Side event – Tackling new challenges on drug policy: Contribution of COPOLAD

Neven Mimica, Commissioner, EU. The world drug problem is an important chapter in the history of cooperation between the EU and Latin America. The EU has been a pioneer in cooperation on AD, law enforcement, etc. Starting in 2011, COPOLAD is a programme to strengthen coordination between stakeholders. Drug demand and supply reduction are equally important. It contributes also to fostering dialogue between the EU and CELAC. COPOLAD is a pragmatic programme. It has helped change the way drug policy is perceived, and has helped move towards a balanced, evidence and human rights based policy on drugs. We are now starting COPOLAD 2. We want to thank Spain for their leadership in the first phase of the project. I also want to thank the support of EMCDDA and PAHO. The EU and its member states consider the UNGASS as a key opportunity for the international community to take stock of the achievements of gobal drug control. It is a moment to look ahead towards 2019. We stand for an integrated, balanced and evidence based approach to the world drug problem and we celebrate some of our elements in the UNGASS outcome document. We look forward to cooperation with our Latin American and Caribbean partners in COPOLAD 2.

It’s a great pleasure to be here to present COPOLAD 2. I am grateful for inviting the government of Mexico. COPOLAD has led to greater coherence, balance and impact of drug policy to feed back on experiences, good practices and regional ation, as well as regional efforts for a coordinated response. IN its 1st phase, COPOLAD was meant to strengthen cooperation in the implementation of drug policies through training on reduction of demand and supply, the strengthening of national drug observatories and regional cooperation between CELAC and the EU, which is co-chaired by Netherlands and Mexico. On 21st March 2016 in Brussels, we welcomed the launch of the 2nd phase of COPOLAD which also now include Caribbean countries. We promote dialogue to share experiences, good practice and efforts to respond to new challenges and realities for global drug policy. The permanent Council of COPOLAD was created as a project to have a more inclusive and participatory model. In this new phase it will be possible to strengthen the results of UNGASS and conduct a srious, indepth review of drug strategies, respond collectively to the complexity of this transnational phenomenon. No nation can solve this complicated phenomenon alone. It is also clear that all states must be aware of the effects that go beyond our borders. The contributions that can be made by our two regions can be made for the whole global drug phenomenon.

Pedro Flores, Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies, Spain. COPOLAD gives us an opportunity for a high level dialogue on the drugs issue. There are several parts to this, we’ve had regional dialogues CELAC/EU. I want to explain briefly the COPOLAD phase 1 here and then explain the 2nd stage. Contributions by others like PAHO and the EMCDDA. We are working at the service of the public to better implement public systems and improve the efficiency of policies involved. We are committed to have cooperation of this kind and are grateful for the confidence and trust in COPOLAD. COPOLAD is a good example of our commitment to the EU. COPOLAD aims to exchange information to achieve our goals. There is a programme by the EU to fight international cartels. There is another programme with Caribbean/Africa, and another one on money laundering in support with AMERIPOL. We work with the judiciary, airport, security forces, and similar European institutions. Success in AMERIPOL lies in exchange of information between the police. We’ve strengthened legal and technical capabilities to reduce trade in human beings and reduce international organised crime. We must work in coordination on these programmes, and must learn lessons through COPOLAD. In Bolivia we will begin next month to support programmes to fight drug trafficking and coca cultivation. We have local and European institutions that transfer their experience. COPOLAD focuses on political issues, national observatories and trainings to reduce demand and supply. This will be explained further by my colleagues and is related to the special session by the UN. In the final UNGASS statement, there is a requirement to put an end to the drug problem in the world. The UN is a perfect place to move forward with this kind of cooperation.

