Thursday, April 14, 2016

Oregon and World Leaders Call for End to “Disastrous” Drug War, Ahead of UN Special Session

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 9:14 AM

“Humankind cannot afford a 21st century drug policy as ineffective and counter-productive as the last century’s,” Letter Says

Former Presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Nigeria, Cape Verde, Switzerland & Poland; Former Prime Ministers of Greece, Hungary & The Netherlands Join With Distinguished Scholars, Celebrities, Clergy, Business Leaders, Elected Officials, and Others in Calling for Alternatives to Prohibitionist Drug Control Policies

“Humankind cannot afford a 21st century drug policy as ineffective and counter-productive as the last century’s,” Letter Says

 On the eve of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem, world leaders and activists have signed a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to set the stage “for real reform of global drug control policy.”

The unprecedented list of signatories includes a range of people from Senators Jeff Merkley, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders to businessmen Warren Buffett, George Soros, Richard Branson, Barry Diller, actors Michael Douglas and Woody Harrelson, Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, singers John Legend and Mary J. Blige, activists Reverend Jesse Jackson, Gloria Steinem and Michelle Alexander, as well as distinguished legislators, cabinet ministers, and former UN officials.

“The drug control regime that emerged during the last century,” the letter says, “has proven disastrous for global health, security and human rights.  Focused overwhelmingly on criminalization and punishment, it created a vast illicit market that has enriched criminal organizations, corrupted governments, triggered explosive violence, distorted economic markets and undermined basic moral values.

“Governments devoted disproportionate resources to repression at the expense of efforts to better the human condition.  Tens of millions of people, mostly poor and racial and ethnic minorities, were incarcerated, mostly for low-level and non-violent drug law violations, with little if any benefit to public security. Problematic drug use and HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other infectious diseases spread rapidly as prohibitionist laws, agencies and attitudes impeded harm reduction and other effective health policies.

“Humankind cannot afford a 21st century drug policy as ineffective and counter-productive as the last century’s.”

The Oregon leaders who signed this letter include:

  • U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley

  • Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum

  • U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer

  • U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici

  • Former Portland Mayor Sam Adams

  • State Representative Ann Lininger

“The influence and diversity of the leaders who signed this letter is unprecedented,” said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which orchestrated the initiative in collaboration with dozens of allied organizations and individuals around the world.  “Never before have so many respected voices joined together in calling for fundamental reform of drug control policies – in particular limiting ‘the role of criminalization and criminal justice… to the extent truly required to protect health and safety’.”

The UN Special Session, which will take place April 19-21, is the first of its kind since 1998, when the UN’s illusory but official slogan was “A drug-free world – we can do it!”  The upcoming UNGASS was proposed in late 2012 by the Mexican government, with strong support from other Latin American governments.  Last year UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a strong call-to-action, urging governments “to conduct a wide-ranging and open debate that considers all options.”  Today’s public letter to him was prompted in part by the obstacles to such debate within the confines of the United Nations.

“This letter was drafted and all the signatures secured in just the past few weeks,” noted Nadelmann.  “The signatories represent a tiny fraction of the distinguished leaders in politics and public policy, academia, law and law enforcement, health and medicine, culture and entertainment, business, and religion who would agree with the sentiments expressed in this letter.”

“We’ve come a long way since 1998,” said Nadelmann, “with a growing number of countries rejecting drug war rhetoric and policies.  But the progress achieved to date pales beside the reforms still required.”  As the letter says: “A new global response to drugs is needed, grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.”

