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News Release

Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy

June 6, 1998

Global Statesmen in UN Letter Call Drug War a Failure

OTTAWA -- More than 600 signatories, including many international leaders who believe the drug war is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself, have written to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urging him to reconsider "failed and futile drug war policies."

The signatories call for opening the debate to alternative approaches to drug abuse based on common sense, science, public health and human rights. Their letter is being sent as the UN begins its extraordinary General Assembly Special Session on Drugs Monday.

Those signing include former UN Secretary General Perez de Cuellar, Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State George Shultz, Walter Cronkite, former Greek Deputy Foreign Minister George Papandreou and others. In Canada, signatories include Nobel Laureate John Polanyi, Liberal Senator Sharon Carstairs, NDP Leader Alexa McDonough, Toronto lawyer Edward Greenspan and author Jane Jacobs among others.

"This letter represents a tremendous statement of progress in the struggle for reforming drug policy and ending the failed prohibitionist policies of the past decades," said Dr. Ethan Nadelamnn, Director of the Lindesmith Center, a policy and research institute based in New York that focuses on broadening the debate on drug policy. "Just 10 years ago, anyone who raised these issues was dismissed out of hand and falsely accused of promoting drug abuse. Today we stand with Presidents, Prime Ministers and Nobel Laureates on the side of open debate and public health."

Eugene Oscapella of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy in Ottawa, which is working in association with the Lindesmith Center, said the global war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself. "Persisting in our current policies will only result in more drug abuse, more empowerment of drug markets and criminals and more disease and suffering."

He said the UN Drug Summit promises to be little more than a giant "pep rally" for the global war on drugs with much focus on law enforcement efforts, lip service given to demand reduction efforts, and nothing in the way of honest critical analysis of current strategies and tactics.

"Canada needs a dramatic change in the direction of its drug policy. The drug war has failed. In many cases, drug production is increasing and drug prices are falling -- hardly a sign of success. At the same time, the war on drugs is seriously eroding the fundamental rights of all Canadians, not merely those who use drugs, and it is encouraging more dangerous forms of drug use", said Oscapella.

The Foundation advocates full, open and honest debate and an examination of alternatives to current prohibitionist drug policies based on the criminal law.


For Further Information Contact Eugene Oscapella (613) 238-5909:

Editors: The complete list of signatures can be found on The Lindesmith Center website: www.lindesmith.org/news/un.html

The Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy website is located at: http://fox.nstn.ca/~eoscapel/cfdp/cfdp.html.

Letter to UN Secretary General, Koffi Annan

June 1, 1998

Mr. Kofi Annan
Secretary General
United Nations
New York, New York

Dear Secretary General,

On the occasion of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in New York on June 8-10, 1998, we seek your leadership in stimulating a frank and honest evaluation of global drug control efforts.

We are all deeply concerned about the threat that drugs pose to our children, our fellow citizens and our societies. There is no choice but to work together, both within our countries and across borders, to reduce the harms associated with drugs. The United Nations has a legitimate and important role to play in this regard -- but only if it is willing to ask and address tough questions about the success or failure of its efforts.

We believe that the global war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself.

Every decade the United Nations adopts new international conventions, focused largely on criminalization and punishment, that restrict the ability of individual nations to devise effective solutions to local drug problems. Every year governments enact more punitive and costly drug control measures. Every day politicians endorse harsher new drug war strategies.

What is the result? U.N. agencies estimate the annual revenue generated by the illegal drug industry at $400 billion, or the equivalent of roughly eight per cent of total international trade. This industry has empowered organized criminals, corrupted governments at all levels, eroded internal security, stimulated violence, and distorted both economic markets and moral values. These are the consequences not of drug use per se, but of decades of failed and futile drug war policies.

In many parts of the world, drug war politics impede public health efforts to stem the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other infectious diseases. Human rights are violated, environmental assaults perpetrated and prisons inundated with hundreds of thousands of drug law violators. Scarce resources better expended on health, education and economic development are squandered on ever more expensive interdiction efforts. Realistic proposals to reduce drug-related crime, disease and death are abandoned in favor of rhetorical proposals to create drug-free societies.

Persisting in our current policies will only result in more drug abuse, more empowerment of drug markets and criminals, and more disease and suffering. Too often those who call for open debate, rigorous analysis of current policies, and serious consideration of alternatives are accused of "surrendering." But the true surrender is when fear and inertia combine to shut off debate, suppress critical analysis, and dismiss all alternatives to current policies. Mr. Secretary General, we appeal to you to initiate a truly open and honest dialogue regarding the future of global drug control policies - one in which fear, prejudice and punitive prohibitions yield to common sense, science, public health and human rights.

Yours sincerely,

Canadian Signatories to Letter to Koffi Annan (as of Saturday, June 6, 1998)

Frank Addario, Criminal Lawyer, Toronto, Ontario

Marie-Andrée Bertrand, Professor Emeritus of Criminology, Université de Montréal, President of the International Antiprohibitionist League, Montreal, Quebec

Chris Axworthy, Member of Parliament, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Barry L. Beyerstein, Ph.D., Brain Behavior Laboratory, Department of Psychology,

Simon Fraser University, Burnaby,British Columbia

Neil Boyd, Professor, School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia

J.A. Browne, parent, Burlington, Ontario

C. Michael Bryan, formerly Special Asistant to the Commission of Inquiry Into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs (Le Dain Commission) and Senior Policy Analyst (Narcotic Control Policy), Health Protection Branch, Health Canada, Richmond British Columbia

Paul Burstein, Criminal Lawyer, Toronto, Ontario

Vince Cain, former Chief Coroner of B.C., Vancouver, B.C.

