10/16/16 Doug McVay

This week: we hear members of the United Nations General Assembly's Third Committee discuss international criminal justice and drug control policies.

Century of Lies
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Doug McVay
Drug War Facts
Download: Audio icon col101616.mp3



OCTOBER 16, 2016


DEAN BECKER: The failure of drug war is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors, and millions more now calling for for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century Of Lies.

DOUG MCVAY: Hello, and welcome to Century Of Lies. Century Of Lies is a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

On Thursday October 6th, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, otherwise known as the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee, met to discuss two resolutions dealing with criminal justice and drug control policies. Representatives from a number of member states spoke. On a previous show, we heard from ambassadors representing Colombia, Mexico, and the Philippines. Today, we're going to hear from Jamaica; the European Union; Russia; and, the United States.

Loyal listeners will recall that back in April, the United Nations General Assembly held a special session on drugs. That was just one step along the path toward international drug policy reform. There's a lot of work left to do. The United Nations is working from a ten-year political declaration and action plan on drugs adopted in 2009. So, the big event really isn't until 2019, and yet there's more to come after that.

Policy is a process. The cornerstones of intelligent and successful policies are human rights and sustainable development. Prohibition does not fit within any kind of framework that has those cornerstones. Policy is a slow process. That's why it's important to monitor progress. As Kwame Nkrumah once said: forward ever, backward never.

So, let's get to that audio. Again, this is from a meeting of the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee of the United Nations General Assembly on October 6th. They were discussing criminal justice and drug control policy. First, let's hear from His Excellency Ambassador Courtenay Rattray, Permanent Representative of the nation of Jamaica to the United Nations.

COURTNEY RATTRAY: Madame Chair, I have the honor to speak on behalf of the fourteen member states of the Caribbean Community, CARICOM, on agenda items 106, crime prevention and criminal justice, and 107, international drug control.

CARICOM thanks the Secretary General for the comprehensive reports submitted to the General Assembly under these agenda items. We take note of the developments outlined therein, as well as the recommendations for action. As we move forward on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, CARICOM reiterates the position that development is dependent on the creation of an environment that is conducive to social and economic growth.

Social stability, social inclusion, and peaceful societies facilitate the fulfillment of our developmental aspirations, and contribute to the well being of our peoples. This is reflected in the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, which recognizes that without peaceful and inclusive societies, without access to justice, and without transparency and accountability, sustainable development will simply not flourish.

CARICOM continues to place great importance on crime prevention, on promoting access to quality criminal justice, and on developing and implementing effective drug control policies. Madame Chair, CARICOM member states face significant challenges to achieving sustainable development, and to maintaining socio-economic stability as a result of organized criminal activities undertaken within the region.

Transnational organized crime, such as the trafficking in illicit drugs, the illegal trade in and smuggling of small arms and ammunition, human trafficking, and money laundering, all negatively effect our region. The interconnectedness and global reach of the players in these nefarious operations magnifies the impact of each of these activities.

Such is the intensity of their impact that our region, which comprises small island developing states that have high debt burdens and operate in tight fiscal environments, must devote an inordinate amount of resources to addressing this challenge. We are forced to divert resources from other pressing developmental activities, such as undertaking investments in education, health care, and infrastructure developments.

At the same time, criminal activity robs the region of the contribution of its largest human resource group: its youth. Our aim is to channel people into productive activities, and to open opportunities for employment or entrepreneurship, so that our youth in particular become more resilient to the lure of organized criminal gangs. We reiterate the view that greater effort should be placed on addressing the root causes of crime in order to more effectively counter its appeal and reduce its occurrence.

CARICOM has continued its work to combat these illegal activities, and reduce their impact within the region, by the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy. We have benefited significantly from cooperation with key international partners in moving ahead in this area. The European Development Fund, for example, continues to support our efforts to detect and prevent trans-border illegal activity, and to increase intelligence and information sharing within the region.

Under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, training of border officials has continued. We have sought to build capacity in areas such as detection, interdiction, and risk management, in an effort to enhance regional border security. Over the past two and a half years, we have been working with the support of the UNODC to focus on countering transnational organized crime, illicit trafficking and terrorism; countering corruption and money laundering; preventing crime and reforming criminal justice; preventing and treating drug use and HIV/AIDS; and conducting research, trend analysis, and forensics. CARICOM looks forward to the continued and enhanced role of the UNODC, supporting regional efforts in these areas.

CARICOM calls on its development partners to continue and enhance the provision of international cooperation, information sharing, capacity building, and technical assistance, to our member states and the region as a whole, in support of our efforts to comprehensively reduce criminal activities, improve criminal justice responses, and create peaceful and inclusive societies.