Link to the release:


Below represent just a few of the distinguished individuals around the world who signed the public letter to Ban Ki-moon. For a complete list go to:

Former Presidents & Prime Ministers

Gordon Bajnai (Hungary)

Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil)

Ruth Dreifuss (Switzerland)

Vicente Fox (Mexico)

César Gaviria Trujillo (Colombia)

Aleksander Kwasniewski (Poland)

Ricardo Lagos (Chile)

Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria)

George Papandreou (Greece)

Pedro Pires (Cape Verde)

Andries A. van Agt (Netherlands)

Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico)

U.S. Public Officials

Toney Anaya (Former Governor, New Mexico)

Cory Booker (U.S. Senator, New Jersey)               

Howard Dean (Former Governor, Vermont)                        

David Dinkins (Former Mayor, New York City)

Gary Johnson (Former Governor, New Mexico)

Bob Kerrey (Former Governor and Senator, Nebraska)

Ed Markey (U.S. Senator, Massachusetts)                            

Jeff Merkley (U.S. Senator, Oregon)                       

Gavin Newsom (Lieutenant Governor, California)                             

Bill Richardson (Former Governor, New Mexico)               

Bernie Sanders (U.S. Senator, Vermont)                               

Kurt Schmoke (Former Mayor, Baltimore)           

Peter Shumlin (Governor, Vermont)

Elizabeth Warren (U.S. Senator, Massachusetts)

Current and Former Cabinet Ministers

Arni Pall Arnason (Former Minister of Social Affairs, Iceland)

Pedro Aspe (Former Minister of Finances, Mexico)  

Norman Baker (Minister of State at the Home Office, U.K.)

Marek Balicki (Former Minister of Health, Poland)  

Peter Baume (Former Minister for Health, Australia)  

Neal Blewett (Former Minister for Health, Australia)  

Michal Boni (Former Minister of Administration and Digitization, Poland)

Emma Bonino (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Italy)

Frank Carlucci (Former U.S. Secretary of Defense; Former Deputy Director of the CIA, U.S.)

Fernando Carrera (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guatemala)

Nicholas Clegg (Former Deputy Prime Minister, U.K.)

Bernt Johan Collet (Former Minister of Defence, Denmark)

Hedy d’Ancona (Former Minister of Health, the Netherlands)

Bob Debus (Former Minister for Home Affairs, Australia)

Uffe Elbaek (Former Minister of Culture, Denmark, Denmark)

Baroness Lynne Featherstone (Minister of State at the Home, U.K.)

Diego Garcia-Sayan (Former Minister of Justice; Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Peru)

Alejandra Gaviria (Minister of Health, Colombia)   

Mark Golding (Former Minister of Justice, Jamaica)  

Anthony Hylton (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jamaica)

Vasyl Knyazevytch (Former Minister of Health, Ukraine)  

Bernard Koucher (Former Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, France)

Sandro Kvitashvili (Minister of Health, Ukraine)   

Norman Lamb (Former Health Minister, United Kingdom)  

Cecilia M. Lopez (Former Minister of Agriculture, Colombia)

Maria Julia Munoz (Minister of Education and Culture, Uruguay)

Svatopluk Nemecek (Minister of Health, Czech Republic)  

George Papandreou (Former Prime Minister, Greece)   

Robert Reich (Former Secretary of Labor, U.S.)  

Yesid Reyes (Minister of Justice, Colombia)   

Miguel Samper (Former Deputy Minister of Justice, Colombia)

George Shultz (Former U.S. Secretary of State; Former US Secretary of Labor; Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, U.S.)

Thorvald Stoltenberg (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Former Minister of Defence, Norway)

Umberto Veronesi (Former Minister of Health, Italy)


Dallas Austin      

Mary J. Blige

Tom Brady

Michael Douglas               

Eve Ensler           

Jane Fonda         

Peter Gabriel     

Adrian Grenier  

Herbie Hancock

Woody Harrelson   

Natalie Imbruglia          

DJ Khaled            

Billie Jean King

Norman Lear

John Legend      

Annie Lennox    

Rita Marley

Rita Ora        

Busta Rhymes   

Carly Simon        

Gloria Steinem  


Alexander Wang

Business & Philanthropic Leaders

Paul Beirne (U.S.)                            

Chris Blackwell (Jamaica)                              

Richard Branson (U.K.)                  

Eli Broad (U.S.)                  

Susie Buell (U.S.)                              

