INDEPENDENT GLOBAL COMMISSION
The GOAL of this workshop is to bring together people from different countries and diverse approaches to analyze and coordinate initiatives for confronting the Drug War and Prohibition. With this aim in mind, we wish to put forward a proposal for a INDEPENDENT GLOBAL COMMISSION to assess existing drug policies and their implementation, and to outline alternatives to prohibition, war, criminalization of peasants whose livelihood is tied to cultivating plants such as the coca bush, cannabis and poppy, and to penalization of consumers.
The failure of the long-standing model used to address the ‘drug’ phenomenon is becoming increasingly evident. Nonetheless, national and international decision makers have been unable to incorporate this fact and, on the contrary, are on the large adopting harsher punitive measures against peasant growers and consumers, in keeping with the Bush Administration’s security terror and with its, −and other governments’− unwillingness or inability to halt further concentration of riches and allow for social demands. Despite a state of increasing Human Rights abuses as of repression of social demands, the growing force attained by a civil society linked by supranational solidarity and alliances makes feasible attempts at coordinating converging initiatives and efforts. The multiple aspects of the Drug War strategies need to be duly analyzed in a social scenario which calls for the participation of one and all: from those working on analysis regarding crop growers and consumers to the consumers and growers themselves.
“INDEPENDENT GLOBAL COMMISSION”
TO ASSESS THE DRUG WAR AND PROPOSE ALTERNATIVES
Whatever might be the practical mechanisms defined to expand and coordinate initiatives at an international level, some basic criterion to be taken into consideration are:
To assess the Drug War and alternatives to Prohibition
—Proposal Mama Coca Workshop—
The proposal to create an Ad hoc Global Commission to assess the “Drug War” and options other than Prohibition has, among others, the following origins:
1. The “International Meeting on Peace, Human Rights and IHL in Colombia” (Costa Rica, October 2000) “proposed the creation of a High-Level Global Commission on the ‘drugs’ issue “to make a public statement regarding 20 years of war on drugs and on options such as legalization and depenalization.” This Commission was to submit its results to the United Nations and to governments, national and international mediating organizations in the
peace process. A technical group made up of Colombian and foreign experts would back the Commission in carrying out its tasks. Colombia
2. This idea was widely accepted in the “Talks on the Andean Regional Initiative, Counter-narcotics Strategy and Cocalero Movements of the Andean Region”, CINEP (Bogotá, August 2001), held in the Center for Popular Research and Education (CINEP - Colombia) in August 2001 with the participation of social leaders, peasant organizations, NGOs and drug policy experts from Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and the United States.
The Bolivian, Peruvian and Colombian social cocalero movements have openly and through diverse means made known their opposition to forced eradication measures being implemented by their governments. These communities vindicate traditional, cultural, nutritional and industrial use of the coca as a legitimate source of life and cultural identity. During the Centennial Commemoration Ceremony at the Universidad Agraria la Molina (Lima 2002), the organizations and individuals present demanded an end to violent coca substitution campaigns and the Peruvian government was exhorted to “carry out the necessary steps with the United Nations in order to require the withdrawal of the coca from the list of substances subject to control, it classification as a narcotic and coca chewing as an addiction.”
In countries where crop used for illicit purposes are grown such as Afghanistan, Myanmar, India, Bolivia, Peru y Colombia, peasant and indigenous communities, Human Rights organizations and peace movements have alerted national and international public opinion regarding the severe consequences for crop growers, harvesters and the rural populations as a whole which ensue from forced eradication measures compounded by military operations. The destruction of staple crops and of traditional crops of plants used for illicit purposes makes forced eradication into a weapon of war which violates citizens’ fundamental rights, endangers democratic stability and undermines food safety while turning the state into an agent in the disarticulation and displacement of indigenous and peasant communities.
Approximately 8,000 signatures by Parliamentarians worldwide, other citizens and organizations support the appeal launched by the Radical Transnational Party and the International Antiprohibitionist League “Appeal to Governments and the United Nations” of 2003, which holds that the policy of prohibition of the traffic, sale and consumption of drugs which is based on UN Conventions 1961, 1971 y 1988, is the true cause of increasing harm. It thus requests the UN Secretary General and member states of the United Nations to initiate a process of revision of these Conventions.
Fellow organizations such as the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Encod, TNI and a great number of analysts working on harm reduction for consumers and liberalization of use have for years advocated changes in their national legislations and international conventions that rule Prohibition, winning in some cases important victories such as educating the public and the acceptance of medical and recreational uses of marihuana.
