Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) is a panel of world
leaders and intellectuals, with a Secretariat based in Geneva,
In June 2011, the commission said: "The global war on drugs has
failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies
around the world." The emphasis in drug policy on harsh law
enforcement over four decades has not accomplished its goal of
banishing drugs and has in fact spawned wide, dramatic eruptions of
violence, the report continued. By way of alternative, the GCDP report
"advocates decriminalizing drug use by those who do no harm to
The commission was formed to "bring to the international level an
informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to
reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies. [It built] on
the experience of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and
At year-end 2017, GCDP board member George Shultz and economist and
former secretary of finance in Mexico
Pedro Aspe reaffirmed the
message of the commission in a
New York Times
New York Times op-ed.
The Secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and handles the daily
operations of the Commission. Its work is directed by the Executive
Secretary, Khalid Tinasti.
1.1 Former members
2 Reactions to the 2011 report
2.3 Background papers
3 2014 report
4 Disappointment with UNGASS 2016
5 2016 report
6 Position Paper on the Opioid Crisis in North America
7 2017 report
9 External links
Members (25 plus two In Memorium) of the GCDP Board a/o January 2018
Kofi Annan (Ghana), Chairman of the
Kofi Annan Foundation and former
Secretary-General of the United Nations
Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi
Louise Arbour, former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Canada
(membership currently on hold)
Pavel Bém (Czech Republic) former Mayor of Prague, member of the
Parliament, Czech Republic
Richard Branson (United Kingdom), entrepreneur, advocate for social
causes, founder of the Virgin Group, co-founder of The Elders
Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), former
President of Brazil
President of Brazil (former
Maria Cattaui (Switzerland), former Secretary-General of the
International Chamber of Commerce
Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Administrator of
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Nick Clegg (United Kingdom), former Deputy Prime Minister
Ruth Dreifuss (Switzerland), former
President of Switzerland
President of Switzerland and
Minister of Home Affairs (chair in 2016)
César Gaviria (Colombia), former President of Colombia
Anand Grover (India), former
Special Rapporteur on the
right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard
of physical and mental health
Asma Jahangir (Pakistan), human rights activist, former United Nations
Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Extrajudicial and Summary Executions
Michel Kazatchkine (France), UN Secretary-General's
Special Envoy on
HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and former executive
director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Aleksander Kwaśniewski (Poland), former President of Poland
Ricardo Lagos (Chile) former President of Chile
Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria), former President of Nigeria
George Papandreou (Greece), former Prime Minister of Greece
José Ramos-Horta, former Prime Minister and President of Timor-Leste
George P. Shultz
George P. Shultz (United States), former Secretary of State (honorary
Javier Solana (Spain), former European Union High Representative for
the Common Foreign and Security Policy
Jorge Sampaio (Portugal), former President of Portugal
Thorvald Stoltenberg (Norway), former Minister of Foreign Affairs and
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Mario Vargas Llosa
Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru), writer and public intellectual, Nobel Prize
Paul Volcker (United States), former Chairman of the Federal Reserve
and of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board
Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico), former President of Mexico
Louise Arbour (Canada), former
United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights, president of the International Crisis Group
Marion Caspers-Merk (Germany), former State Secretary at the Federal
Ministry of Health (Germany)
Carlos Fuentes (Mexico), writer and public intellectual (deceased May
15, 2012; board member In Memorium)
John C. Whitehead
John C. Whitehead (United States), banker and civil servant, chair of
World Trade Center Memorial
World Trade Center Memorial (deceased 2015; board member In
Reactions to the 2011 report
Gabor Maté, a Hungarian-Canadian physician who specializes in study
and treatment of addiction, was interviewed on
Democracy Now! about
Former U.S. President
Jimmy Carter wrote an op-ed in The New York
Times explicitly endorsing the recommendations of the commission,
saying they were in line with the policies of his administration; and
saying it was the policies of the succeeding Reagan administration
which had moved U.S. policy so far toward punitive alternatives.
Carter's piece elicited several published responses, including one
from an analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy who drew attention to
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy's
immediate rejection of GCDP's recommendations and defense of the
"balanced drug control efforts" of the U.S. federal government; and
others which agreed and disagreed with Carter's views.
Brian Lehrer had Ethan Nadelmann, founder and director of the Drug
Policy Alliance, on Lehrer's radio show to detail the GCDP report and
how that might impact U.S. anti-drug policies.
Sir Ronald Sanders, a consultant and former Caribbean diplomat, wrote
in favor of the recommendations and endorsement of President Carter's
Peter Hakim prominently cited the GCDP report in an October, 2011,
"rethinking [of] U.S. drug policy".
The Beckley Foundation's Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform
antedated the release of the GCDP report but integrated the GCPD into
its November, 2011, British
House of Lords
House of Lords meetings. Professor Robin
Room (University of Melbourne) was preparing a "Rewriting the UN
Drug Conventions Report" based on amendments to the UN drug control
conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988 for the Initiative; and Professor
Stephen Pudney (Institute for Social and Economic Research) was
preparing "the first-ever Cost-benefit Analysis of the control of
cannabis through regulation and taxation in the UK" for it. Amanda
Feilding of the Foundation and other peers led the effort and
attracted some criticism for it.
as of 2011-11-25
"Demand reduction and harm reduction", by Dr
Alex Wodak AM
"Drug policy, criminal justice and mass imprisonment", by Bryan
"Assessing supply-side policy and practice: Eradication and
alternative development, by David Mansfield
"The development of international drug control: Lessons learned and
strategic challenges for the future" by Martin Jelsma
"Drug policy: Lessons learned and options for the future", by Mike
"The drug trade: The politicization of criminals and the
criminalization of politicians" by Moisés Naím
On September 9, 2014 the Commission issued its new report, Taking
Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work. "The report reflects
the evolution in the thinking of the Commissioners, who reiterate
their demands for decriminalization, alternatives to incarceration,
and greater emphasis on public health approaches and now also call for
permitting the legal regulation of psychoactive substances. The
Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders to
ever call for such far-reaching changes."
