STATEMENTS DELIVERED AND CIRCULATED BY THE TRANSNATIONAL RADICAL PARTY BEFORE THE VIENNA UN COMMISSION ON NARCOTICS


Item 6 (c) Implementation of the International Drug Control Treaties International cooperation in order to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical purposes. 09.03.2000

The Transnational Radical Party wishes to draw the Commission's attention on two aspects of the drug question: freedom of speech and freedom of choice.

Freedom of speech:
On the eve of the internet era, when business, commerce, information, stock trading, consulting and advocacy travel through the world wide web, t is with great surprise that we have read the International Narcotic Control Board's recommendation that governments should adopt more strict rules on freedom of speech on the internet simply because there are websites with information on illicit drugs. Past experience has shown that censorship does not work, and that it is a costly exercise

Freedom of choice:
Throughout the 1990s, developed countries, particularly Europeans, have started several pilot projects to implement approaches to the drug question derived from the idea of reducing the widespread and systematic harm caused by drug abuse. Among the most significant and effective, we have seen the creation of safe environments where drug users and abusers are allowed to inject narcotics in a sterile place.

The main objectives of these experiments take into consideration is the need to find viable solutions to the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic as well as other diseases, the separation of ill individuals from an unsafe and criminal environment in which drug addicts usually gravitate and last but not least, the monitoring of such habits with the view of initiating eventual individual treatments.

In the 1999 INCB Report several recommendations are made to the 153 States parties to the 1988 UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances to respect and implement the provisions contained in those document. In that same section, the INCB states that tolerant approaches to the drug question, as well as injecting rooms, could facilitate illicit drug trafficking.

Any time these pilot projects are conceived, launched and implemented, the main motivations have always been the research of alternative ways to deal with the drug problem and its different aspects.

Past experience has shown that the provision of a wide range of facilities for the treatment of drug abuse in line with sound medical practice as suggested by the 1999 INCB Report (E/INCB/1999/1, pg. 27) has not been effective enough in countering the illicit trafficking and consumption of narcotics. But also that there is no consensus in the medical community on what constitutes a sound medical practice. As an example of the latter, in 1997, the Transnational Radical Party circulated a petition called the "Paris Appeal" which emphasized the need to ensure freedom of therapy for physicians in the treatment of drug addicts. The document was endorsed by hundreds of respected practitioners as well as medical doctors all over Europe.

Recent news have confirmed that plans to set up safe injecting rooms for heroin addicts will go ahead in at least three Australian cities, including Sydney and Melbourne, in future months. Australia will add its name to the list of other states such as The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Germany which all have experimented with injection rooms in the past as a way to limit the spread of infectious disease, decrease risk of overdose, and get drug users off the street.

The centers are considered integral to a "harm reduction" approach to drug policies, which seeks to reduce the damage done both by drugs and by criminal-justice driven prohibitionist policies.

We salute Mr. Garry Humphreys, Health Minister of Canberra, for his outspoken response to the INCB criticism and we commend those who are of the view that plans for safe injecting rooms are consistent with their countries international obligations and urge them to join forces in re-launching these projects all over the world.

Other projects have recently been launched, always after a "bi-partisan" agreement in: Spain, where at the beginning of this year Injecting Rooms have been integrated in the "National Plan On Drugs" (Piano nacional sobre la droga) and in Germany, where on February 25, the German Parliament voted to legalize safe "Fixer Rooms" (Fixerstube) for drug users in cities that have their state's approval for the programs. It must be noted that in the past 10 years some 13 Injecting Rooms were "illegally" operational throughout Spain but tolerated by the local police. Moreover, always at the end of February in Canada, in order to try to face the worst hepatitis C epidemic in the Western world, health experts have called for the creation of North America's first site for the safe injection of illegal drugs.

