10/19/14 Doug McVay

Century of Lies

We hear portions of the UN's Third Committee meeting on transnational crime and international drug control.

Audio file


Century of Lies October 19, 2014


DEAN BECKER: The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more. Now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.


DOUG McVAY: Hello and welcome to Century of Lies. I'm your guest host, Doug McVay, editor of Drug War Facts dot org. Century of Lies is a production of the Drug Truth Network, which comes to you through the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network and is supported by the generosity of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and of listeners like you.

Find us on the web at drug truth dot net, where you can find past programs and you can subscribe to our podcasts. You can follow me on twitter, where I'm at drug policy facts, and also at doug mcvay. The Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, be sure to give its page a Like, you can find Drug War Facts on facebook as well, please give it a like and share it with friends.

Now, on with the show.

The United Nations held high-level meetings on international drug control and crime policies recently. These discussions are in preparation for the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drugs. The UN committees heard presentations from the national delegations and groups of nations including the European Union.

Assistant Secretary of State William R. Brownfield is the Director of the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. His remarks to a news conference for foreign journalists last week made some headlines because he talked about the ongoing international drug policy debate and urged flexibility in interpreting UN drug control treaties, and said that the international community should quote: "tolerate different national drug policies, to accept the fact that some countries will have very strict drug approaches; other countries will legalize entire categories of drugs. All these countries must work together in the international community" end quote.

Those quotes from assistant secretary Brownfield are of what he said at a news briefing for foreign journalists. The topics of his briefing were Trends in Global Drug Policy, and his presentation to a UN committee earlier that day. The Department has not made audio or video of that news briefing available, however a full transcript is at the State Department's Foreign Press Centers website, FPC dot state dot gov.

Now, about that UN committee meeting. On October 9th and 10th, the United Nations Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee, also called the Third Committee, examined the topics of transnational crime and international drug control. We're going to hear some audio from that, first, to explain more about the meeting, let's hear from Yuri Fedotov, the director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, who opened the meeting.


YURI FEDOTOV: I am pleased to report to the Third Committee on the work of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime at this pivotal time how the challenges of transnational organized crime, illicit drugs and corruption can be best addressed in the focus of two high-level meetings – namely the 13th year of congress in crime prevention and criminal justice in a [inaudible] next year and the UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem in 2016.

Ongoing discussions on the post-2015 development agenda leading up to the summit next September have further highlighted the links between security, justice and the obtainment of a better, more equitable world.

I strongly believe that these milestone events represent crucial, much needed opportunities to advance global cooperation in this area in a meaningful and coordinated way.

As a lead entity of the UN Secretariat in assistant countries to address the global challenges of drugs and crime [inaudible] assistance to support member states to help ensure that these opportunities do not pass us by.

UNODC and its field officers continue to provide technical assistance and comprehensive support to compliment the International Conventions on Drugs Transnational Organized Crimes and Corruption as well as universal instruments against terrorism.

I am grateful for the trust you have shown in UNODC over the past years and count on your continued support.

Against a rapid rise in voluntary contributions – mostly earmarked – we have to review our funding in order to achieve overall strategic and operational coherence as well as efficiency and transparency in delivering our services.

To continue to operate effectively UNODC needs a solid stream of predictable and stable resources.

Ladies and gentleman, the sustainable goals proposed by open working group include a goal on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive executions at all levels.

Key objectives elaborated under this goal including ending trafficking in all its forms and all forms of violence against children and reducing financial and arms flows, strengthening recovery and the return of stolen assets, combating all forms of organized crime and reducing corruption goes to the heart of the [inaudible] mandate. This could be our practical contribution to the integrated UN development agenda.

The theme of the [inaudible] is precisely integrated crime prevention and criminal justice into the wider UN agenda to address social and economic challenges. The congress taking place as the head on the post-2015 agenda thus presents a chance to strengthen the global response to human trafficking, migrants, [inaudible] crime and many other forms of transnational organized crime as well to support development progress.

I look forward to discussing further the crime congress later this afternoon at the chambers.

Guided by the same objectives member states have come together this week in Vienna. The seventh session of the conference of the parties to the UN convention and transnational organized crime to discuss how to make implementation of this very important convention more efficient and more effective.

In the same spirit we are assisting member states in implementing UN convention against corruption including through its well-functioning review mechanisms. UNODC also continues to provide analysis on the current trends on different areas of organized crime. We recently launched a new research initiative on wildlife crime to complement our global program and help inform responses to this growing threat.

The second global report on trafficking persons will be published in a few weeks in November under the framework of the global plan of action to combat human trafficking and, of course, the UNODC continues to manage the UN voluntary trust fund created under the global plan of action which helps to provide legal and financial assistance to the trafficking victims.

