Pubdate: Thu, 21 Apr 2016
Source: Pretoria News, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2016 The Pretoria News


NEW YORK - The UN General Assembly is rethinking the global strategy 
in the war on narcotics for the first time in two decades as 
activists, UN officials and world leaders cited an international 
trend towards more liberal drug laws.

Despite agreement to deal with the global drug problem, there are 
deep divisions among the 193 member states.

Some favour a shift towards decriminalisation and a greater focus on 
reducing the harm caused by narcotics abuse and the war on drugs.

A number of Latin American leaders say the aggressive war on drugs 
has failed, having killed or destroyed thousands of lives worldwide. 
They say there is an irreversible trend towards legalising "soft 
drugs" such as dagga. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said his 
country would soon increase the amount of dagga Mexicans are allowed 
for personal use and legalise daggaa for medical purposes.

"The paradigm based in prohibition, the so-called 'War on Drugs'... 
has not limited production, trafficking nor global consumption," he said.

This week's special UN session was called by Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia.

But some major powers like Russia remain wary of the trend towards 
legalisation and frown upon moves by US states to regulate access to dagga.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said demand reduction should be 
prioritised "rather than focusing solely on supply reduction".

European and Latin American delegations and activists hope this 
week's special UN session taking stock of the failed war on drugs can 
contribute to nudge the world closer towards a more liberal drug 
strategy that puts human rights and public health, not repression, at 
the centre.

"Evidence shows prohibitionist approaches have not worked: from 1998 
to 2008 the number of people using illicit drugs did not change 
significantly," said UN Assistant Secretary-General Magdy Martinez-Soliman.

"Conventional policies have failed in reducing addiction and production."

The General Assembly adopted a declaration that activists supporting 
more liberal drug laws criticised as "focusing on cutting off supply, 
not reducing the harm caused by narcotics and protecting human rights".

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, a vocal critic of the 
criminalisation of drug use and the heavy-handed tactics of the war 
on drugs, called for ending the death penalty for drug offences, and 
nonprison rehab for addicted drug abusers.

- - Reuters
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom