UNGASS: Argentina’s position on drug policies

Joint statement* ahead of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs held April 19 to 21.

The Argentine position in international debates about drug policy

Document submitted to Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra and Security Minister Patricia Bullrich

The UNGASS on Drugs, an international summit organized to discuss the failed “war on drugs,” which has generated high levels of violence over the last 40 years without reducing drug trafficking, will begin next Tuesday. Thanks to the efforts of several Latin American countries, the UNGASS on drugs was pushed ahead three years in response to the urgent need to discuss a new paradigm. Other countries insist on prohibition.

The human rights violations caused by this failed crusade are evident: 60,000 deaths and more than 25,000 disappeared in Mexico since the militarized fight against drug trafficking began in 2006, in addition to countless murders in the rest of Latin America and exponential growth of the prison population in many countries of the region.

The debate at UNGASS will have important consequences for the region and for Argentina regarding drug policies. For that reason, on Wednesday, April 13, the Convergence Group,* an organization dedicated to address matters related to security, defense and international relations, and Intercambios, a non-governmental organization that studies and addresses the problems related to drugs, and CELS sent a document to Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra and Security Minister Patricia Bullrich Security.

We believe that Argentina must reflect on the lessons learned in other Latin American and Caribbean countries and accompany unconditionally the global cry that the international system adopts new strategies. Placing human rights at the core of the solution involves implementing an effective change in government responses in terms of resources, budgets and legal frameworks to transform a punitive system into one that favors human health and a reduction in violence.

The national government will explain its position in the international debate planned for next week. Domestically, the government has already explained some of its policies, which are disturbing. The executive branch declared a “security emergency” by decree, characterizing drugs as a “threat to national sovereignty.” Furthermore it is apparently willing to contemplate new powers for the armed forces and has granted the military authorization to shoot down suspected smugglers’ aircrafts. These measures are in line with the most challenged positions upheld by the old paradigm. If the country is to be internationally credible and contribute to a new reflection on the subject, then it must modify the actions and trends that today characterize the government’s anti-drug approach.

* The Convergence Group’s founding members are Agustín Colombo Sierra, Nicolás Comini, Enrique Del Percio, Ernesto López, Juan López Chorne, Pablo Martínez, Germán Montenegro, José Paradiso, Rául Sánchez Antelo, Luis Tibiletti, Juan Gabriel Tokatlian and José María Vásquez Ocampo.