Families of drug victims across the world will march on the United Nations headquarters in New York on April 18 demanding an end to the global drug war.
The UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs holds this month and 50 families will be represented at the protest; nine will share their personal stories of bereavement and harm as a result of the drug war.
“The stories of the family members involved in the Anyone’s Child campaign reveal the tragic human costs of the global drug war,” said Jane Slater, Coordinator of Anyone’s Child: Families for Safer Drug Control.
“There is a hollow ring to the UNGASS slogan ‘A better tomorrow for today’s youth’ for the bereaved parents coming together at the UN,” said Slater, whose organization is helping to organize the protest
“Their presence here demonstrates that punitive drug laws have brought untold grief to every corner of the globe. Just as US alcohol Prohibition was repealed because it caused far more harm than good, it is now time to end the War on Drugs.”
Activists say the UN’s war on drugs has come under increased criticisms as the policy on drug prohibition has placed the drugs business in the hands of criminals, causing suffering to millions.
The drugs trade has an estimated annual turnover of $320 billion.
A commission set up by John Hopkins University and Lancet medical journal noted, last month, that while drug laws had failed to curb drug abuse, they had fuelled violent crime as well as helped to spread HIV and Hepatitis C by encouraging unsafe injecting.
Gretchen Bergman, lead organizer of Moms United to End the War on Drugs, said prohibitionist policies must be ended for the sake of children across the world.
“Mothers are taking a lead position in calling for health-oriented strategies and widespread global drug policy reform in order to stop the devastating loss of lives,” Bergman said.
“The war on drugs has become a war against our own families. My sons are survivors of both incarceration and accidental overdose, but non-violent drug charges have a lifelong impact.”
The UNGASS on Drugs was billed to be held in 2018 – two decades after the last session.
But countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, and Columbia pushed, in 2012, for the session to be brought forward by two years.
The countries cited an urgent need to reform the global drug control policy.
Donna May, a Canadian parent of a drug victim, urged the UN to demonstrate leadership and support an end to the global drug war “that killed our loved ones.”
“We are uniting with families all over the world. We here to tell our stories directly to our national leaders,” said May.
Another parent, Anne-Marie Cockburn, said she lost her only child, Martha, aged 15, to an accidental ecstasy overdose.
“She wanted to get high, but she didn’t want to die,” said Cockburn, a UK national.
“Our drug laws are not protecting our children, they’re destroying families like mine everyday. We urgently need to end the drug war.”