Teresa Salvador, COPOLAD. Since COPOLAD was born, we needed a mechanism for consolidating political dialogue. The EU already financed projects in different countries. But we also needed to address technical questions to support both regions. We also wanted to learn lessons and strengthen evidence, as well as training on demand and supply. We are all on equal footing. We also favour the participation of civil society and other agencies: EMCDDA and PAHO. The idea is that there is support for decision making based on the strengthening of the work of the national observatories. Institutional strengthening happens via trainings on supply and demand, planning and evaluation. The fourth component is support for bi-regional dialogue. All activities included in the programme have a cross-cutting view when there is consensus and shared responsibility. Action should be taken on the principles of human rights, public health and gender sensitivities, and finally public security. All of this is the fabric of what is being discussed at UNGASS. In a way, we aim to discuss drug policies. This includes sustainable alternative development. All of this leads to the creation of training instruments and evaluation tools on these four elements. We have results in each of these elements and we will continue to build upon what has been achieved in phase 1. The human imperative has not sufficiently been taken into account in the past. This is something we want to address in phase 2 of COPOLAD.

Francisco de Asis Banin, National Drug Plan, Spain. COPOLAD is one of the best efforts made for cooperation between regions on drugs. In 1995, the summit held in Madrid decided that it was appropriate to create a mechanism of cooperation and coordination between the two regions. Experience shows that this forum of dialogue was not enough. Situations change, and it was necessary to create an instrument to help us move forward in international cooperation, with results that could be evaluated. The EU then gave their go-ahead for the first phase of COPOLAD. We decided then to launch the second phase for the project, involving every national body involved, especially the national centre to fight against organised crime. I am honoured to represent the National Plan on Drugs which has sought to ensure that COPOLAD be consolidated so that it could be used by every country. There has been a contagious enthusiasm of all in the programme, and positive evaluation of it, which enables us to day to speak about the 2nd phase of the project. Spain has developed a drug policy for the past 30 years, based on human rights and evidence. It is a multi-sectoral response, giving priority to security, health and equal commitment by those responsible for law, judiciary and social services to reduce demand, ensure prevention, treatment, harm reduction and social reintegration. We hope we can help individuals to reintegrate into society as full fledged members. We have a long history of investigations on consumption. We know full well the results of security forces thanks to our counterparts in other countries. The benefits of operations to reduce demand and supply are huge for society. Strengthening national drug observatories is also critical. Reducing demand, supply and alternative development are another way to get subsistence for those who need it. We need an integrated strategy that addresses the cross-cutting topic, based on evidence, respect for development, rights and dignity and the 3 UN drug conventions. We acknowledge the difficulties of third countries to reach this objective and COPOLAD is key to help reach these objectives. There is a real effort for people to share experience and evidence, to offer our citizen better responses. We need trust and empathy. We have achieved improvements in important areas. For the 2nd stage of COPOLAD, I thank this meeting. We were happy to see the large numbers of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that were willing to engage and share this endeavour with us. This preparatory state included many conferences and phone calls in many countries until we got a viable and consistent project looking to the future, with new issues and commitment from all. The job ahead is a big one but we hope to do it with those who were already involved and the new participants. I thank all involved.

Courtenay Rattray, Ambassador, Jamaica. We are pleased to share our experiences and look forward to others’ information. Over the years, we have sought to respond as best we can to the genius strategies of those who perpetuate the world drug problem. There is a need for fresh innovative ideas. Drug policies should be grounded in evidence. We must take into account historical, traditional and cultural context. The use of cannabis in the domestic venacular of Jamaica. It is grounded in the culture of Jamaica, among the Rastafari community. It is also used as folk medicine. 20% of adolescents have used ganja at some time in their lives, most stated it was easy to access. The age of initiation ranges from 12-13 years old. The youth are most susceptible to the negative consequences of drug use. We used for years draconian drug laws. The effect was to stigmatise thousands of young men. They would emerge from prison with a criminal record that hampered their access to employment and social and health services – resulting in higher unemployment and systemic failing to address drug use as a public health issue. The decriminalisation of ganja spanned several decades in Jamaica. Amendments to Jamaica’s drug act took effect last year, decriminalising the possession of 2 ounces or less of ganja. In Jamaica there are 2.5 m people. 15,000 mostly poor young men will no longer be arrested for small quantities of cannabis for personal consumption. It is in the early days so we will need to wait for reduction of stigma and discrimination, more responsible use and better respect for the human rights of rastafari communities. There will be a survey to monitor use, in particular among youth. A significant backlog in the criminal justice will be dispensed with thanks to decriminalisation. The world drug problem is now a developmental and health imperative for Jamaica, not only law enforcement. The multisectoral network of agencies in Jamaica seek to ensure that the strategic objectives are aligned with all our plans, including achieving the 2030 Agenda. We hope that COPOLAD will help us review national strategies and renew our commitments made at UNGASS. But one of the shortcomings is the lack of establishment of a follow up mechanism.

