Wednesday, 29 February 2012


The International Narcotics Control Board has now repeatedly attacked Bolivia since it denounced the 1961 Convention, indicating its intention to re-accede with a reservation allowing for the traditional use of coca leaf. Bolivia has been acting within the normal procedures of international law and its own constitution on this matter. The squeals of protest it has met with from its European, American, and other "friends" have contained little in the way of argument other than INCB's recent contention that "the integrity of the international drug control system would be undermined".

It is interesting to see a body like the INCB overstepping the mark of its own powers under the UN treaties by playing God, with little regard for the inviolability of the national laws and cultures that are the bedrock of the UN system. “The INCB response is another clear sign that the UN drug control regime is under strain and that the cracks in the so-called ‘Vienna consensus’ are approaching a breaking point,” according to TNI’s Martin Jelsma. “It is a sign that its principal guardian, the INCB, is in distress and no longer capable of responding to challenges in a rational manner.”

Why this persistent refusal on the part of the multilateral system of drugs control to enter into a meaningful dialogue on reform of the Conventions? A South American diplomat recently put in the following terms: back in the 16th century, when the Catholic church was no longer capable of reform, it spawned the Reformation and lost its monopoly over Christianity. Without dramatising current events, the multilateral drug control system is showing its age and revealing the sclerosis of the institutions created to implement it. The tabloid tone of the INCB's latest report is a sign of this.

Last December, Presidents and other political leaders of ten Latin American countries from the so called Tuxtla Mechanism for Dialogue effectively called on the rich drug consumer markets, primarily the US and Europe, to begin with experimenting regulation models for what we still call illicit drugs. US and European media largely ignored this declaration. These countries made this call because they are being destroyed by organised crime. The UN Drug Conventions have not created this crime, but they have created a global framework in which it prospers almost by default. The struggle against such crime is turning into a slaughter house for ordinary people, particularly in Central America, with no end in sight.

If the church will not reform then let us put our faith in a reformation and support the Tuxtla appeal. As a European, I hope that Europe will not yet again be trumped by the Americans in getting us out of a hole. It may not look likely at the moment, but 16 US states have enacted laws that allow for the sale of "medical marijuana, and at least there is a lively debate going on there, whereas EU leaders are firmly looking the other way and the Brussels administration has quite lost its way. Sooner or later though, our governments will have to grasp the nettle of organising this regulated market. If there is one lesson to be learned from the tobacco and alcohol models it is that it should not be left to purely commercial interests.

Watch this space.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Carel,

    You are so true in saying they play God! The key difference is that the real God does not do what they do.

    Reverend John Clifton Marquis, S.T. writes, “[prohibition] laws are false gods promising a salvation they cannot produce. Every year, they demand more adoration from their devotees: more time, more money, more people, more resources. And yet, no matter how punitive the sanctions (including the death penalty itself), the drug-providing business has only escalated; indeed ballooned. This is simple, historical fact.”

    I have tried to contact Rev. Marquis and left messages, but my guess is those who consider themselves superior to him have done their best to oppress him.

    This seems to be a summary of the agreement to which you refer:

    Here is the part of the agreement you referenced, which has to do with drugs:

    Thank you for your work and keeping up the pressure on them to stop their harmful endeavors and misguided lording of undeserved authority over others.