Madame Chair, money laundering and other financial crimes require the joint response of the international community. CARICOM fully supports compliance with, and adherence to, the highest standards of oversight and accountability that regulate the global financial system. At the same time, however, we reiterate the need for a balanced and proportionate response to the regulations that do exist. Many CARICOM states face the threat of economic calamity as a result of the emergent practice of de-risking being undertaken by various correspondent banks in Europe and North America. Action by these banks results from their unwillingness to expose themselves to the risk of high fines and other penalties arising from possible illicit, anti-money laundering, countering foreign terrorist activities, by third party clients.

We posit that a reasonable solution can be found to safeguard the international financial system, which provides comfort to the key stakeholders and ensures the continued viability and participation of small economies and their indigenous banks in the global financial system.

Madame Chair, CARICOM member states welcomed the convening of the 2016 Special Session of the GA on the World Drug Problem, UNGASS, April, this year. While we believed, while we believed the outcome document did not fully meet the ambitious expectations of our member states, we do recognize that the UNGASS provided a good opportunity to engage in fruitful dialogue on the existing measures to address the world drug problem, and to consider and agree the operational recommendations to advance in that endeavor.

We welcome the contributions made by a wide range of stakeholders, which facilitated the inclusion of various perspectives and the presentation of comprehensive proposals. Nevertheless, CARICOM reiterates its concern that the process that was undertaken to arrive at the UNGASS outcome document did not adequately facilitate the effective participation of small delegations, in particular member states from our region, which do not have permanent representation in Vienna.

We hold to the view that the most effective multilateral processes are the most inclusive ones. The world drug problem continues to pose a multidimensional challenge that requires a multifaceted and comprehensive response. Drug control policies should always maintain, at their core, the focus of the three UN drug control conventions, which is the health and wellbeing of humanity.

Recognizing that the world drug problem's a common and shared responsibility, CARICOM supports balanced and effective drug control policies which treats with reducing demand and supply, ensure availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes, strengthen international cooperation against trafficking, money laundering, and other associated criminal activities, balanced development and socio-economic concerns, uphold human rights and justice, while taking into account emerging realities, trends, and circumstances, at the national, regional, and global levels.

In this session, we look forward to engaging in consideration of the next steps in the implementation of the UNGASS outcome document, and in advancing the discussion of the way forward with regard to international drug control policy. We are mindful that the current ten-year global strategy will expire in 2019, and recommend that the General Assembly give early consideration to its follow-up, including the process to be undertaken in determining the follow-up. Let us build on the momentum of the UNGASS, including the engagement of all stakeholders, to chart the course forward on international drug control policy development.

Madame Chair, on a closing note, CARICOM again underscores the need for the UNODC to be provided with adequate predictable and stable resources to enable it to effectively undertake the activities within its mandate. Of particular importance is its role in supporting the capacity building requirements of member states, and its cooperation with regional bodies. Our member states look forward to continued active engagement with the UNODC, other UN agencies and bodies, and all member states in our efforts to achieve our shared goal of sustaining an environment of peace, justice, and wellbeing for all our people. I thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Ambassador Courtenay Rattray, Permanent Representative of the nation of Jamaica to the United Nations, addressing the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly on October Sixth.

You're listening to Century of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

Staying with that UN meeting, let's hear from a representative of the European Union, Garrett O'Brien.

GARRETT O'BRIEN: I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union and its member states; the candidate countries: the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Albania; the country of the stabilization and association process and potential candidate, Bosnia and Herzegovina; as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia align themselves with this statement.

This year was marked by the work of the UN and its members on the world drugs problem. Special thanks are due to all who actively contributed to the special session on drugs last April, including the UNGASS preparatory board and the UNODC. We are glad that this session provides a first opportunity to reflect on the achievements of UNGASS, and look forward to the 2019 process.

UNGASS allows us to progress towards a more balanced, comprehensive, and coherent approach to the world drugs problem. We are glad that UNGASS recognized the key objectives of respect for human rights, promotion of public health, and a need for balance between our action on drug demand reduction and on drug supply reduction.

All of these objectives are seen today as indispensable for an effective global drugs policy. The progress achieved at UNGASS on the structure of its outcome document should be used as a basis for our debates on the 2019 process.

The EU is firmly committed to what we refer to as risk and harm reduction. There is a vast amount of evidence and best practices across the world that demonstrate the effectiveness of these measures. In this sense, we welcome the call in the UNGASS outcome document, to consider providing access to risk and harm reduction measures, such as medication assisted therapy programs, injecting equipment programs, anti-retroviral therapy, and other interventions that prevent the transmission of HIV.

