On the Global Drug Policy Debate
Past President of the Canadian International Council (CIC).
On April 27 the CIC’s National Capital Branch held a seminar on drug policy that resulted in a report titled, Drugs, Violence and Hemispheric Security: Implications and Options for Canada. The seminar took place just in advance of two landmarks in the international drug policy debate: in early June the Global Commission on Drug Policy published a comprehensive report denouncing current antidrug efforts; two weeks later, June 16 marked the fortieth anniversary of US President Nixon’s declaration of a “war on drugs.”
The Global Commission was initiated by three former Latin American presidents and consisted of 19 world leaders, former and present, in government, business and human rights. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Canadian former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour were among them. The Global Commission’s report adamantly recommends the decriminalization of drug use by those “who do no harm to others” as part of a global movement to treat rather than incarcerate drug users, while persecuting the criminal organizations that commit and perpetuate drug-related violence.
The CIC’s report shows less faith in the absolute benefits of legalization and decriminalization, though it anticipates the Global Commission’s judgments in stating that Canada’s current antidrug efforts “are exceedingly modest, by no means commensurate with the magnitude of the problem.” The report therefore presents an Agenda for Action recommending that Canada promote the following initiatives:
- Institutional development and capacity-building in police and military sectors, fiscal accountability, anti-corruption measures and legal training for lawyers in affected countries
- Multilateral/regional cooperation to battle corruption on provincial and state levels
- Taxation and fiscal reforms in countries burdened by drug-related crime
- Greater Canadian efforts to interdict drug trafficking
- Canadian efforts to trace money laundering
- Improved international coordination through the drafting of an international charter outlining shared priorities in countering the hemisphere’s drug trade
- Canadian public health campaigning to discourage drug consumption in North America and Europe
- Collaboration between the Canadian government and its private sector to counter economic inequality, which is associated with increased gang recruitment
- Increased Canadian funding of research into antidrug policy
The CIC would welcome responses to these recommendations.
Photo courtesy of Reuters.