Ladies and gentlemen, illicit drugs present a challenge with many dimensions. To meet this challenge we must always remember the goal enshrined in the International Drug Control Conventions – namely to protect the health and welfare of humankind.

As we move towards the 2016 congress on the world drug problem we have seen governments and civil society [inaudible] engage in a debate on how to advance global action in this area. A 2014 high-level review of the declaration and the plan of action we heard from many of these voices. More than 1,300 participants from 129 countries as well as international organizations, UN agencies, scientific communities, civil society and the media attended the sessions and numerous side events. The open, inclusive and informed discussions that have taken place at the high-level review and international meetings I credit to chair of the CND, Shamaa from Egypt and all delegations. This is very much in the spirit of the resolution of the 2014/2040 commanded by [inaudible] for adoption by the assembly which tasked the CND with leading an inclusive, preparatory process.

The review outcome document, [inaudible], while it affirmed the value of the conventions has put a [inaudible] the need to focus more on prevention and health. The UN advocates a [inaudible] of international policy on drugs to increase focus on public health, prevention, and care as well as economic, social and cultural measures within the framework of the conventions in full compliance with human rights standards.

As presented in the Secretary General’s report UNODC is supporting congress to strengthen capacities and scale up services to achieve it. This includes promoting access to control medicines to relieve pain and suffering while preventing diversion and abuse.

Substance issues disorders are a complex health and social issue and we must do more to link policy, science, clinical practice and grassroots interventions on the ground to provide a continuum of care that is evidence-based, effective, accessible and affordable.

Civil society and community-based organizations are essential partners of UNODC’s efforts. In 2013 we worked with 382 [inaudible] from around the world to deliver such services in the field to people who needed support. As reported in the 2014 World Drug Report there remains serious gaps in service provision with only 1 in 6 problem drug users accessing drug dependence treatment services each year.

Interventions that seek to minimize the risk of substance use disorders and to prevent the spread of HIV are a part of the services. A public health is sponsored to those who consider alternatives to penalization and consideration of people who [inaudible] drugs.

The full focus of law enforcement efforts should be on the real criminals – the drug lords involved in the supply of narcotic drugs including crop cultivation, production and trafficking. To support more effective international cooperation the UNODC works to connect drug control efforts through country, regional and global programs as well as through new initiatives such as networking the networks and devoting time to crime programs.

Promoting alternative livelihoods which should be integrated in broader development frameworks is essential to achieving sustainable reductions of [inaudible] crop cultivations.

The 2015 World Drug Report will also sharpen this focus on health and prevention and development with a thematic chapter dedicated to alternative livelihoods. It is clear there is no simple [inaudible] for addressing the cultivation, manufacturing, trafficking and production of these drugs but we must strive to address all aspects of supply and demand through balance integrated comprehensive and coordinated global action.

Such action must take into account countries with weak public health centers which may enable to cope with the social and health consequences of drug use. Approaches much deal with challenges including criminal violence in Central America as well as [inaudible] of drugs, crime and terrorism destabilizing regions such as West African [inaudible].

Strategies must grapple with high levels of opium cultivation and heroin production in Afghanistan which undermine development in the countries and impacts on the whole region and beyond.

Solutions must tackle the linkages with corruption and connect with development and interventions to support opportunity.

What we cannot afford to do to work in silence and while strategies should be targeted and flexible they must account for all aspects of the world drug problem in production, transit and consumption countries working on the basis of the conventions to protect the health and rights of people everywhere.

As ever UNODC remains committed to supporting member states in these endeavors. I thank you Madam Chair.

CHAIR: I thank the distinguished representative of the United States and now give the floor to the distinguished representative of the Russian Federation.

EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV: [via translator] Thank you, Madam Chair. Speaking in the national capacity we associate ourselves with the statement made by the delegation of the members of the CIS.

Madam Chairman, the Russian Federation has firmly and consistently supported the strengthening of the central coordinating of the United Nations and the international community in effectively halting the criminal challenges and threats on the basis of a comprehensive and balanced approach in order to counteract transnational organized crime, the illegal circulation of small arms and light weapons and drugs, criminal financial flows, human trafficking, piracy, cybercrime and criminal challenges.

We support the strengthening of the universal treaty in the area of crime prevention, the universalization and effective implementation of the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime with its additional protocols and the UN Convention Against Corruption.

We welcome the global plan of action to combat human trafficking and the expansion of the trust fund of military contributions to the UN for the victims of human trafficking – especially women and children. In that context we pay particular attention to the problem of the illegal trade in organs.

