intl_drug_control_21st_centuryBook review  
International Drug Control into the 21st Century - edited by Hamid Ghodse 
Published by Ashgate, Aldershot, UK .
ISBN 978-0-7546-7215-9
Review by Peter Stoker, Director, National Drug Prevention Alliance.

The first surprise in reviewing this book is the breadth of issues which the INCB addresses. The simplistic image of INCB is that they are no more than a grouping of authoritarians, inventing rules then watching hopefully for compliance - this collation of studies, drawn by Professor Ghodse into one edited volume, gives the lie to that. INCB are clearly deeply and actively concerned not just with the medical but also with the social and economic aspects of drug policy, are involved in ensuring adequate supply of drugs for legitimate medical use, and are alive to the complexities of drug prevention and health promotion. Moreover they don't huddle in their own comfort zone, they face challenges to their position, not least proposals for legalisation or other liberalisation of drugs.
As a professional in the addictions field for 35 years, a Professor of Psychiatry and Drug Policy, and several times President of the International Narcotics Control Board, few if any can match Hamid Ghodse for experience or authority. This book draws together the strands of thinking in INCB over the past two decades. Each year since 1992 INCB has defined a theme for study. Professor Ghodse has collated and combined these studies into one eminently-readable volume. Anyone serious about understanding the full spread of this field should have this book on their desk - and regularly read it.
The stated purpose of the INCB is "... to protect the well-being of individuals and society". Some contest this in terms of 'free choice' or 'human rights' - INCB's response is that the prevention of drug abuse problems is protecting the human rights of society as a whole. INCB has powers to sanction under-performing countries and to force compliance, but this power has never yet been fully applied. As always, demand reduction and prevention is a poor relation, generous lip-service but relatively small resourcing - this despite many states arguing that this work should have its own Convention.
The 1988 Convention was the first co-ordinated attack on traffickers. Trafficked drugs are often stored in staging points were laws are weak. Traffickers need to be tackled at international level; acting only at national level is, as Hamid Ghodse observes, "pruning the branches but leaving the roots intact".
Controls have become more effective over the decades; diversion is greatly reduced, meanwhile the practice of therapy has successfully replaced some of the over-consumption of drugs through repeat prescription. Alternative products in cultivation countries are an attractive solution, but this has yet to be implemented to any effective degree by any country. Zero percent drug use has never been achieved, one to two percent, as in USA pre-1950s, is probably a more realistic target.     
There is no evidence that illicit drug production improves local economy; the current suggestion in the US State of California that legalising and taxing cannabis use would lift them out of financial problems is extremely dubious; more likely is that there would be gains for a few but losses for many.
Demand Reduction and Supply Reduction are symbiotic - but the key importance of demand reduction is recognised throughout the international community. To be effective, Demand Reduction needs to engage with community empowerment, education, media, health promotion, culture, and treatment/rehabilitation. Success depends very much on political will as well as community co-operation. Harm reduction is an acknowledged part of the process but INCB emphatically says "Harm Reduction is no substitute for demand reduction". Under Article 3 of the 1988 Convention it is possible to address what some in the media are doing as 'inducement or incitement to use drugs'. INCB consider that governments should be pro-active, rather than just leaving the advocacy role to people who wish to dismantle or otherwise subvert the Conventions.
INCB emphatically state that "The most promising prevention is culture change" and by 2004 governments could be seen waking up to the possibilities of shifting culture. INCB refer to the reduction in the tobacco use as an example of what has been achieved. If a prevention programme and its evaluation is of longer duration than the election cycle in a given country, then politicians and government agencies will be less interested. Prevention must be sustained, or else complacency and tolerance develops.
In pressing for liberalisation, many criticise prevention and demand reduction for not succeeding in 100 per cent of the efforts, (and yet it is interesting how this failure to succeed in 100 per cent of efforts never appears as a criticism of a harm reduction programme). INCB observes that not enough has been done to disseminate successes. Semantics and memes, a standby of liberalisers' weaponry; do not impress INCB. "Legalisation arguments don't withstand critical evaluation and run contrary to general expectation. Proponents have yet to produce viable proposals. Liberalisation would irrevocably impact public health, social wellbeing and international stability."
The Internet age has given new ways of conducting crime - in the UK more than 1000 websites selling drugs have been identified. At the same time the regulations and the application of regulations leaves much to be desired; in a survey of 52 countries, 33 had done nothing, 9 had done little and 10 would only address major crime matters


On the eve of international HIV/AIDS Day, December 1, a group of 17 people from Russian city of Archangelsk and its region visited Sweden. Archangelsk lies in the far north of western part of Russia near the White Sea, with a population of over 356 000 inhabitants. It used to be Russia’s most important harbour city before St.Petersburg was founded in 1703 and still is one of the biggest commercial ports exporting fish and timber.

