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The Organization of American States

The Organization of American States

"Drastic or dramatic changes to domestic law would not appear to be advisable. Nevertheless, it would be worthwhile to assess existing signals and trends that lean toward the decriminalization or legalization of the production, sale, and use of marijuana. Sooner or later decisions in this area will need to be taken." (page 104 Analytics Report)  

First, let's explain who the Organization of American States is and what they are all about.  The Organization of American States was founded on April 30 1948, for the purposes of regional solidarity and cooperation among its member states.  The goal of the Organization for American States is to promote economic and social development through cooperation in the western hemisphere.

The O.A.S. as they are often referred to, is the world’s oldest regional organization, dating back to the First International Conference of American States, held in Washington, D.C., from October 1889 to April 1890. That meeting approved the establishment of the International Union of American Republics, and the stage was set for the weaving of a web of provisions and institutions that came to be known as the inter-American system, the oldest international institutional system.

The Organization was established in order to achieve among its member states—as stipulated in Article 1 of the Charter—"an order of peace and justice, to promote their solidarity, to strengthen their collaboration, and to defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their independence."

I find it kind of funny that an organization consisting of so many member countries of such great influence in our own region was never mentioned in school.  Frankly, this is the first I heard of the organization, after hearing about the extensive report the organization prepared on the issue of drug use this week. Another surprise was reading the speech presented by Secretary of State John Kerry to the OAS. He claims the U.S. has reduced its drug use forty percent in the last 5 years.  Statistics can be misleading... but a 40% reduction seems highly unlikely and according to the CDC and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there has been no such substantial reduction as claimed by the Secretary of State.  Why did he make such a bogus claim?  Frankly, I am still scratching my head, because the statistics showing any declines are minimal at best.

Here is an excerpt from John Kerry's June 5, 2013 speech presented to the OAS (the full speech is available on the above link);

"This week, the OAS has chosen to focus on drug policy, on drug policy throughout the hemisphere. As President Obama said last week, and I reiterate today, we welcome this discussion. It’s a very healthy, very important discussion. And we take very seriously our shared responsibility for dealing with world drug problems.

I have worked for a long time in the field of counternarcotics. I was a prosecutor at the county level in one of the 10 largest counties in the United States of America, and we undertook extraordinary efforts to try to prevent the use of drugs and prevent drug trafficking and break up criminal enterprises. As a senator, I brought that interest to the United States Senate, and I worked as chairman of the Narcotics and Terrorism Subcommittee, and I helped to focus on cartels and networks of narcotics trafficking that were intertwined with international terrorist groups. Gun smuggling, narcotics trafficking, trafficking in persons, terrorism – they’re often part of the same network. And that is why it is so critical for us to be vigilant with respect to this issue.

What we want to do now is build on existing partnerships. Yes, we need to address demand. And in the United States, we’re proud to say we’ve helped reduce demand by over 40 percent in the last five years. We can go further, and we need to go further. And one of the ways you reduce demand is by treating people who are addicted and reducing the addiction, which reduces the usage. But we also need to be vigilant on the side of interdiction, enforcement, eradication, because all of those things are part of a comprehensive policy, and it is only in a comprehensive policy that we can make the greatest difference for our citizens."

On May 17, 2013 The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, issued a stark review of the reality experienced by the countries of the hemisphere in relation to drugs, analyzing the policies implemented in the region to this point and possible scenarios that could develop if the phenomenon is not dealt with in a coordinated manner.  The following are highlights taken from the speech he delivered while submitting a 400 page report which was prepared by a team of experts who worked under his direction for a year. The report was broken down to 2 parts.  The first part is  the Analytical Report, explaining the reasons that have caused concern in society about drug consumption and which have led to attempts to control the effects of drugs on human health; and the 2nd part of the report is referred to as the Scenarios Report, an examination of the paths that the phenomenon could take in the hemisphere in the coming years.  Insulza stated, "Let it be clear that no one here is defending any position, neither legalization, nor regulation, nor war at any cost. What we have to do is use serious and well-considered studies like the one the OAS has presented us with today to seek better solutions. I have no doubt that we all share a common destiny, where we sometimes differ is in how we reach it, and this Report will help us to come to agreement, it will be the basis for a long postponed discussion."

Insulza went on to say, "we have tried not to silence or hide anything," in order to “show the problem just as it is and how it manifests itself in different ways in our various countries and sub-regions; to show the volume of money that changes hands and who benefits from it; to show how it erodes our social organization and how it undermines the health of our people, the quality of our governments and even our democracy." Insulza went on to say "this situation must be faced with greater realism and effectiveness if we want to move forward successfully.”

Insulza shared some of the data from in the Report, which indicates that in the Americas "approximately 45 percent of all the cocaine users in the world are found, approximately half of the heroin users and a quarter of the total marijuana users. The consumption of cocaine paste, crack, inhalants, amphetamines and the abuse of legal drugs has increased." He added that this consumption “generates some 151 billion dollars in drug retail alone” in the hemisphere.

In conclusion Insulza went on to say, "the problem must be dealt with taking into account each country’s different situation; countries with fewer resources and less institutional strength have more difficulty dealing with the impact of drug trafficking; the phenomenon requires a public health approach; and the approach to the problem must be multifaceted, flexible, taking into account differences, and the countries of the regions must be united in their diversity."

The OAS brings together all 35 independent states of the Americas and constitutes the main political, juridical, and social governmental forum in the Hemisphere. In addition, it has granted permanent observer status to 67 states, as well as to the European Union (EU).

All 35 of the following independent states of the Americas have ratified the OAS Charter and are members of the Organization.