Most people in the United States aren’t even familiar with the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), but it has a lot of influence in the world. What is it?
It describes itself as the “quasi-judicial control organ monitoring the implementation of the United Nations drug control conventions.” Quasi-judicial control organ sounds like something diseased that should be removed with surgery. And it should be (although apparently without anesthesia).
What the INCB does through its proclamations, reports, and press releases (it also has some power to actually control countries’ access to legal pain drugs) is to essentially squelch any kind of drug policy reform efforts and push for mindless across-the-board prohibition. Because of its United Nations status it provides cover for hard-line governments looking to reject reform and bullies governments who are trying to look at other solutions.
It’s also “independent.” Which appears to mean that it lacks any accountability and can decide to re-interpret or simply make up what it feels is right for the world’s drug policy.
When I was at the International Drug Policy conference in December, I got to meet a number of incredible international reform figures. The INCB was practically a swear word with them.
Here’s what the INCB is up to now:
- Abolishing Coca Leaf Consumption. They are demanding “the Governments of Bolivia and Peru to initiate action without delay with a view to eliminating uses of coca leaf, including coca leaf chewingŠ and that all countries ‹should establish as a criminal offence, when committed intentionally, the possession and purchase of coca leaf for personal consumption.” The coca leaf (found to be beneficial for consumption by the World Health Organization) has been a key feature of Andean-Amazon indigenous cultures.
Read further in this link for a wealth of material about the INCB from the always excellent Transform.
- Shutting Down Drug Injection Sites in Canada
The head of the United Nations drug control board put the federal government on notice yesterday to rein in provincial and other health authorities […] The new report says Canada should end regional handouts of drug paraphernalia and close “injection sites” where drug users are allowed to consume illicit drugs under supervision.
In other words, harm reduction is not an allowable activity according to the INCB.
- Pushing to Arrest Celebrities That’s right. They’re decrying the leniency toward celebrity users of cocaine. This appears to be a follow through to UNODC’s Costa’s hard-on for seeing Kate Moss in shackles.
- Condemning the thousands of deaths from drug war excesses in Thailand…. Um, no. The INCB has actually been pretty quiet about that. Apparently not a problem for them. Killing is OK; chewing a coca leaf is not.
The INCB also condemned Britain when it downgraded marijuana from B to C, and praised the U.S. Supreme Court for rejecting Raich on medical marijuana.
There are plenty of other problems with the INCB. A recent report by the International Harm Reduction Association noted that the INCB is one of the most secretive bodies in the U.N.
It holds its meetings behind closed doors. No minutes are published. There is no opportunity for nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) or civil society organisations to observe or make submissions.
The INCB – yet another group of mindless jerks that will be first up against the wall when the revolution comes.