The 58th sessions of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs is underway this week as member states and NGOs from around the world gather in Vienna, Austria for arguably the largest and most important international drug policy conference in the world. As a UN-recognized NGO since 2011, SSDP is invited every year to attend and observe the sessions and debates that occur regarding the status of international drug policy. Our delegation this year includes Executive Director Betty Aldworth, Board members Sarah Merrigan and Rafael Gonzalez, and allies from our sister organizations and members of our International Outreach Committee, Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Students for Sensible Drug Policy UK.
For the second year in a row, SSDP will be hosting a side event presentation at CND. Last year’s side event was co-sponsored by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and received very positive feedback from those in attendance. This year’s side event, titled “Protecting Youth from Drug Policy,” continues the discussion about the impact prohibitionist drug policies have on today’s youth, and is co-sponsored by both CSSDP and SSDP UK along with former SSDP International Outreach Coordinator Zara Snapp. Members of all three organizations will give presentations on how the current model of drug control has had damaging effects on youth around the world. In addition, presenters will also introduce a new project of the International Outreach Committee, Drug War Stories, which aims to share the voices and stories of youth around the world who have been negatively impacted by drug policy. The side event is scheduled for Wednesday, March 11th at 1:00pm in Conference Room MOE100.
This year’s CND is particularly important as it includes a special segment on preparations for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in April 2016. Hosted at the UN headquarters in New York City, UNGASS will be an opportunity for an open and honest dialogue on the status of the international treaties which mandate drug control for all member states who sign on. Recently, members of the US State Department have suggested that these treaties be interpreted with flexibility in the wake of the successful experiments with legal recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington. This interpretation will allow the federal government to demonstrate that the US is still operating within the frameworks of the treaties while also removing another argument against the legalization of cannabis in the US.
Be sure to check back for updates on CND and SSDP’s side event throughout the week.