International meeting addresses harmful social consequences of drugs, and responses from social, judicial and developmental actors
Mexico City / Vienna, 18 September 2015 - At an international conference currently being held in Mexico City, Government officials and experts from several United Nations entities, regional bodies and civil society organizations have gathered to discuss their experiences in addressing the harmful social consequences of illicit drug markets, such as violence, prison overcrowding, exclusion and the weakening of the social fabric of communities. The meeting takes place in the lead up to the April 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem (UNGASS).
The two-day meeting, organized by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and facilitated by UNODC, discusses trends, best practices and lessons learned on how best to prevent and revert the harmful social consequences of illicit drug markets within the framework of existing United Nations conventions and instruments.
At a panel discussion on the mandates and approaches of key international organizations, UNODC Deputy Executive Director, Aldo Lale-Demoz, reflected on the use of imprisonment for drug offenders. He stressed the benefits of health-oriented and evidence-based interventions for drug-using offenders, and more broadly of alternatives to imprisonment for non-violent minor drug offences, while targeting law enforcement and criminal justice resources toward the most serious offences. Female drug offenders, for example, are often low-level players in the global drug trade. Their incarceration has particularly detrimental effects, including on their families and communities. In this, Mr. Lale-Demoz highlighted that priority needs to be given to alternatives to imprisonment for female drug offenders in minor cases. He also stressed the essential role played by access to legal aid in ensuring that detention, imprisonment and their alternatives are adequately used.
During the panel discussion, the Deputy Executive Director additionally noted that with the adoption by the international community of the new Sustainable Development Goals fast approaching, and the 2016 UNGASS on the horizon, achieving tangible results on health, justice and sustainable social development will require the further promotion of effective, fair and humane drug and criminal justice policies. "This is consistent with the international conventions on drug control and transnational organized crime, as well as a robust body of relevant UN standards and norms," he concluded. Other panel discussions feature the experience of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Development Programme, the International Narcotics Control Board and numerous civil society, regional organizations and Government authorities.
For further information, please contact:
In Mexico City:
Antonio Mazzitelli, Representative: UNODC Liaison and Partnership Office in Mexico
Kevin Town, Public Information Officer