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At its XLVI Special Session in Guatemala, the OAS General Assembly adopts resolution on the drugs problem in the Americas

  September 19, 2014

Today, during the first plenary session of its XLVI Special Session, being held in Guatemala City, the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted by acclamation a resolution that underscores "the importance of hemispheric and international cooperation to jointly tackling the world drug problem, by promoting and strengthening comprehensive policies and, where appropriate, the modernization and professionalization of government institutions."

The resolution entitled "Reflections and Guidelines to Formulate and Follow Up on Comprehensive Policies to Address the World Drug Problem in the Americas" recognizes the importance of implementing the three United Nations conventions on drugs, which constitute the international system's drug control framework, as well as the need for States to consider "regularly reviewing the drug policies adopted, ensuring that they are comprehensive and focused on the well-being of the individual, in order to address their national challenges and assess their impact and effectiveness." The resolution also proposes developing responses to the new challenges posed by the world drug problem "that prevent social costs or contribute to their reduction; and, when appropriate, reviewing traditional approaches and considering the development of new approaches, based on scientific evidence and knowledge."

The document adopted encourages member states to, among other things, "develop or adopt policies and programs with a comprehensive approach"; to "promote and strengthen comprehensive development programs with social inclusion"; to consider "programs and actions that address the needs of the victims of violence, and crime"; to "continue investing in the specific needs of at-risk groups"; to examine "the structural causes, triggers, and the multiple factors that contribute to violence and crime" with a view to taking them into account when drafting the 2016-2020 Hemispheric Plan of Action on Drugs; and to address " the need to continue reducing the levels of impunity with which organized criminal groups operate."

At the start of the first plenary session, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Carlos Raúl Morales, was elected President of the General Assembly. The election was by acclamation following a speech by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, José Antonio Meade, proposing Minister Morales' candidacy. The nomination was seconded by the delegation of Haiti, headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Duly Brutus. Up to that point, the provisional presidency had been exercised by the permanent representative of Guyana, Bayney Karran. Following the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly, he had been appointed following the order of precedence, chosen by lot.

In taking up the position of President of the Assembly, Minister Morales declared that "the agreements contained in the resolution adopted today testify to the maturity and responsibility with which the countries of the Hemisphere had committed to addressing this complex issue. It is now incumbent upon us to act on the guidelines we adopted today and when we chair the Inter-American Drug Abuse Commission (CICAD) as of November we will ensure that those guidelines are put into practical effects through regional instruments on drugs."

Guatemala’s most senior diplomat added: "Guatemala will continue to participate in and lead regional efforts in this field. But, in addition, in the run up to the Special United Nations Assembly on Drugs in 2016, the resolution adopted by the OAS constitutes a valuable instrument for the President of the UN General Assembly and for the preparations for that Assembly, because it enshrines the shared position taken by the Hemisphere in favor of more effective drug policies.

During the first plenary session, Secretary General Insulza presented his report on follow- up to the Declaration adopted by the OAS General Assembly at its forty-third regular session, held in La Antigua, Guatemala, in 2013, entitled "“For a Comprehensive Policy against the World Drug Problem in the Americas." The Secretary General's report, commissioned by the highest body in the Organization, describes the actions undertaken by the General Secretariat, the Secretary General himself, and the member state to follow up on the resolution adopted in La Antigua, Guatemala.

Regarding the activities of the General Secretariat, the report mentions the Joint Regional Program of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the OAS and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO); the work of CICAD's Inter-American Observatory on Drugs; efforts to foster horizontal and South-South cooperation on exchanging experiences and best practices; the continuation and systematization of the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM); efforts to incorporate civil society viewpoints on drugs; and, in general, unflagging institution-building, skills building , and technical support on behalf of the member states.

Secretary General Insulza presented the Report on the Drug Problem in the Americas, which the OAS delivered in May 2013 and which proved to be a key factor in subsequent debate in the Hemisphere, at the Summits of the Central American Integration System (SICA)and of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); to President José Mujica in Uruguay; at a debate with Government and civil society representatives in Mexico; to academics, members of the legislature and Government officials in Chile; to various civil society bodies in the United States; to Government and civil society representatives in Brazil; to United Nations and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) general assemblies; to the Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas (MISPA); and at a number of forums in the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, and France; as well as other gatherings.

Finally, the document submitted to the OAS General Assembly today stresses, among other successes of the member states, that Guatemala has established a National Drugs Commission; the Caribbean countries have established a joint commission to study issues relating to the decriminalization of personal use of marijuana; Uruguay passed a law creating a regulated market for cannabis; Mexico implemented the "National Program for Social Prevention of Violence and Crime"; Colombia established a national multidisciplinary commission; and a broad debate got under way in the United States, while a legal marijuana industry was created in the states of Washington and Colorado.

The General Assembly session's agenda and order of business were adopted during the first plenary session and a report was presented on the results of the Voice of the Youth of the Americas contest.

Reference: E-387/14