Mixed signals from UN on Drug War

Posted on March 17th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

earthHelen Clark, head of the UN Development Program, speaking ahead of a March 14 presentation of the UNDP's 2013 Human Development Report, offered a surprise critique of the global war on drugs, saying Latin American leaders should develop new policies. "I've been a health minister in my past and there's no doubt that the health position would be to treat the issue of drugs as primarily a health and social issue rather than a criminalized issue," Clark told Reuters. "Once you criminalize, you put very big stakes around. Of course, our world has proceeded on the basis that criminalization is the approach."

Clark, a former New Zealand prime minister, did not recommend policies to Latin American governments, but said they should "act on evidence," adding that she favored treating drugs as a public health problem. Clark declined to comment on the responsibilities the United States should shoulder in any new drug policy, and advised Latin American governments against an "us-and-them" stance in dealing with the US and consumer countries.

Seeming to back-pedal, UNDP spokesperson Christina LoNigro later said in a statement that Clark had not criticized the US policy. "She was speaking about the negative effects the drug trade has had on development in some Latin American countries in the context of the Human Development Report," she added. (Reuters, March 14)

Meanwhile, another UN official warned US states Colorado and Oregon against enacting their new laws legalizing cannabis. The legalization "would be a violation of international law, namely the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, to which the United States is party," said the president of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Raymond Yans, to the 56th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.  Yans called the statement by the US Attorney General that the state measures do not change federal law "good but insufficient." (UN News Centre, March 14)


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