The 11th WOLA/TNI Informal Drug Policy Dialogue, held from December 11-13 in Santa Marta, Colombia, brought together civil society and government leaders to discuss—and develop a strategy for—the upcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS). That event, which will take place in New York in 2016, will bring together world leaders for the highest-level debate on the international drug policy system in recent history.
The dialogue was conducted under Chatham House rules, and was attended by 31 government officials and drug policy experts from 15 countries in Latin America and Europe. It was supported by the Colombian Ministries of Foreign Relations, Justice, and Health. Among the topics discussed were an identification of the upcoming events and process leading up to the UNGASS in 2016; the principle objectives for the UNGASS; issues and themes for debate at the 2016 UNGASS; common themes and messaging; and strategies for securing a meaningful UNGASS.
The dialogue resulted in a recognition of common priorities across governments and with civil society, and identified the need for an open debate on the failures of current drug policies at the 2016 UNGASS. In the coming months, WOLA, TNI, and our partners throughout the region will work implement the strategies and priorities developed in Santa Marta and ensure the UNGASS contributes to drug policy reform at the international level.