Regional drug strategies across the world explored in new EMCDDA paper

Comparative analysis of intergovernmental policies and approaches

The EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) has released today its first comparative analysis of regional drug strategies across the world (1). The paper explores the drug strategies and action plans adopted over the last five years by six intergovernmental organisations, engaging 148 countries in four continents (2). ‘When seen in the light of the current international drugs policy debate’, states the paper, ‘regional drug strategies may provide an important contribution for assessing the drugs problem at international level’.

International drug control has been consolidated over the last 50 years with the adoption, by United Nations (UN) member states, of three UN drug conventions (3) and two political declarations with corresponding action plans (4). The two action plans — endorsed in 1998 and 2009 — marked a change towards a more structured drug policy approach and called on UN member states to adopt comprehensive and balanced national drug strategies and establish regional mechanisms.

Although neither the UN political declarations nor the action plans explicitly require the creation of regional drug strategies, they may have provided the impetus for neighbouring countries to agree on a common regional approach. Indeed, the decade between 1998 and 2009 witnessed the appearance of intergovernmental (regional) drug plans and strategies involving a number of African and Asian countries, as well as the renewal of action plans and strategies in the Americas and Europe.

Drug strategies and action plans offer interesting insights, both when analysed individually and when compared across regions. Divided into two parts, today’s paper describes the way in which drug strategies are structured and addresses their main principles (e.g. respect for human rights; common and shared responsibility) and objectives (e.g. reducing the supply and demand for drugs).

  • Part I offers a comparative analysis of the documents selected, highlighting the differences and similarities in structure and content.
  • Part II profiles each intergovernmental organisation, describing its institutional structure, its drug strategy and action plan and regional coordination mechanism.

The purpose of the paper is to inform decision-makers, professionals and researchers working on international drug policy about the way in which countries of the same region have decided to strategically approach drug-related security, social and health problems. It looks at the main approaches to demand and supply reduction and analyses the manner in which these interventions are referred from region to region.