Netherlands statement on drug demand reduction

The Netherlands associates itself with the European Union statement presented earlier by the Czech Republic.

Ten years of UNGASS have told us that a balanced response is essential. However, for the right balance, more investment in drug demand reduction is necessary.

The drugs market is fluctuating and ever-changing and it requires a flexible, innovative and creative approach. An evidence-based approach is necessary.

The drug strategy of the Netherlands has three key principles: prevention, treatment and harm reduction.

Preventing is better than curing.
Curing is better than harm redution.
Harm reduction is better than doing nothing.

Prevention is of paramount importance, but it is not a panacea. The Netherlands has a good system for treatment, care and rehabilitation. We have invested heavily in abstinence-based treamtent. We would like to emphasise the importance of a humane and ethical approach in drug treatment. However, we know that there is often a very high relapse rate and so our responsibility does not stop short at offering treatment. We also have a responsibility to limit the consequences for individuals, families and society.

We should limit the risks associated with drug use as much as possible. Last week at the High Level Segment, discussion on harm reduction caused great debate. Harm reduction is about saving lives, not about legalising drugs. We know this approach works, especially in preventing HIV among people who inject drugs. As UNODC, WHO and UNAIDS have pointed out, a comprehensive package including needle and syringe exchange and opioid substitution therapy is the most effective method of preventing HIV.

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