A Necessary Dialogue: Alternatives to the Status Quo and the 2016 Special Session of the UN General Assembly

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Thursday, July 9, 2015
Cristóbal M. Puig-Monsen

In recent years, months even, several countries have decreased their criminal sanctions for personal drug consumption. The rationalizations for these policy changes are varied - as varied as the countries themselves in terms of their respective drug problems - and the implemented alternatives which range from pre-trial diversions (avoiding the criminal justice system entirely) and deferred prosecutions to drug treatment courts and varying degrees of decriminalization. Yet among the various reasons for shifting policies, there is one common motivation: a growing disillusionment with international drug policy status quo and a mounting sentiment that the century-old policy has failed to provide the intended result domestically. This disillusionment is in large part the reason why several former Latin American presidents requested to convene a Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS) to address the world’s drug problem. Not since 1998 have the Member States of the United Nations gathered to discuss the issue of drugs, a fact which presents a unique opportunity to influence positive global change.