Follow Up The Rome Consensus

The Rome Consensus Europe Seminar 13-15 December 09

Dear friends
The Rome Consensus approach
The Rome Consensus for Humanitarian Drug Policy aims at bringing drug policy to the forefront of social concerns; acknowledging the suffering caused by drug use and current drug policies and advocating for a comprehensive public health, harm reduction and humanitarian approach to the drug problem. The Consensus recognises and reinforces the Red Cross/Red Crescent’s unique auxiliary role in encouraging policy makers nationally and internationally to adopt an innovative and humanitarian approach to this key public health issue. The Rome Consensus is a unique opportunity to establish a new commitment to a humanitarian drug policy based on reason and compassion that generates action, free from ideology, force, stigmatization and discrimination The Rome Consensus created in December 2005 by 22 National Societies is now a network integrated by 120 Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations, including Maldives Island, who signed the declaration two weeks ago in Nairobi.

We contributed to create a new room for discussion on drug substance abuse, introducing the humanitarian concept to the UN organizations and to the governments: we advocated on behalf of the people discriminated and stigmatized everywhere, recognizing that the drug users needs help and compassion A humanitarian drug policy it is both an approach and a practice. As an approach, humanitarian drug policy understands the drug problem as a human reality, intrinsically connected to public health and social development concerns. It is based on rationality, compassion and the non-stigmatization of drug users. In practice, humanitarian drug policy takes a realistic and non-judgmental approach to drug consumption, trafficking and production: a humanitarian drug policy takes care of drug users using treatment and public health measures, such as clean needle exchange or methadone substitution treatment to help them combat their addiction. It empowers drug users to take control of their addiction and their lives, restoring their self esteem and aiming to reintegrate them into employment and wider social life. In short, humanitarian drug policy is a realistic, compassionate and efficient way of dealing with the drug problem.

Changes in the drug policy worldwide
It is important to mention now the most important changes occurred in 2008 and 2009: First: The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was a young volunteer in the Korean Red Cross Youth program, said in the World Drug Report issued on the 26 of June 2008, International Day against Drugs, that: “no one should be stigmatized or discriminated against , because of their dependence on drugs”, which is the first time that UN head speaks with the voice of his heart, probably inspired by the Red Cross Fundamental Principles and the Rome Consensus call to establish a new commitment to a Humanitarian Drug Policy based on reason and compassion that generates action, free from ideology, force stigmatization and discrimination.

Ban Ki-moon also said: “There is a growing consensus, both within communities and among states, that drug control is a shared responsibility in which we all play a part”.
Second: Antonio Costa, Director of the UNODC quote in the 2008 report: “progress is needed in three areas: First, public health – the first principle of drug control –should be brought back to centre stage. Currently, the amount of resources and political support for public security and law enforcement far outweigh those devoted to public health. This must be re-balanced. Drug dependence is an illness that should be treated like any other. More resources are needed to prevent people from taking drugs, to treat those who are dependent, and to reduce the adverse health and social consequences of drug abuse.

Second, drug control should be looked at in the larger context of crime prevention and the rule of law in order to cut links between drug trafficking, organized crime, corruption and terrorism. Third, protecting public security and safeguarding public health should be done in a way that upholds human rights and human dignity. On the year’s 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides us with a useful reminder of the inalienable rights to life and a fair trial”.
Mr. Costa also said: “Although drugs kill, we should not kill because of drugs”.
This is important, because it is the same humanitarian approach proposed by the RC/RC in the International Conference in 1986 and for the Rome Consensus members since 2005. Third: In USA the Congress decided recently to create a Commission with the mandate to revise the drug enforcement approach implemented during two decades by the American government: they said that after spending more than 15.000 million dollars, the results are not satisfactory and the consumption of heroine and cocaine is growing. (Segue alla pagina successiva >>)