The director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, said that legalising drugs would not be panacea for drug consumption or drug-related crime.
Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske
"Neither a single approach of a war on drugs nor an approach of legalisation even begins to address how complex the drug problem is in the world," declared Kerlikowske, speaking at the 17th Annual CAF Conference in Washington.
While disagreeing with some of the ideas presented in the report on drugs published by the Organization of American State (OAS) in May of this year, the White House official acknowledged the report's contribution by addressing the drug problem in a comprehensive manner.
OAS secretary general Jose Miguel Insulza noted that one of the conclusions of the report is that you cannot address the drug problem exclusively from a law enforcement perspective. "If drug-use is a public health issue, addicts should not be sent to jail. Our jails can't be filled with people who have drug problems."
For other experts on the panel, the OAS report touched on certain issues that previously had been taboo.
General Oscar Naranjo, former head of Colombia National Police, noted that "since the release of this important multidisciplinary study, a consensus is beginning to emerge in the Americas around the idea of humanizing the drug problem."
Naranjo warned, however, against creating unrealistic expectations. "This new approach will not make illicit activity related to drug trafficking disappear. Fighting against this criminal economy means fighting for democratic values over mafioso values that the drug gangs have imposed."
Guatemala's foreign minister Fernando Carrera noted the importance of the OAS report in sparking a debate on the drug problem. "We need to rethink our policies across the hemisphere. We need to redefine cooperation, which today is only related to complying with the law. There should also be cooperation to help people get out of drug trafficking and to provide communities access to other opportunities."
The 17th Annual CAF Conference, which is organized by CAF-Development Bank of Latin America, together with the Inter-American Dialogue and the Organization of American States, attracted more than 900 government officials, business leaders, academics, journalists, bankers and political analysts from Latin America and the United States. The gathering focused on a broad range of topics of hemispheric interest, including US foreign policy, economic development and the new approaches emerging in the region to combat illegal drugs, in addition to promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.
CAF's mission is to promote sustainable economic development and integration in Latin America, through a comprehensive development agenda, and by providing financing support and know-how in infrastructure, social development, environmental sustainability, productivity, international expansion, institution-building and public policy.
The mission of CAF-Development Bank of Latin America- is to promote sustainable development and regional integration by financing projects in the public and private sectors and providing technical cooperation and other specialized services. Established in 1970, CAF-development bank of Latin America- currently has 18 shareholder nations - 16 in Latin America and the Caribbean, along with Spain and Portugal - and 14 private banks, and is a major source of multilateral financing as well as an important source of knowledge in the region.