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United Nations' global war on illegal drugs deemed a failure by International Drug Policy Consortium

A new report says the United Nations' so-called global war on illegal drugs is a failure. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A new report by the International Drug Policy Consortium says the United Nations' effort to eliminate the world's illegal drug trade by 2019 is shaping up to be a big failure.

Why isn't it working?

So far, the approach has made little impact on reducing the global supply of illegal drugs and has had a negative effect on health, human rights and safety, according to the report, which was released Sunday.

The study claims drug-related deaths increased by 145 percent over the past decade, a figure that includes more than 71,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017 alone.

Additionally, an estimated 3,940 people were executed for drug offenses around the world over the last 10 years. And drug arrests in the Philippines resulted in around 27,000 extrajudicial killings.

Thirty-three jurisdictions allow the death penalty for drug offenses, a violation of international standards, CNN reported. In March, President Donald Trump suggested drug trafficking in the U.S. should be a capital offense due to the nation’s opioid crisis.

In Mexico, 2017 marked the country's “most murderous year on record due to soaring levels of drug-related violence,” according to CNN. The Mexican National Institute of Statistics and Geography reported there were 31,174 homicides over the course of the year, which represents an increase of 27 percent over 2016.

"This report is another nail in the coffin for the war on drugs," Ann Fordham, the Executive Director of IDPC, said in a prepared statement. "The fact that governments and the UN do not see fit to properly evaluate the disastrous impact of the last ten years of drug policy is depressingly unsurprising."

In addition to more violence, illegal drug use is resulting in mass incarcerations, according to the report. An estimated one in five prisoners are locked up for drug offenses. Many of the charges relate to possession for personal use.

Anything else?

"What we learn from the IDPC shadow report is compelling. Since governments started collecting data on drugs in the 1990s, the cultivation, consumption and illegal trafficking of drugs have reached record levels," wrote Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, in the report's foreword.

"Moreover, current drug policies are a serious obstacle to other social and economic objectives and the 'war on drugs' has resulted in millions of people murdered, disappeared, or internally displaced."

According to its website, the IDPC is a global network of 177 non-government organizations concerned with issues relating to drug production, trafficking and use.

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