CSSDP will be attending the UN General Assembly for the first time for a high-level thematic debate towards the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS), scheduled for April 2016.

UNGASS is only a year away, and represents a potential turning point for global drug policy reform. The last UNGASS was in 1998, and the upcoming meeting was pushed to occur sooner than later by Latin American presidents pushing for reform in an effort to create dialog on the war on drugs. The idea of achieving a drug-free world is antiquated and even the most conservative member states like Canada admit failure in doing so.

As the war on drugs crumbles from the inside, many countries continue to be disproportionally impacted by its violence. The irony of the U.S. taking some of the first steps towards cannabis legalization is incredibly symbolic on a global scale. While most decisions on global drug policy are made at the UNODC Headquarters annually in Vienna at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, these upcoming meetings are an opportunity to think outside the box of “drugs and crime” and reflect on other outcomes of progressive drug policy such as health and human rights.

UNGASS is not just a chance for member states to engage in dialog, it’s also an opportunity for the various bodies and “organs” of the UN to digest this terrible situation we’ve gotten ourselves into. We can all agree that the war on drugs is a failure, and some member states are starting to listen! That’s an incredible opportunity for civil society to engage in dialog, and we’re starting to do just that. CSSDP has met with the Canadian Delegation at CND to voice the concerns of Canadian youth and we’ll be doing that again alongside the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition. Not only are we meeting with our government to discuss our concerns, we’ll be representing youth globally at the Civil Society Hearing! Nazlee Maghsoudi will be representing both Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy as well as the International Centre for Science and Drug Policy in her new role as “Knowledge Translation Manager” this afternoon. Tomorrow begins the debate itself, which we will be covering through our blog series. Coincidentally tomorrow is also International Harm Reduction Day, so we hope that it will be a topic of debate!

Please check this blog daily to stay up to date on what is happening in New York, and make sure to follow CSSDP on Facebook and Twitter for frequent updates!