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After UNGASS – where do governments go from here?

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to indicate the outcomes, implications and possibilities for responses arising from the April 2016 UNGASS meeting and statement and to identify areas for future continuation of the debate and dialogue established at UNGASS.


This paper is a practitioner and participant commentary on the implications and openings for governments and jurisdictions of a revised international policy framework.


The UNGASS statement represented an increased emphasis on health and human rights considerations and a de facto flexibility of interpretation and implementation by national governments. The statement reconciled considerable differences of approach and expectation by the participating governments and organisations. Future developments are identified and practical responses outlined. There has been some move away from rigid prohibition and authoritarian stances.

Research limitations/implications

The points made could be developed and expanded by academics and NGOs.

Practical implications

Future areas for continued international policy development and governments’ activity are identified. Governments are encouraged to consider their national needs and priorities and the ways in which these can contribute to and be strengthened by and in the international conventions.

Social implications

The ability of governments to respond to national needs and situations has been strengthened and an increased emphasis on public health and harm reduction practices is implied. Policy pluralism is recognised.


The paper represents an assessment of the outcomes and future potential for development of the international conventions. It is written by a long-standing participant in the international drugs policy debate and is an early contribution to the practical and formative response to UNGASS.



Trace, M. (2017), "After UNGASS – where do governments go from here?", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 81-87.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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