- Category: News
53d Session of CND was all about general consensus on the importance of universal prevention strategies, mass-media comprehensive campaigns and the latest INCB report of 2009 which underlined that primary prevention role had in many cases been underrated.
The issue of palliative care and medical help for drug dependence was emphasized in many presentations, for instance International Association against Cancer and Human Rights Watch stated the gravity of available medication and access to narcotic drugs for the relief of pain and suffering.
Medical marijuana is also an issue in 14 American states that has already resulted in numerous dispensaries distributing the drug for prescriptions.
ONDCP and its head Gil Kerlikowske stated that no legalization of this drug can be on US drug policy agenda, and referred to scientific research that by now is not evaluated yet. Also to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and incorrect use of terminology by those propelling ideologies in support of drug use liberalization, it was decided not to use the term “harm reduction”, said Mr. Kerlikowske.
Cannabis remains the most abused narcotic substance in the world and it is vital that those who use it get regular expert advice not only on how the drug affects its users, but also how to give up on it.
(Picture: Mr. Gil Kerlikowske at the American Embassy in Vienna)
Russian delegation emphasized the value of primary prevention and information, also monitoring of public opinion to evaluate the effects of state policy communication campaigns. In general the vision of healthy lifestyle encompasses the health of each single person, said Russian delegate.
Annual CND session provides Vienna NGO Committee members to make their voice heard during informal dialogues with the heads of CND, INCB and UNODC. This session gathered 55 VNGOC member organizations and ECAD was one of those.
The most controversial of the informal meetings turned out to be the one with Executive Director of UNODC, Mr. A.M. Costa. This meeting with Vienna NGOs was his last one and Mr. Costa, who is bound to leave UNODC in a few months, shared his frustration over the spread of “neo drug-colonialism” in the developing countries.
To highlight some points of his official presentation at the plenary session of CND, Mr. Costa stated the importance of health (and not repression) in the centre of drug policy, as well as balance and coherence between various drug policy approaches.
In his political statement Mr. Costa expressed discomfort with the present situation, because of the behavior of rich countries that seemed to be threatening the state of poor ones. He also urged to look beyond the drugs issue and to mind the evolution of geo-politics in this respect, since ideological debate was not constructive.
(Picture: Vienna NGO Comittee head David Turner (left) and his deputy Michel Perron (right) presiding at the Informal Dialogue with Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of UNODC).
- Category: News
ECAD Advisory Board meeting in Visé
On February 5th, the ECAD Advisory Board held its regular meeting. This time the members of the Board visited the Belgium town of Visé which joined our organisation last year at the Mayors' Conference in Göteborg. Mayor Marcel Neven's address at the Mayors' Forum is available at www.ecad.net/conference-papers.
The Advisory Board discussed routine issues on the agenda and the remaining preparations ahead of the 17th Mayors' Conference which will take place in Malta on April 22-24, 2010.
The meeting of the Board fortunately coincided with a festive event - a reopening of the town's old church after nearly 20 years of renovation. At the picture, all participants of the ceremony assembled in the chancel, letting the photographers to do their work...
Visé, a town with about 17,000 inhabitants, is strategically located half-way between Liège and Maastricht, on a bank of the major waterway of the region, river Maas. There were not many historical twists and turns which did not affect this small French speaking Walloon town. It is then not a surprise that the citizens are proud of their 700-year old club of arbalesters and two significantly younger but still beloved clubs of harquebusiers which have shown their treasures at the church ceremony.
Mind you, even in today's united Europe the neighbours continue to cause citizens of Visé a headache. Maastricht, the neighbouring Dutch city, tries to push some of its burden over the border. In his address at the ECAD Mayors' Forum, Marcel Neven called for solidarity with the regions' cities which suffer from the consequences of drug tourism – a phenomenon which is fuelled by Maastricht’s many “legal”, "high quality" and "comfortable" cannabis outlets, so called "coffee shops". This Dutch municipality was not able to resolve the situation on its own, though it came up with a number of different measures, among them a proposal to move some of the coffee shops out of the city centre and closer to the Belgian border!
Visé organised a meeting with a representative of the Maastricht city administration, Mr Peter Corsius. This, in order to deepen the Board’s understanding of the situation which the cities of the region are faced with. The cities, which do not agree that consumption of marijuana upon the municipal indulgence is a good response to the drug abuse problem...
A conclusion which could be drawn from a rather expletive address of Mr. Corsius is simple: some 30 years ago, when the Netherlands have chosen their way of dealing with cannabis, not all Dutch cities realised what spectrum of consequences their policy would bring about in a Europe without borders... Mr Corsius invited "to think together" about what could be done in the present state of affairs. What are the chances that an adequate decision would be made – to close down coffee shops? The decision making process seems to be greatly complicated by the fact that the income from sales of this illegal by both international and Dutch laws narcotic drug has become an important source of the city's budget.
