10 April 2011

Hanging separately in Vienna and New York ?

In my last post I made some suggestions about what the next steps should be in relation to the UN conventions on drugs. Here are a few thoughts drilling down to a more technical level:

The EU has once again shown (last March, at the CND) that it still needs to get its act together in the UN (as it has undertaken to do under the current Action Plan on Drugs). Unscheduled national statements in plenary sessions in Viennaor New Yorkare a comfort to those who do not share the EU’s values. One country that specialises in publicly messing up the EU consensus on harm reduction in the UN at the moment is Italy, with Sweden a close second.

Some of the bigger EU Member States need to get in step with the march of history and be less addicted to their positions on the UN Security Council and more perceptive of the gains to be made from a coordinated and coherent EU position. If nothing else, their public finances will soon give them few other options.

A fundamental, evidence-based review of the conventions must include a review of the role of the UN system in global drug policy. The UNODC is a deeply dysfuntional organisation with a Kafka-esque funding base. The current director is a Russian career diplomat. Do we want this sort of body to determine our political choices?

Within the European Commission the drugs file has - for the last 15 years or so - come under the responsibility of the Secretary-General or (after 1999) at least only one single Commissioner. Since 1910 it is being fought over by two Commissioners - one for Justice and one for Home Affairs - neither of whom have so far shown much grasp of the subject. In a forthcoming internal management change drug policy will move to the recently created directorate for criminal justice. This is a significant step backwards from the Commission's traditional holistic approach to drugs. It is to be hoped that the Commission will stop treating drug policy as a low-priority add-on to its criminal justice brief and recognise drugs for the major social and political issue that it has been for years.

Carel Edwards

Brussels, 9 April 2011

20:12 Posted by Carel Edwards in Drugs and politics | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook

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