ECAD was a co-organizer to this study visit financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers working against the spread of drug abuse, HIV and AIDS.
The group consisting of prevention practitioners and university researchers, health, penitentiary and social service workers, Russian Federal Drug Control Service agent, policeman and parliamentarian, was on tour over Swedish social and health care services with a special focus on prevention.
Detrimentally contributing to the spread of HIV and AIDS, injecting drug users remain the primary concern for all parties involved in prevention in the Archangelsk region, scaling from educational institutions to policy makers. 
Therefore study programme included
visits to Swedish NGOs engaged in public policy moulding and AIDS problems (RNS and Noaks Ark), facilities for homeless and AIDS/HIV-infected (Convictus), state youth prevention centres (Swedish County Council), former criminals society adjustment NGO KRIS (Criminals Return Into Society) and National Police Board.
Read more: Social Partnership Against Drugs, HIV and AIDS

Giving credit to the well-functioning complex approach to health care in Sweden and cooperation between public and state organisations, Russian guests straight after their return came with some initiatives on inter-institutional cooperation. Among those were legislative improvements to define regional prevention measures against HIV/AIDS spread in Archangelsk region and cooperation mechanisms between institutions in charge; a new homepage covering all prevention actions to curb drug abuse and HIV/AIDS spread in the region; electronic data base for prevention work proceedings applicable in schools and other educational bodies, and expert council to work on developing preventive methods of all levels, designed for various social groups.


ECAD thanks warmly its partner organisations and state bodies for all help with this visit.    

These days ECAD participates in the ongoing conference on Urban Challenges and Sustainable Solutions in Stockholm to underline that environmental care and sustainable development is all about research, smart choices and active stance. EuroCities2009Drug abuse is a critical threat for the nature. South American rainforest has dwindled with 5,9 million acres over the past 20 years due to illegal drug production.
Take an active position against drugs, share your knowledge with us and join ECAD!

Under the auspicies of Swedish EU presidency Eurocities address the effects of climate change while pursuing economic growth, which is the ambition for the mayors of Europe’s biggest cities meeting in Stockholm November 24-26, 2009.

 Vice Mayor of Stockholm, Mr. Ulf Kristersson spoke of ECAD`s role in this work:

"Poverty is too often closely linked to substance abuse. We should all try to cooperate in finding drug fighting best practice. Allow me in that perspective to highlight the Stockholm-based European organisation ECAD - European Cities Against Drugs - who`s mission is to support its member cities with knowledge and good examples in the field of illicit drugs... They are attending this conference. Blame me if the Director approaches you. And please do sign up as members."


Malta_PressConf  Gozo
At the Press Conference, presiding left to right: Jim Corr,      Location of the next ECAD Mayors Conference is
ECAD Chairman, Dr. Chris Said, Junior Minister for       the island of Gozo, Malta
 Public Dialogue and Information and
Zammit, Mayor of Pembroke City Council

The autumn meeting of ECAD Advisory Board took place in Malta, September 25.

 Due to economic difficulties in many municipalities the Board members met only twice this year. AB received additional support from the executive branch of city administration in St. Petersburg, Russia, and welcomed its new member, Leonid P. Bogdanov, Chairman of St. Petersburg Committee for public safety and law enforcement, to the Board.

The Board reflected on the ways of making ECAD work more effective and comprehensively offensive in the long run. ECAD`s newly launched website will be a handy tool making contacts and cooperation between practitioners and key persons in ECAD cities smoother and faster.

ECAD is bound to launch a new technically up-to-date website, we are looking forward to it this October!

Maltese government has demonstrated willingness to assist in organising ECAD 17th Mayors Conference on the Island of Gozo in April, 2010. Local mass media enlightened the plans at the Press Conference, where Dr. Chris Said, Junior Minister for Public Dialogue and Information welcomed ECAD guests to Malta next spring.

Pembroke City Council and its Mayor, Joe Zammit has shown genuine engagement in ECAD work, and Maltese local councils in general have been very active members of ECAD. ECAD highly appreciates this support and expresses gratitude about the proposal to host the next annual conference on this beautiful island.

Frukt  Oasi
Joe Zammit of Pembroke City Council                             At Oasi Foundation
shows his guests local specialties, tropical fruits

Later the Board visited Oasi Foundation on the Island of Gozo. Support and care for those in need of treatment from all over Malta, Gozo Citadel, unique natural resources and climate - all welcome you to Gozo next spring.

From left: Patrik Runensson, Staffanstorp, Marcus Häggström and
Mattias Benke, Söderhamn, Carina Dahl, Chairperson ECAD Sweden

ECAD continues working and networking!

In his August chronicle, ECAD Director looks back at his first year in charge of the organisation. You find it in the menu to the left.


On September 14-15, a productive and interesting conference on primary drug prevention among young people took place in Tallinn. The conference materials are available under “Conference papers”.


The ECAD Advisory Board met on September 25 in Malta which will host the ECAD 17th Mayors’ Conference in April 2010. The preparations for this highest ECAD event have thus started.


ECAD has took part in the World Congress on Addictions “Experiences based on evidence”

Which took place in Mexico City on September 23 – 25, 2009. We have expressed our full support to the Declaration launched at the Panel “International Networks: Call to Action”. In this Declaration, the representatives of a large number of international networks of civil society around the world “call to action to all the involved actors, the governments, the institutions, the massive media, the scientific community, the legislator and the civil society in general to mobilize political will in favour of prevention and the application of all the necessary resources to stop marihuana legalization”.


