UN To Call On Governments To Decriminalise All Drugs?

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UN To Call On Governments To Decriminalise All Drugs?

In a rather dramatic and surprising turn of events, billionaire Richard Branson has leaked a UN document suggesting it planned to call on the world governments to decriminalise drugs.

The news was posted by Branson on Virgin Media’s blog, hailing it as “groundbreaking news” and evidence that common sense and rational thinking would eventually prevail. While not official UN policy, the document from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) highlights a dramatic shift in stance on the matter.

The document in question remains officially unreleased, but the embargo on it was broken by Branson as he feared the UN would “bow to pressure by not going ahead with the important news.” By releasing it himself (Branson being part of the global commission on drugs), he hoped to ensure it would not become buried.


However, the UN has been quick to hedge its bets, and denies that what this paper outlines will be official policy anytime soon. They said if it were to become major policy, it would be announced at one of the organisation’s conferences, and would first have to go through a rigorous process of policymaking. The paper, as it stands, is more topic for debate at an upcoming conference.

Despite this, the surfacing of the document is significant; it marks an increasing support for decriminalisation at an organisation that shapes policies across the globe. Members of the UNODC have been increasingly voicing the need for decriminalisation at conferences, and the paper shows this growing opinion coming to fruition. It is an opinion unlikely to change anytime soon.

It is believed by some, including Branson, that this report has now been downplayed due to pressure from world governments.

"As I'm writing this I am hearing that at least one government is putting an inordinate amount of pressure on the UNODC," he said.

"Let us hope the UNODC, a global organisation that is part of the UN and supposed to do what is right for the people of the world, does not do a remarkable volte-face at the last possible moment and bow to pressure by not going ahead with this important move.

"The war on drugs has done too much damage to too many people already."

At the end of the day, the view on global drug policy is changing – for the better. Go back ten or twenty years, and writing a paper like this would have been seen as inconceivable. Now it is up for mainstream UN debate. Sure, there is opposition, and no dramatic shift in policy is on the cards anytime soon, but change is a slow creeping machine, and it is on the way.