On the eve of the annual UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs - which is taking place in Vienna on March 11-20 - a European commission report revealed that the UN strategy on drugs over the past ten years has failed miserably.
According to the report “no evidence was found that the global drug problem was reduced during the UNGASS period from 1998 to 2007."
In fact, in some regions problems worsened. The production of heroin, for instance, increased by 120 percent during this ten year period.
Drug policy campaigners, social scientists and health experts argue that the strategy has failed, with statistics showing that drug production, trafficking and use have all soared during the decade, while the cost of law enforcement, both financially and socially, has rocketed, with vast numbers imprisoned.
And while critics, and even more and more media (!) vote for a more pragmatic approach such as focussing on harm reduction and even legalization, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Antonio-Maria Costa (remember him?) continues to defend the approach. He warns that "a criminal market, of staggering proportion, risks undermining drug control".
With an increase in production, use and trafficking of illicit drugs, the slogan ''A drug free world -- we can do it!' that dominated the launch of the campaign in 1998, now sounds more unrealistic than ever before. However, despite the complete lack of succes in the current approach, U.N. members are expected to sign a declaration this week for extending the ‘war on drugs’ policy for another 10 years.