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U.S. Drug Warriors Interfere With Vienna Drug Policy Summit

Submitted by smorgan on
Graham Boyd at ACLU has a fascinating series of posts on the U.N. drug policy summit in Vienna. It is a remarkable event bringing together AIDS organizations, public health groups, human rights advocates, treatment specialists, police officers, substance abuse researchers, academics, drug policy reformers, and other experts from around the world to critique UN drug policy and make recommendations.

Not surprisingly, the Drug Czar's office felt threatened by the event and sent an enforcer to intimidate everyone:

First, the intrigue. Throughout the first day, I kept noticing this one person who harrumphed, guffawed, and muttered every time someone spoke in ways critical of the drug policy status quo. By accent, she seemed to be from the United States. And she had a yellow badge, where everyone else had a red badge. Who was she? Why did she keep shuffling over to the U.S. groups like Drug Free America and other cheerleaders for U.S. hardline policy? She settled in right behind me, and gave instructions to her allies — tactics for blocking inclusion of harm reduction. She said "one of you needs to interject to stop the hand clapping in favor of their proposals." More and more, she seemed like some sort of puppet master. As the day concluded, she rushed up to the podium, accosted the chair, and, in the most agitated way, began lambasting the chair for various procedural points.

I had to find out about the American woman with the yellow badge. At a social gathering later that evening, I described my observations to some of the NGO delegates who regularly attend these U.N. events. Turns out that the yellow-badge woman is June Sivilli, an employee of the U.S. drug czar’s office and a regular fixture at Vienna drug meetings. Until now, she has been able to speak as an official voice of the U.S. government — and the U.S. is always the most important voice on U.N. drug policy issues. Now that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are bringing the voices of ordinary people to the table for the first time ever, she was actively subverting the process, throwing every possible obstacle in the way of this quite benign process.

I’d always heard that the U.S. government played a bully role in international drug policy. But it’s really ugly to see it in practice.

It's really impossible to overstate the tyrannical role U.S. drug warriors have taken in attempting to subvert the U.N.'s deliberate effort to include diverse viewpoints in the NGO summit. I've discussed it before, and I'm not at all surprised to see the same tactics deployed in Vienna. I'd be surprised not to.

The mindset it requires to resist participation from such a vast group of experts is really an incredible thing to contemplate. One must really be in love with the drug war to struggle with such vigor to keep it just the way it is. What is it about the war on drugs that merits this devotion and loyalty? It is their deformed cannibal monster-child that must be sheltered and fed at any cost.

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