Home » Side event: Peace and drug policy

Side event: Peace and drug policy

Organised by Acción Técnica Social with the support of Colombia, the Centro de Estudios sobre Seguridad y Drogas, Universidad de Los Andes, DeJusticia, Elementa DDHH, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Colombia, and the Instituto RIA AC

Moderator – Maria del Mar Pizzaro congress woman from Colombia: I´m presenting several women in this panel. Regulation in drug policy is a very crucial discussion. In Colombia, Mexico and Central America 15000 lives a year. War against drugs have no good results. We have three international conventions: 1961, 1971 and 1988. As a Congress woman, I admit that we have failed to regulate that that is updated with the realities of the drugs rights now. We have 4 experts on the subjects.

Maria Alejandra Velez. Economist form ANDES university PhD on resource economics, center for studies for security and drugs CESED: I would like to start of the challenges for total pea e in coca production. What is total peace in Colombia? The Colombian government announced total peace to reduce violence, relocated settlement with the ELN and FARC, administrative procedure for organized criminal groups. Two total peace: political actors and criminal group. The goal is to reduce violence, there is no a clear coordination with frug policy agenda. Need a clear security and justice strategy and recover legitimacy. Public resistance to talk with narco government. Total process would be difficult to accomplish in 4 years. A lot of operational challenges. Scope of total peace is limited. Colombia government need to clear its drug policy. Which is the focus, reduce supply or violence. What are the indicators, coca plantations or reduce homicides, there is no clear security strategy to secure community and activists’ human rights. Less incitive to combat or to surrender. I do this the states have to use of the force. Need strategy to recover legitimacy in territories. Killing of social leaders is an example of having not a clear strategy. Lot of resistance to talk to Narcos.  Government needs a communicational strategy talk to Narcos; they are needed to work in the process. We are negotiating with very fragmented and heterogenous groups and structures. This government has a lot of reforms, I think we should focus to talk with priority groups. Potential regulated market of cannabis, even is not the most important factor of the process. But could be a pilot to reduce criminal activity and policy resources could be better allocated.

Paula Aguirre PhD in drug human rights and health form health. International human right, Director elf Elementa. ONG that work on public policy in Mexico and Colombia: In Colombia we have a new government. Drug in the country side. Round spraying. National program for reducing od coca crops, second drug use. Prevention, harm reduction and incarceration and disproportionality. Criminalization of drug user. Regulation chapter medicinal, scientifically and industrial use of cannabis. A very important topic is the review coca in the international convention. We promote the debate at a regional an international level. What happened at CND on Monday is the voice that Colombia should maintain in this process. Another recommendation Is to promote civil society in the debate. ONG have permitted deeper debate, research, human rights advocacy, evidence-based strategies. We propose the document with the comparing policies with body of evidence form several places. Reclassification of substances. Drug policy indicator must be reevaluated. Reducing violence, income of criminal group. Social development of crop growers and health of drug users.

Gloria Miranda. Director of Drug policy in Colombia: Colombia has been facing drug traffic from a prohibition paradigm. Criminalization of most vulnerable population. Many resources spent economic, human and environmental. Is not a sustainable solution to drugs. Have had negative effect on human rights and state cooptation and harm of the environment and human lives. This paradigm hasn’t reduced de supply and use of drugs, a of related criminal activity. Colombia is speaking loud and clear that this paradigm is not working. For a total peace we need to change the perspective on drug policy. Is a contradicting to talk about peace if we continue to do the same. For many years we been told that the problem is drugs and this has justified a military approach to drugs, for growers and users. Securitization of drug problems it’s a problem itself. We have focused in the wrong place. Coca is not the problem it is just a plant. The real problem is why peasants in Colombia need to depend on coca to survive. Drug user have been stigmatized and don have harm reduction approaches, Colombia new drug policy should not be measured in the amount of land of coca grown. We are working on the structural causes like the access to land, lack of economic opportunities, gap in cities and rural areas development and economic growth. Need an intersectional policy towards the wellbeing of Colombians specially does who live on rural areas. Ministry of education, health education, investment, etc. Special call to civil society to help Colombian government to a better drug policy. We have to look forward with the help of civil society. Doing research and advocacy. We are not inventing anything new, civil society already said it. We are willing to implement these ideas and make success. Cocaine is a big issue relating total peace. We are planning to discuss the idea and put it in the national and international arena. Policy focused in the care of life, reduce negative aspect of illegal market, attending vulnerabilities and the capacity of multi crime actors. Security policy intersects with drug policy. We cannot repeat the same mistakes we made 6 years ago; we have had many meeting with law enforcement institutions and they are finishing a new policy strategy. The main focus will dialogue in harmony with the security policy and emphasis on social justice. And finish with policies with negative effects like fumigation and force eradication.

Zara Snapp master Harvard in public policy and cofounder of RIA: NOG in Colombia and Mexico. And works with ATS: It is good we have these range of concerns and proposal. We did a study in 2017. What would a regulated market of cocaine in 2034, we did a lot of workshops in several countries and population. A 2022 inflection point is happening. The campaign of “coca regulate paz garantizada”. Different factor and actors engaged. Found 5 cross cutting themes, fair and sustainable markets. Violence and drug traffic. Shift of public policies towards public health and human rights. Study is recognizing the reality of cocaine use in the world, 20milion users, most of them don’t have a problematic use and are functional human beings. What would a regulation would look like for these people. The market could be fair and with different products. We did a survey of cocaine users in Europe and Latin America. Many agree to pay more if the production is of small or indigenous productions. Today these revenues of illegal markets are going to corruption, guns, violence. We need to redistribute these revenues in research, development, fair trade, good quality and health for users. Development and social approach with a harm reduction perspective. We don’t believe that cocaine should be made in a laboratory in Switzerland, there is need for Colombia and Europe to work together. There isn’t much research in the world, and a lot of censorship on this area. Pilot strategies with cannabis in Colombia, and a bill presented to regulate cocaine, but is hasn’t been approved in the parliament. The debate has stated, how to talk about cocaine, we need to talk about if we want to have peace and respect human rights and social justice in the center.

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