“We have a number of challenges that are quite specific to New Zealand and the particular drugs that are present, but also on taking a health approach,” Ardern said, according to Reuters. “We want to do what works and so we’re using a strong evidence base to do that.”
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered a similar view. “The U.S. initiative this week in New York is positive, but we would have wanted a stronger emphasis on the health aspects of drug policies to be able to support this particular initiative,” said spokesman Frode Overland Andersen in a statement.
Most of the countries that did not sign have not publicly commented on the issue. According to a representative of one such country, many of the non-signatories view the U.S.-led document as too narrow compared with previously agreed U.N. provisions on drugs and are concerned that it left out considerations about human rights and appropriate punishments for drug offenders. The representative spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the subject.
The document itself pledged to support a four-pronged antidrug strategy that calls for expanding education and treatment measures as well as increasing border security and working to stop drug production.
The Intercept reported last week that the document was non-negotiable — an unusual step — and would not be considered an official U.N. document. The agreement had already drawn criticism from advocacy groups who argue that evidence shows liberalized drug laws have proven more effective in combating addiction and crime than strict enforcement.
Ahead of Monday’s event, the International Drug Policy Consortium released a statement criticizing the agreement and suggested that a number of countries who had liberalized their drug laws would be signing the document as they “prefer not to risk antagonizing Trump, who has already shown the world that he is both impulsive and vindictive.”