OAS Member States Adopt New Hemispheric Drug Strategy

ZIZ/OAS Release…04 05 2010 – The Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) today adopted a new hemispheric drug strategy emphasizing the respect for human rights, confronting drug addiction as a chronic and recurrent disease, and proposing a broader focus on drug treatment.

Upon reviewing and updating the previous strategy created 13 years ago, the OAS Member States also committed themselves to strengthen national drug authorities, design and implement public policies that are updated periodically, promote periodic and independent evaluations and foment programs of international cooperation.

One year ago, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza made a call to OAS member countries to begin a process of revision of the Anti-Drug Strategy in the Hemisphere. Twelve months later, the new text, the Hemispheric Drug Strategy, roots itself in the principles of full compliance with international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; places special emphasis on the impact on poverty and exclusion; takes into account gender issues; underlines the principle of common and shared responsibility in hemispheric and regional cooperation; and promotes broad and open debate and the participation of civil society.

The revision and updating of the drug strategy, which guides countries in the formulation of public policies to confront drug abuse, is the central subject of the forty-seventh regular session of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the OAS, being held from today to May 5th at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC.

Secretary General Insulza expressed satisfaction for the success obtained, indicating that “the adoption of the new Hemispheric Drug Strategy is the culmination of one year of collective work.” He said that this achievement constitutes “a gratifying event for me and probably so for the member countries of the OAS, because they can see that their efforts to confront face to face one of the great problems of our continent are not sterile but capable of results such as this.”

CICAD Chairman and Assistant Secretary of State of the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the United States, David T. Johnson, said that “the discussion around the table indicated that this strategy was responsive to the needs not only of smaller countries but of larger ones, and also of countries with particular challenges such as in the Caribbean. And so we think we’ve got a good framework in place and now we’re going to build on top of that over the course of the next several months and develop a Plan of Action. We’re extremely pleased we were able to take this step.”

CICAD Executive Secretary James Mack explained that since the last drug strategy “there have been a lot of developments in the drug world on all aspects: demand reduction, treatment, supply reduction, among others. These new concepts are reflected in the new strategy.”

The CICAD meeting will also explore other subjects, among them: the analysis of the recommendations of the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM), which measures the progress of OAS member states in their response to the global problem of drugs; the role of the community in prevention, treatment and recovery; marihuana’s toxicity, risks and trends; and the new trends in the use, prevention and control of synthetic drugs.

The Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) was established by the General Assembly of the OAS in 1986 as the Western Hemisphere’s policy forum on all aspects of the drug problem. Its core mission is to enhance the human and institutional capacities of its member states to reduce the production, trafficking and use of illegal drugs, and to address the health, social and criminal consequences of the drug trade.

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