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UN agencies advocate harm reduction, but ratify the drug war

This afternoon at the Third Latin American Conference on Drug Policy that takes place today and tomorrow in Mexico City. UNAIDS, WHO, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (ONUDOC / UNODC) and the OAS designated harm reduction as a necessary strategy in dealing with drug users.

For his part, Antonio Mazzitelli, the Latin American representative of the agency defended the repressive policies. “We do not have a system of prohibition, but of control,” he said.

(Mexico City, September 13, 4:30pm ) All the United Nations system agencies present in the III Latin American Conference on Drug Policy, spoke in favor of the harm reduction strategies, which are postulated not to pressure users to stop drug use, when they do not want to or can not, but to suggest that they can regulate it and stay healthy.

The panel on “The perspective of intergovernmental organizations” with the participation of Maristella Monteiro, Regional Advisor of Alcohol y Abuso de Sustancias de la Organización Panamericana de la Salud (OPS), Rafael Franzini Batle, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Comisión Interamericana para el Control de Abuso de Drogas de la Organización de Estados Americanos (CICAD / OEA)), José Enrique Zelaya Bonilla, regional representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNAIDS coordinator for Mexico ,and Antonio Mazzitelli, the Latin American representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Antonio Mazzitelli, representing the UNODC, said that the UN Conventions endorsed by States “do not ask for the criminalization of consumption per se, but of the production, trafficking and sales. In their freedom, states may use alternative justice measures, in order to facilitate access to rehabilitation treatments for consumers with problems. “

The UNAIDS coordinator for Mexico, José Enrique Zelaya Bonilla made it clear that “opiate substitution as well as comprehensive prevention programs such as needle exchange are extremely successful.” The specialist suggested that countries which use such methods , set a goal to achieve the goal of 50% reduction in HIV infection in intravenous drug users by 2015. He detailed proposals to achieve this and concluded: “The central measure is to stop criminalizing drug users.”

In his turn, Monteiro said that one must “change from a repressive approach to health oriented approach.” He added that since the OPS promotes “an integrated approach to prevention and care in drug and alcohol issues including primary care, mental health, self-help, criminal justice, social service, emergency and trauma services, drug user associations , harm reduction, work programs, among many other things. “

From the CICAD of the Organization of American States, the Deputy Executive Secretary Rafael Franzini Batle defended the proposed “drug treatment courts,” which in his view “are a change, because the addict is no longer in jail.”

Antonio Mazzitelli, the representative for Latin America of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC / UNODC), also supported the treatment court system, which generated controversy, and defended the paradigm of the current drug war . “We do not have a system of prohibition, but of control. So far none of the Member States, except for Bolivia, has called for reform of this system. In other words, states are satisfied with these conventions, “

He concluded: “The care of drug users is a health issue, but the market is a safety issue and should be treated as part of organized crime.”

Intercambios Civil Association is a key organization in Latin America on issues of harm reduction and drug policy. It develops policy advocacy, research and training. They organized the First and Second Latin American Conference (Buenos Aires 2009, Rio de Janeiro 2010) and coordinated the discussion of civil society in the region on the goals set by the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Drugs (UNGASS). Among their publications are: “Contributions to a new drug policy. V and VI National Conference on Drug Policy “(2010) and” Knowledge and practices about drugs. The case of the cocaine base “(2007).

CUPIHD (Collective for a comprehensive policy towards drugs) is a civil society organization dedicated to research, education, and dissemination action aimed at transforming the culture of drug policy with a focus on risk reduction, multidisciplinary, comprehensive, and scientific with respect for human rights. Formed in 2009, seeks CUPIHD promote constructive dialogue nationally and internationally on drug policy reform, and propose regulatory alternatives to them.

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