At its recent Special General Assembly in Guatemala City, the Organization of American States, or OAS, adopted a resolution underscoring the importance of hemispheric and international cooperation in jointly tackling the world drug problem.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield led the U.S. delegation to the event, which focused on drug policy in the hemisphere.
“After many weeks of intense work between our governments,” said Ambassador Brownfield, “the United States is pleased with the resolution currently before us.”
The resolution is entitled “Reflections and Guidelines to Formulate and Follow Up on Comprehensive Policies to Address the World Drug Problem in the Americas.” It recognizes the importance of implementing the three United Nations conventions on drugs and also the need to regularly review drug policies to ensure that they are comprehensive and focused on the well-being of the individual.
The resolution calls for member states to strengthen health and social services to serve addicted citizens.
“Substance use disorders, like other diseases, can be treated,” said Ambassador Brownfield. “A science-based public health system is the bedrock for sound drug policy.”
Ambassador Brownfield noted that criminal justice policy remains important, and that programs that integrate public health and criminal justice responses to offenders with substance-abuse problems have been successful.
“This resolution fortifies our common front against organized crime,” said Ambassador Brownfield. “The best defense against organized crime is effective, accountable justice institutions that protect citizens and afford no impunity for the powerful.”
Ambassador Brownfield noted that since criminal organizations operate across borders, international cooperation is essential in fighting them. The resolution identifies specific actions that contribute to addressing organized crime.
The resolution provides for advancement of reform within the framework of the United Nations Conventions. And it calls for information-sharing among the member states on outcomes of any new policies.
“The United States,” said Ambassador Brownfield, “looks forward to working together with our hemispheric partners to build on these needed reforms to help shape a better future for our citizens.”