Side event: Achieving inclusive, peaceful and equitable societies. The way forward for drug policies

Organized by the Government of Mexico.

Miguel Ruiz Cabañas, Cice.minister of Foreign Affaires of Mexico (moderator)

Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women | We believe that there is a need to put an emphasis on prevention and on women. Women leadership and participation is crucial. In particular, women needs have to be taken into account in harm reduction campaigns. We also need a greater representation of women in justice systems and the enforcement of law. All these examples show that it is time now, thanks to Mexico’s intervention, to apply a gender responsible approach to the world drug policy.

 Jessica Faieta, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, UNDP| From UNDP we see that the relationship between the drug problem and human development are complex. Drugs policies have strong effects on development problems. In Latin American institutions have been deeply affected by the drugs problems.

But the 2030 agenda only makes a single reference to drugs. However, we believe that all sustainable developments goals are related in a way or another. This is why UNDP has dedicated some energy on this subject. Consumption spread of HIV/AIDS, lack of political empowerment, gender inequalities… all of these are obstacles for achieving the development goals, and it is why we invest on this.

There are potential contradictions between the implementation of drug policies and the development of the development agenda. So we believe that it is crucial that we consider the inclusion of indicators that will reflect new realities. For example, we don’t need to count the number of crops but measure the number of legal markets or the young incorporated. Drug policy cannot represent a factor that affects negatively communities. On the contrary they must sustain the development for all, without leaving someone behind.

Dr. Shekar Saxena, Director of mental health and substance abuse, WHO| WHO is today committed to fulfill the needs on public health concerning the drug problem. For the first time the development goals are for the whole world, for all the countries, and not only for the must needed. So in a coordinated and integrated manner, if drug abuse is related in only one goal, they have to be related in other manners, keeping all the goals in mind.

The WHO assembly will take place in May next month and it will include the agenda of the drug problem.

About it, the WHO will like to recommend activities in 5 areas in which WHO plays a significant role:

  1. Prevention of drug use. We recognized there is a circle of drug abuse, poverty, violence, and diseases. We believe that prevention programs that can reduce the negative effects really exist.
  2. Treatment and care of people with drug use disorders. People who seek help and deserve help that can break the circle.
  3. To prevent diseases like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, but also accidents related to consumption.
  4. Access to controlled medicines. This is directly in relation to the international conventions.
  5. Monitoring and evaluation in order to track drug abuse and the resources that the countries are spending in this. So countries can show whether a rebalancing of health have succeeded or not, and what actions have to be taken.

We think we can help to implement the outcome document in these areas, in order to achieve the goals of an inclusive society in the health sector.

Heather Haase, NY NGO Committee | One of the main concerns of civil society is the stigma of drug users that continue to exist. Criminalization and stigmatization of communities touched by drug trafficking that create structural barriers for an economical development. Respecting to the criminalization, civil society is arguing that the benefits today are very low. We are opposed to the use to death penalty. We think that responsible regulation needs to be see as a public health measure. Also, issues concerning women and their families (when they are the breadwinner figure) need to be taken into account. Alternative development is also important but has been talked in other rooms… Our recommendations go much further that the outcome document, away from indicators for for a “drug free world”.

What are the next steps to be taken? Treaty reform is not on the table but treaty review should. This is why we need to create a Treaty review committee, as an independent commission to the study of the Conventions, with the participation of the civil society. So far, we have a positive impression of UNGASS and the outcome document because this conversation has just started now but will continue at least for the next 3 years.

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