|Transform News – Highlights of 2011||Briefings||Support||Donate||Media Blog|
“ Begin the transformation of the global drug prohibition regime. Replace drug policies and strategies driven by ideology and political convenience with fiscally responsible policies and strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights.”
1. January 2011
2. March 2011
3. May 2011
4. June 2011
5. July 2011
6. August 2011
7. September 2011
8. October 2011
9. November 2011
10. December 2011
11. What You Can Do
Highlights of 2011
2011 was yet another truly remarkable year for both Transform and the wider drug policy debate – a year in which our literature, messaging, contacts and media presence have been significant drivers for change. Over the past year we have delivered a number of projects that demonstrate how far our work has progressed into the mainstream. As you will read, Transform has been operating on an increasingly high level, and working with a range of prominent and distinguished organisations and individuals.
2012 looks set to be yet another historic year, as the failings of the war on drugs continue to be more effectively scrutinised, alternatives meaningfully debated, and reform continues to move from the realm of theoretical debate into real world change. It is clear drug policy reform is now firmly on the global agenda.
Below you can read some of the highlights form Transform’s 2011 newsletters, including some of Transform’s achievements and drug policy news worldwide.
Danny Kushlick, Transform's Head of External Affairs, produced a briefing which examines how governments and politicians sustain the war on drugs through a process of 'securitisation'.
In summary- treating drugs as a threat to society, policy makers have managed to present their use as a security issue – simultaneously justifying ‘extraordinary measures’ to nominally protect citizens, and immunising the policy from meaningful scrutiny and evaluation. Securitisation can therefore be described as a "move that takes politics beyond the established rules of the game and frames the issue either as a special kind of politics or as above politics" – legitimising and sustaining the failed policy paradigm and stifling engagement with the debate on alternative approaches
Last March, the new Count the Costs campaign was launched at a side event at the UN Commission for Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna. Read the press release for more details. The website was launched at www.countthecosts.org.
Initiated and administered by Transform, The War on Drugs: Count the Costs initiative aims to bring together interested parties from around the world, including NGOs, policy makers and others whose work is negatively impacted by international drug enforcement. Together they will call on governments and international agencies to meaningfully evaluate the unintended consequences of the war on drugs and explore evidence-based alternatives. The results of this campaign will be presented to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2012. The launch event was well attended by representatives of the European Commission, ONDCP, and various country missions. Steve and Martin from Transform who attended the meeting in Vienna, participated in a number of side events, and meetings with NGOs, UNODC officials and country delegates.
Read the first Count the Costs briefing, which outlined the seven unintended costs here.
Sign up to the Count the Costs Statement
The War on Drugs: Count the Costs and Explore the Alternatives
The global 'war on drugs' has been fought for 50 years, without preventing the long-term trend of increasing drug supply and use. Beyond this failure, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has also identified the many serious 'unintended negative consequences' of the drug war. These costs result not from drug use itself, but from choosing a punitive enforcement-led approach that, by its nature, places control of the trade in the hands of organised crime, andcriminalises many users. In the process this:
The 'war on drugs' is a policy choice. There are other options that, at the very least, should be debated and explored using the best possible evidence and analysis.
We all share the same goals – a safer, healthier and more just world.
Therefore, we the undersigned, call upon world leaders and UN agencies to quantify the unintended negative consequences of the current approach to drugs, and assess the potential costs and benefits of alternative approaches.
Transform helped Avaaz to develop this petition, which resulted in huge numbers of people signing- and now has had over 600,000 petitioning to end the war on drugs.
To Ban Ki Moon and all heads of State:
"We call on you to end the war on drugs and the prohibition regime, and move towards a system based on decriminalisation, regulation, public health and education. This 50 year old policy has failed, fuels violent organised crime, devastates lives and is costing billions. It is time for a humane and effective approach."
The campaign was timed to coincide with the launch of the Global Commission on Drugs report (produced by 'heads of state and foreign policy chiefs of the UN, EU, Brazil, Mexico' (see below). The petition now has supporters and is obtaining more signatures daily.
Last June saw the former Presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Switzerland, the Prime Minister of Greece, for UN General secretary Kofi Annan, former US Secretary of State George Shultz and former head of the US federal reserve Paul Volcker call for new approaches to the failed drug war, and a decisive move from a punitive criminal justice approach towards on rooted in public health science and human rights.
