Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, on Tuesday presented in London the Report on the Drug Problem in the Americas during a forum organized by Chatham House in which political authorities and experts in the issue took part.
Insulza also visited UK Foreign Secretary William Hague with whom he discussed the current political context of the Americas, and later met with Hugo Swire, Minister of State for the Foreign Office.
Under the title “The OAS Report on the Drug Problem in the Americas: What Next?” the British think tank offered a discussion forum which featured the participation of Luis Fernando Carrera Castro, Foreign Minister of Guatemala; Vanda Felbab-Brown, Senior Fellow from the Brookings Institution; Mike Trace, Chair of the International Drug Policy Consortium; and Patricia Lewis, Research Director on International Security at Chatham House.
Summarizing the objective of the document produced by a team of analysts and international experts, Insulza expressed his hope that “this Report and the ideas put forth in it serve not as a conclusion, but as the initiation of a dialogue on the matter.” Looking toward the future, he emphasized the need for an “open and informed” debate on drug policy, and described an important role for the Organization in the promotion of that debate.
“The OAS, as directed by the resolution passed by the General Assembly this past June, will consult with national, sub-regional and international partners, civil society groups, think tanks, technical expert meetings, academia and forums such as this one to promote this discussion and draw conclusions that can be used as feedback for a coming Extraordinary General Assembly Meeting in 2014 on the topic,” said OAS Secretary General.
Insulza recalled that the mandate given to the OAS by the Heads of State and Government of the region at the Summit of the Americas in 2012 was to “analyze the results of the present drug policies in the Americas and to explore new approaches to strengthen this struggle and make it more effective.” To that end, he explained, the OAS delivered the Report to the Heads of State in May.
The Secretary General explained that the document consists of two parts: the Analytical Report, explaining the reasons that have caused concern in society about drug consumption and which have led to attempts to control the effects of drugs on human health; and the Scenarios Report, an examination of the paths that the phenomenon could take in the Hemisphere in the coming years. He noted that the study does not make recommendations, but rather is an analysis of what has occurred to the present in the struggle against drugs and describes possible future situations.
In the first part, said Insulza “we follow this process, tracking the course of illicit activity from the cultivation of crops, to the production of drugs, their distribution or transit along routes and the violence accompanying it, through to their sale and end-use.” He added that, “in undertaking this study, we examined the volume of activity, its various manifestations, its environmental impact, and the State's response to it, including the consequences and limitations of that response.”
In the second part, he said three of the four scenarios –“Together,” “Pathways” and “Resilience”- describe different future alternatives, depending on whether the focus is largely on institution-building, experimentation with legal changes, or the community's capacity to respond to the problem. The fourth, Disruption,” alerts us to what could happen if we are incapable in the short run of reaching a shared vision that allows us to join forces to address the problem, while respecting diversity in our approaches to it”.
In terms of the conclusions of the Report, the OAS Secretary General explained that there are four: the problem must be dealt with taking into account each country’s different situation; countries with fewer resources and less institutional strength have more difficulty dealing with the impact of drug trafficking; the phenomenon requires a public health approach; and the approach to the problem must be multifaceted, flexible, taking into account differences, and the countries of the regions must be united in their diversity.
The United Kingdom has been a Permanent Observer to the OAS since 1995.