These appeals against Prohibition answer to increasing evidence to the fact that current policies are totally unsuitable. Increasing growing of crops used for illicit purposes and of use of mind-altering substances both natural and synthetic as well as changes in the types of drugs produced and consumed highlight the mockery of prohibitionist laws making them into a mere legal façade without any real basis on the customs of the time. Additionally, under the prohibitionist regime, the prospering of organized crime, narcotics trafficking fiscal havens is sheltered by ongoing legislating which currently tends to blur the distinctions between small growers, narcotics traffickers, street dealers and consumers and, in the case of grower countries, of the aforementioned sectors with up-in-arms groups, now pointed to as terrorists.
In accordance with the above, we believe it possible and necessary to advance in the articulation of efforts among diverse social initiatives in the search for alternative proposals as of the following criterion:
- Strengthening of analysis as of considerations regarding Human Rights and the precautionary principle insofar as concerns the health of growers and consumers, the environment and rural milieu.
- Propitiating scenarios to put forward proposals to revise, repeal or amend UN Conventions of 1961, 1971 y 1988.
- Developing informed proposals oriented at overcoming incrimination of peasant growers of condemned plants and penalization of consumers.
- Compiling and making known the information to vindicate the immense medicinal, nutritional and cultural value for humanity at large of the coca, cannabis and poppy plants.
- Other suggestions …
IV. Some of the Commission’s Goals
1. To analyze the diverse traditional uses, views, policies and strategies concerning planting and use worldwide in such a way as to organize and globalize a data base with this the information required by the Commission to carry out its work. To seek out similarities and discrepancies between current national policies and the requirement made by national organizations involved in the ‘drugs’ issue with the aim of generating new ties and finding a common ground for working together.
2. Assess the diverse impacts generated by the long-term implementation of demand reduction of substances considered illicit and which is based on incrimination of growers, banning of crops, physical destruction of plant through forced eradication and military operations which violate Human Rights and well as the infringement of consumers’ civil rights and the discrimination and marginalization to which they are subjected..
3. Design a mechanism for social oversight of the ‘drug’ phenomenon in abidance with the need for social responsibility and political co-responsibility when addressing the issue.
4. Propitiate analyses in accordance with principles of respect of the diversity of the peoples of the world, their dignity and customs and the building of a peaceful and inclusive alter globalization.
V. Some of the Commission’s Characteristics and the Technical Group
1. The Commission will be autonomous and independent from governments and national and international bodies charged with designing or implementing ‘drug’ policies.
2. In accordance with the above, it will be made up by a Group of experts and people who are knowledgeable but who have no direct nor indirect ties with governmental national, bilateral or multilateral bodies involved in the issue.
3. It will have a Technical Operational and a Multidisciplinary Technical Group in charge of coordinating and preparing the basic information, consultancy, and the meetings required for the fruitful development of the Commission’s work..
4. Governments will be turned to to give free and generous access to information, consultation, interviews and visits to sites growing crops used for illicit purposes.
5. A group of individuals and civil society organizations interested in the issues addressed by this Commission would work together for a six-month period in order to improve, socialize and find funding sources which might back and sponsor the establishing and putting into effect of this commission.
VI. Practical Workings of the Commission and Expected Results
The Commission would submit it report and recommendations to the United Nations and governments and social organizations and would be backed by national technical committees and citizens’ participatory forums or work groups. It would put forward its needs to national and international bodies when necessary.
As part of the expected results:
1. A written assessment report regarding ‘drug’ policies, alternative and peaceful proposals to address the ‘drug’ issue in general and the crops issue. Clearly stating the recipients of the report, the recommendations emitted would seek to contribute to propitiate a redefinition of state policies, peace negotiation agendas and agreements between civil society and governments.
2. Written and film memoirs of the meetings and regional forums which will be held throughout the development of the Commission’s work..
3. Written and film memoirs of the International Forum to be convened for the presentation of the Commission’s conclusions and recommendations.
We hope to further develop this idea which has had
wide acceptance in several meetings, apart from those already mentioned above:
II National Meeting of Citizens’ Roundtables for a peace Agenda (Bogotá,
We propose that an Impulse Committee be constituted
here and now for the Independent Global Commission. This Committee would be
made up of people who are knowledgeable on the issues of crops used for illicit
purposes, drug policies and harm reduction from
for a social assessment of ‘drug’ policies
Notes: Elsa Nivia Gil
The Mama Coca Workshop came together
in two sessions −June 18th and 19th 2003−
through the “Crops Issue” on occasion of the Colombian Thematic World Social
June 18th: During the first session, translated by Riley Marline from Witnesses for Peace, Mama Coca coordination formally presented the proposal to conform an ad hoc Global Independent Commission (GIC), autonomous from governments and multilateral bodies and charged with assessing ‘drug’ policies and presenting alternatives from a social perspective [attached.] The proposal was discussed and a meeting convened for the following day to establish an Impulse Committee which would launch the Global Independent Commission’s processes by perfecting the proposal and its feasibility.
