Wednesday 12 June 2013
Towards a Comprehensive Anti-Drug Policy in the Americas
Holy See InterventionOrganization of American States (OAS)Forty-Third Regular Session of the General Assembly“Towards a Comprehensive Anti-Drug Policy in the Americas”(La Antigua, Guatemala, June 4-6, 2013)
Statement of H.E. Archbishop Francis ChullikattApostolic NuncioPermanent Observer of the Holy See to the Organization of American States Organization of American States (OAS)Forty-Third Regular Session of the General Assembly “Towards a Comprehensive Anti-Drug Policy in the Americas” (La Antigua, Guatemala, June 4-6, 2013) Mr. President, My delegation is pleased to join the previous speakers in expressing appreciation to the Government of Guatemala for hosting this 43rd Regular Session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States. This year’s thematic discussion on a Comprehensive Anti-Drug Policy is not only timely but also fundamentally necessary in a region where drug policies and drug abuse impact users, their families and the communities in such profound and often tragic ways. The global illicit drug problem has become a multi-dimensional challenge demanding a comprehensive approach that will assist those victimized and those who victimize. The OAS report on “The Drug Problem in The Americas” provides a valuable tool for analyzing the effectiveness of current policies as well as exploring new approaches for strengthening existing policies, so as to accomplish our shared goals and objectives to promote human dignity throughout the Americas. This is a problem which afflicts not only the human dignity of the user, but also their family and the broader community – amply demonstrated by the violence linked to the illicit drug trade in various parts of the world. This tragic reality is reflected in the Secretary General’s recognition that the family of afflicted individuals  suffer both from the acute and long-term consequences of substance-abuse.   The family constitutes the very basis of society. When illicit drug abuse destroys the social fabric of families, it inevitably leads to the destabilization of broader society. It should thus be a necessity that policy makers maintain focus on the family as the cornerstone of prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, reintegration, and health strategies so as to provide the only truly holistic and human-centered response to drug abuse. Since causes and consequences of dependence on psychotropic substances are related to the family dynamic,  prevention, treatment and rehabilitation should harness family relationships in all their dimensions: biological, religious, psychological, social, cultural and economic. Studies on drug abuse consistently reinforce the conclusion that children with nurturing family environments inherit the skills and values needed to avoid the scourges of illicit drugs.  Those who fall prey to substance-abuse need the support and care of their family to overcome addiction and become examples for the youth on how to overcome the scourge of drugs. Protecting the dignity of all people, especially the youth who represent our future, requires the concerted effort of all in society: circumventing use of dangerous drugs and alleviating the suffering of drug dependent persons throughout treatment, care and support. Responding to drug abuse and addiction, as well as  associated violence and crime, requires not only policies which hold perpetrators responsible but also course of action which place the individual at the center of policies that empower individuals and communities to make responsible decisions which alone will break the chain of enslavement. Pope Benedict, during his Apostolic Journey to Mexico last year, reminded us that this requires educating “consciences, to teach moral responsibility and to expose evil, to expose this idolatry of mammon that only enslaves people; and to expose the false promises, untruthfulness and cheating that are behind drugs.”[1]           The Holy See is firmly committed to educating consciences and providing the means for alleviating suffering afflicting those who are affected by drug abuse and by the drug trade. This is why we continue to address it through the active role we play in various fora: providing avenues for dialogue to halt the perpetuation of violence that characterizes the drug trade, working at the same time to diminish demand for illicit drugs, in the hope that these efforts provide the opportunity for communities, families and individuals to rebuild their lives on the only sure foundation of peace and security – rather than on false promises by the logic of drug use. Recent efforts in this regard by the Catholic Bishops of Honduras and El Salvador are examples of how the Church can broker an end to the violence of gangs whose activities include trafficking of drugs, and provide an opportunity for hope and reconciliation in communities which for too long have been ravished by the plight of gang violence. Mr. President, Addressing the international impact of these problems requires recommitting ourselves in the first place to the recognition of the inherent dignity and worth of every person, without exception.  This implies that, in discussing the drug trade, specifically, and the broader agenda of the Organization of American States, in general, we always place protection of human life at the center of our efforts.  The right to life, enshrined in Article 4 of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, places the obligation on all States to protect human life, which is, after all, the greatest resource we have. Despite this, increasing efforts to undermine this fundamental right are manifest on many fronts, notably the recommendation of the Second Hemispheric Report on the Implementation of the Belem do Para Convention for the “legal interruption of pregnancy” in clear contravention not only of the Inter-American Convention but also of the Constitutions of many of the Member States of the OAS. Efforts to protect lives from illicit drugs, while at the same time attacking innocent human life at its most vulnerable stage represents a gross contradiction undermining the inalienable dignity of every human being. The common denominator linking both of these immoral activities — the illicit drug trade and the abortion industry — is the failure to promote and protect the dignity of each human life equally. Regarding the resolution entitled “Human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression” (AG/RES.2807) and the “Inter-American Convention against All forms of Discrimination and Intolerance” (AG/RES.2804), the Holy See joins the Statement of the Bishops Conference of Guatemala in expressing our opposition to these documents.  The creation of new categories of non-discrimination such as protections on the basis of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity and expression”, lack definitions within international law, seek to circumvent national political discussions and undermine national legal and cultural and religious traditions of many of the States of the region.  The Holy See reaffirms that what is needed instead is redoubling our efforts to uphold fundamental human rights founded upon inherent human dignity and the natural moral order rather than creating new categories of persons.  My delegation joins those delegations which have lodged oral and written reservations to these documents. Mr. President, As Pope Francis reminds us: “dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced!”[2]  My delegation sincerely hopes that our efforts during this session and in the year to come will serve to put such sentiments into concrete actions so that this Organization and its membership can become a beacon of fraternity between nations and peoples. We begin well when we clearly identify what challenges our most precious resource, the human person, and commit consistently to protect this immense treasure for today and for tomorrow. Thank you, Mr. President. [1] Interview of Pope Benedict XVI with the journalists during the flight to Mexico, 23 March 2012. [2] Address of Pope Francis to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 22 March 2013.