IOGT International stands for a comprehensive and integrated approach to narcotic drugs policy making. Our advocacy starts from a Child Rights-centered approach because we believe that the prevention of drug-related harm is a fundamental right and a core duty of any government.

IOGT International’s vision is a life for all human beings free to live up to their fullest potential, and free from harm caused by alcohol and other drugs. It is a world of peace, democracy and justice where free and healthy citizens actively contribute in all levels of society.

We are convinced that what’s good for children, is good for the world. Therefore, we work towards the vision of a drug-free world.

Art. 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) contains the Best Interest Principle. It has far-reaching implications, that go beyond the child-only realm. The best interest of the child shall be a primary consideration in all policy making that affects children, even in areas which at first might seem to have nothing to do with children.

(Visited 1,324 times, 1 visits today)

A Third Way

The development of illicit drug policies, including the UNGASS 2016 process, is currently hampered by a focus on the false dichotomy of drug legalization and decriminalization on the one hand and fighting an endless, unwinnable war-on-drugs on the other hand.

That polarized and dogmatic debate is counter-productive for the development of broad, balanced and humane illicit drug policy-making, for three reasons:

  1. It shrinks the policy space between the portrayed extremes, limiting the discussion to only a few options and eliminating a range of useful alternative approaches, for example the child-cente- red policy cornerstone.
  2. It constrains the many nuances normally present in policy discussions and promotes simplistic, populist solutions.
  3. It wrongly identifies many effective prevention interventions as part of the meaningless ”war-on- drugs” policy argument.

In reality, plenty of middle ground exists. That “third way” is already in use by most governments and comes highly recommended by NGOs all over the world. Many effective policy options are available in the large space between the two extreme positions, and their support or implementation require no fundamental changes in UN Drug Conventions or in most national legislation.

A World That Protects Children

Preventing problems from occurring or expanding represents by far the best option to reducing illicit drug-related harm.

The “Prevention-first” approach holds four major benefits:

  1. It is the most cost-effective policy option.
  2. It is the most sustainable policy option.
  3. It is the most people-empowering alternative, and
  4. It is the most humane policy option, particularly in the context of protecting and assuring the best interests of the world’s children.

Effective prevention methods exist and are in use continuously all over the world. Clearly, prevention cannot solve the enormous and complicated problems of illicit drug use on its own. Prevention, the primary strategy, must be supplemented by a comprehensive system of treatment options, health services, and various harm reduction measures. Those services, however, should not replace prevention as the primary strategy.

A broad, balanced and humane illicit drug policy

The UN Drug Conventions and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child do provide substantial guidance and latitude for countries seeking to design broad, balanced and humane illicit drug policies that are consistent with the principles of Human Rights.

Broad illicit drug policy
The UN Conventions allow a broad range of different strategies and measures that can be adopted and/ or adapted for a country’s particular circumstances.

Balanced illicit drug policy
National illicit drug strategies should be balanced in that each policy element should be used effectively to achieve its specific purpose and, at the same time, also complement the facilitation of other policy elements.

Humane illicit drug policy
Such a comprehensive policy would be humane, because a coherent, encompassing, evidence-based policy is the most effective and sustainable way to reduce human suffering to a minimum.

The most successful means to reduce drug-related harm involves adopting a policy that incorporates a balanced use of measures from several key intervention strategies, including demand reduction, supply reduction, early intervention, treatment, rehabilitation, social re-integration and assistance with acute health problems.

Narcotic Drugs Policy

IOGT International Narcotic Drugs Policy – Prevention, Rehabilitation, Child Rights

Our Narcotic Drugs Policy is evidence-based and rooted in the first hand experiences and know-how that IOGT International and our members have acquired from working for more than a century with all aspects of illicit drugs-related harm.

The IOGT International Narcotic Drugs Policy outlines basic principles and definitions concerning the issue of illicit drugs. It describes the harm caused by illicit drugs – in four categories. It continues by addressing the consequences of illegal markets spreading illicit drugs and the actors profiting from them, and finally it presents what IOGT International proposes as solutions.

3 Crucial Definitions

The global community has made advances in the effort to tackle the burden posed by illicit drugs. In this context it is necessary to be aware of basic definitions of three crucial terms.

Narcotic Drugs

Narcotic drugs are mind-altering drugs with biological origin listed in the UN Drug Convention of 1961.

Some of these drugs have medical usage, some not.

Psychotropic drugs

Psychotropic drugs are mind-altering drugs with mainly synthetic origin listed in the UN Drug Convention 1971.

Some of these drugs have medical usage, some not.

New psychoactive substances

New psychoactive substances (NPS) are mind-altering drugs of synthetic origin that are not controlled by international drug conventions and seldom by national law. They mimic the effects of “traditional” illicit drugs, and pose a great threat to public health.

It is a great challenge for the nations of the world to find methods to list these drugs as illicit drugs in a speedy manner, in order to protect public health.

The UN Drug Conventions

The main focus of the UN Drug Conventions is to prohibit non-medical use of both narcotic drugs and psychotropic drugs. Practically all nations of the world have ratified the UN Drug Conventions.

It should also be know that nations have the right to classify more drugs than listed in the UN Drug Conventions as prohibited drugs. The conventions constitute only the minimum level.

