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UN Global Commission on Drug Policy Report: War on Drugs

Published June 1, 2011

The UN Global Commission on Drug Policy released its "War on Drugs" report in June 2011. The report states:

"The global war on drugs has failed. When the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs came into being 50 years ago, and when President Nixon launched the US government's war on drugs 40 years ago, policymakers believed that harsh law enforcement action against those involved in drug production, distribution and use would lead to an ever-diminishing market in controlled drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis, and the eventual achievement of a 'drug free world'. In practice, the global scale of illegal drug markets – largely controlled by organized crime – has grown dramatically over this period. While accurate estimates of global consumption across the entire 50-year period are not available, an analysis of the last 10 years alone shows a large and growing market.

In spite of the increasing evidence that current policies are not achieving their objectives, most policymaking bodies at the national and international level have tended to avoid open scrutiny or debate on alternatives.

This lack of leadership on drug policy has prompted the establishment of our Commission, and leads us to our view that the time is now right for a serious, comprehensive and wide-ranging review of strategies to respond to the drug phenomenon. The starting point for this review is the recognition of the global drug problem as a set of interlinked health and social challenges to be managed, rather than a war to be won."

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