Wednesday, February 27th 2013 - 05:18 UTC

OAS assembly in Guatemala will discuss “alternative strategies for combating drugs”

In an advance of the coming 43rd OAS General Assembly to be held in Antigua, Guatemala next June the country’s Foreign Affairs minister Luis Fernando Carrera Castro presented before the OAS Permanent Council an issue that is gaining support in the continent, “Alternative Strategies for Combating Drugs”.

Guatemala’s Foreign minister Carrera Castro making his presentation before the OAS Permanent Council

“It is an honour for us to have Guatemala as the host of our next General Assembly” said OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza who recalled that, following the 1986 and 1999 Assemblies, the meeting in June will make the Guatemala the country that has hosted the greatest number of such meetings.

Insulza said that the June meeting “takes place at a transcendent moment in the work of our organization and in the follow up on the mandates it has received”.

In line with the Guatemalan proposal for the Assembly, he highlighted the assignment received from the Heads of State and Government of the Americas during the Sixth Summit of the Americas in 2012, which urged the OAS to analyze the results of drug policies in the Americas and to explore new approaches to strengthen these efforts and make them more effective.

The resulting report, developed under the supervision of Secretary General Insulza, will be presented before the end of March.

Foreign Minister Carrera explained that Guatemala proposed the issue of the combat against drugs because it is ”consistent with the discussions that took place in the framework of the Summit of the Americas“ in Cartagena, Colombia, among whose promoters was the President of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina, for whom the issue is a priority.

”While we are all in agreement that the scourge of drugs is a very negative element of contemporary society, we have not always managed to achieve the results we expected with what we've done,“ said the Foreign Minister, who emphasized that, 50 years after signing the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, ”the world starts the task of reflection and evaluation of what we have been doing and how we can achieve more effective results.“

”President Otto Perez proposed last year in several forums, and prominently in Cartagena, the need to open a serious dialogue, deep and political and technically well-founded on this issue“, said the Guatemalan Foreign Minister, who specifically referred to the work assigned to the OAS during the Summit of the Americas, saying that ”the OAS Secretary General has fulfilled very clearly and with great responsibility the mandate given to him.“

Foreign Minister Carrera suggested that the report currently being prepared by the OAS should serve as the basis for the discussions that will take place during the Assembly, which is expected to be ”a political forum to discuss these alternatives and reflect on what we can do and what we can recommend to Member States to improve the strategies in combating illicit drugs.“

The Guatemalan Foreign Minister explained that his proposal includes five sub-themes ”that allow us to define more clearly the conversation and to identify niches to advance in the fight against drugs.“ Among these, he mentioned the strengthening of health systems for the prevention and treatment of drug abuse, including the assessment of what is being done to address this scourge. Second, he referred to the reduction of violence and crime related to narcotics, with the state’s role as the promoter of peace, because “if we have to declare a war it is against violence, and we have to win this war with safer societies,” he said.

The third sub-theme is how to reduce arms trafficking and money laundering, “which nourish and strengthen drug trafficking and eliminate the state's ability to control violence.”

In fourth place, he said Guatemala wants to analyze the option of legalizing some crops that are important for certain populations, and promote local economic development based on their development.

Finally, he mentioned studying the possibility of decriminalizing drug use, which in his view, would help to reduce the prison population. Other issues raised included combating the links between corruption and drug trafficking and the respect for human rights.

After the words of Foreign Minister Carrera, the delegations of the United States, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Uruguay, Canada and Colombia took the floor to express their support for the central theme proposed and discussed the relevance of the elements identified by Guatemala as essential parts of the debate.
 

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