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Press Release


  May 6, 2009

The Organization of American States (OAS), through the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), opened Wednesday a review process of the anti-drug strategy in the Americas, following a proposal by the Secretary General of the hemispheric institution, José Miguel Insulza, that established reducing demand as the main target.

“The time has come for us to start reviewing our instruments and get them up to date with realities that the drug phenomenon imposes on us nowadays,” Secretary General Insulza said at the opening of the 45th Regular Session of CICAD.

The current Anti-Drug Strategy in the Hemisphere was passed in 1996, and its subsequent Plan of Action was introduced in 1998. Secretary General Insulza mentioned that “we have taken important steps forward since”, but realities have also changed: drug trafficking organizations enjoy increased power, there are new substances available and consume is now widely spread in a way that “exists in virtually every country in the Americas.”

Secretary General Insulza also stressed what direction the new strategy should head towards: “I am in favor of a more comprehensive and balanced strategy that considers in a very important fashion reducing demand as a main goal.”

The OAS Secretary General highlighted the need for the reform to maintain and even improve interdiction policies, although he stressed especially the need to work on the demand side. “As long as there is a market for drugs, they will keep flowing. And reducing demand is only possible with much more emphasis on education, prevention and rehabilitation programs.”

Among the “convictions” upon which the new strategy should be based, Secretary General Insulza stressed that “it should have a solid technical and scientific background”, it should recognize “that a drug addict person is ill”, and that “the drug problem is still a shared responsibility” for “all countries in the world, ours among them.”

It is therefore necessary to “make a new effort towards harmonizing and, where possible, homogenizing our policies.” “The success of each and every one of our countries depends entirely on the success of the others, and failure of one of them might mean frustration for all,” he said.

Secretary General Insulza emphasized that the strategy will have guaranteed success if governments are fully aware of “the magnitude and importance of the problem”. “If awareness and conviction exist, there should be no doubt that our governments will be able to take the next step and guarantee the necessary resources to execute those policies.”

The proposal by the OAS Secretary General was enthusiastically received by the representatives of Member States in attendance at the Padilha Vidal room at the OAS Headquarters in Washington, DC. The delegation of Brazil immediately suggested creating a high level working group to update the Anti-Drug Strategy in the Hemisphere.

The Brazilian proposal was welcomed positively by national representatives, that started formulating ideas to be discussed around the new strategy, such as: it should be defined within five years and reviewed afterwards every two years; it should consider the new existing types of drugs; it should include the new forms of international co-operation; it should take into account indirect effects of drug trafficking and consume such as environmental damage and human rights violations; and even consider a certain decriminalization of demand.

Reference: E-159/09