- UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Saying the drug war has caused more harm than drug abuse
itself, prominent world figures are calling for "a truly open dialogue"
to shift drug control policies from punishment to public health issues.
- The call is being made in a letter to
Secretary General Kofi Annan from the Lindesmith Centre, a private institute
which conducts drug research, in advance of the UN General Assembly special
session on drugs, which opens Monday.
- Dr. Ethan Nadelmann, director of the
centre, said the letter has been signed by more than 500 prominent people,
including former U.S. secretary of state George Shultz, former UN secretary
general Javier Perez de Cuellar, former Greek president George Papandreou,
former president Oscar Arias of Costa Rica and former German justice minister
- "We believe that the global war
on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself," the letter
said. "Human rights are violated, environmental assaults perpetrated
and prisons inudated with hundreds of thousands of drug violators."
- The letter said scarce resources are
being diverted "on ever more expensive interdiction efforts"
while "realistic proposals to reduce drug-related crime, disease and
death" are abandoned "in favor of rhetorical proposals to create
- It appealed to Annan "to initiate
a truly open and honest dialogue regarding the future of global drug policies
-- one in which fear, prejudice and punitive prohibitions yield to common
sense, science, public health and human rights."
- Nadelmann said the UN conference should
consider the global drug policy as a public heath issue, using the resources
of UN agencies such as the World Health Organization to devise policies
to replace those based on "interdiction and criminalization."
- Representatives of about 150 countries,
including 35 heads of state and government, are to attend the three-day
- U.S. President Bill Clinton will deliver
the opening address.