Global Commission on Drug Policy
The Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) is a panel of world leaders and intellectuals, with a Secretariat based in Geneva, Switzerland.
In June 2011, the commission said: "The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world." The emphasis in drug policy on harsh law enforcement over four decades has not accomplished its goal of banishing drugs and has in fact spawned wide, dramatic eruptions of violence, the report continued. By way of alternative, the GCDP report "advocates decriminalizing drug use by those who do no harm to others."
The commission was formed to "bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies. [It built] on the experience of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy."
The Secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and handles the daily operations of the Commission. Its work is directed by the Executive Secretary, Khalid Tinasti.
Members (25 plus two In Memorium) of the GCDP Board a/o January 2018 were:
- Kofi Annan (Ghana), Chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation and former Secretary-General of the United Nations
- Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi
- Louise Arbour, former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Canada (membership currently on hold)
- Pavel Bém (Czech Republic) former Mayor of Prague, member of the Parliament, Czech Republic
- Richard Branson (United Kingdom), entrepreneur, advocate for social causes, founder of the Virgin Group, co-founder of The Elders
- Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), former President of Brazil (former chair)
- Maria Cattaui (Switzerland), former Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce
- Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- Nick Clegg (United Kingdom), former Deputy Prime Minister
- Ruth Dreifuss (Switzerland), former President of Switzerland and Minister of Home Affairs (chair in 2016)
- César Gaviria (Colombia), former President of Colombia
- Anand Grover (India), former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
- Asma Jahangir (Pakistan), human rights activist, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Extrajudicial and Summary Executions
- Michel Kazatchkine (France), UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and former executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
- Aleksander Kwaśniewski (Poland), former President of Polandl
- Ricardo Lagos (Chile) former President of Chile
- Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria), former President of Nigeria
- George Papandreou (Greece), former Prime Minister of Greece
- José Ramos-Horta, former Prime Minister and President of Timor-Leste
- George P. Shultz (United States), former Secretary of State (honorary chair)
- Javier Solana (Spain), former European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy
- Jorge Sampaio (Portugal), former President of Portugal
- Thorvald Stoltenberg (Norway), former Minister of Foreign Affairs and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
- Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru), writer and public intellectual, Nobel Prize laureate
- Paul Volcker (United States), former Chairman of the Federal Reserve and of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board
- Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico), former President of Mexico
- Louise Arbour (Canada), former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, president of the International Crisis Group
- Marion Caspers-Merk (Germany), former State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Health (Germany)
- Carlos Fuentes (Mexico), writer and public intellectual (deceased May 15, 2012; board member In Memorium)
- John C. Whitehead (United States), banker and civil servant, chair of the World Trade Center Memorial (deceased 2015; board member In Memorium)
Reactions to the 2011 report
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter wrote an op-ed in The New York Times explicitly endorsing the recommendations of the commission, saying they were in line with the policies of his administration; and saying it was the policies of the succeeding Reagan administration which had moved U.S. policy so far toward punitive alternatives. Carter's piece elicited several published responses, including one from an analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy who drew attention to the current White House Office of National Drug Control Policy's immediate rejection of GCDP's recommendations and defense of the "balanced drug control efforts" of the U.S. federal government; and others which agreed and disagreed with Carter's views.
The Beckley Foundation's Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform antedated the release of the GCDP report but integrated the GCPD into its November, 2011, British House of Lords meetings. Professor Robin Room (University of Melbourne) was preparing a "Rewriting the UN Drug Conventions Report" based on amendments to the UN drug control conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988 for the Initiative; and Professor Stephen Pudney (Institute for Social and Economic Research) was preparing "the first-ever Cost-benefit Analysis of the control of cannabis through regulation and taxation in the UK" for it. Amanda Feilding of the Foundation and other peers led the effort and attracted some criticism for it.
- as of 2011-11-25
- "Demand reduction and harm reduction", by Dr Alex Wodak AM
- "Drug policy, criminal justice and mass imprisonment", by Bryan Stevenson
- "Assessing supply-side policy and practice: Eradication and alternative development, by David Mansfield
- "The development of international drug control: Lessons learned and strategic challenges for the future" by Martin Jelsma
- "Drug policy: Lessons learned and options for the future", by Mike Trace
- "The drug trade: The politicization of criminals and the criminalization of politicians" by Moisés Naím
On September 9, 2014 the Commission issued its new report, Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work. "The report reflects the evolution in the thinking of the Commissioners, who reiterate their demands for decriminalization, alternatives to incarceration, and greater emphasis on public health approaches and now also call for permitting the legal regulation of psychoactive substances. The Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders to ever call for such far-reaching changes."