Disappointment with UNGASS 2016
In April 2016, the GCDP reacted to the
United Nations General Assembly
Special Session (UNGASS) drug conference, saying the commission was
"profoundly disappointed with the adopted outcome document". The
Wall Street Journal lumped the attendees' positions "somewhat" in two
camps: "Some European and South American countries as well as the U.S.
favored softer approaches. Eastern countries such as China and Russia
and most Muslim nations like Iran, Indonesia and Pakistan remained
staunchly opposed." Mexican President
Enrique Peña Nieto
Enrique Peña Nieto said “We
must move beyond prohibition to effective prevention” and that
Mexico was considering legalizing medical marijuana and limited
decriminalization of the drug. GCDP member Branson was quoted as
saying the conference outcome was "out of step with world sentiment
and doubles down on status quo”.
In November 2016 GCDP released the report, Advancing Drug Policy
Reform: a new approach to decriminalization.
Commission Chair Dreifuss said about the report:
After years of denouncing the dramatic effects of prohibition and the
criminalization of people that do no harm but use drugs on the society
as a whole, it is time to highlight the benefits of well-designed and
well-implemented people-centered drug polices. These innovative
policies cannot exist as long as we do not discuss, honestly, the
major policy error made in the past, which is the criminalization of
personal consumption or possession of illicit psychoactive substances
in national laws.
Position Paper on the Opioid Crisis in North America
On 2 October 2017, the Global Commission published a position paper on
the opioid crisis in North America. This opioid-driven public
health crisis has reached alarming proportions, contributing in 2016
to an estimated 64,000 deaths from drug overdoses in the US, and some
2,500 in Canada. The members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy,
several of whom faced similar crises while occupying the highest
levels of government in their own countries, share in this position
paper their views and recommendations on how to mitigate this
While previous reports by the
Global Commission on Drug Policy showed
how the potential harms of drugs for people and communities are
exacerbated by repressive drug control policies at local, national and
international levels, the Global Commission's 2017 report, "The World
Drug PERCEPTION Problem - Countering Prejudices About People Who Use
Drugs"  focuses on how current perceptions of drugs and people who
use them feed into and off prohibitionist policies. Indeed, drug
policy reforms have been difficult to design, legislate or implement
because current policies and responses are often based on perceptions
and passionate beliefs, and what should be factual discussions leading
to effective policies are frequently treated as moral debates. The
present report aims to analyze the most common perceptions and fears,
contrast them with available evidence on drugs and the people who use
them, and provides recommendations on changes that must be enacted to
support reforms toward more effective drug policies.
^ a b c "World Leaders Call for End to Criminalizing Drug
Consumption", The Costa Rica Star, November 28, 2016. Retrieved
^ Shultz, George P., and Paul A. Volcker (11 June 2011). "A Real
Debate About Drug Policy". The Wall Street Journal. CS1 maint:
Uses authors parameter (link)
^ Tharoor, Ishaan, "Report: The Global War on Drugs Has Failed. Is It
Time to Legalize?", Time, June 03, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
^ "Commission" page, GCDP webpage. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
^ Latin American Initiative on Drugs and Democracy membership Archived
2011-05-04 at the Wayback Machine., LAIDD webpage. Retrieved
^ Shultz, George P. and Pedro Aspe, "The Failed War on Drugs", New
York Times op-ed, December 31, 2017. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
^ "Commissioners", globalcommissionondrugs.org webpage. Retrieved
^ Kwaśniewski, Aleksander, "Saying No to Costly Drug Laws" New York
Times, May 10, 2012.
^ "Dr. Gabor Maté: Obama Admin Should Heed Global Panel's Call to End
'Failed' U.S.-Led Drug War", Democracy Now!, June 6, 2011. Audio and
^ Carter, Jimmy, "Call Off the Global Drug War", The New York Times,
June 16, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
^ "Letters: Dispatches From the War on Drugs", The New York Times,
June 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
^ "Serious Words", The
Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC, June 27, 2011. Audio
archive only. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
^ "Global drugs war strategy has failed - overhaul it", The Tribune,
June 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
^ Hakim, Peter, "Rethinking US Drug Policy", Política Exterior
(Inter-American Dialogue), October 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
Beckley Foundation webpage. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
^ "Global Initiative",
Beckley Foundation webpage. Retrieved
^ Beckford, Martin, "It's time to decriminalise drug use, say peers",
The Telegraph, 20 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
^ Phillips, Melanie, "Drug legalisation? We need it like a hole in the
head", Daily Mail, 19th November 2011 5:10 pm. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
^ "Background Papers", GCDP webpage. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
^ Taking Control: Summary, gcdpsummary2014.com, September 2014.
Downloads of full report available in English, Spanish, French,
Portuguese, and Russian.
^ "New Report: World Leaders Call For Ending Criminalization of Drug
Use and Possession and Responsible Legal Regulation of Psychoactive
Substances", globalcommissionondrugs.org, September 8, 2014.
^ "Public Statement by the
Global Commission on Drug Policy on UNGASS
2016", Press release, April 21, 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
^ Fassihi, Farnaz, "U.N. Conference on Drugs Ends Without Shift in
Policy", Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
^ "Advancing Drug Policy Reform: 2016", globalcommissionondrugs.org,
2016. Downloads available in English, Spanish, French, German,
Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Arabic. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
"Zero Tolerance" - Commission member Caspers-Merk on drug