People were whispering in the corridors of the conference that before publication, the paper has already been sent out, under embargo, to a selected group of journalists. Maybe one of these journalists called the White House for comment, the gossip ran, and a high-level drug control official effectively suppressed its publication – although there is no way, at present, to know for certain whether this is true or not. The UNODC itself, in a press statement, claimed never to have intended to publish the paper in Kuala Lumpur, and to have only prepared it “for dissemination and discussion”. Well, the organisers of the conference took them at their word: They invited conference participants to discuss and endorse the document. Luckily, the Drugreporter video crew was there to film what happened, and to obtain comments from some key professionals and activists.
By endorsing this paper, UNODC would only be following in the footsteps of other UN agencies, in highlighting the need to end the stigmatisation of one of the most vulnerable groups of society, people who use drugs. We hope the agency will have the courage and consistency to make the right decision!