Click here to read the Declaration.            


The ECAD representatives participate in the St. Petersburg International Congress of Conflictologists on September 30 – October 12. ECAD through its Regional office in Russia has actively worked during the last 8 years to establish the concept of drug conflictoligy in Russia. Today, in co-operation with the St. Petersburg State University ECAD offers a Master Programme for drug co-ordinators. The drug conflictology approach serves as a scientific basis for this educational programme.


The ECAD Sweden network met in Staffanstorp-Helsingborg for its annual conference on September 23-25. The Irish city of Killarney contributed to strengthening relationships between Sweden and Ireland in regard to experience exchange and development of anti-drug fieldwork.

ECAD Sweden Network has an established tradition to mark the best anti-drug work conducted by a network’s member with a Challenge Prize. This year the prize (see picture) went to a city of Söderhamn. The city’s deliberate concentration on the needs of the youth along with the development of an anti-drug political programme has drawn national attention to this relatively small town. The many projects which are now running have their ground in a fact that the politicians actively responded to a restlessness noticed among young people and deliberately targeted youth as the primary group for the development of the city.


We are also happy to announce that the updated and refreshed ECAD homesite will be launched in the middle of October. Meanwhile you might experience some difficulties following some links or downloading files from our site. We beg your pardon for any inconvenience that might occur during this transitional period.



ECAD's activities from year to year culminate in the annual ECAD Mayors Conference, hosted by a distinct ECAD member city every summer. Councillors and other politicians and policymakers convene with academics and civil society organizations to participate in seminars and study visits, discussing the latest developments in drug prevention efforts throughout Europe.


and 6th World Forum Against Drugs

Register to

Conference materials

Kevin Sabet, PhD, Director, Drug Policy Institute, University of Florida, President, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), USA
Speech at the WFAD /ECAD 25th Mayors Conference, Gothenburg, May 15, 2018 (Video 5min.)

Supply reduction in Peril?  A lot of the worlds`s drug supply emanates from a war-torn Columbia.
Dr. Michael Jonsson, FOI, Swedish Defence Research Agency

Text to the slides (PDF)
In Columbia, a peace deal has been struck, which gives hope for a closure of insurgency and violence. (PDF)

Thomas Pietschmann, Dr, Drug Research Section, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs
The International drug control system, global/regional and national drug patterns and trends, and supply reduction efforts at the international level (PDF)


Register to
Photo: Götaplatsen @ Klas Eriksson

Annual Mayors` Conference and the 6th World Forum Against Drugs will take off on May 14-15 in Gothenburg this year.
This joint event will address a growing interest to the effective prevention practices, full recovery and alternatives to incarceration and to life-long dependency on drug treatment.
The conference will create a room for elaborating a practical guide to how a recovery city will look like, this will be grounded on the recent evidence-based research.
Sheffield Hallam University (UK), Ghent University (Belgium) and the City of Gothenburg have already started working on this guide in practice.

In order to find out more and to register please visit a joint webpage here.

 WFAD logo jpg  Logo Gothenburg


Kaunas logotypeRegister to

ECAD 24th Mayors` Conference materials

On June 12-13, the city of Kaunas hosted ECAD 24th Annual Mayors`s Conference 2017

Safe Cities Without Drugs. Preventing, Protecting, Policing

Key-note speakers:

David W. Spencer, Field intelligence Manager, Drug Enforcement Agency, European Region

Supply reduction and dismantling drug trafficking organizations: In what ways can local communities benefit (PDF)

Kim Nilvall, Swedish National Bureau of Investigation, Intelligence section, Organized crime

Police work in socially disadvantaged areas in Sweden: Impact of drugs on urban crime (PDF)

 Torsten Stodiek, Deputy Head, Strategic Police Matters Unit, Community Policing Advisor, Transnational Threats Department, OSCE

Preventing terrorism and countering violent extremism and radicalisation that lead to terrorism:

A community and intelligence led policing approach (PDF)

Jon Sigfusson, Director for Icelandic Centre of Social Research and Analysis, Reykjavik University, ICSRA

Youth in Europe and Planet Youth (PDF)

Laimonas Vasiliauskas, Senior Specialist, Serious and Organized Crime Department, EUROPOL

European Illicit Drug Market (PDF)

 Antonio Boscini, Health Director, San Patrignano Community, Rimini, Italy

Recovery and social reinsertion: San Patrignano Community model extended (PDF)

a wall of participants



 Conference Booking Form

@ Rokas Tenys, the Kaunas Castle

Kaunas Castle
Picture: @Rokas Tenys

Warm welcome to Kaunas, Lithuania!

Archives of ECAD's mailed newsletters from 2003 until 2013. To subscribe to ECAD's new email-based newsletter, click here.
Official ECAD mission statements in six different European languages.
The ECAD Resolution, crafted at a conference to increase cooperation between cities, provides inspiration and hope for areas with particularly difficult drug problems. The signatories to the resolution will affirm their decision to fight against the spread of drugs.