The first day of SSDP’s Model UNGASS is in the books. Delegates convened into three committees in order to approve recommendations that will be brought forth to the General Assembly session today at 1:30pm. What follows is a summary of the discussions in all three committees, as recorded by several student observers.
For a description of each committee and the member states they consist of, please see here.
Committee on Drugs and Crime
Written by Garret Reuckert, Salt Lake Community College
Judging from the delegates’ opening statements, it was clear that any disagreements were going to be divided along very regional lines. The Global North and Latin America were pushing to end death penalties for drug crimes, but these punishments mainly exist in Far and Middle East countries which were set to defend their practices as effective. Alongside ending ending the death penalty, issues of drug trafficking, terrorism, violent crime, and money laundering were to be discussed and recommendations drafted. These issues were mainly divided along regional lines as well. Four recommendations were proposed this session and played out as follows:
Recommendation 1: Ending the death penalty for all drug related crimes.
Largely supported by the US, Canada, Colombia, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and the EU nations present, and opposed by China, Japan, Indonesia, Tajikistan, Thailand and Cuba. Those in favor cited human rights and a Latin American imperative for ground work on crime without a punitive focus. Those against noted that they found the punishment effective in curtailing trafficking through their countries, especially the opium trade in China. State sovereignty and the right to selectively use the death penalty within a nation were concerns voiced by the delegate from Thailand. Tajikistan suggested a possible amendment to exempt traffickers of over 100 kg from the recommendation.
The final vote was 15 For, 8 Against; Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago joining those for, and the Philippines and South Africa joining those against.
Recommendation is DEFEATED by a narrow margin.
Recommendation 2: Reduction and elimination of crop eradication practices and protection of indigenous practices of growing certain drug crops.
Proposed by the delegate from Mexico. Supported by US, Trinidad & Tobago, and most other present Latin American and European delegates. Opposed by China and other Asian nations. The Canadian delegate proposed amendment to strike the wording including protections for indigenous protections. Uruguay threw its support behind the amendment and encouraged those who wished to see the whole recommendation pass do likewise to garner more support for the rest of the proposal, the United States did not support the suggestion and voted against the amendment. The amendment passed with a 13 For and 6 Against count, a few countries abstaining. The amended recommendation then moved to a vote.
The final vote on the amended recommendation was a similar 13 For, 9 Against. France and Honduras bucked the trend and voted against. Recommendation is DEFEATED.
Recommendation 3: Creation of regional, intergovernmental agencies to reduce trafficking out of prominent export countries.
The recommendation was put forward by Indonesia with immediate support from China, France, and the Philippines. Canada and Mexico were confused on what sort of implementation this recommendation would entail. Trinidad & Tobago mentioned that most island nations, who do little in the way of producing, should step up and address the heavy trafficking done through their countries. Columbia brought up the concern that the wording focuses too heavily on producing and not enough on reducing demand in importing countries. France also addressed this wording concern and brought up an amendment to strike the wording focussed on producing countries. Tajikistan was the main opponent of the French amendment because of their opium problem coming exclusively out of Afghanistan. Jamaica threw out support for the amendment, warning export countries could be bullied and manipulated by larger countries if the wording went unchanged. The Amendment passed with 14 votes For. The amended recommendation then went to full vote.
The final vote on the amended recommendation was 11 For, 11 Against. The opposed included Cambodia, Colombia, Portugal, the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Mexico, and South Africa. The recommendation is DEFEATED.
Recommendation 4: Establish a global standard for asset seizure and distribution in cases of money laundered to finance the drug market. Includes more transparency in private financial institutions and stricter controls/punishments for banks involved in money laundering.
This recommendation was proposed and was entirely supported by the whole assembly. Very little debate happened and no amendments were proposed.
The final vote for the recommendation passed unanimously.
Committee on Human Rights and Alternative Development
Written by Jessie Ramirez, SUNY Binghamton
On Friday, November 20 2015, the second day of the 2015 International Drug Reform Conference took place in Washington, DC. SSDP students were put into a session to simulate a UNGASS. Students discussed the issues of human rights and alternative development. The countries involved in this committee were Ecuador, Colombia, Guatemala, Canada, Norway, St. Lucia, India, and Afghanistan.
Afghanistan recommends that it be given a license ‘for the licit production of opium in accordance with resolutions of the Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs of 1961 and under the guidance of the INCB’. Afghanistan expressed its feelings on the human rights of the state and how a primary goal is stabilization of destabilized regions controlled by the Taliban. India pushed forward Afghanistan’s recommendation because not only would it open the country to regulation, but also get farmers involved in legal production and thus rid the harm that currently exists in illicit production of opium. A regulated market would undermine the Taliban by guaranteeing that the profits are earned by a corporation and undermine the power of the Taliban. This recommendation passed.
Afghanistan also recommended that there be an increase in funding for rehabilitation programs. Ecuador commented by saying that in its history the funding for rehabilitation has been denied because it leads to more drug use. However, Canada showed strong support. This recommendation passed.
Ecuador recommends that ‘funding from countries like the US which encourage current environmentally degrading eradication practices such as aerial slash and burn practices should be reappropriated to support environmentally and economically sustainable agricultural development. The unique needs of indigenous and low socioeconomic populations will be considered when future legislation is introduced.’ Afghanistan, Norway, and Bolivia strongly agree with Ecuador’s recommendation based on the fact that sustainable agricultural and economic growth is essential for a country to proceed in legalization of illicit drugs. This recommendation passed.
Canada recommends that cannabis be legalized, regulate, and taxed to fund public drug education programs. With the recent change in parliament, Canada expects marijuana to be legalized within 2 years. In addition to funding public drug education programs, Canada also pushes for legalization, production and exportation of industrial hemp as a viable resource could replace non-renewable resources, which will lead to a more sustainable economy. Canada sees industrial hemp as helpful for other nations as it would be for itself. This recommendation passed.
India recommends to ease licensing restrictions on hospitals and pharmacies for purchasing pain medicines and increase access to pain medication in India and other developing countries. India’s effort is for harm reduction to people who do not have easy access to pain medications. Canada strongly supported this recommendation. This recommendation passed.
The United States wants to ensure that by 2030, all persons (in particular, all persons, women, minorities & indigenous) have equal access to economic mobility (regardless of gender, sex, race, or cultural identity), environmentally and developmentally sustainable land ownership and/or access to historic or naturally important protected areas, especially for nomadic indigenous cultures. Ecuador helped change the original recommendation of the United States because it was said to be too vague and didn’t explain what would happen to the land already owned by indigenous people. Norway asked where the land was coming from but the US stated that it did not specify any particular land in its recommendation. This recommendation passed.
Colombia recommends that agriculture producers, not cartel members, be recognized as key agents in the war on drugs and give them a voice in reform dialogues. Bolivia strongly agreed and stated this is the only way to solve the problem by including the producers in the conversation as well. This recommendation passed.
Norway recommended full legalization of safe injection sites to encourage harm reduction and intervention and reduce the risk of overdose and transmission of blood-related disease. Canada supports this recommendation on the basis that it has seen progress with this harm reduction technique. Norway believes that these safe sites could include the resources for patients to come off heroin without withdrawal. This recommendation did not pass.
Committee on Drugs and Health
Unfortunately no full text summary is yet available for the committee meeting. However thanks to Michael Boryk of University of Connecticut, you can check out the meeting minutes here. Check back soon for a full transcript on the committee’s actions