We support the strengthening and more active involvement of research analytic potential of UNODC in the anti-crime area. We favor a quantitative improvement system of financing through increasing the percentage of funds from the UN regular budget.

In giving additional impotice to multi-lateral cooperation on these issues we have the result of the Committee on Preventing Crime and on criminal justice. There is still a need to activate the efforts to eliminate existing gaps in anti-criminal area - first and foremost a further strengthening of international framework in this area. In particular what seems promising under the UN are global efforts on combating information technology used for crime and mutual legal help in this area.

With a growth of this relatively new scale of crime to illegal violations of wildlife protection we need to combat this also through new anti-crime measures. A successful solution we see in the preparation under the UN example is the fourth protocol of the UN convention on transnational organized crime.

We expect fruitful discussion of these and other issues on combating crime during the upcoming 13th Congress of UN on Preventing Crime and Criminal Justice. Active preparation is going on in Russia for the 2015 session of the Conference of States Against Corruption.

We believe that these issues enter really into the context of illegal financial flows and illegal income received through criminal means has not lost its relevance and is still a pressing issue that should remain at center of attention.

Unfortunately we must note that despite joint efforts of the international community the situation in the anti-drugs fear still continues to look highly troubling as we see a resolution to this global problem is impossible without improving multilateral interaction of states, international regional organizations, civil society, business circles and the mass media.

In May the issue of combating this evil was discussed during the Conference on Combating Narcotics – the results of which are designed to promote the further strengthening of international cooperation in this area.

The Russian Federation has consistently conducting a policy of preserving the strengthening of existing international regime of preventing the drug threat based on three basic anti-drug conventions of the UN. We support the activity of the International Committee on Drug Control as a key body controlling the compliance with these issues and we are ready to continue our close cooperation.

We are against efforts to undermine the traditional system of control over drugs. This question is particularly relevant in the light of the 2016 UN special session of the problem of drugs. It will become an important stage on the road to a full-scale review in 2019 of implementation of the integration and political plan of action to combat the drug threat for the period after 2009.

The basis of preparation for the special session must be a comprehensive approach to the drug issue within UNODC as a key body of the UN in the drug sphere.

We are convinced that controversial methods of combating drugs – those going along the lines of the concept of reducing harm should not be put forward as a global standard. We need to guide ourselves by a scientific approach to preventing and curing drug dependency which is incompatible with the legalization of drugs.

The highest priority measures here to counteract the drug include the consolidation of drug institutions, the formations of international interstate and non-governmental mechanisms for the development of a sphere through implementation of drug users strengthening a targeted pressure on drug production, anti-drug operations, a strengthening of police interaction, the holding of a single agricultural policy and the implementation of programs for alternate development.

We support the activity of UNODC in the search for an appropriate and effective answer to the drugs challenge. In particular in this context we need to note the work of UNODC on strengthening the potential of structures in Afghanistan, its neighbors and number of other states in those most strongly affected by the problem of Afghan opiates.

We call for building up these matters within the framework of the Paris Pact to halt the spread of drugs of Afghan origin and also to close off the financial flows connected to them.

We are satisfied with the results which were initiated by the Russian chairmanship in the FATF topological study aimed at determining and a consequent blocking of illegal financial flows from the production and circulation of Afghan drugs. An important milestone in accenting in this respect was the adoption last June of the statement of the chairman on the problem of Afghan drugs.

Of great significance is work on the anti-drug area of such regional structures as the CNSTO, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Eurasian Group to counteract the legalization of incoming criminal terrorism.

Equally pressing is the issue of control over the illegal circulation of chemical precursors resulting in the growing threat of the spread of drugs. We believe that these drug challengers require an immediate and more effective reaction from the international
community, the adoption of additional measures to rebuff it with the formation in the long-term context in the global system of monitoring the illegal circulation of those kinds of drugs.

The Russian Federation intends to continue to step up its contributions to the global anti-drug efforts in support of the UN carried out in this area and is ready for constructive dialogue with all interested parties.


DOUG McVAY: We're going to take a short break. You are listening to Century Of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network. I'm your guest host Doug McVay, editor of Drug War Facts dot org. Century Of Lies is heard on 420 Radio dot org on Mondays at 11 am and 11 pm, and Saturdays at 4 am, all times are pacific. We are heard on time4hemp dot com on Wednesdays between 1 and 2pm pacific along with our sister program Cultural Baggage. And we're on The Detour Talk Network at thedetour.us on Tuesdays at 8:30pm. A few of the stations out there that carry Century Of Lies include WERU 89.9 FM in Blue Hill, Maine; WPRR 1680 am 95.3 fm in Grand Rapids, Michigan; WIEC 102.7 FM in Eau Claire, WI;A WGOT-LP 94.7 FM in Gainesville, FL; KRFP 90.3 FM in Moscow, Idaho; and Free Radio Santa Cruz 101.3 fm in Santa Cruz California.

