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OAS Secretary General Presents Drug Report to the Members of the Permanent Council and Calls for Beginning of "Long Awaited Debate"

  May 20, 2013

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today presented the Report on the Drug Problem in the Americas (Analytical Report - Scenarios Report ) to the members of the OAS Permanent Council, in a special meeting of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) in which he expressed his hope that the document is understood "not as a conclusion, but only as the beginning of a long awaited debate."

The Report, which was prepared by the hemispheric organization under the supervision of Secretary General Insulza pursuant to a mandate from the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, last year, will be at the center of discussions at the next OAS General Assembly, to be held from June 4 to 6, 2013 in Antigua, Guatemala. The central theme of the meeting of the highest political body of the OAS, chosen by the host country, will be "Toward a Comprehensive Anti-Drug Policy in the Americas."

Secretary General Insulza, upon presenting the report, said the document should not be seen to "cast doubts or raise questions about the progress that has been made so far in terms of collective action in our hemisphere on drugs, but rather should be understood to be based upon the identification of what serves the needs of each and that which serves the needs of all." "We believe we have opened a door to strengthening hemispheric action on an issue that affects all of our peoples alike, and requires, therefore, our collective commitment and solidarity," said the head of the hemispheric organization.

Insulza said that, by entrusting the Report to the OAS, "the Heads of State of our hemisphere assigned us a great responsibility. At the same time, they prescribed very precise limits for our response to it. That is why the Report I am presenting today lays out facts that will assist in decision-making, but does not propose solutions. That is up to our leaders, who will have a firm basis for their deliberations in future debates.”

"Nevertheless," said the Secretary General, "it is part of our duty and responsibility to contribute to those deliberations." Therefore, he presented four conclusions "that emanate directly from the analysis" in the Report: the drug problem must be dealt with taking into account each country’s different situation; countries with fewer resources and less institutional strength have more difficulty dealing with the impact of drug trafficking; the phenomenon requires a public health approach; and the approach to the problem must be multifaceted, flexible, must take into account differences, and the countries of the regions must be united in their diversity.

Secretary General Insulza emphasized that, regarding the decriminalization of drug use and the possibility of changes in national legislation that "it is clearly contradictory to say you want to treat drugs addict as people with an illness and at the same time, penalize them for their consumption.” He then clarified that "this does not mean that the patient does not need to be treated to remove them from their addiction and this could mean - if the addict threatens their own life or the security of others - a stay in a health facility. But we do not consider that sending serious addicts to prison is an appropriate treatment and, indeed, we think it can aggravate their condition even beyond the point of no return."

"With regard to criminal violence," said Secretary General, "we focus in the Report on the consideration of the possible reasons why this violence is present with greater intensity and virulence in some countries and not in others." "Our conclusion," he said, "is that it is very likely that this difference is due mainly to two reasons: the economic and social development, and especially the well differentiated capabilities of States to ensure the protection of their citizens and, mainly, to ensure that laws are complied with.” In terms of economic status, Insulza called attention to the fact that many of those who are recruited to participate in the drug trade "come from dispossessed social sectors." He said that this fact leads the Report to note that "social development and the elimination of social exclusion, particularly in producer and transit countries, lie at the core of overcoming the drug problem."

The Report, which the Secretary General delivered on Friday, May 17, 2013, to the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, consists of two parts: the Analytical Report, explaining the reasons that have caused concern in society about drug consumption and which have led to attempts to control the effects of drugs on human health; and the Scenarios Report, an examination of the paths that the phenomenon could take in the hemisphere in the coming years.

After the presentation of the Report by the Secretary General, the 53rd Regular Session of CICAD began, in which experts and authorities will discuss the findings and implications of the Report for the hemisphere and new trends in approaches to the drug problem through programs of social prevention of crime, among other issues.

Present at the event were the Minister of Public Security of Costa Rica, Mario Zamora Cordero, who will chair the meeting of CICAD; the Chair of the Permanent Council and Representative of Panama, Arturo Ulises Vallarino; the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, Albert Ramdin; the Chief of Staff of the Secretary General, Hugo de Zela; the OAS Secretary for Multidimensional Security, Adam Blackwell; representatives of OAS Member States; representatives to CICAD, and representatives of several international organizations.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The video of the event is available here.

The B-roll of the event will be available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-195/13