Disappointment with UNGASS 2016
In April 2016, the GCDP reacted to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) drug conference, saying the commission was "profoundly disappointed with the adopted outcome document". The Wall Street Journal lumped the attendees' positions "somewhat" in two camps: "Some European and South American countries as well as the U.S. favored softer approaches. Eastern countries such as China and Russia and most Muslim nations like Iran, Indonesia and Pakistan remained staunchly opposed." Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said “We must move beyond prohibition to effective prevention” and that Mexico was considering legalizing medical marijuana and limited decriminalization of the drug. GCDP member Branson was quoted as saying the conference outcome was "out of step with world sentiment and doubles down on status quo”.
In November 2016 GCDP released the report, Advancing Drug Policy Reform: a new approach to decriminalization.
Commission Chair Dreifuss said about the report:
After years of denouncing the dramatic effects of prohibition and the criminalization of people that do no harm but use drugs on the society as a whole, it is time to highlight the benefits of well-designed and well-implemented people-centered drug policies. These innovative policies cannot exist as long as we do not discuss, honestly, the major policy error made in the past, which is the criminalization of personal consumption or possession of illicit psychoactive substances in national laws.
On 2 October 2017, the Global Commission published a position paper on the opioid crisis in North America. This opioid-driven public health crisis has reached alarming proportions, contributing in 2016 to an estimated 64,000 deaths from drug overdoses in the US, and some 2,500 in Canada. The members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, several of whom faced similar crises while occupying the highest levels of government in their own countries, share in this position paper their views and recommendations on how to mitigate this epidemic.
While previous reports by the Global Commission on Drug Policy showed how the potential harms of drugs for people and communities are exacerbated by repressive drug control policies at local, national and international levels, the Global Commission's 2017 report, "The World Drug PERCEPTION Problem - Countering Prejudices About People Who Use Drugs"  focuses on how current perceptions of drugs and people who use them feed into and off prohibitionist policies. Indeed, drug policy reforms have been difficult to design, legislate or implement because current policies and responses are often based on perceptions and passionate beliefs, and what should be factual discussions leading to effective policies are frequently treated as moral debates. The present report aims to analyze the most common perceptions and fears, contrast them with available evidence on drugs and the people who use them, and provides recommendations on changes that must be enacted to support reforms toward more effective drug policies.
- "World Leaders Call for End to Criminalizing Drug Consumption", The Costa Rica Star, November 28, 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
- Shultz, George P., and Paul A. Volcker (11 June 2011). "A Real Debate About Drug Policy". The Wall Street Journal.
- Tharoor, Ishaan, "Report: The Global War on Drugs Has Failed. Is It Time to Legalize?", Time, June 03, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
- "Commission" page, GCDP webpage. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
- Latin American Initiative on Drugs and Democracy membership Archived 2011-05-04 at the Wayback Machine., LAIDD webpage. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
- Shultz, George P. and Pedro Aspe, "The Failed War on Drugs", New York Times op-ed, December 31, 2017. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
- "Commissioners", globalcommissionondrugs.org webpage. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
- Kwaśniewski, Aleksander, "Saying No to Costly Drug Laws" New York Times, May 10, 2012.
- "Dr. Gabor Maté: Obama Admin Should Heed Global Panel's Call to End 'Failed' U.S.-Led Drug War", Democracy Now!, June 6, 2011. Audio and transcript.
- Carter, Jimmy, "Call Off the Global Drug War", The New York Times, June 16, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
- "Letters: Dispatches From the War on Drugs", The New York Times, June 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
- "Serious Words", The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC, June 27, 2011. Audio archive only. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
- "Global drugs war strategy has failed - overhaul it", The Tribune, June 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
- Hakim, Peter, "Rethinking US Drug Policy", Política Exterior (Inter-American Dialogue), October 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
- Bio, Beckley Foundation webpage. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
- "Global Initiative", Beckley Foundation webpage. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
- Beckford, Martin, "It's time to decriminalise drug use, say peers", The Telegraph, 20 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
- Phillips, Melanie, "Drug legalisation? We need it like a hole in the head", Daily Mail, 19th November 2011 5:10 pm. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
- "Background Papers", GCDP webpage. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
- Taking Control: Summary, gcdpsummary2014.com, September 2014. Downloads of full report available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Russian.
- "New Report: World Leaders Call For Ending Criminalization of Drug Use and Possession and Responsible Legal Regulation of Psychoactive Substances", globalcommissionondrugs.org, September 8, 2014.
- "Public Statement by the Global Commission on Drug Policy on UNGASS 2016", Press release, April 21, 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
- Fassihi, Farnaz, "U.N. Conference on Drugs Ends Without Shift in Policy", Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
- "Advancing Drug Policy Reform: 2016", globalcommissionondrugs.org, 2016. Downloads available in English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Arabic. Retrieved 2016-12-06.