Eduardo Pool, Ministry of Foreign Relations, Chile. I want to join in the words said on COPOLAD – it provides coherence and balance to the world drug problem. We have no doubt about the importance of a public health approach to ensure that components are well integrated and balanced, and we appreciate the inputs COPOLAD was able to make. I have here a statement on the four components. COPOLAD has been an opportunity for Chile to share experiences and deal with the drug problem. Chile participated in the elaboration through the Iberoamerican Library on Addiction, in a Center of Documentation on drugs. For the 3rd component of COPOLAD, we participated in an online course. This one of the most sustainable tools with little cost. It is very important for us to share prevention experiences. On the 4th component, we conducted trainings with law enforcement. I now want to move to how this is reflected as an advantage for countries. The outcomes were very appropriate to deal with programme design. This is the result of sincere cooperation where everyone adds what they can, and where there is mutual support. For the second phase, we want to put forward an idea. Chile is a bridge country. On the basis of what we have, we can collaborate with others. There is a major gap here in moving to improve our mission. We have the infrastructure to deal with this but we need to measure what worked well and what needs to be improved. There are challenges too that need to be addressed. Chile is interested in participating actively in demand reduction, for example for monitoring of treatment programmes, reducing demand and prevention.

Pan-American Health Organisation. Drug use and drug use disorders are a public health problem. This is not only related to health problems, but also violence, injuries, death, drug driving, etc. We need to focus on youth and drug use during pregnancy. We need to reduce the public health impacts. PAHO’s strategy aims to reduce the burden of substance use, and complement the demand, supply and law enforcement strategies that already exist. We must focus on social reintegration and social factors as critical components of health. This includes the development of public policies, integrated treatment systems with primary healthcare, research and monitoring, strategic partnerships with other actors. This will ensure that there is a division of labour. PAHO collaborates with the WHO and other key stakeholders such as UNODC, the OAS, the National Plan on Drugs in Spain, etc. Collaboration PAHO/COPOLAD has enhanced cooperation on drug dependence and primary healthcare settings. UNGASS is a milestone and a process, drug policies have become more integrated. In the Americas, member states have a committed partner in PAHO. I welcome the opportunity for all of us to work together.

Alexis Goosdeel, EMCDDA. We are talking in our drug markets report about two worlds that don’t really mix with one another – demand and supply. For the first time, we produced an estimate of the size of the illicit drug market in Europe: 2.5 billion euros. It is the first time we make this kind of estimation. When we go more in depth, we will need to re-estimate. What is interesting is that the market share in Europe is that way: 38% people for cannabis, 28% for heroin, 3% for amphetamines/MDMA. For NPS, we don’t yet have an estimate but the number and type of these don’t seem to be going down. There are more than 560 substances. 10 years ago, there were 2-10 substances per year. Now, it’s 2 per week! One image to give you on those additional changes – more than 50% of cannabis consumed in Europe is produced in Europe. Demand and offer are not different from other markets. But cannabis produced in Morocco is now stronger to compete with European cannabis. The report also looks at impacts on societies, with analysis and examples, including impact on terrorism, on businesses and the economy, and on society more broadly – drug related crime and violence, environmental damage, harm to users, families and communities. I finally want to highlight the influence of the internet in the drug market. From the available evidence so far, the internet is playing a more important role on the market at local level. We just finished to study a report on the drug market online. It’s important to highlight the fact that even if we discuss the European drug market, we need to focus on an integrated strategy that also focuses on prevention, treatment, harm reduction and social reintegration. We will present tomorrow on what works and what doesn’t in drug policy. It is important to highlight that we cannot lose the focus on the drug situation – we must work with partners to provide better drug policies and options.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.