We fully endorse British Columbia health officer Dr. Perry Kendall's position, who recently stated that "We have to stop looking at [the drug question] as a criminal issue rather than a health issue". Mr. Kendall's comments followed the disclosure by a leading AIDS specialist that up to 90 per cent of injection drug users in British Colubia are infected with hepatitis C - the highest reported rate in the Western world, according to the director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

In conclusion Mr. Chairman, The Transnational Radical Party wishes to bring to the attention of this august body the fact that in the majority of the cases in which - from the United States to Switzerland to Italy - common sense policies on drugs have been presented to the electorate, as propositions or referenda, informed citizens have always opted for reforms including the legalization of medical marijuana as well as the decriminalization of non-violent drug related offences.

For all these reasons, we call on all progressive governments that have experimented Drug Injection Rooms to express their views on this subject at the 43rd session of the CND, and to promptly provide the Commission, as well as the INCB, with data and their official evaluation on the above-mentioned projects. Evidence is on their side and is hardly disputable.




Item 5 (c) Illicit Drug Traffic and Supply - world situation with regard to drug trafficking and reports of subsidiary body of the Commission 09.03.2000

Ever since its first participation in the negotiations of the CND the Transnational Radical Party has always expressed its concerns on the overall approach that the international community, with the adoption of the UN Conventions on drugs, has decided to pursue, an approach that in the last 30 years has not produced any benefit nor one of the objectives envisioned in those international treaties.

Since the adoption of the first international conventions, illicit drug trafficking and drug production have increased on a yearly basis the world over. And this happened despite the eventual adoption of tougher conventions by UN Member States and an incredible increase in the amount of public money spent in law enforcement as well as in other policies aimed at eradicating crops, promoting alternative development, toughening bank controls to counter money laundering and the like. Over the last three decades, production and consumption have skyrocketed all over the world, creating additional problems to countries that were, and/or still are, trying to cope with natural calamities and international or internal conflicts. Despite there seems to be a timid shift in national policies, particularly in Europe, the international situation remains firmly rooted in rigid prohibition.

The principles of prohibition have been re-affirmed and strengthened at the UN General Assembly Special Session of June 1998, where, under the leadership of United Nations International Drug Control Programme, the international community launched a solemn declaration to eradicate drugs, from the face of the earth by 2008. But what has happened during the last two years? Despite the solemnity with which the General Assembly adopted the 1998 declaration and the eventual plan of action, the UNDCP has failed to published its World Drug Report in 1999, which should have given us reliable data regarding the first year of the "drug-free" era. "The General Assembly's Special Session on international drug control, scheduled for June, would start the real war against drugs and convince nations and people that there can be a drug free world" said Mr. Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director of the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention on the eve of the UNGASS.

Some figures have nevertheless been released by the UNDCP itself as well as by the International Narcotics Control Board and they all confirm the concerns expressed by the Transnational Radical Party throughout the preparation of the Drug Forum of 1998. We believed, and still believe, that the idea of the eradication of crop was, and still remains, questionable, if not counterproductive, and ours is not propaganda, ours is a reading of indisputable evidence.

Allow me, Mr. Chairman to clarify our views drawing the Commission's attention to the Afghan case, which could be a good example of this evidence. According to a report released on 28 February of this year, and prepared by the UNDCP for a meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York of Afghanistan's six neighbors, plus the United States and Russia, the so-called group of "Six plus Two", Afghanistan is not only the world's largest producer of opium but it is also becoming a major manufacturer of heroin.

In fact, Talibans have proven unwilling or unable to ban opium poppy cultivation and heroin manufacture. Talibans continue to collect taxes on harvested opium poppy crop and manufactured heroin. In recent UN surveys it is stated that approximately 75% of the world production of opium takes place in Afghanistan with cultivation spreading to new zones "In Afghanistan, the area under illicit cultivation of opium poppy seems to have exceeded 90,000 hectares in the 1998/1999 growing season; it thus increased by over 40% compared with the 1997/1998 growing season" INCB Reports (E/INCB/1999/1, pg. 52). In 1999, the first year of the "drug-free" era, the production of illicit crops reached a record level of about 4,600 tons, enough to meet the annual demand for opium and heroin in the region, Western Europe and the United States twice over according to UNDCP Executive Director Mr. Pino Arlacchi.

