At our core, CADCA is committed to defending the human right to a healthy life. And we believe that the key to this is building safe, healthy and drug-free communities. This is why, for the past 23 years, we have made this our mission. And thankfully, we are regarded highly enough to be invited to the international table to discuss the importance of a community-based approach to preventing and reducing illicit drug use. It has been an honor and a tremendous responsibility to attend the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in New York this week.
One voice that resonated with UNGASS attendees was that of veteran Brazilian coalition member Eliane Prado Marcondes. The CADCA member addressed the civil society at Thursday’s plenary session.
Marcondes represented the Association Pro Coalitions of Brazil, an umbrella organization which is a partner of CADCA. She told the UN about her experiences in helping to establish coalitions throughout her country. She has learned what all of our coalition stateside members have learned: “We need to create local solutions to local problems.”
Marcondes’ remarks covered the fact that her fellow Brazilians have very little in the way of drug prevention and a treatment system which is inadequate to meet their needs. According to research from the University of São Paulo, there are more than one million crack users in her country. She believes that we must continue to increase resources towards preventing drug use and recognizing that prevention is worth the investment.
World leaders seem to agree. At Tuesday’s opening plenary, for example, Werner Sipp, the President of the International Narcotics Control Board, told the audience that the global drug problem effects all humanity and that the conventions never called for a war on drugs or repressive policies. Mr. Sipp called for a balanced, evidence-based approach that reduces demand and prevents youth from initiation.
Just like Marcondes shared, the world’s drug experts know that change takes time. Coalitions and CADCA know that approaching demand reduction in this way saves money, of course, but most importantly, saves lives.
Last month, CADCA also joined leaders from more than 50 countries in discussing the importance of maintaining the UN drug conventions at the 59th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria. CADCA is one of a few U.S.-based non-government organizations (NGO) that have consultative status with the UN and is a member of the Vienna NGO Committee.
Our world has a drug problem, whether it is crack in Brazil, or opiates and heroin here in our own backyard. CADCA will continue to strive to educate leaders at all levels about the need for a truly comprehensive approach to dealing with the world’s drug problem and the criticality of having primary prevention at its core, here and abroad. And we at CADCA are thankful that leaders at the UNGASS reaffirm their support and commitment to the goals and objectives of the three UN conventions.
Gen. Dean is CADCA’s Chairman and CEO