The recommendations on availability and access to controlled medicines for pain relief and suffering were also a step ahead in our international strategy to address the world drugs problem. We should continued to develop this approach towards a target date of 2019.

We would like to reiterate the importance of appropriately mainstreaming gender and age perspectives into drug policies. We consider it important to recognize that the needs of women, children, young people, and any other person in a vulnerable situation, are different, and that they must be addressed adequately. Cooperation with civil society in drug policy formulation, follow-up, and implementation is key.

And civil society collaboration in the 2019 process must be guaranteed, structured, and transparent.

We also welcome the fact that the UNGASS outcome document calls on member states to promote the proportionality of sentencing for persons who committed drug related offenses, and to implement alternative measures of punishment.

I have to underline yet again the opposition of the European Union and its member states to the death penalty in all circumstances, including for drug related offenses. We do regret that the UNGASS outcome document does not include language on the death penalty, despite the fact that a significant number of countries are taking steps to reduce the number of offenses for which capital punishment may be imposed.

The drugs market remains one of the most profitable criminal markets. The European Union and its member states have taken up the responsibility to counter the threats related to being an area of destination, production, and transit of drugs. In addition to the targeted work of law enforcement agencies, for six years now we have successfully applied a methodological instrument, the EU Policy Cycle, for the fight against serious and organized crime. We are highly supportive of the UNGASS recommendations for enhanced cooperation on drug supply reduction.

Upholding the rule of law and efficient criminal justice within the applicable law and with respect for human rights is as important as ever. We would like to see more and more measures applied in practice to address the vulnerabilities that drive, enable, and perpetuate any form of organized crime, and to enhance cooperation in criminal matters, including judicial cooperation, to focus on individuals and organizations responsible for illicit activities on a larger scale, and on the resulting illicit financial flows.

We welcome the fact that UNGASS recognized the reality of new psychoactive substances emerging in their hundreds every year, and of the internet as a large, if not the largest, marketplace for them and for other drug related criminal activity. The contemporary trends restate the global nature of the drugs problem, and the fact that it must be addressed with global efforts. The European Union and its member states have mechanisms to address these challenges. Much of our action is done in cooperation with countries worldwide. We look forward to developing that cooperation further and sharing experiences with more and more counterparts.

The EU and its member states, based on their longstanding experience, are convinced that facilitating access to research, evaluation, and monitoring is vital to ensure more effective decisions on drug policies. We believe that drug policies should be built upon an integrated, balanced, and evidence based approach, supported by objective monitoring and evaluation systems.

We have always promoted alternative development as a sustainable and holistic approach to tackle the root causes and framework conditions of the illicit cultivation of drug crops. We have no doubt that as long as root causes persist, such as poverty, limited access to legal markets, or weak rule of law, the effectiveness of any intervention will be limited. We welcome the growing engagement of the private sector in providing viable alternatives to the cultivation of illicit crops. We are pleased that UNGASS recognized the significance of alternative development, and the need to ensure appropriate financing for it.

We welcome the call by UNGASS to place drug policy in a wider socio-economic context, and to bring it in line with the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. We consider the objectives of tackling drugs and fostering development to be complimentary.

Last but not least, ahead of 2019, we encourage the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to continue their work on drug control measures and to promote an open debate and a wide exchange of information and positions. We would welcome the involvement of a wider circle of relevant UN bodies in the debate, as well as civil society and the scientific community. We are interested to see UNODC, the WHO, UNAIDS, and the UNDP enhancing their cooperation with the CND, within their mandates, in a holistic, strategic, and coordinated manner.

At the same time, we want to see all UN members equally committed and involved with this work. Madame Chair, we will unquestionably continue to look for upholding human rights in all areas of work on tackling the global drugs phenomenon. The EU and its member states believe that priority should be given to translating into practice the recommendations of UNGASS without undue delay. We are strongly committed to exchanging information and experiences, to foster the implementation of all UNGASS operational recommendations, and to monitoring developments and results.

In this respect, we look forward to cooperating with all UN members, in the time until the 2019 review and beyond, starting with the intersessional meetings that are taking place in Vienna this month, and via the December reconvened CND session, and the March 2017 CND. Thank you, Madame Chair.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Garrett O'Brien, representing the European Union's delegation to the United Nations, addressing the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee of the United Nations General Assembly on October 6th. They were discussing criminal justice and drug control policy.

Now in our final segment, let's hear from the original cold warriors themselves, the United States and Russia. First we'll hear from the Russian delegate, Elena Mukhametzyanova. She'll be followed by Ambassador William Brownfield, representing the United States.

