Video Advocates Take on the Global Drug War

Punitive drug policies can have numerous unintended consequences. They fuel the global HIV epidemic, undermine public health, produces crises for criminal justice systems, lead to severe human rights violations, and create a massive illicit market worth an estimated $400 billion annually. Several recent videos, some serious and some satirical, examine these issues.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the international drug control system (the first UN Convention on Drugs was adopted in 1961). At a recent meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), an Open Society Foundations grantee, interviewed Yury Fedotov, head of that UN agency:

To mark the anniversary, several organizations, led by the UK-based Transform, have launched an effort calling on governments to review the effectiveness of current drug policies.

The HCLU produced several short pieces to reach out the public. In these videos, fictional  drug lords thank the UN for keeping drugs illegal. The most successful clip features a Russian heroin trader named "Igor":

Another spoof looks at how "Drug Lords International" celebrated the 50th anniversary, in front of the Vienna International Centre on the first day of the CND:

Another clip features a (real) press conference organized by the Russian delegation at the CND. The HCLU asked Russian and UN officials why opiate substitution treatment is still unavailable in a country facing a drug-related HIV epidemic:

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union is among the few civil society groups that regularly attend CND meetings with the aim of holding governments accountable and raising public awareness about the unintended consequences of the global war on drugs.

2 Comments

My name is George and I live in Athens. On the one hand it is undisputed that drugs for 50 years have been a good opportunity for some to achieve the 'impossible', a life full of wealth, power and perhaps recognition. But life obtained is dipped in blood. So it gives the following question. Worth to live with the burden of death of people who found themselves in a difficult or perhaps a flippant moment and fell into the scourge of drugs? Of course these people are ruthless and without ethics, perhaps because it stimulates their greed or frivolity. I believe that each case a walk among replicas of human addicts to help them understand their mistake and perhaps persuade them to correct that.

When government prohibits, the transaction costs in doing such business increases, as a result, prices of the prohibitted product skyrocket which creates big profits in its production and sales. The alternative solution is managing the demand side instead of the supply side. This hypothesis is applicable to all kinds of undesirable products and services. (This is the what my Thesis in college, BS Economics University of the Philippines at Los Banos Laguna, 1987 -- Thesis Title: "The Market Structure of a Prohibitted Drug - the Case of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride)

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