All drugs that are listed this way in international conventions or in national law should be labeled as illicit drugs.

4 Types Of Harm

Our advocacy seeks to address the harm caused by illicit drugs in the most comprehensive way. For that reason, we tackle all four types of harm that illicit drug use causes.

Illicit drugs cause harm to public health and individual well being. Illicit drug use causes problems to the users themselves. And it causes harm to the family, friends, and colleagues around the users as well as to society at large – so called social harm. Illicit drugs cause harm to economic sustainability and prosperity. Illicit drugs are a Human Rights issue. They are especially a Child Rights, Women’s Rights and Indigenous People’s rights issue.

The consumption of any illicit drug in a non-medical setting can harm health and social life. Furthermore, an entire black market exists around the production, distribution and consumption of such products, which forms the bedrock of finance for many organized crime groups.

The pervasive presence of so-called “legal highs” is also a challenge for policy makers worldwide due to the difficulty of regulators to keep track of chemical developments of new psychoactive substances.

IOGT International’s special concern is for the wellbeing and development of children and young people. Therefore illicit drugs are to be addressed as a major obstacle and threat.

IOGT International Policy Solutions

We advocate for five components of a comprehensive set of solutions to achieve a drug-free world.

Legislative/ political aspect

Law enforcement plays an integral role in illicit drug use prevention by protecting public safety, reducing the availability of illicit drugs and discouraging illicit drug use in the population. The harms caused by use of illicit drugs are public health, social justice, criminal justice and economic issues all at once. Therefore illicit drugs harm should be politically addressed in a comprehensive way, in line with the UN Conventions.

The use of imprisonment for minor illicit drug-related offenses should be reduced and proportionate to the offense.It is crucial to find effective and dignified alternatives to incarceration. Alternative sanctions that foster abstinence and a life free from illicit drugs should obtain political priority.

Political leadership should ensure that the criminal justice system is a powerful engine of rehabilitation and social re-integration, instead of being an obstacle to rehabilitation and social re-integration. Alternative sanctions should empower people to become drug-free, crime-free and active members of society.

Present legal system

The present system of worldwide illicit drug control is based on three international conventions:

  • The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol,
  • The 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and
  • The 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

As of June 2014, 189 states were Parties to these UN Conventions.

Article 33 in the Convention on the Rights of the Child states the obligation for states “to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances”.

Prevention is about the healthy and safe development of children and building a good society

The primary objective of IOGT International’s illicit drug prevention is to help people, particularly but not exclusively children and young people, to avoid the use of illicit drugs, or, if they have started already, to pave ways into rehabilitation, social re-integration and a life free from illicit drugs.

The general aim of IOGT International’s illicit drug prevention, however, is much broader: it is the healthy and safe development of children and youth to live up to their full potential and to be able to become active and contributing members of their community and society. Effective drug prevention contributes significantly to the positive engagement of children, youth and adults with their families, schools, workplace and community.

While prevention measures undertaken by civil society, social services and law enforcement agencies do cost taxpayer money and their effects are sometimes difficult to “prove” in the short-term, focusing prevention on children and young people saves costs in the long-term. For example, in the case of alcohol the likelihood of developing an addiction is fourfold when a person starts using it before the age of 15.

IOGT International considers it a basic Human Right that children and young people grow up free from alcohol and other drugs and thus achieve their greatest potential. Therefore IOGT International advocates for more prevention-focused policy, which promotes the creation of more alcohol and other drug free environments for young people.
This means that the use of illicit drugs should not merely be considered from a legal perspective, but as well in light of public health and wellbeing.

Treatment and rehabilitation

Treatment and rehabilitation offer the best way for human beings who are affected by illicit drug-related problems to minimize their risk of further consequences and give them a fair chance at returning to a dignified life within society.

Community-based rehabilitation and fellowships provide important opportunities for mutual help. However, treatment systems must provide a wide range of effective services to assist people who use illicit drugs in their efforts to recover.

Low threshold services are needed to start interventions. Treatment and rehabilitation services should be easily available to illicit drug users and they should empower people to become drug-free, crime-free and active members of society.

International cooperation – the role of civil society

Tackling the world’s illicit drug problem requires strong international collaboration. The current international illicit drug control treaties establish an international framework to combat illicit drug-related harm by reducing both supply and demand.

However, more can be done to reduce any unintended consequences of the current regulatory regime and to ensure access to vital medical treatment and medications.

IOGT International also believes that further international collaboration is needed to address the problems arising from the criminal illicit drug markets, e.g. combating money laundering, corruption and in- ternational organized crime.

Marijuana Myths

The actors within the illicit drug market affect society negatively in complex ways. The Marijuana industry, Big Marijuana, is a special case because their substance is legal in a few places, and remains illegal in vast parts of the world. Big Marijuana takes tactics out of the playbook of Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol and is pushing aggressively for legalization.

One of their tactics is to promote and perpetuate myths about the effects of marijuana, distort scientific evidence, buy their own “science” and aggressively use the media to drown out independent evidence and a science-based approach.

We have exposed 25 of their most common claims to independent evidence, and a provide an overview of how to bust Big Marijuana myths.