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OAS-European Union Summit an Unprecedented Step in Drug Control at the City Level

April 15, 2010

For the first time in the framework of the Organization of American States (OAS), more than 300 mayors, international experts and authorities on drug control from 41 cities and 34 countries of Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean will meet to address the conflicts caused by drugs in society and the role that cities must play in the search for their solutions.

The event, to be held in Lugo, Spain, from April 21 to 23, is an unprecedented step in the context of international collaboration against drugs at the city level and seeks to improve treatment services for people with drug addictions as well as their reintegration into society. Furthermore, it represents the possibility of a new stage in the understanding of the responsibilities of local governments towards people with drug addictions and of the role of cities in the search for solutions to social problems caused by drug abuse.

The “Drugs Summit of European, Latin American and Caribbean Mayors and Cities” is a collaborative effort of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the OAS and the European Union that will convene, among others, João Goulão, Portuguese National Coordinator on Drugs and Chairman of the Management Board of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA); Ricardo Peidró Conde, Ambassador on Special Mission for the Coordination of Iberoamerican Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (on behalf of the Spanish Presidency of the European Union); Carmen Moya, Head of the Spanish National Drug Plan (Ministry of Health and Social Policy); Edward Greene, Assistant Secretary-General, Directorate of Human and Social Development, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat; Gustavo Béliz, Modernization of State Lead Specialist, Representing the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); José Ramón Granero, Secretary of State, SEDRONAR, Argentina; Rodrigo Guerrero, Former Mayor of Cali, Colombia; José López Orozco, Mayor of Lugo, Spain; and Alexandre Addor-Neto, Secretary of the OAS Secretariat for Multidimensional Security

Secretary Addor-Neto highlighted the importance of the project of city partnerships against drugs that is the framework of the Lugo Summit. The project has achieved significant progress on the discussion of treatment through drug courts, which offer an alternative to incarceration. “In Lugo we are going to launch a publication on these drug courts, a collection of the experiences of 12 countries around the world,” he stated. “Though these experiences are recent in some countries it seems clear to me that the results achieved are sufficiently strong to recommend their adoption more or less universally.”

More information on the project, known as the “EU-LAC Drug Treatment City Partnerships,” is available here. here.

The Executive Secretary of the CICAD, Ambassador James Mack, indicated that the cities participating in the Summit have been collaborating among themselves for the last two years with the goal of approaching the best way to provide treatment and rehabilitation services within their communities. “We have until now made great progress in the search for this objective, and it is now at the Lugo Summit that we are planning what steps to take in the future,” the head of the CICAD announced. “Drug addiction is a chronic and recurring disease with multiple causes, as much biological and psychological as social, and it must be approached and treated as a matter of public safety, in the same way as other chronic diseases.”

Furthermore, one of the main objectives of the Summit is to encourage the evolution of the role of cities in the search for solutions to the social problems caused by drug abuse, according to Mack. “We encourage cities to offer treatment services to the individual where he or she resides, where the individual needs them,” he said. “To force people to travel to other cities to receive such services is very difficult. Frequently the individual cannot pay for transportation, and much less for the service itself. We’re trying to make these treatment services accessible.”

The Mayor of Lugo, José López Orozco, asserted that the fight against drugs belongs to the entire community. “All cities must constitute a single network in which to share our best practices, our experiences and our firm commitment to eradicate the problem of drug abuse,” he said. “Cities are the first door that drug addicts and their families knock on for help. Many times the solution not only to the individual’s addiction but to the social problem relies on the answer we give.”

Also, he added that, “I would wish the Summit of Lugo to be not a new beginning but a continuation of the work of the CICAD and the European Union through cities, to continue to collaborate on how to create a society that is healthier, more supportive and whose goal is a human being free of all drug addiction.”

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-122/10

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