You are here: HomeWorld NewsEuropeAs UN Orders Expanded Global Drug War, Critics Fight Back
Friday, 15 March 2013 10:00

As UN Orders Expanded Global Drug War, Critics Fight Back

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Despite openly admitting the failure of prohibition by conceding that drug use has not declined after decades of United Nations-mandated “war on drugs” policies, the UN and its mostly totalitarian member regimes have been meeting this week (March 11-15) in Vienna, Austria, seeking to expand the controversial drug war even further. Critics of the dubious UN “Commission on Narcotic Drugs” (CND) schemes, however — ranging from a coalition of American law enforcement officers to Latin American heads of state — are increasingly calling for new approaches to the problem.

Among the most prominent and vocal opponents of the UN’s ongoing narcotics machinations is Socialist Bolivian President Evo Morales (shown), who slammed the global prohibition regime as a failure. Even former Soviet Communist diplomat-turned planetary drug czar Yury Fedotov, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (ODC), admitted as much when he said "the overall prevalence of drug use is not decreasing.” Morales, however, went much further.

Speaking to the 56th session of the UN CND on Monday, the fiery South American leader said the international war has caused soaring violence and is being used as an "instrument of geopolitical domination." In typical fashion, Morales also took swipes at the U.S. government, which under Obama has expanded its ruthless, unconstitutional campaign of terror throughout Latin America under the guise of fighting the UN-mandated drug war. Morales slammed what he termed the “political use" of the drug war by "certain powers.”

Over a year ago, the Bolivian government, led by Morales, unilaterally withdrew from the UN “Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs” because the treaty purported to prohibit the use of the coca leaf, which has a long history in the region among indigenous people even though it is now often used to manufacture cocaine. At the latest global summit, held from March 11 to 15, the Bolivian leader continued his crusade against what he called the failed approach to dealing with the narcotics trade.  

"Every day there are more drugs on the markets, every day there are more weapons spurring social violence, every day more money from crime is covered up by banking secrecy," Morales told the assembled delegates at the annual UN summit on drugs, pointing out the obvious. "Illegal drugs constitute the third most profitable industry in the world after food and oil, according to a United Nations report, with an annual estimated value of $450 billion completely under the control of criminals."

While Morales was busy denouncing the UN-mandated drug war, a prominent U.S.-based organization known as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) was in Vienna making its case for total legalization of all drugs. The increasingly influential coalition of lawmen — judges, prosecutors, police officers, and others; people who have served on the front lines of the “war” and know what it really is — sent a four-member delegation to the UN summit.

LEAP Executive Director Neill Franklin, a 34-year law enforcement veteran of the Maryland State Police and Baltimore Police Department, says that ending drug prohibition would reduce violence, eviscerate the cartels, protect taxpayers, and more. He told The New American that UN mandates on the drug war were having a negative effect, and that it was time to call it quits when it comes to having the international organization ordering national governments to wage endless war on unapproved substances.

“We live in a global society in which each country is impacted by the actions of every other. This is particularly true in the war on drugs where the mandates of the UN system of drug prohibition greatly restrict the types of reforms countries can enact,” Franklin explained in an e-mail. “We're talking about a quickly adaptable multinational system of trade powered by forces that are more powerful than some countries — and a substantial part of the national economy of others.”

According to Franklin, the time has come to have a global conversation about what works and what does not. Clearly, as even UN ODC boss and former Soviet diplomat Fedotov himself admitted in his opening remarks at the summit, the drug war — despite trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives squandered in recent decades — has not reduced drug use. For Franklin and LEAP, then, the world needs to explore alternatives to dealing with drug problems other than prohibition.    

Asked why the global war on drugs was not the best solution, Franklin pointed to alcohol prohibition in the 1920s. “When we think of that era, we generally think of two images: gangsters with machine guns and speakeasies filled to overflowing. It's the same today,” he explained. “The prohibition of drugs creates enormous profits that fund the street gangs and cartels that control the trade. Simultaneously, it gives them an incentive to violence in protecting that trade.”

Even as the UN-mandated war rages on, drug usage remains widespread and narcotics are becoming more and more dangerous. The law enforcement and judicial systems, meanwhile, are too overburdened by drug prosecutions to focus on violent crime, with taxpayers paying more money for fewer results, Franklin said. It is time, therefore, for a new approach. 

“Our original request to the UN was quite modest,” the head of LEAP continued. “We wrote each delegate a letter asking them merely to allow a free and open discussion of all the policy alternatives that exist. Ultimately, we would like to see countries given greater autonomy to decide their own policy choices.” Based on what has been going on at the week-long summit, however, it appears that the UN wants to further centralize the planetary drug regime.

Franklin also mentioned Morales, who spoke to the more than 1,000 UN session attendees about how much better his nation’s drug policies had become since the Bolivian government withdrew from the 1961 UN narcotics treaty in 2011. Bolivia has also refused to cooperate with the increasingly militarized “war on drugs” being waged by the Obama administration throughout Latin America, earning its leader widespread praise in the region and worldwide despite his largely destructive socialist policies on other issues. 

“We know the system of prohibition the UN now mandates is not working,” Franklin said. “If, rather than being confined to this single, failing model, nations in open conversation with the UN were able to find the right system of regulation and control that works, works best for them, the harms associated with drug use and control could be greatly lessened.”

Critics of the failed UN-mandated prohibition approach often point to Portugal, which decriminalized all drugs — everything from marijuana to cocaine and heroin — about a decade ago. Studies show that since then, drug abuse has been cut in half already. Drug-related crime has also plummeted. Indeed, around the world, and especially in Latin America and parts of Europe, the Portuguese model is being seen as increasingly promising — especially when compared to the unconstitutional U.S. drug war mandated by the UN in direct conflict with the American Constitution.  

