At about two o’clock in the morning on March 23rd, after tense negotiations in Vienna, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) reached a disappointing compromise. The hard-bargained draft of the outcome document of the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs taking place in New York from 19-21 April was adopted by ‘consensus’. Although its key features are by no means a surprise the draft is disappointing nonetheless.
A statement in the name of some 200 civil society organisations on the opening day of the CND warned that “the UNGASS is now perilously close to representing a serious systemic failure of the UN system … an expensive restatement of previous agreements and conventions”. Will the UNGASS 2016 go down in history as another wasted opportunity or have the debates leading to it laid a solid groundwork for systemic changes in the near future?