49th General Assembly of the OAS

Dianova participates in the most important governmental meeting in Latin America to demand that drug policies respect human rights

49 OAS

The war on drugs is a war on people. The American Coalition on Drug Policy urges Member States to strengthen the dialogue on the consequences of this war

By Jordi Alós – Dianova actively participated in the 49th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), which took place in Medellín, Colombia from June 26th to June 28th, 2019. Civil society’s coordination for this occasion was organized around the formation of thematic coalitions.

Dianova’s representative attended the intergovernmental meeting in the Colombian city. Dianova was integrated into the American Coalition on Drug Policy (CAPD). The CAPD is one of the 33 civil society coalitions approved by the OAS and consists of 25 institutions (21 local and 4 global) which try to garner political influence so that drug policies in the Americas are focused on rights, are respectful of human rights, and include the participation of civil society at the hemispheric level as well as at the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD).

The CAPD, through its spokeswoman Adriana Muro Polo, Executive Director of Elementa, intervened in the “Dialogue of the Delegation Leaders, the Secretary General, the Adjunct Secretary General and the Representatives of the Civil Society Organizations, the Workers, the Private Sector, and Other Social Actors,” verbalizing the text of the intervention of the American Coalition on Drug Policy. See the complete text.

Dialogue with civil society actors (video)

Declaration of the CAPD: The war against drugs is a war against people

With the respect of human rights being one of the essential elements of the participatory democracy that sustains the work of the OAS, we urge the Member States to strengthen the dialogue regarding the consequences of the aforementioned war, taking into consideration the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy that, in agreement with international law, including the tools of the Inter-American system, summarize the set juridical obligations that the Member States have on the matter.

Likewise, we urge to maintain the spaces for dialogue earned by civil society in the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission, and to include the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in deference to the coherence of the Inter-American system, with the goal creating a synergy in the collective work to act on the following recommendations:

  • To construct a security policy that is respectful of human rights: the militarization of the Member States in combating narco-trafficking has caused grave violations of human rights in the region, such as practices of torture, forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, as well as the consolidation of an emergency penal system. Given that context, we urge the Member States to opt for the concept of human security, under a civil command with clear controls that integrate a strengthened police force schooled to respect and guarantee human rights.
  • To guarantee economic, social, and cultural rights of the population that cultivates plants that have been declared illicit. To that effect, we encourage the Member States to promote and guarantee policies of voluntary substitution of crops in an effort to avoid measures that make human rights vulnerable, such as forced eradication and aerial aspersion with dangerous chemicals like glyphosate, which pose a health hazard.
  • To stop the disproportionate criminalization of minor or nonviolent infractions related to drugs, specifically against women, adolescents, and Afrodescendant populations.
  • To review the appropriateness of the Drug Courts as an alternative to imprisonment, considering that it is a measure that resorts to penal law to deal with a health issue, especially in countries where the legal permitted dosage is so low that drug users end up being criminalized as “micro-traffickers.”
  • To understand drug use from a public health perspective: Drug prohibition and the stigmatization of drug use has jeopardized the right to health for people in the Americas. We urge the Member States to foresake repressive policies and to adopt policies of prevention, harm-reduction, and treatment, supported by evidence; differentiated by type of consumption and substance; financially sustainable and with a focus on gender.

It should be noted that the oral presentations of the diverse coalitions approved by the OAS occurred in a tense climate, given that approximately half of them stand out for their anti-rights stances. In spite of that, the reading of the CAPD’s position was very positive, evoking reactions of approval from progressive as well as conservative organizations. During the dialogue, the Guatemalan representation (the country that promoted the UNGASS 2016) resumed its intervention, recalling the Declaration of Antigua.