The report can be read here.
Additionally last June- an open letter organised by Release to David Cameron, was signed by several high-profile celebrities, leading lawyers, academics, artists and politicians calling for the decriminalisation of possession of all drugs. Among these were Dame Judi Dench, Sting and Sir Richard Branson.
Read the full article.
The Transform website and blog each attract 15-20,000 visitors a month. Reviewing our web stats in more detail last year discovered that our groundbreaking book ‘After the War on Drugs: Blueprint for Regulation’ was downloaded an additional 163,614 times in the past 12 months. It now been downloaded over 320,000 times from the Transform website since its 2009 publication (it is also hosted on a number of other sites).
Chapter on legal regulation of drugs by Transform’s senior policy analyst in important new book ‘Children of the drug war’
Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst at Transform wrote a chapter for a book 'Children of the Drug War' book titled 'After the War on Drugs: How Legal Regulation of Production and Trade Would Better Protect Children'. This book offers a unique collection of original essays that investigate the impacts of the war on drugs on children, young people and their families, with contributions from around the world, providing different perspectives and utilising a wide range of styles and approaches including ethnographic studies, personal accounts and interviews.
In September we launched our new Spanish Translation of ‘After the War on Drugs; Blueprint for Regulation’ with a new foreword from ex-Colombian president, César Gaviria at the third Latin American Conference on Drug Policy in Mexico.
It is now available to download as a pdf here. A hard copy version will be available this year.
To read the full English translation of his foreword, visit the blog here.
September also launched the Count the Costs website in Spanish, as well as three translated briefings: the Seven Costs summary briefing , the Development and Security Briefing and the Human Rights Briefing. The briefings as well as the website are still available in English here.
In September Danny from Transform attended the third Latin American Drug Policy Conference in Mexico City and presented both the Spanish translation of the Count the Costs website and the Spanish translation of Blueprint.
Danny said: “Latin America is a hotbed of reform and Mexico is at the coal face. The level of debate in Mexico is far higher than almost anywhere else in the world, because of the crises caused by Calderon’s war on drugs. It was inspiring to find Latin American colleagues who are already making use of Transform materials.”
Transform was invited to participate in the United Nations Development Programme’s Global Commission on HIV and the law.
Transform's senior policy analyst, Steve Rolles, participated in the expert advisory group on the UNDP’s Global Commission on HIV and the Law- which included discussion in the drugs area such as issues of criminalisation and decriminalisation of use, obstacles to effective harm reduction (including drug consumption rooms, harm reduction in prisons, and heroin prescribing), and the wider impacts of managing a public health response within a criminal justice framework.
The Lib Dems passed a motion "Protecting Individuals and Communities from Drug Harms", at the party conference that called for an ‘impact assessment’ of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, in order to assess the efficacy of the current policy and law on drugs. Transform had a role advising on the wording in the draft motion. Whilst the lib dems have had a relatively forward looking position on drugs relative to the other main parties for some years this represented a significant development as they are now a partner in the UK coalition government.
The motion also calls for an assessment of “potential frameworks for a strictly controlled and regulated cannabis market and the potential impacts of such regulation on organised crime, and the health and safety of the public, especially children”.
Transform’s campaign for an impact assessment of drug policy and legalisation made significant progress in 2011. Internationally, the European Commission announced it would start an impact assessment in 2011 on ways to control so-called “legal highs”, including exploring decriminalisation and models of legal regulation. At a national level, Transform worked with a broad range of parliamentarians and saw calls for an impact assessment made in both public debates and the media. This included a proposed amendment to a parliamentary bill, which was tabled as a first step towards requiring an impact assessment of our primary drug legalisation, and the Liberal Democrats motion (see above) that won overwhelming support at their annual conference.
Read more about our Impact Assessment initiative.
This work has meant that the list of influential figures now supporting an impact assessment of drug policy continues to grow, including- Professor David Nutt, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP, Professor Neil McKeganey, Lord Taverne, The International Harm Reduction Association and The Howard League for Howard Reform.
See our full list of supporters.
