JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Justice, Senator the Honourable Mark Golding told the world body that past approaches, including the so-called “War on Drugs”, have not achieved their goals.
  • The Jamaican Minister joined with several others from Latin America in calling for a re-evaluation of the global drug policy paradigm, with a view to implementing a more holistic approach to addressing the world drug problem.
  • The United Nations General Assembly will hold a Special Session next April to evaluate the success and failures of the 2009 Global Plan of Action geared towards countering the world drug problem.

Minister of Justice, Senator the Honourable Mark Golding, while addressing a United Nations General Assembly High-level Thematic Debate on the World Drug Problem on Thursday, May 7, told the world body that experience over the past decades has taught that the world drug problem has multi-faceted implications, and that past approaches, including the so-called “War on Drugs”, have not achieved their goals.

The Jamaican Minister joined with several others from Latin America in calling for a re-evaluation of the global drug policy paradigm, with a view to implementing a more holistic approach to addressing the world drug problem.

The United Nations General Assembly will hold a Special Session next April to evaluate the success and failures of the 2009 Global Plan of Action geared towards countering the world drug problem. As part of the preparations and preliminary discussions, the debate held at UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday, provided Members States with an opportunity to share views and provide input and guidance to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs which is leading the preparatory process for next year’s Special Session.

The international response to the world drug problem is guided by the three UN International Drug Control Conventions which prohibit the production, trafficking of and trade in narcotics and psychotropic substances. The Minister emphasized that while Jamaica will continue to abide by its international obligations at all levels, there is a need for greater national autonomy in the design of domestic policies and laws, especially in relation to cannabis.

World leaders from all regions conveyed views about the need to adopt a more multi-dimensional approach to addressing drug control, including greater consideration of criminal justice reform, public health approaches, human rights, economic development and social interventions. CARICOM, for its part, emphasized the negative effects its Members faced by virtue of being in a transit region, including the security implications and the role of transnational organized crime in contributing to socio-economic instability.

While in New York, the Minister also participated in a workshop hosted by Colombia and the United States to examine sentencing reform in drug policy. Countries shared concern about the negative implications of convictions for minor offenses on individuals, the court system, national budgets and society as a whole. Youth, and especially the poor and young black men, were identified as being disproportionately affected by the criminalization approach.  Minister Golding outlined the measures being adopted by Jamaica through the recent amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act, concerning the decriminalization of the possession of small quantities of ganja, and the initiatives to explore the medicinal and scientific benefits of the cannabis plant.  Other representatives, including the Secretary-General of the OAS and the director of the UNODC, outlined trends across the region and globe, and reminded that the framework of the Conventions provides ambit for numerous options in relation to sentencing.

Minister Golding also delivered a joint statement during the Thematic Debate on behalf of an inter-regional group of fourteen countries, including nine from Latin America and Benin, Ghana, Norway, Philippines, and Senegal, noting that addressing the world drug problem is a common and shared responsibility requiring greater coherence and international cooperation to address is multifaceted dimensions.