President Trump is planning a series of meetings next week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in an effort to push his agenda in the international drug war.
The event, which is being sponsored by the U.S., has been deemed the “Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem” and it is seemingly designed to get member states to reaffirm their commitment to battling the illegal drug trade. Yet, according to a report from the Intercept, drug policy advocates are concerned about the implications of the meeting and the document members are being asked to sign.
“It’s not an official document, it doesn’t go through any of the official channels, it’s not negotiated, and it is linked to the event that’s being put on by Trump that will include the secretary general,” said Hannah Hetzer, the senior international policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance.
“It seems to be a way to get countries to fall in line behind Trump and his administration,” she added. “I think countries that sign this and then show up to this photo op should be very careful — they don’t really know what they are signing up to.”
The Trump Administration sent out a letter last month stating that all countries that sign this document will “receive an invitation to attend this High-Level event” with President Trump.
“The purpose of this event is to demonstrate international political will to enhance efforts to effectively address and counter the serious threats posed by the world drug problem,” the letter reads.
It goes on to say that the U.S. is already working with over two-dozen countries (some of which are controversial for their willingness to execute drug offenders). But the note, which promises a group photo with Trump for all who sign on, appears to be more of a push for Trump’s ant-drug views rather than a plan drafted by the United Nations.
It was just two years ago that the General Assembly held a special session on drugs that produced an outcome document that shied away from imposing cruel and unusual punishment on drug offenders. The Obama Administration played a bug part in this shift. But as the Intercept points out, Trump could officially change that position by forcing more conservative views.
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After all, Trump seems to have an affinity for national leaders like Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has carried on one of the most violent and deadly drug wars in history. And the president has also supported policies aimed at executing drug offenders. At a rally in Pennsylvania back in March, Trump said: “When I was in China and other places, by the way, I said, Mr. President, do you have a drug problem? ‘No, no, no, we do not.’ I said, ‘Huh. Big country, 1.4 billion people, right. Not much of a drug problem. I said what do you attribute that to?’ ‘Well, the death penalty.’”
In March, U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo recommending that federal prosecutors “include the pursuit of capital punishment in appropriate [drug] cases.”
The Trump document asks member states to provide updates at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2019.