Side event: Regional commitments for a successful implementation of UNGASS 2016

Isaac Morales. We are happy to welcome you here today on commitments for the implementation of the 2016 UNGASS. It is our pleasure to welcome our panel. There are two key concepts: synergies between regional commitments and national and international tools and organisations; instrumentalisation of what has been agreed internationally through national policies.

Adam Namm, CICAD Executive Secretary. On behalf of the CICAD, it is my honour to participate in this side event on behalf of the Mexican government. It’s important to acknowledge and congratulate the leadership of Mexico to organise national dialogues to follow up on UNGASS. The previous forum on human rights and more recent one on gender are critical. We took UNGASS as a trigger for deeper discussions on drug policy. It provides a needed platform to discuss unresolved drug related issues. It makes us rethink drug policies and we must stand ready to respond to these challenges. The title of this side event is an invitation to move as our OAS secretary from the semantics of policy discussions to the reality of practice. We need to identify a new paradigm focusing on the individual, not the substance, in full respect for human rights. We recognise the cross-cutting nature of the problem. We have achieved a consensus on important points, consistently with the UN drug conventions and taking into account the needs of each state, based on the principle of shared responsibility, a gender perspective, a health approach, a focus on vulnerable people, respect for human rights. These are not new concepts for CICAD, they are included in CICAD’s drug strategy and plan of action, the Declaration of Antigua, the Declaration of Guatemala.

A year ago, I presented the main components of the OAS Plan of action on drugs, which addresses 5 areas of drug control. It is designed to address the multidimensional aspect of the world drug problem, including democratic institutions, security, etc. It is aligned with the UNGASS OD and the UN’s SDGs. These actions align with each UNGASS 2016 recommendations: on UNGASS recommendations 1on health, the CICAD plan of action includes prevention, comprehensive care, treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration. On UNGASS recommendations 3, we focus on drug trafficking, organised crime, money laundering. On UNGASS recommendations 4 on human rights, we focus on alternatives to imprisonment for low-level drug offences. On UNGASS recommendations 5, we focus on emerging trends, NPS, ATS and preventing the diversion of precursors. On UNGASS recommendations 7 on AD, we focus on alternative, integral development programmes.

Let me give you a rundown of how CICAD contributes to UNGASS recommendations. Our institutional strengthening unit focuses on design, monitoring and evaluation of our policies, it contributes to AD via an expert group, alternatives to incarceration, etc. Another unit focuses on a public health approach to these issues, in partnership with PAHO, UNODC. CICAD’s supply reduction unit focuses on strengthening capacity to disrupt the trafficking of precursors, bringing together experts from the region to discuss strategies. The Pharmaceutical and Chemical expert group focuses on NPS.

CICAD also has an Inter-American Drug Observatory focuses on research and supports countries in establishing observatories at national level to collect reliable and objective data. We are exploring the creation of regional networks. The OAS has a unique tool to evaluate drug policies, mandated by the 1988 Summit of the Americas, in each of the 5 key areas of work of CICAD. This will also take into account UNGASS 2016 recommendations, and will produce national evaluations of the OAS work.

Finally, on cross-cutting issues and gender, CICAD focuses on a gender perspective at all stages of development, monitoring and evaluation while ensuring the involvement of women in these activities. It sensitises institutions involved on the need to include the gender perspective. We recognise the important activities undertaken in the UNGASS implementation workshops. We welcome opportunities to explore collaboration with UNODC to raise awareness of the UNGASS implementation through technical assistance. Meantime, we welcome Mexico’s recommendation on establishing a working group on UNGASS implementation, demonstrating to the international community the efforts undertaken by the Western Hemisphere, and the need to provide a unified vision on UNGASS.

Isaac. Thank you for this comprehensive vision of CICAD’s work and the instrumentalisation ahead of us. The Plan of Action needs to be in line with UNGASS 2016.

John Brandolino, UNODC. We need to look at how to go from the global to the national. UNGASS implementation starts with member states, and they need to find what is effective in their country or neighbourhoods. But the regional organisations also play a critical role in a number of ways: it helps member states as they seek to implement locally, it provides help to member states as they seek to share lessons learned in specific regions or countries, it can help member states as they build coalitions, and from an operational point of view. CICAD has been a model in this regard not only in the development of UNGASS commitments but also in their implementation.