A short discussion between the members of the ECAD group after visiting one of the drug outlets located some hundred meters away from the city hall, revealed that we all have been stricken by the same observation: customers, which were many on a Friday afternoon, all looked pretty much as any "ordinary" young people... this led us to a sombre reflection on how the present system of coffee shops with the authorised sale of 5 g hashish or marijuana per purchase occasion broadens a circle of potential drug consumers...
However, there are signs that the situation in the Netherlands might be getting straightened out, thanks to the efforts of national and international communities. ECAD is glad that Maastricht has a neighbour which is ready to help to create a sustainable solution.
ECAD thanks colleagues in Visé for their great hospitality and good organisation of the meeting.
Left: Charles Havard, Municipal Secretary, and Jim Corr, Chairman, ECAD, point at the ECAD membership certificate placed under a document signed Cardinal Mazarin
Right: Advisory Board on the way to the meeting at the Maastricht municipality
- Category: News
The Swedish Government has decided to support the second World Forum Against Drugs in Sweden. Delegates from 80 countries participated in the first Forum which took place in Stockholm in 2008.
- We look forward to establish an international forum to strengthen a balanced, restrictive global drug policy, says Sofia Modigh, project leader for the 2010 World Forum Against Drugs.
The Executive Director of UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa, and the Swedish Minister for Public Health, Maria Larsson, will give key note speeches at the conference.
The World Forum will take place at Norra Latin City Conference Center in Stockholm, Sweden on May 24-25, 2010 under the high patronage of H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden.
International and national scientists, politicians, policy makers, NGOs, law enforcement agencies, social workers, parents and other organisations and individuals are expected to participate.
- We have worked hard for a couple of years to bring together drug-restrictive forces from all over the world. On the global arena, the pro-drug lobby has stood unchallenged for too long. We are very pleased that the World Federation Against Drugs has been founded as this enables us to work effectively on the international arena, says WFAD Board Secretary Per Johansson.
The World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) is a multilateral community of non-governmental organisations and individuals. Founded in 2009, the aim of WFAD is to work for a drug-free world. The members of the WFAD share a common concern that illicit drug use is undercutting traditional values and threatening the existence of stable families, communities, and government institutions throughout the world.
WFAD is held under the high patronage of H.M. Queen Silvia (on the photo: H.M. Queen Silvia addresses the First WFAD in 2008)
ECAD prepares side events and tailored programme for the ECAD Members in connection to the Forum. For detailes please contact the ECAD office.
- Category: News
International Drug Control into the 21st Century - edited by Hamid Ghodse
Published by Ashgate, Aldershot, UK .
Review by Peter Stoker, Director, National Drug Prevention Alliance.
The first surprise in reviewing this book is the breadth of issues which the INCB addresses. The simplistic image of INCB is that they are no more than a grouping of authoritarians, inventing rules then watching hopefully for compliance - this collation of studies, drawn by Professor Ghodse into one edited volume, gives the lie to that. INCB are clearly deeply and actively concerned not just with the medical but also with the social and economic aspects of drug policy, are involved in ensuring adequate supply of drugs for legitimate medical use, and are alive to the complexities of drug prevention and health promotion. Moreover they don't huddle in their own comfort zone, they face challenges to their position, not least proposals for legalisation or other liberalisation of drugs.
As a professional in the addictions field for 35 years, a Professor of Psychiatry and Drug Policy, and several times President of the International Narcotics Control Board, few if any can match Hamid Ghodse for experience or authority. This book draws together the strands of thinking in INCB over the past two decades. Each year since 1992 INCB has defined a theme for study. Professor Ghodse has collated and combined these studies into one eminently-readable volume. Anyone serious about understanding the full spread of this field should have this book on their desk - and regularly read it.
The stated purpose of the INCB is "... to protect the well-being of individuals and society". Some contest this in terms of 'free choice' or 'human rights' - INCB's response is that the prevention of drug abuse problems is protecting the human rights of society as a whole. INCB has powers to sanction under-performing countries and to force compliance, but this power has never yet been fully applied. As always, demand reduction and prevention is a poor relation, generous lip-service but relatively small resourcing - this despite many states arguing that this work should have its own Convention.
The 1988 Convention was the first co-ordinated attack on traffickers. Trafficked drugs are often stored in staging points were laws are weak. Traffickers need to be tackled at international level; acting only at national level is, as Hamid Ghodse observes, "pruning the branches but leaving the roots intact".
Controls have become more effective over the decades; diversion is greatly reduced, meanwhile the practice of therapy has successfully replaced some of the over-consumption of drugs through repeat prescription. Alternative products in cultivation countries are an attractive solution, but this has yet to be implemented to any effective degree by any country. Zero percent drug use has never been achieved, one to two percent, as in USA pre-1950s, is probably a more realistic target.
There is no evidence that illicit drug production improves local economy; the current suggestion in the US State of California that legalising and taxing cannabis use would lift them out of financial problems is extremely dubious; more likely is that there would be gains for a few but losses for many.
