Statement by the Italian Minister of Justice and Head of Delegation, Hon. Andrea Orlando, at the Plenary Session of the UN General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016)
Thank you Mr. President, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
While aligning ourselves with the statement by the European Union, we would also like to make a few remarks in a national capacity.
Addressing the world drug problem is one of the great global challenges of our times. Since the entry into force of the drug conventions and the adoption of the Political Declaration in 2009, we have gained experience and new challenges have emerged. We thus need to adjust our domestic and international policies, strengthening projects that have proved to be effective and modifying those that have not, also in light of the Sustainable Development Goals.
This UNGASS is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the ultimate goal of the drug conventions: the health and welfare of mankind. We should make the best use of the Conventions’ flexibility so as to implement them in a more balanced, humane and effective way, assuring that our drug policies fully respect human rights and are truly health-oriented.
The international community must fully recognize drug use as a health issue and drug addiction as a chronic and treatable multifactorial health disorder that should be treated, not punished. Our approach should be pragmatic rather than ideological: a result-oriented approach that encourages States to promote public policies motivated by the criterion of effectiveness rather than demagoguery.
The human person must be the center of domestic drug policies. We must guarantee access to the full range of measures, including prevention, treatment, risk and harm reduction, rehabilitation, recovery and social reintegration, with special attention to women, youth, vulnerable groups and underserved populations, also in prison settings.
Prevention is a key investment for society as a whole, and families and schools play a crucial role in this regard. HIV/AIDS is still a huge problem among people who use and inject drugs: risk and harm reduction approaches have proved to be effective.
About three-quarters of the global population does not have access to proper pain relief treatment: this is one of the main shortcomings of the international drug control system, and it needs to be urgently addressed.
We must make sure that domestic criminal justice systems fully reflect the principle of proportionality enshrined in the Conventions. Italian law provides a list of alternatives to detention for minor cases and assures access to health care services, also in prison. Italy decriminalized the use of drugs for personal consumption many years ago. In January 2016 we also decriminalized some violations related to the growing of cannabis for medical purposes.
We are engaged in countering drug trafficking and its many links to other serious crimes, including corruption and terrorism. We encourage all Member States to further promote use of the tools provided for by the 1988 Convention and by the Palermo Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols to strengthen international judicial and law enforcement cooperation.
The implementation of Agenda 2030 requires renewed efforts to tackle the socioeconomic roots of the world drug problem in close cooperation with all the relevant stakeholders. Strong cooperation with the scientific community, civil society and the private sector is crucial to the drafting, implementation, monitoring and assessment of drug policies. We encourage all relevant international organizations, including FAO and IFAD, to step up their cooperation with the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
Italy firmly opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, including drug-related crimes, and we regret that Member States failed to address this crucial issue in the outcome document. We urge all countries that still have capital punishment for such crimes to adopt an immediate moratorium, as a first step toward its final abolition.
Thank you for Mr. President.