The UN’s ten-year strategy to eradicate the international illegal drugs market has been a ‘spectacular failure of policy’, says a new report from the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC). UNODC strategy is based on a ‘discredited “war on drugs” approach that continues to generate a catastrophic impact on health, human rights, security and development, while not even remotely reducing the global supply of illegal drugs’, says Taking stock: a decade of drug policy.
More than 30 jurisdictions still have the death penalty for drugs offences on their statute books, it says, with almost 4,000 people executed over the last decade. Meanwhile, President Duterte’s violent crackdown on drug users in the Philippines has so far seen around 27,000 extrajudicial killings, and there were more than 71,000 drug overdose deaths in the US last year alone. Restricted access to controlled medicines has also left 75 per cent of the world’s population without proper access to pain relief, the document states.
This ‘failure of international strategy’ is also reflected at UK level, it says, with increasing levels of class A drug use and record drug-related death figures. Drug law enforcement is also a ‘key driver of ethnic disparity’ in the criminal justice system, says IDPC, with a recent Release report revealing that black people are stopped and searched for drugs at nine times the rate of white people.
The report calls for global drug policy debates to ‘reflect the realities of drug policies on the ground, both positive and negative’, and for UN member states to ‘end punitive drug control approaches and put people and communities first’.
‘The Home Office claims that drug policy in the UK is working on the basis that drug use is falling,’ said Release executive director Niamh Eastwood. ‘This is a blatant disregard for the facts. Drug policy in the UK has not only failed, but is damaging – more people are dying than ever before, class A drug use is increasing, drug purity is at one of its highest rates ever and the drug laws are applied in a discriminatory manner. The Home Office policy on drugs is directly contributing to these harms by refusing to engage in evidence based approaches to drugs, such as trying to block drug consumption rooms or refusing to look at the evidence for ending the criminalisation of people who use drugs.’
Read the IDPC report here