Break the Taboo—The Debate to End the War on Drugs
By Kasia Malinowska
“The message of the Global Commission came at the right moment and allowed a certain crystallization around this call for breaking the taboo all over the world,” said Ruth Dreifuss, the former President of Switzerland and member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.
President Dreifuss’ words refer to the taboo against challenging the war on drugs that has existed for more than four decades. But a timely film reveals the beginning of a global debate on the once untouchable subject of drugs.
‘Breaking the Taboo’ chronicles the disastrous 40-year history of the drug war and introduces the leaders now calling for a fresh approach.
Those calling for change include members of The Global Commission on Drug Policy, a body of experts drawn from politics, business and the arts.
The Commission’s first report in 2011 exposed the drug war’s impacts on public health, human rights and security. It called for a serious discussion about policy models to undermine the power of organized crime, including legal regulation of drugs.
The second report of the Commission was released last June. Titled, ‘The War on Drugs and HIV/AIDS: How the Criminalization of Drug Use Fuels the Global Pandemic,’ the paper documented the tragic effects that criminalization has had on public health, especially with respect to HIV.
Since the formation of the Global Commission we have seen a seismic shift in the drug policy debate. The Organization of American States is carrying out a scenario-planning process to evaluate alternative policies, the UN General Assembly will hold a Special Session on drugs in 2016 and US states are introducing regulatory approaches.
But, as ‘Breaking the Taboo’ shows the damage of the global war on drugs is still being done. Hundreds of thousands of people remain incarcerated; millions more are marginalized and stigmatized, driven away from life-saving services.