Pubdate: Sun, 17 Apr 2016
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2016 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Ed Vulliamy


The president of Colombia will this week present a plan for the 
complete and radical overhaul of global policy towards drug 
trafficking and organised crime at a special session of the United 
Nations general assembly. Unveiling his proposals in the Observer 
today, Juan Manuel Santos said urgent measures were needed to bring 
about "a more effective, lasting and human solution" to the misery 
and crisis of narco-traffic.

The most sensational element in Santos's presentation is the 
announcement that his government will - as a result of a four-year 
peace process soon to bear fruit as a peace treaty  be implementing 
its own domestic struggle against narco-traffic alongside its bitter 
enemies, the Marxist guerillas of Farc. The group admits to having 
funded its war by what it calls "taxation" of narco-profits.

Santos says: "Colombia is close to reaching an agreement to end the 
60-year armed conflict with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de 
Colombia [Farc, the world's longest-running guerilla insurgency] an 
agreement which is of special relevance to this discourse on the 'war 
on drugs'.

"In post-conflict Colombia, Farc will change from being an obstacle 
for effective action to a key ally of the government in contributing 
to illicit crops substitution, provision of information on routes and 
production facilities and de-mining efforts to facilitate eradication 
of coca production. That in itself is a game changer."

The president's wider appeal demands a fundamental rewriting of 
global policy on drugs, dealing and the laundering of drugs money. 
"We have done much," he says, "but this cannot be an effort by one 
country alone. Vested with the moral authority of leading the nation 
that has carried the heaviest burden in the global war on drugs, I 
say the time has come for the world to transit into a different approach."

His first point turns current thinking entirely on its head: he calls 
for leaders "to frame policy on drugs with a context of human rights, 
which stops victimising the victims of drug abuse".

A second proposal aims to make it easier for nations to reform their 
drug laws in accordance to specific needs and threats to populations, 
rather than being straitjacketed by international conventions. Though 
such reforms may "occur outside the international conventions, 
controlled experiments in regulating the drug markets should continue 
to develop, and be monitored by UN agencies" . This opens the way to 
legalisation or relaxation of laws on punishment and possession.

The third element challenges the global community to adopt "a more 
comprehensive approach" to the drugs crisis. "We need a transition .. 
to introduce a public health framework to the treatment of drug 
consumption focusing on prevention, attention, rehabilitation and 
resocialisation of drug abusers," says Santos.

In countries such as Colombia, where many livelihoods depend on drug 
production, Santos urges "social and economic alternatives" that will 
"create the necessary conditions to bring them back to legality".
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom