World Leaders Call Drug War a Failure - Urge UN to Rethink Policy
Associated Press - 6-7-98

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 Sabine

"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 drug-free societies."

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 conference.

U.S. President Bill Clinton will deliver the opening address.