The International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP) presented the third phase of the Cooperation Programme between Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union on Drug Policies (COPOLAD III) at the 22nd political dialogue meeting held by the CELAC-EU Drug Coordination and Cooperation Mechanism.
The mechanism provides a space for dialogue between Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union with the aim of identifying common priorities and coordinating policies to deal with challenges related to the global drug problem. COPOLAD III, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by FIIAPP in alliance with the Italo-Latin American Institute (IILA), is directly linked to the mechanism, as it contributes to promoting its work and providing it with technical content.
On this occasion, the 22nd high-level meeting was held virtually on 22 June. It analysed the connection between drug policies and development in the countries of the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean, looking at the latest reports of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). Its director, Alexis Goosdeel, defined the current illegal drug market in the European Union as “resilient, robust and more digital” and explained how the COVID-19 pandemic has barely affected demand.
Javier Sagredo, the director of COPOLAD III, presented the main thrust of the programme, which will facilitate the joint work of the participating countries in various areas of drug policy – the provision of specialist technical assistance and processes to discuss and improve public policies to ensure that they are consistent with aspects related to sustainable development, human rights, public health, gender equality and public safety. “Drug policies cannot create negative impact on development. On the contrary, they should facilitate progress towards the major sustainable development goals, especially those that are further behind in terms of progress” he said.
Also present at the meeting was Europol, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, which highlighted the increase in high-volume seizures at European ports and the increased use of technology and digital tools.
Representatives of EU member states also took part, including Spain, Portugal and France, who presented the approaches of their national drug policies and plans, with a strongly consolidated focus on responses from public health in line with the new EU Drugs Strategy 2021-2025. The German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) highlighted its operational approach, which is implemented from the perspective of drug policies based on sustainable development. It also presented some relevant aspects in the area of gender equality in the programmes in which it collaborates in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The representative of the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Partnerships, Eric Beaume, underlined the importance of the sustainable development approach, especially in these times of public health, social and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the framework of the dialogue, some promising progress in innovative initiatives in the region were presented. For example, El Salvador is developing its network of outpatient treatment and care facilities for addicts, Uruguay is focusing on treatment and reintegration interventions which are progressively focused on improving the quality of care while Peru is training addiction treatment professionals to deal with the specific needs of women and the LGBTI population. Paraguay has introduced a new regulation on the legal hemp market, Trinidad and Tobago is focusing its national policy on acting in urban contexts with alternative development strategies to tackle illegal micro-trafficking activities and Costa Rica has a drugs strategy that is directly linked to the Sustainable Development Goals.
To sum up, here are the words of the representative of Mexico, the country that co-chairs the mechanism: “It is necessary to have fairer, more humane and more effective drug policies linked to the great United Nations objectives of peace, security, human rights and development”.
The European Commission is preparing a third phase of this programme, therefore COPOLAD will be back at the beginning of 2021.