19th: The following
session took off where it had left off on the previous day.
pointed out that this initiative has its roots in prior converging initiatives.
As Dario stated, we at times improvise but are certain in our cause which enjoins us to find the common ground to build within a diversity of approaches. The Independent Global Commission, −initially proposed as of Colombian issues and later expanded to the Andean Amazon Region’s social concerns− could be projected by the Impulse Committee to encompass diverse national and international scenarios and projects and activities geared at local levels, all converging around the issue of socially assessing ‘drug’ policies, their impacts, and putting forth alternative proposals. Not only from the standpoint of seeking alternatives to criminalization of peasant and indigenous growers of coca, poppy and cannabis and the war measures applied against them but also as refers to how these policies and conditions affect consumers. We welcome the presence of colleagues such as Nancy Obregón, Sub Secretary National Confederation of Peru’s Agricultural Cocalero Producers (Conpaccp), Luis Carlos Acero of the Colombian National Peasant Council (CNC) and an ample group of people from different countries who are knowledgeable on users’ issues, experts on money laundering, dynamics of trade, geopolitics and crops.
Luis Carlos Acero,
Martín Barriuso, Basque country, comments that one of the aspects to
be debated would be where to influence. And, depending on this, to address
ourselves to those issues which we consider would be the most useful. It is no
use producing information just for the sake of it. The coming weeks will show
us how many alliances we can build and incorporate into this initiative. In
Alberto López, Caquetá (Colombia),
mentions that he worked with the Caja Agraria, peasants’ public bank, which no longer exists, and
with communal and peasant organizations in the Caquetá.
He also acts together with peace organizations such as the Institute for Peace
and Development Studies (Indepaz), the Peace
Initiatives Network (Redepaz), with the Peasant
Association of Beneficiaries of the Agrarian Reform (Acbra)
and other organizations tied to the agricultural sector. He tells how he lives
in the Southern part of
Luis Suárez calls for a certain order in the procedures since we have different views. That is precisely part of the problem. He suggests that, with certain modifications, we adopt what Camilo said: fine tune practices towards defining goals and paths.
María Mercedes Moreno says that the meeting was precisely convened with the aim of getting to know each other better and starting to seek common ground for building through our diverse approaches a mechanism for social oversight of the drug phenomenon in abidance with the need for social responsibility and political co-responsibility when the addressing the issue.
Darío González proposes that we start rounding up and summarizes Camilo’s proposal. He adds that we are currently working within a plural framework and senses that we have basic points in common, the most important being the defense of Human Rights.
María Mercedes Moreno proposes that Encod be present in the Impulse Committee. Many of us work with Encod already and are certain that we can build well horizontally.
Ibán de Rementería proposes that María Mercedes Moreno, Darío González and Henry Salgado, who have coordinated this group, also coordinate this work group.
Hugo Cabieses proposes the the
Coordinating Team include people from
Darío González then states that we can all be part of the Impulse Committee and certain people can be in charge of drafting the document and coordinating communication. He then suggests that people volunteer for this group.
Ricardo Soberón proposes that we not limit the scope of the Commission proposal from the beginning. That it is better to have an encompassing title −drug policy assessment− so that we can perfect it later, once the Committee’s proposals and ensuing document have been studied.
The voluntary Coordinating Team is
made up by: Mama Coca (represented by María
Mercedes Moreno and Darío González),
Henry Salgado from the Cinep, Marco Perduca, Ricardo Soberón,
 “International Meeting on Peace, Human Rights and IHL in Colombia” (Costa Rica, october 2000); II National Meeting of Citizens’ Roundtables for a peace Agenda (Bogotá, March 30, 2001); III Plenary of the Civil Society’s Permanent Peace Assembly (Rionegro, Colombia July 2001); “Talks on the Andean Regional Initiative, the Counternarcotics Strategy and Cocalero Movements of the Andean Region”, CINEP (Bogotá, August 2001).
©2003 Mama Coca. Favor compartir esta información y ayudarnos a divulgarla citando a Mama Coca.