PRESS RELEASE
June 4, 1998

'GLOBAL DAYS AGAINST THE DRUG WAR' TO BE OPENED ON FRIDAY
100 reform organisations unite - events in 50 cities worldwide, June 5-10

NEW YORK (May 31) - Drug policy reform groups in cities around the world will declare the 'Global Days against the Drug War', to be held Friday June 5th through Wednesday June 10th. Events to promote alternative drug policies will take place in over 50 cities, at the occasion of the United Nations Special Session of the General Assembly on Drugs, UNGASS, which starts Monday June 8th.

NEW YORK (June 4) - Drug policy reform groups around the world will declare the 'Global Days against the Drug War', to be held Friday June 5th through Wednesday 10th. Events to promote alternative drug policies will take place in more than 50 cities, at the occasion of the United Nations Special Session on Drugs in New York. The days of protest will be opened in Paris, Rome, Moscow, San Francisco, Norwich, Bilbao, Jena, Fort Lauderdale, Amsterdam and other cities on Friday.

More than 100 organisations have recently united to form the 'Global Coalition for Alternatives to the Drug War'. These organisations insist that it is of great importance that proposals for drug policy reform are heard during the coming UN session. The coalition has issued a declaration that will be presented in New York at the conference of Non-Governmental Organisations that is part of the UN session; it will be distributed widely during the ‘Global Days’.

The coming UN session was originally conceived as a critical examination of worldwide anti-drug policy. Under the guidance of repressive forces inside the UN, the focus of the session has been narrowed, however. According to the new guidelines, only the expansion of existing policies will be open for discussion.

"In terms of crime, economic and financial damage, and social and personal harm, drug prohibition is turning into a worldwide crisis. Now the United Nations aims to escalate drug repression tactics in a misguided quest towards a drug free society", according to Olivier Dupuis, a European MP and Secretary of the Transnational Radical Party, a coalition member organisation. Dupuis adds: "A commitment of U.N. member states to escalate the drug war will effectively constitute a solemn war declaration at the climax of a global defeat".

The Global Days against the Drug War will feature discussion forums, demonstrations, seminars, press conferences, street parties, publications, concerts, a congress, and other types of events. A congress will be held in Paris, Friday 5th and Saturday 6th, with a demonstration at the Bastille on Sunday 7th. An event hosting many well-know speakers will take place in San Francisco on the 6th. A street party in Amsterdam on June 6th is expected to attract thousands to state their desire for an end to the drug war in a joyful way. Demonstrations are planned to take place in New York and Moscow on Monday 8th and organisations around the world are planning their own participation in the Global Days against the Drug War.

The 'Global Coalition' is planning a forum to be held inside the UN on Tuesday June 9th, in cooperation with the European Council on Drugs and Development, an organisation that has established a coalition of 75 organisations working in the field of north-south relations.

"To anyone who is aware of the damage, physical and emotional, inflicted by drug prohibition, it is obvious that what is needed is not an escalated drug war, but reform policies aimed at reducing the damage currently done", states Arno Adelaars, one of the speakers at a forum in Amsterdam on Sunday June 7th, and a member of the Amsterdam-based Recreational Drugs Committee. "It is heartening to see how many individuals and organisations are ready to stand up and express themselves; many concerned people have taken this chance to make an unequivocal statement that enough harm has been done, that it is time to stop and think again". He adds, "An impressive number of reform organisations exists. If UNGASS will have one positive effect, it will be that the drug policy reform movement is going to stand united and become stronger because of it. More and more people are convinced that drug prohibition has been a tragic mistake. Politicians should finally find the courage to admit that as well."

The Global Coalition for Alternatives to the Drug War currently consists of more than 100 organisations. Among them are the Drug Reform Coordination Network, the National Organisation for Reform of Marijuana Laws, Coordinamento Radicale Antiprohibizionista, the November Coalition, the Campaign for Equity-Restorative Justice, the Lindesmith Center West, the Transnational Radical Party, Common Sense for Drug Policy, the Legalize! Initiative, the Media Awareness Project, the American Society for Action on Pain, Compassionate Care Alliance, the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp, Hanf!, Forum Droghe, the National Alliance of Methadone Advocates, Mothers against Misuse and Abuse, and many other organisations.

The Global Days against the Drug War take place in Adelaide, Alsfeld, Amsterdam, Arnsberg, Auckland, Austin, Bellingham, Berlin, Bilbao, Bonn, Brussels, Chicago, Christchurch, Colville, Dallas, Davenport, Dunedin, Eugene, Fort Lauderdale, Hamburg, Hernani, Houston, Ilmenau, Iruñea/Pamplona, Jena, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Malaga, Marbella, Melbourne, Montreal, Moscow, Munich, New Orleans, New York, Norwich, Oslo, Paris, Rome, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Schengen, Seattle, Sydney, Stockholm, Tallinn, Tel Aviv, Trier, Tucson, Vitoria/Gasteiz, Washington, Wellington and Winnipeg. The declaration of the Global Coalition against the Drug War, information about the coalition member organisations, about the events taking place, about the UN panel, and contact information for the local events, is available at: http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/globalcoalition/

For further information please contact:

Adam Smith, Washington DC, USA, +1-202-293-8340, [email protected]
Harry Bego, Utrecht, the Netherlands, +31-30-2316118, [email protected]
Kevin Zeese, Falls Church, VA, USA, +1-703-354-5694, [email protected]

or write to: [email protected]