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Netherlands Speech to HLM

The Netherlands associates itself with the statement made by Czech republic on behalf of the EU. We are looking back on achievements of the past 10 years. However i believe we should look back further to when the foundations of international drug control were laid to when international opium conventions were laid in Shanghai. A review of the past century reveals both continuity and change. The continuity derives from common responsibility of world drug problems while guaranteeing the availability of licit substances for use. We should take a proportionate response to criminal activity whilst respecting humane rights and we should take a humane approach to those who are fallen to drug addiction. Supply and demand reduction – a balanced approach. The nature of the drug agenda is constantly changing. Since the Shanghai meeting the problem is more diverse and it is dynamic – constantly raising new challenges for us to address. To do so effectively we must constantly reevaluate what we do. Responses employed in the past may no longer be effective today and problems that we don’t accept today may be necessary and effective in the future.
Madame chair regretfully i must conclude that the objectives of 10 years ago have not been obtained. There have been some successes in international cooperation. Netherlands offers extensive cooperation in tracing criminal transactions. But looking at the world we have not even made a substantial reduction in the trade of illegal drugs – far from it. In many cases the problems have just shifted to elsewhere either to other countries, Africa, or to other substances, synthetics. A drug free world would be ideal, but its a utopia and must not be allowed to distract us from the problem in hand, finding solutions to problems here in the real world. If our efforts have left us with less hiv aids, fewer deaths, reduction in supply and demand, only then have we achieved progress. We learn there are responsible responses. WHO have demonstrated that low threshold services, needle exchange, opiate substitution therapy, for example, are effective.
The scientific debate on whether harm reduction is effective is now at an end, there is enough evidence. But the political debate continues. I find it regrettable that although WHO and UNAIDS fully embrace harm reduction, CND does not. This political debate distracts us from all those individuals working hard on the ground who tackle the immediate problems of real people. I cannot help but notice remarkable similarities between the 1998 and 2009 declarations, they are almost interchangeable. I earnestly hope that member states and NGOs will continue to develop harm reduction measures and achieve an entirely balanced overall approach. By working together we can indeed make a difference, i wish to assure you the Netherlands will make a full contribution.

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