Global Commission On Drug Policy To Meet In Poland

Global Commission Members, Including Four Former Presidents, To Gather in Warsaw Oct. 24-25
On Heels of Success in Latin America, Global Commission Will Strategize Next Steps for Global Drug Policy Reform
The Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) will gather in Warsaw on October 24 and 25 to highlight the impact of the war on drugs on public health in Eastern Europe and prospects for change around the world.
The Global Commission was convened in July 2010 and has been working to establish a road map for change in drug laws and policies. It is currently composed of 22 international leaders, including seven former presidents.
The GCDP meeting in Poland brings the debate to Eastern Europe, in order to focus on the dramatic human and social consequences of the prevailing hardline approach to drugs in the region. The meeting will include a roundtable organized by the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza to allow interaction with key media and stakeholders.

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Aleksander Kwasniewski, former presidente of Poland and GCDP member: “It is important to have the Global Commission’s meeting held in this part of the world where drug use and HIV are still not discussed adequately and have such severe consequences”

“It is a great honor for me to host such a renowned group of people,” said Alexander Kwasniewski, former president of Poland and member of the GCDP.”It is important to have the Global Commission’s meeting held in this part of the world where drug use and HIV are still not discussed adequately and have such severe consequences.”
In addition to looking at the Drug War’s impacts on the region, the agenda of the two-day meeting will consider the dynamics of change in Latin America, the US and Europe, and will explore how to expand the debate in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia.
Discussions in Warsaw will build upon the Global Commission’s second report, The War on Drugs and HIV/AIDS: how the criminalization of drug use fuels the global pandemic, launched in June 2012. The report describes how the global war on drugs is driving the HIV pandemic among people who use drugs and their sexual partners.
In Russia, for instance, one out of every 100 adults is now living with HIV, according to some estimates, and injecting drug use accounts for the majority of new infections. Globally, drug use accounts for approximately 1/3 of new HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa.
Such linkages between drugs and HIV/AIDS and the engagement of the AIDS community are critical factors to promote this debate in Eastern Europe.
“Even the boldest leaders acknowledge that they cannot act alone or without support from their peers and from the public,” said Fernando Henrique Cardoso, chair of the GCDP and former president of Brazil. “Building critical mass, which is essential for the process of change to move forward, is the task at hand for the continued work of the Global Commission,” 
Background on the GCDP
On June 2011, the GCDP successfully launched in New York a landmark report with three major recommendations:
• Acknowledge the failure of the ‘war on drugs’ and its disastrous impact on human rights, violence and corruption
• Replace the criminalization and punishment of people who use drugs with the offer of health and treatment services to those who need them
• Encourage governments to experiment with models of legal regulation to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard people’s health and security. Start with cannabis.
This call for a paradigm shift – from compliance with a failed policy to open debate about viable alternatives, from prohibition to prevention, treatment and harm reduction – was reported widely by the global media, establishing the Commission’s reputation as a global catalyst for change.
Over the last 15 months, the Global Commission’s engagement with political leaders, media and the public has had a substantive impact in Latin America. The taboo was broken and policy alternatives were put on the table by the Presidents of Colombia, Guatemala and Uruguay.
For the first time ever the issue of drugs was discussed at the Summit of the Americas held in Cartagena, Colombia, in April 2012, and there were even initial signs of flexibility for debate coming from the Obama Administration in the U.S.A.
Recently the Global Commission has been strengthened by the engagement of former presidents Jorge Sampaio (Portugal), Alexander Kwasniewski (Poland) and Ricardo Lagos (Chile). This expansion is essential to build the Commission’s capacity to meet the challenge of taking the debate about drugs beyond Europe and the Americas (complete list of commissioners below).

Members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy:

Aleksander Kwasniewski

Former President of Poland

Asma Jahangir

Human rights activist, former UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Extrajudicial and Summary Executions, Pakistan

Carlos Fuentes

Writer and public intellectual, Mexico – in memoriam

César Gaviria

Former President of Colômbia

Ernesto Zedillo

Former President of Mexico

Fernando Henrique Cardoso

Former President of Brazil (chair)

George Papandreou

Former Prime Minister of Greece

George Shultz

Former Secretary of State, United States (honorary chair)

Javier Solana

Former European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Spain

John Whitehead

Banker and civil servant, chair of the World Trade Center Memorial, United States

Jorge Sampaio

Former President of Portugal

Louise Arbour

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, president of the International Crisis Group, Canada

Maria Cattaui

Former Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce, Switzerland

Marion Caspers-Merk

Former State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Health, Germany

Mario Vargas Llosa

Writer and public intellectual, Peru

Michel Kazatchkine

Professor of medicine, former Executive director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria

Paul Volcker

Former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve and of the Economic Recovery Board, US

Pavel Bém

Former Mayor of Prague, member of the Parliament, Czech Republic

Ricardo Lagos

Former president of Chile

Richard Branson

Entrepreneur, advocate for social causes, founder of the Virgin Group, cofounder of The Elders, United Kingdom

Ruth Dreifuss

Former President of Switzerland and Minister of Home Affairs

Thorvald Stoltenberg

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Norway