Welcome back.

Now, let's hear from the representative of the United States, Assistant Secretary Brownfield:


WILLIAM BROWNFIELD: Thank you, Madam Chair. It is a pleasure to address the Committee today.

This committee is rarely tasked with answering simple or short-term problems. Today is no exception. Narcotics and transnational organized crime are stubborn and complex challenges. Criminal organizations constantly evolve in their quest for profits. Drug addiction wreaks havoc on families and communities, and new psychoactive substances appear on the market faster than governments can review them. Corruption weakens the rule of law and democratic institutions.

Our starting point is the international legal framework: the three drug control conventions, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and the UN Convention against Corruption. These treaties provide a resilient framework for establishing common definitions of illicit behavior; ensuring compatibility of legal standards and criminal justice responses; and promoting stronger cross-border cooperation. The authors of these conventions wisely left each treaty flexible in order to help governments address new and emerging threats, like wildlife trafficking and cybercrime. As threats and our responses evolve, the international community should show tolerance as governments try new policies within their borders to address specific national concerns, provided they promote the aims of the conventions.

On the drugs issue, last month the Organization of American States adopted a resolution that effectively articulates a consensus within our Hemisphere in three areas:

First, we recognize that substance use disorders, like other diseases, can be treated. A science-based public health approach is the bedrock for sound drug policy.

Second, a sensible criminal justice policy must ensure fairness and proportionality in sentencing. I am proud that my own country is redressing past inequities in our criminal justice system and I welcome OAS efforts to champion drug policies which are both more effective and more humane.

Third, states must redouble their efforts to work together to combat transnational organized crime. The best defense is effective, accountable justice institutions that protect citizens and allow no impunity for the powerful. And if we don’t use every tool of international judicial cooperation, the criminals will continue to victimize us.

There is no tension between these priorities and the drug-control conventions. The current international framework is designed to help national governments advance the core objectives of protecting the health of citizens and the safety of communities. Translating these aspirations into effective action will be our charge at the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in 2016.

The UNGASS is a rare opportunity for stake-holders to reflect on the drug issue. We look forward to an open, inclusive debate that includes civil society, the private sector and relevant UN agencies. Member States, through the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, have established an effective plan to prepare for the UNGASS.The United States urges the UN General Assembly to adopt this plan without amendment.

We also have a responsibility to work across borders to dismantle, disrupt, and eliminate transnational criminal enterprises. All links in the criminal justice continuum – police, courts, and corrections – must be addressed. Sovereign governments bear the bulk of this burden. But we also have a responsibility to help each other. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime is an important partner in these efforts through its work implementing technical assistance projects around the world.

Civil society also plays a critical role - as first-line responders, advocates and assistance providers. Next year, we look forward to the Thirteenth UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. This Congress will be a valuable venue at which Member States and civil society exchange research, experience, and perspectives.

Drugs, crime and corruption are global issues that require global responses. The international frameworks are an essential element. They are force multipliers, forging operational cooperation and helping us learn from each other. Only though collective effort can we advance our goal of making our citizens and communities safe.


DOUG McVAY: And finally: December 17th is the 100th anniversary of the Harrison Narcotics Act, the day the US began its 100 year-long drug war its century of lies. On that day, people in towns and cities around the nation will hold rallies at local courthouses to call for an end to prohibition. You can get involved by emailing the Drug Truth Network's executive producer Dean Becker, he's dean @ drug truth dot net. Several organizations are already on board including Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Break The Chains, and the November Coalition. Get involved today. Find out more at end prohibition dot org. Also check out the facebook page, it's facebook dot com slash 100 Years Is Enough, that's facebook dot com slash 1 0 0 years is enough.

Well, that's it for this week. I'm Doug McVay and this was Century of Lies. Thank you for listening. You can find a recording of this show and past shows at the website drug truth dot net, where you can check out our other programs and subscribe to our podcasts. Follow me on Twitter, where I'm @ Drug Policy Facts and @ Doug McVay. The Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, be sure to give its page a Like, you can find Drug War Facts on facebook as well, please give it a like and share it with friends. Spread the word. Remember: Knowledge is power.

We'll be back next week with more news and commentary on the drug war and this Century Of Lies. For now, for the drug truth network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!


For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at Pacifica Studios at KPFT, Houston.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org