Warren Buffett (U.S.)                     

Jannie Chan (Singapore)                               

Mark Cuban (U.S.)

Barry Diller (U.S.)                             

Christopher Forbes (U.S.)                            

Tom Freston (U.S.)                                         

David Geffen (U.S.)                        

Ryan Holmes (Canada)                  

Mo Ibrahim (Sudan)                       

Alexander Rinnooy Kan (Netherlands)   

Dustin Moskovitz (U.S.)                

Zbigniew Niemczycki (Poland)                                      

Salvador Paiz (Guatemala)                           

Antonio del Valle Perochena (Mexico)

Alex Ramirez (Mexico)                  

Stuart Resnick (U.S.)                       

Eugenio Clariond Reyes Retana (Mexico)

João Roberto Marinho (Brazil)                    

Ricardo Salinas (Mexico)                               

George Soros (U.S.)                        

Lord Rumi Verjee (U.K.)                                          

J. Arturo Zapata (Mexico)

Law and Justice

Louise Arbour, Former Justice, Supreme Court of Canada; Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Canada)

Mark Bennett, US District Court Judge, Northern District of Iowa (U.S.)

Ernesto Pazmiño Granizo, Public Defender General  (Ecuador)

Webb Hubbell, Former Associate Attorney General of the United States; Former Chief Justice, Arkansas Supreme Court; Former Mayor, Little Rock, Arkansas (U.S.)

Ketil Lund, Former Supreme Court Justice (Norway)

Lord Jonathan Marks, Barrister; Peer, House of Lords (UK)

Cruz Reynoso, Former Justice, California Supreme Court (U.S.)

Hal Sperling, Former Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales (Australia)   

Jón Steinar, Gunnlaugsson, Former Supreme Court Judge (Iceland)

Robert Sweet, US Federal Judge, UD District Court, Southern District of NY (U.S.)

Patricia Wald, Former Chief Judge, US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit; Former Judge, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (U.S.)

Vaughn Walker, Former District Judge, US District Court, Northern District of California (U.S.)

Raul Eugenio Zafaronni, Judge, Inter American Human Rights Court; Former member, Argentinean Supreme Court of Justice (Argentina)

Law Enforcement

Sette Câmara, Former Police Commissioner, Federal Police (Brazil)           

Gustavo de Greiff, Former Attorney General (Colombia)                                              

TJ Donovan, State's Attorney, Burlington, Vermont (U.S.)

Kim Foxx, Cook County State’s Attorney, Illinois (U.S.)

Pete Holmes, City Attorney, Seattle (U.S.)

George Gascón, District Attorney, San Francisco (U.S.)

Jim Manfre, Sheriff, Flagler County, Florida (U.S.)                             

Mick Palmer, Former Commissioner Australian Federal Police (Australia)               

Karl Racine, Attorney General, District of Columbia (U.S.)              

Ellen Rosenblum, Attorney General, Oregon (U.S.)                                                          

Graham Seaby, Former Detective Superintendent, New Scotland Yard (U.K.)

David Soares, District Attorney, Albany, New York (U.S.)               

Hubert Wimber, Police Chief, Muenster (Germany)