The "Six plus Two" group (made of: Pakistan, China, Tagikhistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran plus the Russian Federation and the U.S) with a mandate to find a solution to the Afghan "civil" war, has recently agreed to make a "useful contribution" to addressing Afghanistan's drug-related problems and that the UNDCCP should play a key role in facilitating their activities. The Transnational Radical Party would like to emphasize that there can be no durable peace unless justice is pursued and wishes to take this opportunity to remind this august body that the ruling Taliban militia has overthrown the legitimate government with the use of violence. As of today, only a couple of UN member states, among which Pakistan, member of the contact group, have formally recognized illegal regime, but not by the United Nations itself.

The initiation of a peace process in that country will have to take into account that fundamental human rights have been -and still are - systematically violated in the last years by a group that is now considered a possible solution to the problem. The Transnational Radical Party believes that the views on how to eliminate drug production and trafficking out of Afghanistan through a comprehensive and balanced plan will also have to take into consideration the respect of human rights in that country. If that will not be the case, all ideas shared by the group on how to promote regional cooperation including exchanging information, training law enforcement personnel, and tightening controls on chemical precursors and essential chemicals used for the manufacture of heroin and morphine base, will prove useless as they already have in the past at the cost of human lives and the international rule of law.

In a context such as the Afghan one, the estimated $62 million planned for the next four years by the UNDCCP and the $25 million foreseen for alternative development assistance for the next five years risk to be wasted or invested without the minimum possibility of an effective or reliable monitoring system, funding the Taliban militia, therefore producing additional harm to an already thorn population.

Based on the evidence of the last two years, the Transnational Radical Party is of the view that that money should not be allocated to those projects in Afghanistan. Considered the fact that, to date, there is no coherent information about the cooperation between the UNDCP and other UN agencies such as UNDP or UNICEF (which before Christmas came under attack) in that region, if, as foreseeable, the money will be invested in Afghanistan, the CND, and its Member States, should do their utmost to ensure that a special co-ordination between the various UN entities be put in place for all the alternative development projects that will be launched in the future. The Transnational Radical Party is of the opinion that a Special Rapporteur should also be appointed to asses the effectiveness of these projects and prepare a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of the cost-benefit aspect of the whole exercise in the short as well as in the medium term, as originally requested by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1995/40 of 27 July 1995.

Moreover, we hope that the group of "Six plus Two", at its next technical meeting in Vienna in the month of April under the aegis of the UNDCP, will also look into this crucial aspect of the Afghan question, and we call on UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast to ensure that the eradication of crops in a country difficult to seal off because of its mountainous borders, even through the creation of a well armed "security belt" will not overrule the enjoyment of fundamental human rights.

In conclusion Mr. Chairman, the example of Afghanistan is only one of the many evidences of the "victimization " of countries and individuals by the War on Drugs. Other could have been the examples, but the scenarios would have been the same: Columbia, Burma and other South American or Asian countries. In all these nations policies of supply reduction have contributed more to the eradication of human rights and the rule of law, producing harm, than to the control of narcotic substances. The time has come to reverse this unfortunate decision making process, before it is too late.




45th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs: Statement under item: 3 (a) before the Strengthening and Sustainability of Alternative development programmes, including preventive alternative development, within the framework of international cooperation; experience gained in collaboration with the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, other United Nations entities and bilateral technical assistance programmes regarding best practices and lessons learned in different reasons. 11-15.03.2002 .

