Drug Policies: Focus on the Americas

Dianova Participated in Events Organized by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission at the 2021 Session of the CND


The new hemispheric drug strategy and plan of action 2021-2025 reflect the spirit and intention of the outcome document of the United Nations Special Session on the world drug problem (UNGASS 2016)

By María Victoria Espada – On the occasion of the 64th session of the United Nations’ Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND 64), held in hybrid format last April in Vienna, the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) belonging to the to the Organization of American States (OAS) organized three parallel events  in which Dianova was present.

Pandemic and prevention

In the first parallel event held under the topic “From pandemic to prevention: the path to greater demand reduction“, the National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD) of Paraguay announced different programs implemented for prevention and drug use treatment aimed at schoolchildren, university students, families and communities, among others. As in other countries, although the virtual format of the courses due to Covid-19 made it possible to reach almost all regions and serve a greater percentage of the population, the pandemic has posed an additional challenge in terms of consumption of narcotics and of illegal traffic and commerce.

Remote care and support

For this reason, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), also present at the event, asked that the problems of substance use and treatment needs be included in the national plans for socio-sanitary responses to Covid-19 prepared by the American countries. Likewise, the PAHO insisted on the need to enable mechanisms for distance care, telemedicine, and telephone assistance to continue providing psychosocial support to patients and families, as well as maintaining security protocols against COVID-19 in therapeutic communities with the objective of slowing down the transmission within them.

Strategy 2021-2025

Next, the “New Hemispheric Drug Strategy and Plan of Action 2021-2025” prepared by the CICAD were presented at the second parallel event. In force since the beginning of 2021 and the result of the coordinated and collective work of the OAS Member States during the pandemic, these documents will define drug policy in America for the coming years.

On the one hand, the Strategy establishes the guidelines to address the transnational drug problem in terms of both demand and supply reduction from the perspective of respect for human rights, gender, social inclusion and cultural context. On the other hand, the 2021-2025 Action Plan is a guide to help Member States implement the Strategy in areas such as institutional strengthening; prevention, treatment and recovery support measures; measures to control and counteract the illicit cultivation, production, trafficking and distribution of drugs; and international cooperation, among others, always considering that each State faces different challenges.

civil society

The participation of civil society is essential to strengthening the development and implementation of drug-related strategies, policies and programmes

The spirit of UNGASS 2016

Both working tools incorporate international progress in drug policies by reflecting the spirit and intention of the outcome document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session of the  (UNGASS 2016) on the world drug problem and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Therefore, the consolidation and adoption of these documents reflect confidence in multilateralism and a principle of common and shared responsibility among OAS member states with respect to regional drug policies.

Best practices worldwide

The “Social integration of people involved with justice accused of drug-related crimes in Latin America” was the theme of the third and final parallel event, in which different international incentives were also presented.

In Italy, the social reintegration programs implemented by San Patrignano help the addicted youth to develop self-confidence, self-sufficiency, and motivation so that they can find new areas of interest and learning.

In addition to covering the educational and working areas, the Government’s National Program for Youth Centres (PRONACEJ)  in Peru supports the psychological, social, medical and legal needs of teenagers, many of them from families with criminal records, with the objective of facilitating their incorporation into the world of work.

By understanding social reintegration as a bilateral process between society and the individual, programs of the National Service for the Prevention and Rehabilitation of Drug and Alcohol Consumption (SENDA) of Chile focus on both the treatment itself and the follow-up later to ensure its sustainability over time.

A major obstacle: stigma

The different speakers at the event agreed to identify stigma and discrimination as one of the main barriers to access to treatment and social reintegration to which, on numerous occasions, additional barriers to access to housing, health and employment are added, making these processes even more difficult.

As was repeatedly mentioned in the different CICAD events, the participation of civil society through broad and open debates that promote the exchange of ideas and experiences is essential to strengthening the development and implementation of drug-related strategies, policies and programmes. In this sense, CND 64 was the session with the highest number of parallel events held (more than one hundred). Dianova was present for the tenth consecutive year, contributing to the debates on addiction prevention and treatment with two events of its own. Dianova has been registered with the OAS as a civil society organization since 2010 and is also part of the American Drug Policy Coalition, made up of civil society organizations from different American countries and internationally, with the objective of promoting an informed social debate on drug policies.