OAS begins implementation of new hemispheric action plan on drugs 2021-2025

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WASHINGTON, USA – The Organization of American States (OAS) has begun implementation of the new Hemispheric Drug Strategy and Plan of Action 2021-2025, both approved at the 68th regular session of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), chaired by Colombia and held in Bogota in December 2020.

The Strategy and Plan of Action, in effect since January 1, represent the culmination of coordinated and collective efforts by OAS member states over a twelve-month drafting period during 2020, a process chaired by the United States. The documents form the basis of CICAD’s engagement on drug policy in the Western Hemisphere in the coming years.

The strategy is available here. The plan of action is available here.

The Strategy establishes guidelines for member states to address the transnational drug problem in an integrated manner, with full respect and consideration for human rights, gender, cultural context, and social inclusion. The document streamlines and focuses efforts to address fundamental drug control challenges in the Hemisphere, offering a robust section on core principles critical to upholding international law, prioritizing public health and safety through evidence-based policies and combatting criminality through effective and collaborative law enforcement.

These elements include considering the specific needs of at-risk populations, protecting the safety of individuals, societies, and communities, as well as the importance of civil society participation to the development and implementation of drug policies. Additionally, the new Strategy considers emerging challenges such as the changing modalities of drug trafficking and the expanded use of non-scheduled precursor chemicals in illicit drug production.

The Secretary-General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, called the Hemispheric Drug Strategy one of the most important drug-related documents of this decade for member states. “It represents a political commitment by countries to address the drug problem and defends the principles and basic rights of individuals and families affected by drugs,” said Almagro.

During CICAD’s 68th regular session, Colombian foreign minister Claudia Blum, welcomed that CICAD member states had approved by consensus the new Hemispheric Drug Strategy and its Plan of Action 2021-2025, and encouraged member states to align their national strategies with these new documents, with CICAD’s technical support.

In turn, Colombia’s minister of justice, Wilson Ruiz, stated: “We look forward to the opportunity the Strategy will offer to strengthen and increase the coherence of regional cooperation and coordination at every level.” Colombia is the chair of CICAD for the 2020-2021 period.

The Plan of Action 2021-2025 will help member states implement the Strategy using operationally-driven action items related to institutional strengthening; measures of prevention, treatment, and recovery support; measures to control and counter the illicit cultivation, production, trafficking, and distribution of drugs, and to address their causes and consequences; research, information, monitoring and evaluation; and international cooperation.

The Plan of Action outlines objectives to consider when designing national drug policies, taking into account the unique challenges faced by each member state.

The Strategy and Plan of Action reflect and advance the spirit and intent of the outcome document of the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS) 2016, calling for a balanced approach to international drug policy, as well as the UN’s 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and other international commitments undertaken by member states. Approved by consensus, they reflect the constructive understanding of the most pressing regional drug control challenges together with approaches for prioritizing action to address them.

The OAS’ Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM) will follow up on the progress made by member states to implement both the new Strategy and the Plan of Action during its eighth evaluation round. The MEM is the OAS’ unique hemispheric instrument to evaluate national drug policies.

Country reports and hemispheric briefs are due to be published on measures of prevention, treatment, and recovery support (2021); measures to control and counter the illicit cultivation, production, trafficking, and distribution of drugs, and to address their causes and consequences (2022) and institutional strengthening; research, information, monitoring, and evaluation; and international cooperation (2023), with comprehensive national reports on all thematic areas to be released in 2024.

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