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UNODC Briefing Paper On Drug Decriminalization, HIV Prevention Never Approved By Executive Director, U.N. Drugs Agency Says

News outlets report on a leaked briefing paper from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which outlines how the decriminalization of drug use and possession for personal use is a key element of the HIV response, and an UNODC statement noting the briefing paper is not final nor to be considered policy.

BBC News: U.N. attempt to decriminalize drugs foiled
“An attempt by U.N. officials to get countries to decriminalize the possession and use of all drugs has been foiled, the BBC can reveal. A paper from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been withdrawn after pressure from at least one country. … Sources within the UNODC have told the BBC the document was never sanctioned by the organization as policy. One senior figure within the agency described [the author] as ‘a middle-ranking official’ who was offering a professional viewpoint…” (Easton, 10/19).

New York Times: U.N. Report Did Not Endorse Legalization of Drugs, Agency Says
“The United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime said Monday that an ‘unfortunate misunderstanding’ had led to the impression that it would advocate the legalization of all drugs for personal use. A briefing paper to be presented at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by the head of the agency’s HIV division was sent last week to a few journalists by conference organizers and misrepresented as a major policy change. But the paper had never been cleared by the agency’s executive director, the agency said, and was meant to describe only how legalization was permitted under existing international drug-control treaties and how it would benefit the fight against AIDS…” (McNeil, 10/19).

VICE News: Richard Branson Just Leaked This U.N. Document Calling for Drug Decriminalization
“…The text, authored by Dr. Monica Beg, head of UNODC’s HIV/AIDS office at its headquarters in Vienna, was expected to be unveiled on Sunday, coinciding with the convening of the 24th International Harm Reduction Conference in Kuala Lumpur, which she is attending. The paper was never released, however. … On Monday, Virgin CEO and drug policy reform advocate Richard Branson leaked the text on his personal blog while applauding it as ‘a refreshing shift that could go a long way to finally end the needless criminalization of millions of drug users around the world’…” (Oakford, 10/19).

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