Drug Policy, Diplomacy and Global Public Health

Last course was held from 22 to 24 February 2016


Course Directors: Professor Michel Kazatchkine and Professor Thomas Zeltner


Negotiating the health dimension of drug policies

  • Intensive three-day course with renowned faculty and leading practitioners
  • Combine theory and practice through lectures, high-level panels and exercises
  • Meet in the world’s global health capital
  • Organised by the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute, led by Professor Ilona Kickbusch


The Political Declaration of the 1998 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the ‘World Drug Problem’ called for eliminating illicit drugs in a decade. Eighteen years later and with drugs now being more easily available and less expensive, the General Assembly decided to reconvene an UNGASS in April 2016. More countries from the Americas and Europe are calling for an open debate and for the introduction of innovative policies that will enable countries to ensure the health and welfare of mankind, the original goal of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

Countries are now facing the challenges of the horizontal nature of the drug issue that goes far beyond law-enforcement and prohibition. How can countries have a coordinated response, in compliance with international drug control rules, when their ministries of health tend to treat users, while their ministries of interior and justice tend to criminalise them? How can WHO have a meaningful and impactful role in the drugs issue? And how can UNGASS 2016 shift drug control and include better health outcomes for affected people?