15 Mar 2013

War on drugs failing: Helen Clark

4:20 pm on 15 March 2013

The head of the United Nations Development Programme, Helen Clark, says there is increasing evidence that the war on drugs has failed, with criminalisation often creating more problems than it solves.

Speaking ahead of the presentation of the UNDP's 2013 Human Development Report, the former New Zealand Prime Minister said Latin American leaders in particular should be encouraged to develop different policies to tackle the drug scourge.

She said as a former health minister herself she had no doubt the health position would be to treat the issue of drugs as primarily a health and social issue rather than a criminalised issue.

In recent years, many Latin American governments have begun to openly challenge the 40-year orthodoxy of the US-led "war on drugs" that seeks to stamp out the cultivation and distribution of drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.