WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
15 Dec 2011 | News

New Report Published on Drug Policy Alternatives in Latin America and the United States

Today the Carter Center and International IDEA released a report, Drug Policy in the Andes: Seeking Humane and Effective Alternatives, co-authored by WOLA Senior Fellow Coletta Youngers and Colombian scholar Socorro Ramírez; see press release below. Both Youngers and Ramírez are members of the Andean-U.S. Dialogue Forum, which released this declaration.

We would also like to share with you a letter from The Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform on the need to develop a new drug policy approach. This public letter, which was published in key British news outlets in late November, was signed by former President of the United States and Nobel prize winner, Jimmy Carter.


Dec. 15, 2011 
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New Report Published on Drug Policy Alternatives in Latin America
and the United States

A report published today – Drug Policy in the Andes: Seeking Humane and Effective Alternatives -proposes innovative policy changes to address drug trafficking in Latin America and the United States.
The report was written by two members of the Andean-U.S. Dialogue Forum, a citizens' forum supported by The Carter Center and International IDEA to identify and contribute solutions to multilateral problems and tensions among the Andean region countries and the United States. Using the forum’s rich reflections as a point of departure, two group members with decades of experience in drug policy – Socorro Ramírez and Coletta Youngers – developed the report to contribute to open debate on this complex subject.
“The report authored by Coletta Youngers and Socorro Ramírez draws on unique dialogue among forum members; in-depth interviews with a wide variety of actors in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela; and existing research to examine the challenges that drug trafficking presents and to recommend steps that the region can take along with the United States to address the problems,” said Jennifer McCoy, director of the Americas Program at The Carter Center.
Their report includes the following recommendations:

  • broaden the discussion on alternative drug policies;
  • consolidate dialogue and agreements among Andean countries;
  • redirect resources towards integral rural development through policies that are adjusted to each local context in order  to reduce the cultivation  of crops destined for illicit markets;
  • develop strong education and health policies to prevent the consumption of drugs while improving treatment available to problematic users;
  • decriminalize personal consumption and explore alternatives to incarceration for those who commit minor, nonviolent offenses; and
  • strengthen mechanisms that protect democratic institutions to prevent them from illicit political financing through drug trafficking.

“During the four decade-long ‘war on drugs’, there have been few battlegrounds harder hit than the Andes. There is growing consensus at the global level that this transnational threat is growing and that cross-border dialogue and responses are key to meaningful progress,” said Kristen Sample, Andean Region Head of Mission for International IDEA. 
The Andean-U.S. Dialogue Forum members include leaders of civic organizations, social movements, academic institutions, media organizations, the military, the private sector, parliaments, and former government officials.
Forum members discussed this report and the recent report issued by the Global Commission on Drug Policy at their last meeting and agreed on a set of recommendations described in the attached declaration.
The full report is available on the International IDEA and The Carter Center websites.
International IDEA: http://www.idea.int/publications/drug-policy-in-the-andes/index.cfm
The Carter Center: http://cartercenter.org/peace/americas/andean-us-dialogue-forum/index.html