At this time the Transnational Radical Party wishes to draw the Commission's attention on an alarming situation which is the result of the implementation of some alternative development programmes carried out in Latin America. Despite the official data released at different times by former UNDCP Executive Director Mr. Pino Arlacchi, the overall situation in Bolivia was, and still is, far from the exemplary experiment of successful alternative development to substitute Coca leaves production. In fact, Bolivia, after having suffered sporadic drug-related incidents over the last decade, has recently seen an escalation of violence between its authorities and the producers of that traditional product. The most worrying clashes happened during some riots near the city of Cochabamba on 17 and 18 January 2002, where four policemen were killed in what appeared to be the response of a furious crowd against State's repression.
These violent events are only the latest in a trend of stern repression of the cultivation of Coca leaves in a Country in which such an activity is an important part of the indigenous culture.
On 22 January 2002, security officers confiscated the transmitter of the coca growers' radio station. Officers left a notification stating that the permanent expropriation of the approximately $19,000 of equipment was because the station lacked the appropriate paperwork and permission. It is rare for radio stations in rural areas to function with all the necessary permits. Moreover, a photographer from the "Opinion" newspaper was injured as well as a reporter from "La Razon" for taking pictures of the incident. A Channel 13 reporter was also shot.

Moreover, on Thursday 23 January 2002, the Honorable Evo Morales Ayma, Member of the Bolivia Parliament and leader of the Co-ordination of Six Federations of coca growing peasants, was removed from Congress after having been accused of being the 'intellectual author' of violent acts committed by demonstrators defending their right to grow and sell coca leaves. The case was eventually settled not after an international outcry and actions undertaken in international fora such as the European Parliament. We are looking forward to the upcoming elections in Bolivia hoping that drug-control policies will not interfere with the national political process.

The international community should not tolerate the fact that for the sake of promoting alternative development, countries go as far as suspending their constitutional rights.
Another situation that we would like to bring to the attention of the Commission is the Peruvian one, where despite some initial successes of alternative development programmes, the situation is currently experiencing some setbacks. In fact, the reduction of supply of coca leaves has made it, once again, one of the most profitable crops in the region. Several campesinos live off coca and pay for their harvest with coca money. There seems to be no life without coca for these people.
According to Peruvian and United Nations anti-drug officials, in at least two river valleys in Peru, for the first time in years, coca is making a comeback. This trend does not necessarily mean that anti-drugs efforts in the Andes are failing, but it does point out how fleeting victories can be in a drug war where national boundaries do not scare traffickers who can shift their crop across remote regions.
Peru is suffering what most experts call the "balloon effect", which means that, given the continuing demand for cocaine, eradication in one place simply pushes coca growing to another.
We urge Members and Observer States of the Commission to take into consideration these facts in their thematic debate, which is mandated to follow up to the Action plan on International Cooperation on the Eradication of Illicit Drug Crops and on Alternative Development adopted at the Special Session of the General Assembly.

On that occasion for years ago, the Transnational Radical Party presented a critical statement and circulated its own assessment of the task ahead. We voiced our concerns on the effectiveness of the so-called alternative development projects, namely those promoted in Latin American and Afghanistan. Recent events are unfortunately confirming our concerns.

To conclude Mr. Chairman, we believe that in assessing these emblematic situations, Commission members will be guided by common sense and pragmatism and will initiate a dialogue with those who advocate a reform of international drug-laws. The Transnational Radical Party believes that all follow ups as well as future programmes should undergo a preliminary evaluation in a cost-effectiveness framework and should not be guided by an ideology-driven approach.




45th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs: Statement under item: 4 Preparations for the ministerial segment to be scheduled at the 46th session of the Commission, Including the theme, content and organization of the segment. 11-15.03.2002
As regards the theme of the Ministerial Segment scheduled for next year when Member States will be asked to provide a national assessment of the implementation of the declaration adopted at the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS), the Transnational Radical Party urges the Commission to critically review the language of the convocation slogan that convened the international community to debate narcotics in June 1998. In all its documents released over the last three and a half years, UN Drug Agencies have given incontestable evidence of the failures of drug eradication, therefore persisting in a propaganda-driven approach, such as the one contained in the slogan "A Drug Free World, We Can Do It". The persistence of such superficial statements can seriously undermine all efforts aimed at responding to the drug question and damage the image of the UN in different fora.

With regard to the content of the Ministerial Segment, the TRP wishes to take this opportunity to suggest to include in the preparatory phases mechanisms to allow independent reports to be heard during the Commissions sessions that will lead to the 2003 Meeting. Those should include watchdogs, research and documentation centres, regional bodies and parliaments, local administrations as well as Non-governmental Organisations.

