In the UN General Assembly Special Session of 1998 (UNGASS), which focused on drugs, the UN drug control system set a 10-year goal. Accompanied by ambitious TV advertising "A Drug-Free world, we can do it!" the objective was defined as the elimination or significant reduction of drug production and trafficking. The session also called for a 10-year review of progress. This period is drawing to a close, and by any independent and realistic assessment their goals can hardly be said to have been met.Meanwhile, Mr Antonio Costa, director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, has responded to this obstinate fact by moving the goalposts. He now seeks to have the progress measured in terms of the last century rather than the last ten years, an act of legerdemain that enables him to conclude that the drug control system and its prohibitionist strategies have been a great success. Where there is further room for improvement, he admonishes us all, is in the need to maintain a consistent anti-drug message, which will act as a 'social vaccine'. He is particularly stern in relation to the Western media over its circulation of stories about models with 'notorious drug habits'. One senses that there might be one in particular whom he would like to chastise personally..'
Sadly, Costa's statements do not encourage us to expect 2008 to see an honest appraisal of the last 10 years, and sensible discussions on the way forward.