EUROPEAN SOCIAL FORUM 2003 SEMINAR ENCOD
(14th of NOVEMBER)
Drug use and the reduction of risks : the struggle for a just and effective, international policy on drugs
Proposé par/propuesto por/proposed by :
Encod (Belgique), Liaison antiprohibitionniste (Belgique), Mama Coca (France-Colombia), Médecins du monde (France), Action humanitaire (Russia), Aides (France), CIRC (France), Grupo IGIA (Italia), Asud Paris (France)
Farid Ghehioueche, European Coordinator ICN-Encod, INFOBirmanie, France
Christine Guillain ; Liaison antiprohibitionniste, Assistante en droit pénal, Belgique
Alain Labrousse ; Expert en Géopolitique, France
Mauricio Mamani; Antropólogo, Ex Ministro de Agricultura, Bolivia
Christophe Marchand ; Liaison antiprohibitionniste, Avocat, Belgique
Andria Efthimiou-Mordaunt; John Mordaunt Trust Encod, U.K.
John Mordaunt Trust Encod, U.K.
My friend and companero, Farid, has asked me to speak about 3 things:
1) The International drug policy reform movement
2) The place and role of ENCOD within it
3) How I came to be a victim of global drug prohibition and what this has meant for my life
This means I have about 3 minutes for each subject matter; the best I can do then is summarise the most important points
The first thing I want to say is that I am so deeply honoured to be sitting here for there are so many of you that I know for one year, two years, three years, There are people in this room that I’ve known for about ten or twenty years. We have been fighting for the rights of drug users or providing clean needles . So I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart I know that I would not be alive today if it had not been for some of the doctors and activists in this room. Thank you very much. Basically I’ve been fighting for now fifteen years. I’ve been a drug-injection user myself and was widowed by AIDS eight years ago. What Mauricio just said about the issue of young people and trying to talk them away from abuse but healthy use and talking about his own culture, that was a very very practical thing because I think to myself, if I had known when I was eight, nine and ten messing around with substances that I had no idea of what they were. Maybe I wouldn’t have ended up in the very terrible places that I did and selling sex and drugs which I really didn’t want to do. But now things have moved on I’m forty-three years old, I am as I already said a widow and I’m also a student in special policy and I’m very proud that I’m standing here with Farid and other people in this room.
Global drug prohibition is
maintained by instiling fear in our hearts and minds about drugs, BUT friends I
put it to you that those who uphold it are probably those most afraid of drugs;
let us at least consider this reality.
There is overwhelming evidence from many countries that harm reduction is a more effective policy, and that, in order to implement harm reduction fully, in all the aspects of the drug phenomenon, prohibition needs to be replaced by regulation. So why doesn’t that happen?
The reason why drug prohibition still exists on a global level, and why national governments are hesitating to go further on the path of harm reduction, is in the interests of defending the interests of and behind this system.
Our governments are allowing a system that denies millions of citizens of the entire world a number of fundamental human and citizens rights, among them the right to receive health care, while the only ones that benefit from this system are criminal organisations and the apparatus of repression.
We know what we are up against. The forces in favour of drug prohibition make use of fear as a tool to convince people. The fear of drugs dominates the basic message they tell. They use fear as a weapon, and refuse to take concepts like solidarity or effectiveness into consideration. What’s more, they often overlook updated evidenceof both the science and history which prove their policies a devastating failure.
However, when fear will sooner or later be replaced by insight, by knowledge, by confidence, those who use fear as a political weapon will become ridiculous.
Politicians need to realise that it is them who create the political and legal space to carry out the important drug policy changes, which are critically needed. It is them who can take the first step towards a truly different policy, one that includes just and efficient measures concerning the issues of production, distribution and consumption of both illegal and legal drugs. A policy that is coherent and in agreement with social, economic, health and human rights policies - policies - that the United Nations should promote, not undermine.
They are also afraid of what they would have to do with the millions of soldiers, police officers, customs & excise workers they currently employ to uphold this global regime.
Call me naive, if you want to, but I think the only way forward is to truly understand the morass of lies and delusions that the drug warriors are swimming in
It is true that for some people using drugs is not a great idea, BUT to persecute everybody with arbitrarilly decreed legislation is misguided, and the outcomes are
horrendous; a cruel example of this is clearly visible in the murder of thousands of drugs users in Thailand, when many of them canot even access a clean needle to prevent their own seroconversion. THIS IS A SHAME
Now then, let me tell you ALL that all over the world, men, women and children are organising, learning and teaching one and other how to best respond to various acts of murder, e.g in the U.S. people provide clean needles to injectors to STOP the spread of AIDS, (though it is still illegal in 20 States...)
* Perhaps the key organisations are in Europe, Australia and the U.S. I would name them but there are many thankfully, and not enough time
* The vanguard issues which they organise around include the following:
- ending the mass incarceration of millions of drugs users from jails all over the world including half a million non-violent prisoners in America's prisons alone....
- Providing adequate blood borne disease prevention tools to those who are at risk of sharing their injecting equipment
- Legally regulating the medical use of cannabis for those who have MS, AIDS wasting syndrome, Glaucoma and many other illnesses
- Implementing Overdose prevention programs amongst communities of daily drug takers
- Producers are also organising; I,m sure this audience is not asleep to the recent happenings in Bolivia
- There are also many thousands of people mobilising against the US interventions in Latin America, particularly PLAN COLUMBIA, which is really about territorial control of their land not to mention their pipeline, and creates more conflict in a country already ridden with civil war
This is but a few of the issues that people in NGOs all over the planet on EVERY continent are working at
AND now for some words about ENCOD, which I will join together together with my own experience a little as they are somewhat inseperable
In 1997, I began conversations on line with different Europeans including ENCOD, TNI, and all sorts of other wonderful people.
2 years b4 that I watched my beloved - John Mordaunt - slowly die from AIDS-related symptoms. So when these guys on line nsaid we should carry out some actions at the UNGASS, June 1998, I was ready. Indeed, I was so ready, I managed to set it up for an African American X addict living with AIDS to address the UNGASS at the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole. And people from the other NGOs arranged for a woman Cocalero to come and address UNGASS also. It was a stupendous moment in our history, and when the 2 women finshed their speeches, they were applauded by the UNGASS delegates, which is very rare indeed in that terribly bureaucratic environment.
4 months later in Brussels, we established the International Coaltion for a Just & Effective drug Policy, which includes several people here today, and comprises 170 NGOs who are signed onto a manifesto.
More recently, we carried out the first international anti-prohibitionist manifestation outside the UN building in Vienna, and lobbied heavily inside. The same week, UNO, an Austrian NGO hosted a conference at the University in Vienna, but the manifestation IS the thing we should speak about. UN officials there cannot forget the colours they saw, the sketches of the creative NGOs showing exactly how prohibition messes up the lives of kids, adults and our cohesive communities. It was a wonderful sight to behold, and the police even seemed to be on our side!!!
So what now? We intend to go back to Vienna in 5 months during the commission on narcotic drugs meeting; this is the drug policy-making wing of the UN Drug bureaucracy. We want to hold a tribunal there, which will show clearly the results of our current oppressive and repressive drug policies.
WE HOPE U CAN ALL JOIN US
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