Lastly, for what concerns the organization of the Ministerial Segment, the TRP wishes to remind Commission members that four years ago, at the United Nations Headquarters where the international community was convened to decide on how to achieve a drug-free world in ten years, NGOs were not allowed to hold their parallel fora inside the building. In fact, they were only allowed given an opportunity to carry out their consultative role inside a building across the street of the UN in New York where there was not a single diplomat or expert.

In conclusion, Mme. Chair, we call on Commission members hoping that in 2003 a new type of collaboration will be possible between Member States, the UN and independent entities in order to share different - at time possibly conflicting views - in an environment where dialogue not censorship is the praxis, confident as we are that education will lead to commonsensical policy reforms.




45th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs: Statement under item: 3 (b) Sustainability of Alternative development programmes, for the elimination or significant reduction of illicit drug crops: links with international cooperation and the political framework, including long-term commitment, to support (1) poverty eradication, (ii) access to markets, (iii) initiatives for the reduction of illicit drug demand, (iv) law enforcement initiatives as a complement to alternative development and (v) protection of the environment; comparative approaches and experiences in various regions. 11-15.03.2002
At this time the Transnational Radical Party would like to draw the Commission's attention on the collaboration carried out by UNDCP with non-democratic countries in South East Asia and presented in the Report of the Executive Director , E/cn.7/2002/6, entitled "Follow up to the Action Plan on International Co-operation on the Eradication of Illicit Drug Crops and on Alternative Development.

The Transnational Radical Party has been following closely the civil and political rights situation in countries such as Viet Nam and Laos and is surprised to learn that the mere fact that freedoms and human rights are systematically violated in those countries has not been taken into consideration by the UNDCP in developing its programmes of alternative development in that region.

We would like to bring to your attention the recent experiences of the members of the TRP.
In June 2001, Hon. Olivier Dupuis, MEP, TRP Secretary General was arrested for simply trying to accompany the deputy chief of the Buddhist unified church of Vietnam in a national march.
In October 2001, Mr. Dupuis, together with other four members of the TRP, Ms. Silvja Manzi, Mr. Nikolaij Khramov, Mr. Massimo Lensi and Mr. Bruno Mellano were arrested in Vientiane for protesting the October 1999 arrest and disappearance of student leaders demonstrating for democracy and human rights. The radical representatives were held for 2 weeks before being tried and sentenced to 5 years each for "creating social turmoil." The sentences were commuted, and they were expelled from the country.
Myanmar is a country ruled by a military Junta that keeps Nobel Peace Prize Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under confinement for simply having opposed in a nonviolent way a coup d´Etat.


The TRP does not support the implementation of alternative development programmes, not only because it believes that drugs are dangerous because are illegal, but also because it is of the opinion that subsidised economies in countries where the rule of law is non existing can, in the long run, create even more problems than the ones they are supposed to solve.

Nevertheless, if international co-operation should be fostered in South East Asia, this should happen in a context in which fundamental human rights are granted, otherwise any long-term commitment to support poverty eradication, initiatives for the reduction of illicit drug demand are destined to failure. The TRP is also concerned that law enforcement initiatives intended as a complement to alternative development might embitter the overall "security" situation in countries where individual rights depend on State's magnanimity. In this regard the TRP would welcome additional information regarding opium-producing ethnic minorities as stated in the Report of the Executive Director, as we believe that those indigenous people are misrepresented in the document.
The Transnational Radical Party is of the opinion that there can be no development, let alone alternative development, without freedom and democracy. Any type of project or programme that will imply the active participation of citizens as stated in document E/cn.7/2002/6 cannot occur in a totalitarian regime.

To conclude, We wonder how is it possible that states of police such as Myanmar, Viet Nam and Laos exercise any control on the production of illicit substances and call on all major donors to those countries to monitor the implementation of their bilateral as well as multilateral agreements to ensure that the so-called "Human Rights Clause" is fully implemented and those countries abide to the international documents to which they are party.