African American Leaders

Michelle Alexander

Senator Cory Booker

Geoffrey Canada

Congressman John Conyers

Ron Daniels

Professor Angela Y. Davis

David Dinkins

Professor Troy Duster

Professor Michael Eric Dyson

Congresswoman Donna Edwards

Congressman Keith Ellison

James E. Ferguson II

Alicia Garza

Professor Carl Hart

Congressman Alcee Hastings

Alice Huffman

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

Patrisse Khan-Cullors

Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Marc Morial

Svante Myrick

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Congressman Bobby Scott

Kurt Schmoke

Bryan Stevenson

Opal Tometi

U.S. Latino Leaders

Toney Anaya

Jacob Candelaria

Juan Cartagena

Oscar Chacon

Tannia Esparza

Christian Estevez

George Gascón

Congressman Ruben Gallego

Antonio González

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham

Ian Haney-López

Steven Lucero

Angela Pacheco

Gerald Ortiz y Pino

María Poblet

Cruz Reynoso

Bill Richardson

Duke Rodriguez

Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez

Sergio Sanchez

Antonio Vasquez

Faith/Religious Leaders

Father Xavier Albó

Reverend Dr. William Barber II

Reverend Janet Cooper-Nelson

Reverend Dr. Yvonne Delk

Reverend Martin Ignacio Diaz Velasquez

Reverend Dr. John C. Dorhauer

Reverend Dr. Leah Gaskin Fitchue

Reverend James A. Forbes

Reverend Wendell Griffin

Reverend Héctor  Gutiérrez

Reverend Frederick Haynes III

Reverend Miguel A. Hernandez

Reverend M. William Howard

Reverend Jesse L. Jackson

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Reverend Peter Morales

Reverend Dr. Otis Moss III

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid

Rabbi Jonah Pesner

Reverend Dr. Bernice Powell-Jackson

Reverend Barbara Ripple

Reverend Edwin Sanders

Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Wright


Chris Beyrer, President, International AIDS Society; Desmond Tutu Professor in Public Health and Human Rights, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore (U.S.)

Jo Ivey Boufford, President, New York Academy of Medicine (U.S.)

Pedro Cahn, Former President, International AIDS Society (Argentina)

Grant Colfax, M.D.; Former Director, White House Office of National AIDS Policy (U.S.)

Jeffrey S. Crowley, Program Director of the National HIV/AIDS Initiative, O'Neill Institute, Georgetown University Law Centre; Former Director White House Office of National AIDS Policy (U.S.)

Eric P. Goosby, UN Secretary General's Special Envoy on TB; Professor of Medicine; Director, Global Health Delivery and Diplomacy, Global Health Sciences, University of California San Francisco (U.S.)

Anand Grover, Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health (India)

Paul Hunt, Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health (U.K.)

Stephen Lewis, Former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa (Canada)

Marina Mahathir, UN Person of the Year (2010) for Achievements in Gender, Women’s Empowerment, and HIV/AIDs; Human Rights Activist (Malaysia)         

Julio Montaner, Director, British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (Canada)

David Nutt, Director, Neuropsychopharmacology Unit, Imperial College London; Former Chair, Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (U.K.)

Peter Piot, Director, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Former Executive Director, UNAIDS; Discoverer of the Ebola virus (Belgium)

Steve Safyer, President and CEO, Montefiore Health System, Albert Einstein College of Medicine (U.S.)

David Vlahov, Dean & Professor, University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing (U.S.)

Andrew Weil, Director, Center for Integrative Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Arizona (U.S.)

Other Leaders

Lord Paddy Ashdown, Former leader, Liberal Democrats; Former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina; Former Member of Parliament (U.K.)

Robert Curl, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1996; University Professor Emeritus, Rice University (U.S.)

Asma Jahangir, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Extrajudicial and Summary Executions (Pakistan)

Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Prize in Literature, 2010 (Peru)

Lou McGrath, Nobel Peace Prize, 1997; Founder, Mines Action Group (U.K.)

Manfred Nowak, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (Austria)

John Polanyi, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1986 (Canada)

Lionel Rosenblatt, President Emeritus, Refugees International (U.S.)

Javier Sicilia, Founder, Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in Mexico; Poet; Journalist (Mexico)

Vernon Smith, Nobel Prize in Economics, 2002; Professor of Economics; Founder and President, International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics (U.S.)

Shashi Tharoor, Former Under-Secretary General, United Nations; Member of Parliament (India)

Mabel van Oranje (The Netherlands)

Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Former Director-General of UNESCO; Chairman, Foundation for a Culture of Peace (Spain)

*Institutional affiliations and titles are included solely for identification purposes and should not be understood as indicating the respective organization’s agreement with the content of this letter.


The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation's leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , ,


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

More by Sherron Lumley

Latest in Bent

© 2016 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation