20 April 2016, New York – Intervention on behalf of the European Union at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS) Roundtable 1: Demand reduction and related measures, including prevention and treatment, as well as health-related issues, and ensuring the availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes, while preventing their diversion (“drugs and health”), delivered by Ms Florian Sipala, Head of unit, DG HOME, European Commission
Thank you, Mr. President, Executive Director, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The European Union has a long standing tradition of developing evidence-based policies on drugs. The available evidence leads us to conclude that drug policies should strike an appropriate balance, combining measures that curb the demand for and supply of drugs with full respect for human rights. UNGASS provides us with an opportunity to promote these ideas at international level and to generate momentum for putting them into practice.
We are happy to see that, as a result of discussions in preparation for UNGASS, the General Assembly is calling on Member States to reinforce the public health dimension of their national drug policies, including prevention, treatment, and access to controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes, thus aiming to have genuinely balanced drug policies. We consider this [recommendation as] one of the major achievements of UNGASS.
We are also glad to see that the UNGASS outcome document mentions a number of risk and harm reduction measures, including medication-assisted therapy programmes, injecting equipment programmes, antiretroviral therapy and nalaxone, and also makes a reference to other relevant interventions. We also welcome that this document invites Member States to consider providing access to these very important measures in various settings.
We would like to take this opportunity to emphasise once again that there is a vast amount of evidence and best practices developed in many countries across the world that demonstrate the effectiveness of risk and harm reduction measures. Today, evidence suggests clearly that these measures do not only improve the health of our people but also save lives. So if our aim is to promote and protect the health of our citizens and societies, we have NO excuse NOT TO apply these measures.
Therefore, the European Union strongly encourages Member States to make these measures available to their citizens where they do not yet exist and to increase their availability in those countries where they are already applied.
We look forward to exchanging experiences and sharing our best practices and lessons learned in this field.
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