The African Union has launched the Global Dialogue on Drug Demand Reduction between Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. It was launched on the side-lines of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP) conference “Uniting the Global Community to Face the Challenge of Addiction” which took place from May 12-16 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The launch of the Dialogue reaffirms the commitment of the African Union to addressing the problems of drug demand reduction and enhancing multilateral cooperation to tackle this pressing issue.
The Director of Social Development, Culture and Sports of the African Union Commission (AUC), Cisse Mariama Mohamed, presided over the ceremony on behalf of Cessouma Minata Samate, the African Union Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, in the presence of representatives of partner organisations in the area of drug control: Adam Namm, Executive Secretary, the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD); Dr. Benjamin Reyes, Secretary-General, The Colombo Plan; and .Brian Morales, Branch Chief, Counternarcotics, Office of Global Programs and Policy, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, US State Department, as well as Experts on drug use epidemiology from AU Member States.
In her opening statement, Director Cisse underscored the need to explore and collaborate in sharing tangible ideas to improve drug dependency prevention, treatment and care. “We are aware of unprecedented and mounting common challenges and this Global Dialogue is an opportunity to strengthen our collaboration and partnership for purpose – A partnership for a common future, for solidarity, for peace, sustainable development and prosperity of our citizens and future generations, bringing together our people, regions and organisations“. She further added that “The Global Dialogue is, therefore, a space for us to explore and interrogate thoughts on how Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean can find mutual working opportunities that benefit our people both today and in the future. A joint, multilateral approach that can only work if we come together and align our efforts”.
The launch of the Dialogue is an important initiative in line with the African Union Commission’s fundamental role to coordinate, monitor and evaluate implementation of the African Union Plan of Action on Drug Control and Crime Prevention (2019-2023), the overall objective of which is to improve the health, security and socio-economic well-being of the people of Africa by addressing drug trafficking and problematic drug use in all its forms and manifestations and preventing the onset of drug use.
The Action Plan is based on the following nine pillars that entail its various objectives as well as outline the activities/measures by the AU in the domain of reducing drug demand: 1) Measures to tackle drug demand reduction and health issues associated with drug use, focusing on prevention and treatment of drug use with provisions for training of workers and professionals in these fields, parental skills training, life skills training for children and young people, reducing harm associated with drug use and implementing alternatives to punishment for drug use; 2) Availability and access to controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes while preventing their diversion, with emphasis on erasing barriers that suppress accessibility to medicines, including for the relief of pain and suffering, as well as reducing non-medical use of medicines and availability of counterfeit medicines; 3) Measures to address drug supply reduction along with countering enablers of drug trafficking: firearms, corruption and money laundering which addresses illicit trafficking in drugs, drug law enforcement and intelligence sharing and ratification of AU instruments on combating corruption, money laundering, terrorism and trafficking in small arms; 4) Measures to address crime prevention and criminal justice reform, with emphasis on international cooperation on combating transnational organized crime, fighting emerging organized crime such as cybercrime, rise in gangs, extortion, violence and criminal governance; 5) Cross cutting issues on drugs and human rights pertaining to all vulnerable groups, especially youth, women, children and communities, and this pillar provides; 6) focusses on countering the availability and use of sale of drugs through the internet, and the importance of interregional forensic drug testing cooperation; 7) Alternative development and alternative means of livelihood, also targeting grower communities in the agricultural sector with a specific focus on Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for youth and women employment; 8) International and regional cooperation based on the principle of common and shared responsibility which makes provision for engagement with international partners for technical and financial support, for participation in regional, continental and international fora and for fast-tracking of extradition and mutual legal assistance arrangements; and 9) Continental, regional and national management, oversight, reporting, monitoring and evaluation of the AU Plan of Action which entails action by the African Union Commission to account to the AU Policy Organs.
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