Communiqué: National Multi-Sectoral Meeting on Drug Policy Reform in West Africa: The Ghana Consulta
“National Multi-Sectoral Meeting on Drug Policy Reform in West Africa: the Ghana Consultation’’
29 October, 2015 in Accra, Ghana
We, the 35 government representatives and civil society practitioners working on drug related issues and attending the “National multi-sectoral Meetings on Drug Policy Reform in West Africa: The Ghana Consultation” from October 27 to 28, 2015, convened by the West African Drug Policy Network (Ghana-Chapter) and other stakeholders, and facilitated by West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) gathered to:
Assess current drug policies and the impact of international conventions on national drug policies;
Interrogate the measures put in place at national levels to deal with drug trafficking, production and consumption
Identify best practices in tackling drugs, security and organized crime at country level; and
Foster collaboration between governments and civil society in the fight against drug trafficking in the region.
Note that the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) 2016 on drugs, aims to review the progress in the implementation of Political Declarative; Plan of Action and International Cooperation towards an integrated strategy to counter the World Drug problem;
Recall the growing concerns that the initiatives taken at UNGASS 1990 to develop a UN system-wide coherent drug policy failed to achieve its goals in the period from 1991-2000, and how this necessitated UNGASS 1998 which supported the goal for a ‘drug-free world’ and the target to “eliminate or significantly reduce’’ the global illicit drugs market by 2008.
Acknowledge the effort of African leaders in the development of the Common African Position (CAP), and the African Union-ECOWAS African Drug Control Strategy and Regional Plan of Action respectively; but
Regret that drug control policies in West African countries continue to follow the pathway of other international partners, which precludes a significant progress on a new UNGASS political declaration through consensus-driven negotiations.
Agree that a “drug free country’’ is a myth and called for drug policy reform with harm reduction at it core.
Recognise that UNGASS 2016 presents a unique opportunity for Ghana and the global community to review the performance of the UN drug control system; improve the normative guidance as well as legal and institutional framework; therefore
Call on Ghana to use the UNGASS platform to propose and promote progressive reforms to current global drug policies and ensure it responds to its national realities and regional specificities.
Hereby call on the Government of Ghana to consider the following recommendations—as captured herein—in its position towards UNGASS 2016 and in Ghana’s drug policy reform and implementation.
1. Reform the current drug policy to focus on public health in relations to drug users instead of criminal justice;
2. Allocate more resources to facilitate treatment, interventions and facilities for drug users;
3. Consider the issue of tackling drugs not only as a national ‘security and safety’ issue but also a public health concern;
4. Allocate more resources to research centres to conduct elaborate scientific research on the industrial benefit of cannabis;
5. Ensure balance and proportionality in both drug demand and supply policies, and direct the punitive criminal sanction component of the policy to drug traffickers and suppliers;
6. Ensure stiffer punishments for drug peddlers within educational institutions and to minors;
7. Collaborate with other progressive countries to recognize and explore several treaty options that do not require consensus such as the rescheduling of substances and change regulations which introduces a more scientifically-based rescheduling of controlled substances;
8. Emphasise harm reduction in national drug policy in addition to demand and supply reduction;
9. Support civil society organisations working in the field of prevention, treatment and recovery;
10. Provide regulatory framework to ensure quality standards for civil society service providers;
11. Support the civil society taskforce in its efforts to ensure meaningful participation from non-governmental organizations in the UNGASS 2016 process; and
12. Collaborate with other African governments to stand by the Common African Position (CAP) and encourage them to take progressive stance in the outcome documents of UNGASS 2016.
Call on civil society to
1. Conduct research to gather evidence needed to effectively engage government on drug policy reform;
2. Organise series of awareness creation, sensitisation and information dissemination activities to educate the general public on drug related issues including consumption, production and trafficking; and
3. Advocate for drug policy reform with the focus on public health and human rights.
1. Promote task shifting from the current inadequate numbers of mental health specialists to medical officers and nurses and build their capacity on harm reduction;
2. Government and civil society should strengthen collaboration in the fight against drug production, trafficking and consumption in Ghana;
3. All programmes related to drug prevention, treatment and recovery should be made accessible to the visually and hearing impaired through the use of sign language and braille; and
4. Government and civil society should call on the UNGASS to adopt a framework in which the drug control convention will introduce built-in review mechanisms enable continuous evaluation of the control system.
On behalf of 2015 conference delegates
National Focal Point Coordinator
West Africa Drug Policy Network (Ghana-Chapter)