Towards a Review of Global Policies on Illegal Drugs

This first report from the Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Programme (BFDPP) discusses the global drug control system – particularly the role of the United Nations – and the challenges confronting drug policy. It argues that the current system is not achieving its stated objective: to eradicate completely – or even substantially reduce – illicit drug markets. On the contrary, over four fifths of the 92 countries that reported on progress to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said that drug use in their populations was either not coming down or – in the majority of cases – was still going up. The BFDPP is calling for a fundamental review of the impact of this global framework. The overarching objectives of global drug policy should be to reduce crime and nuisance, death, physical and mental illness, damage to children and families and failure in education and employment resulting from drug use. This report will ask whether these objectives are being achieved and which strategies are most likely to deliver positive results in the future. It is concluded that the drug free world currently sought by the UN is an impossible ideal, but a world in which far less harm is caused as a result of the production, trafficking and consumption of drugs is both an inspiring ideal and an achievable objective.