closed “informal” meetings for most of the time. These discussions were heated and frustrating, but most delegations seem to have come away feeling some satisfaction over the gains that had been made. Overall, the outcome document is a world away from the honest, forward-looking and concise document that IDPC had called for. But it does demonstrate progress in a number of areas: several smaller “wins”, rather than a revolution. Technically the outcome document can be re-opened and re-negotiated at the UNGASS in a few weeks – but given the diplomatic pressure to sign the document as it is, this is unlikely to happen.

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