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.