Single Convention Treaty

Drug Policy Question of the Week – 7-27-11

As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 7-27-11.

Question of the Week: What is the Single Convention Treaty?

A 2008 article in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics describes three key multilateral drug conventions in force today with the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as the centerpiece.

The Organization of American States goes on to describe the Single Convention as a

“universal system (replacing the various treaties signed until then) to control the cultivation, production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use and possession of narcotic substances, paying special attention to those that are plant-based: opium/heroin, coca/cocaine and cannabis.“

However, the 2010 report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur Anand Glover found that

“The primary goal of the international drug control regime, as set forth in the preamble of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs … is the “health and welfare of mankind”, but the current approach to controlling drug use and possession works against that aim.”

A 2007 report from another United Nations Special Rapporteur found that,

“Indigenous peoples have the right to their traditional medicines and to maintain their health practices, including the conservation of their vital medicinal plants, animals and minerals.”

Two weeks ago, the International Drug Policy Consortium reported that, citing the rights of indigenous peoples,

“Bolivia presented a formal notification of denunciation of the Single Convention to the UN General Secretary in New York” effectively withdrawing from the treaty.

The Consortium concluded,

“The 50th anniversary of the Single Convention this year in fact is an opportune moment to start considering a revision of some of its out-dated and misplaced provisions.”

This 7-27-11 program represents the 50th segment I have produced for Dean Becker’s remarkable Drug Truth Network. Many thanks to all listeners for tuning into these programs and to Dean for broadcasting them.