NGO Blog:

Mikki and Chrisís NGO Blog:

 

Mikki Norris mikki@hr95.org

Chris Conrad chris@chrisconrad.com

The opportunity to attend the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs High Level Meetings provided me with a deeper understanding of the mechanism and process by which this international body functions along with its limitations. Unfortunately, I can see that the UN body, with its 2, 5, and 10 year meeting cycles are not conducive to change within a reasonable framework. While many European and Latin American countries seemed ready to move forward in pursuing more humanistic, harm reduction strategies, the US, Asian, and more repressive nations were not. That left me disappointed as to pursuing change at the international level. It did reinforce in me the necessity to "think globally, but act locally," however. As much of the world looks to the United States for leadership, I can see that if we change our policies at home, we can affect change on a global level. The breakout sessions sponsored by the International Drug Policy Consortium were extremely helpful in providing information on avenues to pursue and networking opportunities with people from around the world who are working on similar tracks. In particular, the Beckley Commission session gave invaluable information on how to go about reforming policies within and outside of the current international treaties. It was gratifying to see the NGOs infusing some real world experience into the discussions and having a place at the table. NGOs played a role in infusing some good language into the resolutions and impacted the final declaration. We gave out flyers, our newspaper, the West Coast Leaf (see www.westcoastleaf.com), and Human Rights and the Drug War books, and we set up a photo display outside that attracted some media attention. We did radio (national Austrian radio), TV (Iran TV) and print media interviews (ENCOD, Brazilian journalists) that gave voice to those impacted by current Drug War policies, the prisoners, their families, and the broader community. It was gratifying to show that the US does not speak with a monolithic voice, and that there was much disagreement with our representatives at the meetings. We are grateful to the Open Society Institute for supporting our project, Human Rights and the Drug War, and enabling us to participate in this important forum. In a way, this fulfilled our goal to bring our information to the attention of the United Nations. Although we weren't allowed to set up the display inside, we were successful in handing out books to a broad spectrum of representatives from around the world, who upon reading the material will learn that the failed US drug policy is a poor model to follow. Hopefully, it will inspire them to pursue policies that respect human rights, that are based on real world evidence, and promote harm reduction. It reaffirmed the need to continue working at the local level to create the change we need for the betterment of the world community.

 

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