NGO Event- November 18th
On 18 November, Transform Drug Policy Foundation, in partnership with a number of UK-based drug policy organisations, held a dinner and discussion event for a group of thirty key NGOs from the development, security, human rights and environment sectors , at the Commonwealth Club in London. The high-level event featured presentations by the former president of Brazil and chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy Henrique Fernando Cardoso (watch his powerful ten minute speech here), the former president of Switzerland Ruth Dreifuss, Eduardo Medina Mora, Mexican ambassador to the UK and Mexico's former attorney general, and Danny Kushlick from Transform.
"As development NGOs we have been far too slow recognising this as a development issue. It's one of the biggest and most pressing development issues of all - and becoming increasingly urgent. We are certainly looking into mounting a campaign on this at Health Poverty Action. Thanks for the push!" Martin Drewry, Director, Health Poverty Action.
Over a dozen new groups added their support to the Count the Costs initiative statement, including the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Human Rights Watch, Viva Rio and the World Development Movement amongst the latest, so there are now over 50 organisations and coalitions from all over the world supporting the initiative.
Two new Count the Costs briefings were also finalised (they will be translating into Spanish this year).
1. The War on Drugs: Causing Deforestation and Pollution addresses the main reasons why the environment sector should be concerned with our approach to drugs.
2. The War on Drugs: Creating Crime, Enriching Criminals explores why the current approach is a barrier to the criminal justice sector's work.
November also saw an event in the House of Lords organised by the Parliamentary All Party Group on Drug Law Reform and The Beckley Foundation, and attended by high level government representatives from over 12 countries (mostly Latin American and European), including national drug coordinators, ambassadors and ministers and a range of international academics and NGO representatives as well as UK parliamentarians. Steve and Danny from Transform attended the event.
The groundbreaking two day event saw a range of presentations and discussions around contemporary drug law reform issues, including international experiences with decriminalisation, heroin prescribing, cannabis regulation and UN convention reform.
During November, organised as part of the new Beckley Foundation Global initiative on drugs, in a public letter to the Prime Minister and members of Parliament, signatures were obtained from seven former presidents, twelve Nobel Prize winners and numerous British MPs, public intellectuals and artists- urging a new approach to drug policy.
“The drug-free world so confidently predicted by supporters of the war on drugs is further than ever from attainment. The policies of prohibition create more harms than they prevent. We must seriously consider shifting resources away from criminalising tens of millions of otherwise law abiding citizens, and move towards an approach based on health, harm-reduction, cost-effectiveness and respect for human rights. Evidence consistently shows that these health-based approaches deliver better results than criminalisation.” - The Beckley Foundation, November 2011.
Among the names were former President of the United States Jimmy Carter, former President of Brazil Fernando H. Cardoso, former President of Colombia César Gaviria, Professor Niall Ferguson and Professor Noam Chomsky.
Read the letter.
The Count the Costs campaign now has a total of five briefings covering the unintended costs of the war on drugs- which have also been translated into Spanish and Russian.
1. The Seven Costs Briefing: The War on Drugs- Are we paying too high a price?
Download as pdf.
2. Development and Security Briefing: The War on Drugs- Undermining international development and security, increasing conflict
Download as pdf.
3. Human Rights Briefing: The War on Drugs- Undermining Human Rights
Download as pdf.
4. Crime Briefing: The War on Drugs- Creating crime, enriching criminals
Download as pdf.
5. Environment Briefing: The War on Drugs- Causing Deforestation and Pollution
Download as pdf.
We’re also delighted that over 50 organisations and coalitions from a range of sectors and countries have endorsed the Count the Costs initiative. Some of the supporters that have signed up to the campaign include Human Rights Watch, The International HIV/AIDS Alliance, The Howard League for Penal Reform and the UK Green Party.
What You Can Do
If you’ve enjoyed this newsletter, we’d really appreciate it if you could pass it on to your friends
If you support Transform, then please donate today and help us continue our work for 2012- for what looks set to be a very significant year in drug policy.
Make a single or regular donation here.
Transform Drug Policy Foundation, Easton Business Centre, Felix Rd, Bristol, BS5 0HE, Telephone: +44 (0) 117 941 5810
Transform Drug Policy Foundation is a registered Charity no. 1100518 and Limited Company no. 4862177