The Hon. Sharon Carstairs, Senator, former Chair, Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Senate of Canada

Walter Cavalieri, Msc, MSW, RSW, social worker, Toronto, Ontario

John Robert Colombo, author and anthologist, Toronto, Ontario

John W Conroy QC, Barrister & Solicitor, Mission, British Columbia

Paul Copeland, Lawyer, Columnist on Drug Law for Ontario Criminal Lawyers Association Newsletter, Toronto, Ontario

Laura Cowan, R.N., Executive Director of Street Health, Toronto, Ontario

Libby Davies, Member of Parliament for Vancouver-East, Vancouver, British Columbia

Jonathan Dawe, Barrister, Toronto, Ontario

Bev Desjarlais, Member of Parliament, Manitoba, Canada

Denise De Pape, North York, Ontario

Marion Dewar, chairof Oxfam Canada, former chair of Police Services Board, former Mayor, Ottawa, Ontario; former M.P., Hamilton, Ontario

Jari Dvoräk, Medical Marijuana Activist, Toronto, Ontario

Gordon S. Earle, Member of Parliament, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Richard Elliott, President, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Toronto, Ontario

Patricia G. Erickson, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, ARF [Addiction Research Foundation] Division of the Addiction and Mental Health Services Corporation, and Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto, Ontario

Michael Farrance, Addictions Co-ordinator , City of Toronto Hostels Division, Toronto, Ontario

Glenn A. Gilmour, lawyer, Ottawa, Ontario

Yvon Godin, Member of Parliament Bathhurst, New Brunswick

Irene Goldstone, B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Vancouver, British Columbia

Dr. Richard Gould, Community Medicine Specialist, Toronto, Ontario

Edward L. Greenspan, Q.C., Senior Partner, Greenspan, Henein and White, Toronto, Ontario

Catherine Hankins, Public Health Epidemiologist, Chair of the Canadian Task Force on HIV and Injection Drug Use, Montreal Quebec

David Harvey, Oakville, Ontario (occupation?)

Jane Jacobs, Author, Toronto, Ontario

The Hon. Duncan J. Jessiman, Senator, Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Senate of Canada

Ralf Jürgens, Executive Director, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Montreal, Quebec

Shaun Hopkins, Manager, The Works, Toronto, Ontario

Perry Kendall, VP Seniors Health, Ex-president, Addiction Research Foundation, Victoria, B.C.

J. Robt. Kellerman, Law Union of Ontario, Steering Committee, Toronto, Ontario

Anton Kuerti, musician, Toronto, Ontario

Rick Laliberte, Member of Parliament, Churchill River, Beauval, Saskatchewan

Wendy Lill, Member of Parliament, Dartmouth, N.S.

Dennis Long, President, Ontario Federation of Community Addictions and Mental Health Programs, and Executive Director, Breakaway Substance Abuse Treatment Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Paul MacPhee, Co-Chair AIDS Action Now, Toronto, Ontario

Peter Mancini, M.P., Sydney, Nova Scotia

Ron Mann, Filmmaker, Toronto, Ontario

Patrick Martin, Member of Parliament, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Vishnu Mathur, T.V. Producer, Toronto, Ontario

Alexa McDonough, Member of Parliament, Federal Leader of New Democratic Party, Ottawa, Canada

Dr. John S. Millar, Provincial Health Officer, Ministry of Health and Ministry Responsible for Seniors, Victoria, British Columbia

Ruth Morris, Education Director, Toronto, Ontario

The Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin, Senator, Senate of Canada, Montréal, Québec

Lorne Nystrom, Member of Parliament, New Democratic Party of Canada, Qu'Appelle, Regina, Saskatchewan

Eugene Oscapella, lawyer, former Chair, Law Reform Commission of Canada Drug Policy Group, Ottawa, Ontario

George Panagapka, F.U.N. Group - Parkdale Community Health Center, Toronto, Ontario

Leslie Paine, Lawyer, Toronto, Canada

John C. Polanyi, Nobel Laureate (Chemistry, 1986), Toronto, Ontario

Gil Puder, police officer, Abbotsford, British Columbia

Andrew J. Rapoch, Former President, National Organization for the Reform of the Marijuana

Laws (NORML), Canada, Ottawa, Ontario

Diane Riley, Ph.D., International Harm Reduction Association, Toronto, Ontario

Greg Robinson, Co-Chair AIDS Action Now, Toronto, Ontario

Svend Robinson, Member of Parliament, New Democratic Party of Canada, Burnaby-Douglas, Burnaby, British Columbia

Dr. David Roy, Director, Centre for Bioethics, Clinical Research Institute of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec

Clayton Ruby, Lawyer, Toronto, Ontario

Pat Sanagan, Substance Abuse Prevention Consultant, North York, Ontario

Professor Eric Single, Professor of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto

Jan Skirrow, Consultant; Former CEO Alberta Alcohol & Drug Abuse Commission, Deputy Minister of Community and Occupational Health, Alberta; Founding CEO, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, Duncan, B.C.

Prof. Barney Sneiderman, Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Terence Stewart, Canadian Aids Society, Ottawa, Ontario

Peter Stoffer, Member of Parliament - New Democratic Party of Canada, Windsor Jct, N.S.

Robert St-Pierre, HIV Program Coordinator, Canadian Hemophilia Society, Montreal, Quebec

Neev Tapiero, Medical Cannabis Activist and Dispenser, Toronto, Ontario

Jeannette Tossounian, MUM (Marijuana Used for Medicine), Kitchener, Ontario

Elaine Vautour, Counsellor, Toronto, Ontario

James A. Wakeford, AIDS Activist, Toronto, Ontario

Judy Wasylycia-Leis, M.P. Winnipeg, Manitoba

Dr. Jonathan Wouk, Ottawa, Ontario

Updated: 24 Jul 2001 | Accessed: 41694 times