The "Network of European Foundations - Comité des Sages" presents its conclusion for upcoming Vienna UN drug conference Failure of US-led "War on Drugs" induces civic European leaders to call for more effective alternatives

Brussels / Vienna - In a press briefing in Brussels, the "Network of European Foundations - Comité des Sages" presented its conclusions for the UN ministerial conference on drug policies, to be held in Vienna in mid-April. A recent review of international drug policies by the "Comité des Sages", represented by Raymond Kendall, Honorary Secretary General of Interpol, shows a failure of the US-led "War on Drugs", whose hard-line approach dominates the current UN drug policy framework adopted in 1998.

With drug consumption on the rise in both industrial and developing nations, the UN goal of a "Drug-free World by 2008" looks farther away than ever. European representatives at the Vienna conference are therefore expected to call for a more flexible approach to the problem, based on the positive experiences of European countries with prevention and harm reduction programmes. The "Comité des Sages", which consists of civic leaders from various European countries, will support these calls with its own findings, summarised under the name of "Arrabida Conclusions" (named after the Portuguese town in which the Comité assembled last September).

"Policies based solely on criminal sanctions have failed to demonstrate effectiveness," Kendall quoted from the committee�'s conclusions. "Economic corruption increases, organised crime prospers and developing economies are hard hit by military and environmental (crop eradication) interventions that have no apparent positive effect. At the same time the marginalisation of drug-users is compounded ... There is therefore an urgent need for a multi-dimensional and integrated approach, which aims at reducing both supply and demand, and which also integrates harm reduction strategies designed to protect the health of the individual drug-user as well as the well-being of society as a whole."

After a meeting of "Comité des Sages" representatives with the delegates at the recent EU drug policy conference in Athens promoted by the EU Greek Presidency, Kendall is confident that European countries "will voice their concerns and make strong demands for policy changes" at the upcoming Vienna UN conference.

The Brussels press briefing also included the presentation by the NEF�'s EDPF (European Drug Policy Fund) and IFJ (International Federation of

Journalists) of "The Europe Prize: Journalism for a Changing World", whose theme in 2003 is "Europe and Global Drug Policy". The prize will reward journalism which helps "to clarify the policy standards required for the elaboration of a drug strategy that benefits young people, the social fabric and community health."



European Drug Policy Fund / The Senlis Council:

Emmanuel Reinert, mailto:reinert@senliscouncil.net

The Skills Group - Pro & Co, Vienna:

Paul Sills, mailto:paul.sills@skillsproco.com