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Demand reduction round table

Czech Republic: I appreciate your concerns. We have always created drug policy out of dogmatic belief. I have been working on drug prevention for 20 years and my views have changed on the issue. There is no more drug sub-culture, there are clubs and nightclubs. We are in a very different situation.In the Czech situation, under the communist regime, we produced drugs ourselves. With regards to prevention, this concept has to be taken broadly. In our experience, we have seen that there will always be people using drugs who are very young. We might be able to postpone the age of initiation, we might have a smaller group of users, but people will still use.  In our country, we have very low rates of HIV, a low percentage of problematic drug users, and a low level of overdose deaths. If we engage people in low-threshold programmes from the start of their drug use, very few will become problematic users. Prevention has to be comprehensive.Referencing back to the civil society hearing, effective policies are usually directly influenced by the civil sector. We should involve civil society organisations in decision making on drugs.
Gilberto Gerra from UNODC: We cannot provide a single solution in response to drugs. We need to make sure that we understand what the conventions say before we call for a revision of the conventions. No where does the convention say that personal use should be criminalised.

Guatemala: We cannot only focus on prevention and demand reduction. We also need to focus on production and violence. We have extremely vulnerable and deprived families. Guatemala recently started to change, with a large percentage of the population becoming more involved in gangs, criminal organisations. Families have disintegrated, and young kids have to join gangs and move drugs from one country to another, which generates violence. So we need to talk about prevention, both for demand and trafficking. We are calling for a balanced approach. We all have to strengthen public health. In Guatemala, drug use is unfortunately criminalised, so young people end up in prison for drugs, and this creates a vicious cycle. If we look at the conventions, we realise that they do not call for a war on drugs, but in reality this is what happens. This is the problem. In addition, in some countries, drug use is not criminalised, but production is. The question then is – how do we regulate this market? Drug supply responds to demand, and this generates violence.

South Africa: South Africa is a developing country and we are facing many challenges. Prevention is key in our country. Recently, we appointed a special committee to prevent drugs and alcohol in our community. We also focus on providing services for drug use. We also adopt a parenting and family oriented approach to drug use. In terms of drug abuse in school, we are seeking to increase the age of initiation in drug and alcohol use. The issue of information management is also key to us to ensure evidence-based policy making.

Chair intervention: You stress that South Africa is concerned with public policy but there are still deficiencies on training regarding substance abuse. You also suggest that women in drug prevention have to combat so many problems. For Peru, South Africa is very important as we are in the same situation – Peru and South Africa are both transit and consuming countries.
Indonesia: In Indonesia, we have 7 to 8 million drug users, which is a very large amount of people. We have an institution to coordinate the demand and supply side. We think we can reduce demand. But we can only work to prevent the increase in demand. So we need to do our homework more seriously. We have arrests and seizures of large quantities of drugs, but this does not stop the flow. If we remove drugs from the market, other drugs will fill the market. I would like to share two policies on demand. First we are disseminating information on drugs. We believe that what is most important is to speak on what people are really attracted to. It is also important to start from the very early stage, so we have a programme for drug information and drug education, based on the famous game of “angry birds”.  It is also very important that dependent people do not get back to drug dependence. We therefore have rehabilitation centres. We will talk about this in our side event on Thursday. To conclude, the bottom line here is that it is the people, the society, that can be one of the most efficient way to disseminate information on the dangers of drugs, this is more efficient than public officials. Prevention and rehabilitation, plus post-rehabilitation, are the key element for meaningful success on demand reduction.NGO statement San PatrinianoResponses to reduce drug demand are not systematically employed. What we would like to argue is that prevention and treatment and rehab are key to reduce demand, based on evidence. The EMCDDA highlights some of these interventions. Indicative prevention for children is rarely implemented. There is a need to allocate resources on research to ensure evidence base.

Norway: The world drug problem is a serious challenge. Supply and demand are dynamic and constantly changing. We have described the debate as polarised, with predictable positions, but meanwhile, some people die. There will always be people using, so we need to reduce the harms caused by drug use. The answer is prevention, prevention that works. We continue to emphasize prevention. We also hope that prevention is less controversial than harm reduction. In the alcohol area, harms can be reduced by limiting availability. At the UN, efforts have been made to reduce supply. But as long as there is production, there is a responsibility to reduce demand. We promote a strong focus on universal prevention, programmes that are cost-effective, early intervention and the protection of the right to health. To work, prevention must be based on methods that have proved to be effective, so we must use these. Warning young people about the dangers of drugs does not work in Norway. We need to find alternatives that work.

Thailand:We focus on an early identification process based on an evidence based approach. Programmes implemented in schools are based on initial screening data. The government has expanded programmes this year. The knowledge, attitude and practice and life-skills have had an impact on drugs. We are asking academics to conduct surveys that prove to be useful. We use social media to disseminate good practice. We have launched the Thai youth initiative programme based on the UNODC one. We have dedicated a Facebook page for anti-drug campaigns for youth. We promote partnerships with other member states, CSOs and other stakeholders.ChinaWe are in favour of UNODC developing international standards to prevent drug use in line with national situations and standards. Drug prevention and interventions have been key to our national strategy. We have enhanced legislation in 2008 with a law which provides contents on education and awareness raising. Second, we set up a national task force on prevention, which also includes NGOs. Such task forces have also been set up at the regional level. Emphasizing the role played by schools on drug prevention and HIV prevention, we have incorporated this into compulsory curriculums of students in schools.
China: has achieved remarkable success on awareness raising among young people. The number of new drug addicts keeps falling every year. The number of opiate users has remained stable. The awareness of drug use among the public has also been increased

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