Waging war on drugs doesn’t work – applying harm reduction science does: key findings of the UN General Assembly 2016

July 25, 2016 12:50 - 3:20 pm


Drug use and possession are banned in 150 countries worldwide with 33 countries and territories retaining the death penalty and 1,000 drug-offence executions annually. This international enforcement regime has failed to reduce the use and harm caused by drugs. In response, the UN Secretary General has called for a special session on drugs at the UN General Assembly in 2016 – the first in nearly two decades.

Drug policies significantly impact public health and criminalisation causes health-related harms. Policing is often misguided. Ultimately, organised crime controls drug access and quality – and many would say even policy – while social violence is escalating. We will examine the pros and cons of the ‘War on Drugs’, a mainstay of global diplomatic relations for decades costing tens of billions. As the fragile consensus supporting prohibition slowly unravels, the 193 countries of the world must decide, and our experts will gauge what might happen next.

This session is jointly organised by Michel Kazatchkine, Global Commission on Drug Policy and Aidan Gilligan, SciCom - Making Sense of Science. 

Moderator Kathryn O'Hara, Carleton University, Canada

Discussants Glenda Gray, South African Medical Research Council and Janet Mifsud, University of Malta

Speakers Michel Kazatchkine, Global Commission on Drug Policy; Andriy Klepikov, Alliance Public Health; Annette Verster, World Health Organisation; Paul Monaghan MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross; Niamh Eastwood, Release; and Alexis Goosdeel, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (TBC). 

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