ELENA S. MUKHAMETZYANOVA [simultaneous interpretation provided by the United Nations]: Regarding the review mechanism of the Convention, we would once again like to highlight its intergovernmental nature and the need to strictly comply with its fundamental principles. We believe that it has shown itself to be an effective instrument for international cooperation which does not require any revision.

Madame Chair, one of the most aggressive forms of transnational organized crime today remains drug related crime. We are concerned by the increasingly rapid spread of new psychoactive substances as well as the use of the internet for drug smuggling. We firmly believe that it is imperative for states to fully and effectively implement the three universal conventions on drug control, the political declaration and plan of action to counter the world drug problem post 2009, as well as the outcome document of the UNGASS special session on the world drug problem.

We categorically oppose any initiatives aimed at revising the existing international system of drug control, including the legalization of certain types of drugs. We support the central coordinating role of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs as the main policy making body of the UN in this area.

In the context of preparations for the review of the implementation of the political declaration and plan of action of 2009, we would like to express our firm opposition to the creation of expert groups or other consultative bodies which would duplicate the work of the Commission. We also consider unacceptable to attempt to redistribute the powers of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs between other UN bodies and agencies.

Madame Chair, we believe that the drug threat emanating from the territory of Afghanistan deserves special attention. It continues to be a threat to international peace and stability. The situation is compounded by increasing inter-linkages between criminal groups and the international terrorist networks, primarily through the supply of financing from income derived from Afghan opiate trafficking. We believe priorities in this area include monitoring and analysis of the drug situation in Afghanistan under the auspices of the UN in order to take targeted measures to destroy drug crops and laboratories, and stem drug flows.

There is evident added value here that could be provided by mechanisms developed with the participation of Russia, such as the CSTO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. We believe that addressing the problem of Afghan drugs is possible only through the joint efforts of the international community to eradicate drug production and drug infrastructure. We also believe it is important to efficient administration of justice. Thank you for your attention.

WILLIAM S. BROWNFIELD: The Third Committee has a unique role in helping member states promote fair, effective, and accountable criminal justice systems, and respond to threats from crime, corruption, and drugs.

Later this month, the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime will have an opportunity to do even more. In Vienna, experts will convene to break down barriers to cross-border investigations and prosecutions of transnational organized criminals. We encourage all parties to include in their delegations representatives of their central authority with responsibility for mutual legal assistance and extradition. Doing so will bring greater focus to the needs and objectives of our experts. This cooperation through the United Nations is important to achieving the goal of bringing transnational criminal organizations, including those who traffic in drugs, to justice.

As you know, Madame Chair, this April, the global community gathered for the UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem. We advanced a comprehensive, balanced approach to international drug policy through the unanimous adoption of the Special Session's outcome document. It is now time to implement the recommendations of that history meeting. We can do so by enhancing collaboration between health and criminal justice sectors at all levels, from the work of first responders in the field to the efforts of experts gathered at meetings such as this.

But it is not enough just to reduce demand for drugs, or reduce their supply. We must do both. And they must be done together. We need to increase dramatically the availability of effective prevention and evidence based treatment efforts. We must curb illicit drug production, and fight transnational organized crime.

One of the most alarming emerging drug threats today are synthetic drugs, which are extremely profitable and easy to make. We should accelerate the international scheduling of the myriad of synthetic substances and precursor chemicals used to make them. In my own United States, we face an epidemic of opioid abuse, including the illicit use of the synthetic drug Fentanyl, and its analogs. Fentanyl turns low grade heroin into a drug with an incredibly potent high. Its use has led to a dramatic increase in deaths in the United States, and this threat is not limited to my country. International control regimes and law enforcement must do more to address the magnitude of this growing challenge.

We have a common, shared responsibility to one another. It is an illusion to believe any nation can go it alone and achieve the goals of increasing justice, fighting transnational organized crime, and decreasing the damage that drugs cause. Recent history teaches that attempting to do so alone will not succeed, no matter how strong or resilient a nation may be.

DOUG MCVAY: That was US Ambassador William S. Brownfield, before him you heard the Russian delegate, Elena Mukhametzyanova. They were addressing the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee of the United Nations General Assembly on October 6th, discussing criminal justice and drug control policy.

And well, that's all the time we have. Thank you for joining us. You've been listening to Century Of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org. Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, please give its page a like. Drug War Facts is on Facebook too, give it a like and share it with friends. You can follow me on Twitter, I'm @DougMcVay and of course also @DrugPolicyFacts.

We'll be back next week with thirty minutes of news and information about the drug war and this Century Of Lies. For now, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition: the century of lies. Drug Truth Network programs archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.