A Century of International Drug Control

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The international drug control system is one of the oldest consensus-based multilateral systems in existence. While the use of psychoactive substances itself extends back many centuries, today’s international drug control system is rooted in efforts made a century ago to address the largest substance abuse problem the world has ever faced: the Chinese opium epidemic. The present volume is not a diplomatic history, it aims only to present the basic development of the modern drug control system: why and how it arose, how it impacted drug production and consumption and its legacy for present and future international drug control efforts.



Drug trends over a century of drug control

The long term relevance of the international drug control system, as traced in the sections above, is undeniable, but can the same be said about its efficacy? In 2009, the achievements of the decisions and instruments adopted at the 1998 UNGASS will be reviewed. These assessments have not been concluded and their results are not part of this historical overview. However, it is not inappropriate to end this review of the development of the international drug control system with the same look back that we engaged in at the beginning, concentrating this time on what was happening to drug production and consumption during the 100 years which have just been reviewed.


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