In the preparatory process, CICAD played a role in helping to develop a regional focus, for example on AD. For example the working group on sustainable development helped feed into UNGASS. Numerous expert meetings in the region, of which UNODC was a part of, played a role. CICAD played a supporting role in UNGASS implementation, taking stock of feeding the words of the UNGASS through the various units of CICAD, which fits nicely with the aspects of the comprehensive nature of UNGASS implementation. UNGASS commitments were incorporated in the methodology of evaluation for the 2018-2019 review of CICAD’s action plan. CICAD supported an expert group on data collection.

CICAD joined the UNODC pilot workshop, and we educate them on UNGASS implementation and share lessons learned from other member states to provide practical insights on people interpreting and implementing the UNGASS outcome document. We did this in Trinidad and Tobago. We discussed how to move forward with this at regional level, with a joint initiative where we can come a present. This is contingent on funding, so please keep that in mind. But it is a great example of cooperation to help member states implement UNGASS implementation. There is a lot of energy here and we can go a long way to implement UNGASS commitments.

The regional players like CICAD, and Mexico, have been leaders in this regard. We want Mexico to be an example for other member states. I had the privilege to visit Mexico last year when it had a series of dialogues on UNGASS. I met Adam then while he was new to the whole process. The range of people brought to that event, including civil society and government representatives, was fascinating in terms of discussions. I think things like this should be a model for other member states and how to promote UNGASS implementation at local and regional level. We trust CICAD and Mexico will be active for 2019 and assess where we have been and where we are going, looking from the local to the global, and assessing how to help member states on ideas of how to make these types of forums rich ones.

Isaac. The link between the global and the national is absolutely key. I want to thank civil society for their commitment in these dialogues and assisting us in implementation.

Alberto Elias Beltran, Office of the Mexican Attorney General and President of CICAD. Thank you very much to you all. I want to thank John for his support for the organisation of this event and the participation of Adam. We are happy to have you here today. For Mexico, as president of CICAD, it is important to show our support for UNGASS implementation. Since assuming the presidency, we have adopted strategies to reach a health and human rights focus, prevention of violence and crime. These are high priorities for Mexico. The 62nd session of CICAD was an opportunity for Mexico to present a balanced strategy and discuss the negative consequences. Mexico proposed strategies from a public health perspective, with people being the main focus, prioritising access to health services. Violence prevention is a key factor for addressing issues related to drugs. We promote the adoption of new schemes for development, with financially viable solutions and respecting of the environment. International cooperation is key here. We need to follow up on new developments in the Western Hemisphere. We want to formulate sound drug policies. Mexico reaffirms its commitment to addressing drug issues from all levels based on UNGASS implementation. This will help us further enhance drug policies.

Oscar Santiago, Mexico. Not only a holistic view, but also a comprehensive view such as transversal themes such vehicle theft, arms trafficking and money laundering. Make our actions more effective. National challenges, but also international. The Hemispheric Plan of Action on Drugs was a motivation to improve our national plan. I want to speak about what we are doing in the Mexican government with CICAD to really implement the UGNASS recs. The vision of CICAD is something that is helping us coordinate our work with diverse sectors, academic, civil society (strategic ally) and government institutions.

We have arrived at this point where the goal is to align our strategies and efforts in our national development plan. We are working to improve the quality of information in order to make better decisions. Where are the drugs being produced, then the MEXW34 which is the electronic version of knowing where eradication is taking place, then we have the national efforts that are currently underway.  In addition to information from Health and CONADIC, we also have networks within schools that help us monitor.  This helps us focus and prioritize our actions. We create risk assessment maps of illegal crops and which are then effectively destroyed.  The results are to improve the quality of information. We are betting on management and analysis to improve our work. This can help us generate inputs for other institutions. These efforts are also focused on vulnerable groups and the generation of better public policies. And you are all invited to the working group in the days before CICAD about the implementation of UNGASS.

Isaac. Concrete results from the dialogues undertaken by the Mexican government: a matrix which looks at the 103 recs from UNGASS and provides information regarding which government institution is charged with implementing the rec in the short and long term.  This is a way to evaluate the path towards implementing these recs.  These will be available starting today.

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