Global War On Drugs Is A Failure, Report Says

By Maggie Ethridge 10/24/18

According to a new report, in the last decade, drug-related deaths have increased by 145%.

officer tagging drugs that were being smuggled in a trunk

The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC, a non-governmental network of 177 organizations) released a report calling the United Nations' global war on drugs a failure.

The report addressed the United Nations’ goal to eliminate the illegal drug market by 2019 through a "War on Drugs" approach—which has had negligible effects on global drug supply while negatively impacting human rights, development, and security.

The report recounted the terrible statistics: in the last decade, drug-related deaths have increased by 145%—with 71,000 estimated overdose deaths in the United States in 2017.

In the past decade, at least 4,000 people were executed for drug-related offenses worldwide. The policy of extremism regarding drug dealers in the Philippines resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings.

In the United States, drug laws have resulted in mass incarceration. In many cases, inmates are convicted for personal possession of a drug. One in five inmates is currently imprisoned for drug offenses.

According to CNN, the IDPC report asked the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs to look for an alternate narcotics strategy for the next 10 years.  

"The fact that governments and the UN do not see fit to properly evaluate the disastrous impact of the last ten years of drug policy is depressingly unsurprising,” Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, said to CNN. "Governments will meet next March at the UN and will likely rubber-stamp more of the same for the next decade in drug policy. This would be a gross dereliction of duty and a recipe for more blood spilled in the name of drug control."

In March, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed making drug trafficking a capital offense. The report states that while international standards do not allow for the death penalty for drug offenses, 33 jurisdictions retain the death penalty and stand in violation of the agreed standard.

"What we learn from the IDPC shadow report is compelling. Since governments started collecting data on drugs in the 1990s, the cultivation, consumption and illegal trafficking of drugs have reached record levels," said Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, in the report's foreword.

"Moreover, current drug policies are a serious obstacle to other social and economic objectives and the 'war on drugs' has resulted in millions of people murdered, disappeared, or internally displaced."

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Maggie May Ethridge is the author of Atmospheric Disturbances: Scenes From a Marriage (Shebooks, 2014) and the recently completed novel, Agitate My Heart. She is a freelance writer published in Rolling Stone, VOX, Washington Post, The Guardian and many others. Find her at her blog Flux Capacitor or on LinkedIn or Twitter.