Pubdate: Monday, 8 Jun 1998
Source: The New York Times
Pages: 12A & 13A - Across the fold of the center of the section
Note: The ad in today's New York Times is reviewed by Richard Lake

The headline shouts, covering the top half of a page:


leading the eye to the letter on the bottom half:

June 6, 1998

 Mr. Kofi Annan
 Secretary General
 United Nations
 New York, New York
 United States

 Dear Secretary General,

On the occasion of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on
Drugs in New York on June 8-10, 1998, we seek your leadership in
stimulating a frank and honest evaluation of global drug control efforts.

We are all deeply concerned about the threat that drugs pose to our
children, our fellow citizens and our societies. There is no choice but to
work together, both within our countries and across borders, to reduce the
harms associated with drugs. The United Nations has a legitimate and
important role to play in this regard -- but only if it is willing to ask
and address tough questions about the success or failure of its efforts.

We believe that the global war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug
abuse itself.

Every decade the United Nations adopts new international conventions,
focused largely on criminalization and punishment, that restrict the
ability of individual nations to devise effective solutions to local drug
problems. Every year governments enact more punitive and costly drug
control measures. Every day politicians endorse harsher new drug war

What is the result? U.N. agencies estimate the annual revenue generated by
the illegal drug industry at $400 billion, or the equivalent of roughly
eight per cent of total international trade. This industry has empowered
organized criminals, corrupted governments at all levels, eroded internal
security, stimulated violence, and distorted both economic markets and
moral values. These are the consequences not of drug use per se, but of
decades of failed and futile drug war policies.

In many parts of the world, drug war politics impede public health efforts
to stem the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other infectious diseases. Human
rights are violated, environmental assaults perpetrated and prisons
inundated with hundreds of thousands of drug law violators. Scarce
resources better expended on health, education and economic development are
squandered on ever more expensive interdiction efforts. Realistic proposals
to reduce drug-related crime, disease and death are abandoned in favor of
rhetorical proposals to create drug-free societies.

Persisting in our current policies will only result in more drug abuse,
more empowerment of drug markets and criminals, and more disease and
suffering. Too often those who call for open debate, rigorous analysis of
current policies, and serious consideration of alternatives are accused of
"surrendering." But the true surrender is when fear and inertia combine to
shut off debate, suppress critical analysis, and dismiss all alternatives
to current policies. 

Mr. Secretary General, we appeal to you to initiate a truly open and honest
dialogue regarding the future of global drug control policies - one in
which fear, prejudice and punitive prohibitions yield to common sense,
science, public health and human rights.


* * * * *

and then across the fold to where the names and titles of over 350 persons
fill the page - titles like  Nobel Laureate; President; Premier; Judge;
Professor; Member, European Parliament; Olympic Gold Medalist; Senator;
Fellow of the Royal Society; Dean; Minister; Research Director; Police
President; Founder; Editor-in-Chief; Chairman and many more, many
repeatedly - are printed. 

And then to the fine print, reading:

This letter was coordinated by The Lindesmith Center. These names represent
only a portion of the many who signed. If you wish to join in signing the
letter, contact The Lindesmith Center, 400 W. 59th Street, New York, NY
10019 or fax 212-548-4670. For a complete list of signers, go to   Titles and affiliations are for
identification purposes only.

- ---
Checked-by: Richard Lake