Other elements that came under fierce criticism at the Vienna summit were outlandish UN claims that U.S. states were not free to set their own policies on marijuana. Citing invalid international treaties purporting to mandate a planetary war on drugs, the global body’s top drug warriors blasted voters in states like Colorado and Washington for legalizing the controversial plant for recreational use.

Even the 20 or so states that have nullified unconstitutional federal statutes by approving cannabis for medicinal use were attacked by the UN, which claimed it “warned” the Obama administration to crack down on the phenomenon. However, as Thomas Jefferson and the U.S. Supreme Court, among others, have explained, the federal government cannot expand its powers simply by ratifying treaties, and the Constitution does not provide any authority to regulate substances — that is why alcohol prohibition required an amendment. 

More troubling even than the lawlessness involved, perhaps, is the growing body of evidence suggesting that elements of the U.S. government itself are at the heart of the international narcotics trade. Top American officials, drug cartel bosses, Latin American leaders, and more have all suggested that the U.S. federal government is, at the very least, involved in the drug trade, and has been for decades.

The scandal surrounding operation Fast and Furious, in which the Obama administration was caught providing heavy weapons to certain Mexican drug cartels, certainly did not help to ease suspicions. Numerous other explosive revelations in recent years — DEA laundering drug money, for example — have continued adding fuel to the fire. Americans, meanwhile, have rightly become concerned, especially considering the fact that the United States has more prisoners than any nation on Earth, mostly for non-violent drug offenses.  

While the UN may think it can order the cooperative Obama administration to continue enforcing unconstitutional statutes in defiance of voters, the Constitution, and state law, criticism of global prohibition is growing by leaps and bounds as governments seek alternative ways to deal with drug problems. Polls show, for example, that most Americans now favor legalizing marijuana, and at the federal level at least, the Constitution demands it. Critics say the UN’s insistence on waging more and more war despite its admitted failure is likely to further discredit the dictator-dominated organization in the United States and worldwide. 

Photo of Bolivian President Evo Morales speaking to the press at the UNODC conference in Vienna, Austria March 11: AP Images


Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is currently based in Europe. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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4 comments

  • Comment Link Gart Saturday, 16 March 2013 06:12 posted by Gart

    As far as drugs are concerned, we need to ask ourselves, what sort of “view of the world” or more generally, what sort of moral code is consistent with the prohibition regime and the War on Drugs policies?

    When Prohibition was trumpeted as the panacea to society ‘oldest vice’, its goal was to allow us to live in a drug-free world. Well, fifty years later we are still waiting for the utopia to materialise.

    Meanwhile, all Prohibition and the War on Drugs have delivered is utter dystopia: massive incarceration, corruption, destruction of democratic institutions, thousands upon thousands of killings, intimidation and execution of journalists, judges, politicians and anybody brave enough to question the corrupting and murderous practices of the drug trafficking gangs that control the US$320,000 millions the illegal drug market generates in revenue every year, that’s right, EVERY YEAR.

    What sort of moral code encourages a government to support Prohibition, a regime whose “positive” results (i.e. cessation of consumption and elimination of supply) are negligible, whereas its negative effects are of such extent that people with a different moral code, or at least a more consistent one, would not hesitate to consider them a price too high to pay, were them the result of any other policy but the War on Drugs.

    What sort of moral code makes a government believe that is right to wage a war with such appalling consequences: almost 50,000 killings in the past five years in Mexico alone, people sentenced to death in Asia and the Middle East, systematic violation of human rights, extrajudicial killings, … and the list goes on and on and on.

    There is no doubt in my mind that should such levels of criminal acts be happening as a result of policies other than the War on Drugs, people with a different moral code, or at least a more consistent one, would be condemning them as crimes against humanity!

    Gart Valenc
    twitter: @gartvalenc

  • Comment Link Jillian Galloway Friday, 15 March 2013 17:15 posted by Jillian Galloway

    Either END the failed drug war or END the UN! It is repugnant for the UN to continue its failed and deadly drug war that has NEVER stopped people getting drugs!! This archaic policy causes FAR more harm than what it prevents and makes children LESS safe! We have to put the safety of our children FIRST and legalize marijuana like beer and wine.

  • Comment Link MemphisMickey Friday, 15 March 2013 13:46 posted by MemphisMickey

    As the JBS supports Moral Laws that support families and Life, I know they will support the US to keep drugs illegal. But we don't need the UN to tell us what to do.

  • Comment Link malcolm kyle Friday, 15 March 2013 11:18 posted by malcolm kyle

    Yep, prohibition has failed again! Is anybody really surprised? 

    Just like at the end of the 1920s, our prisons are full, our economy is in ruins, the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans have been destroyed or severely disrupted. What was once a shining beacon of liberty and prosperity has become a toxic, repressive, smoldering heap of hypocrisy and a gross affront to fundamental human decency. 

    America it is time to wake up! Prohibition is a cultural and economic assault on your money, on your careers, on your ability to put food on the table, have shelter, cloth yourself, and even survive or self-medicate. The fiscal cliff isn't the crisis. Prohibitionist control over America's politics and government is.

    During alcohol prohibition, all profits went to enrich criminals and corrupt politicians. Young men died every day on inner-city streets while battling over turf. A fortune was wasted on enforcement that could have gone on education, etc. On top of the budget-busting prosecution and incarceration costs, billions in taxes were lost. Finally, the economy collapsed. Sound familiar?

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