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Opinion Pieces Highlight Drug Policy Issues Being Discussed At U.N. Special Session

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Why the ‘war on drugs’ isn’t working
Francis Chimenya, Community Advisory Board member of the Johns Hopkins Research Project-Malawi and a member of Key Correspondents

“Public health experts are calling for reforms to drugs policies … Many countries continue to focus on reducing supply and depend on law enforcement and the criminalization of drug use. However research shows that public health approaches, such as ‘harm reduction,’ can be more effective. … [T]he latest research by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that needle and syringe programs reduce HIV risk without increasing or promoting drug use. … Current legislation, punitive law enforcement measures, and punishment, as well as social stigma, cause more harm among young people who use drugs around the world. … [P]revention policies are not working … [but] harm reduction does work…” (4/18).

The Guardian: The war on drugs has failed: time to stop fighting and start thinking
Magdy Martínez-Solimán, assistant secretary general of the U.N. and assistant administrator of UNDP

“…Without effective drug control strategies, marginalization, poverty, and inequality will persist in societies. … We cannot end AIDS by 2030 without prioritizing populations at the greatest risk of contracting HIV, which includes people who use drugs. Our sustainable development commitments … compel U.N. member states to use the best evidence in their efforts to end poverty, ensure health and well-being, and fight inequality and injustice. This includes an integrating, evidence, human-rights based, and well-funded approach to drug control” (4/18).

Project Syndicate: Rethinking West Africa’s War On Drugs
Abdul Tejan-Cole, executive director of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, and Nana Afadzinu, executive director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute

“…West African countries must use the U.N. special session [on the world drug problem] to make a clean break with the failed approach of the past decade. … The U.N.’s special session must be used to lay the foundation for the reform not just of laws and policies, but also of perceptions and attitudes. … If the U.N. special session is to realize ‘a society free of drug abuse,’ it must do more than reaffirm previous agreements and pledges. It must be bold and progressive, by proposing the most cost-effective and humane approach to address global drug use. That can happen only if the affected countries and regions — including West Africa — speak out loudly and collectively” (4/18).

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