January 24, 2011

Former World Leaders Join Forces To Tackle Drug Abuse

Former world leaders and other personalities including Virgin chief Richard Branson launched a global drive on Monday to help tackle drug abuse, amid signs that a crackdown on drug crime is failing.

"There is a growing perception that the 'war on drugs' approach has failed," the Global Commission on Drug Policies said in a statement, as it began an inaugural two day meeting in Geneva.

The commission is a private venture chaired by ex-Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso.  It also includes the former presidents of Mexico and Colombia, Ernesto Zedillo and Cesar Gaviria, ex-EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana and former Norwegian minister and international negotiator Thorvald Stoltenberg.

According to the statement, noble literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa and writer Carlos Fuentes are also on the body.  It was not immediately clear which of the personalities were in Geneva for the meeting.

"Eradication of production and criminalization of consumption did not reduce drug traffic and drug use," the commission said.

It said that the harm from corruption and violence resulting from prohibition "largely exceeds the harm caused by drugs."

The commission said the issue is "surrounded by fear and misinformation" and wants to trigger a public debate on the same lines of a Latin American commission fronted by Cardoso, Zedillo and Gaviria in 2009.