Demand Reduction and Supply Reduction are symbiotic - but the key importance of demand reduction is recognised throughout the international community. To be effective, Demand Reduction needs to engage with community empowerment, education, media, health promotion, culture, and treatment/rehabilitation. Success depends very much on political will as well as community co-operation. Harm reduction is an acknowledged part of the process but INCB emphatically says "Harm Reduction is no substitute for demand reduction". Under Article 3 of the 1988 Convention it is possible to address what some in the media are doing as 'inducement or incitement to use drugs'. INCB consider that governments should be pro-active, rather than just leaving the advocacy role to people who wish to dismantle or otherwise subvert the Conventions.
INCB emphatically state that "The most promising prevention is culture change" and by 2004 governments could be seen waking up to the possibilities of shifting culture. INCB refer to the reduction in the tobacco use as an example of what has been achieved. If a prevention programme and its evaluation is of longer duration than the election cycle in a given country, then politicians and government agencies will be less interested. Prevention must be sustained, or else complacency and tolerance develops.
In pressing for liberalisation, many criticise prevention and demand reduction for not succeeding in 100 per cent of the efforts, (and yet it is interesting how this failure to succeed in 100 per cent of efforts never appears as a criticism of a harm reduction programme). INCB observes that not enough has been done to disseminate successes. Semantics and memes, a standby of liberalisers' weaponry; do not impress INCB. "Legalisation arguments don't withstand critical evaluation and run contrary to general expectation. Proponents have yet to produce viable proposals. Liberalisation would irrevocably impact public health, social wellbeing and international stability."
The Internet age has given new ways of conducting crime - in the UK more than 1000 websites selling drugs have been identified. At the same time the regulations and the application of regulations leaves much to be desired; in a survey of 52 countries, 33 had done nothing, 9 had done little and 10 would only address major crime matters.
- Category: News
On the eve of international HIV/AIDS Day, December 1, a group of 17 people from Russian city of Archangelsk and its region visited Sweden. Archangelsk lies in the far north of western part of Russia near the White Sea, with a population of over 356 000 inhabitants. It used to be Russia’s most important harbour city before St.Petersburg was founded in 1703 and still is one of the biggest commercial ports exporting fish and timber.
ECAD was a co-organizer to this study visit financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers working against the spread of drug abuse, HIV and AIDS.
The group consisting of prevention practitioners and university researchers, health, penitentiary and social service workers, Russian Federal Drug Control Service agent, policeman and parliamentarian, was on tour over Swedish social and health care services with a special focus on prevention.
Detrimentally contributing to the spread of HIV and AIDS, injecting drug users remain the primary concern for all parties involved in prevention in the Archangelsk region, scaling from educational institutions to policy makers.
Therefore study programme included visits to Swedish NGOs engaged in public policy moulding and AIDS problems (RNS and Noaks Ark), facilities for homeless and AIDS/HIV-infected (Convictus), state youth prevention centres (Swedish County Council), former criminals society adjustment NGO KRIS (Criminals Return Into Society) and National Police Board.
Giving credit to the well-functioning complex approach to health care in Sweden and cooperation between public and state organisations, Russian guests straight after their return came with some initiatives on inter-institutional cooperation. Among those were legislative improvements to define regional prevention measures against HIV/AIDS spread in Archangelsk region and cooperation mechanisms between institutions in charge; a new homepage covering all prevention actions to curb drug abuse and HIV/AIDS spread in the region; electronic data base for prevention work proceedings applicable in schools and other educational bodies, and expert council to work on developing preventive methods of all levels, designed for various social groups.
ECAD thanks warmly its partner organisations and state bodies for all help with this visit.
MAYORS` CONFERENCE 2017
ECAD 24th Mayors` Conference materials
On June 12-13, the city of Kaunas hosted ECAD 24th Annual Mayors`s Conference 2017
Safe Cities Without Drugs. Preventing, Protecting, Policing
David W. Spencer, Field intelligence Manager, Drug Enforcement Agency, European Region
Supply reduction and dismantling drug trafficking organizations: In what ways can local communities benefit (PDF)
Kim Nilvall, Swedish National Bureau of Investigation, Intelligence section, Organized crime
Police work in socially disadvantaged areas in Sweden: Impact of drugs on urban crime (PDF)
Torsten Stodiek, Deputy Head, Strategic Police Matters Unit, Community Policing Advisor, Transnational Threats Department, OSCE
Preventing terrorism and countering violent extremism and radicalisation that lead to terrorism:
A community and intelligence led policing approach (PDF)
Jon Sigfusson, Director for Icelandic Centre of Social Research and Analysis, Reykjavik University, ICSRA
Youth in Europe and Planet Youth (PDF)
Laimonas Vasiliauskas, Senior Specialist, Serious and Organized Crime Department, EUROPOL
European Illicit Drug Market (PDF)
Antonio Boscini, Health Director, San Patrignano Community, Rimini, Italy
Recovery and social reinsertion: San Patrignano Community model extended (PDF)
CONFERENCE PROGRAMME (PDF)
FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT (PDF)
Conference Booking Form
Picture: @Rokas Tenys
Warm welcome to Kaunas, Lithuania!