The international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking, celebrated every year on 26 June, aims at fostering action and cooperation in achieving a world free of drug abuse. The theme for 2022 is 'Addressing drug challenges in health and humanitarian crises', with the objective of responding to transnational challenges generated by crisis situations. On this occasion, the Portuguese Presidency expresses the Pompidou Group's solidarity with Ukraine.
Ukraine is the most recent member state of the Pompidou Group: the country joined in January 2022, as its 42nd member. A few weeks later, the membership of the Pompidou Group decreased again to 41, due to the decision (on 16 March) of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to exclude the Russian Federation from the Organization.
This has been a historical decision: it was the first time (in the 73 years of history of the Council of Europe) that article 8 of the statute, providing the possibility of excluding a member state that violates the values for which the Organization stands, had been implemented. As a consequence, the Russian Federation also ceased to be a member of the Pompidou Group (on 23 March).
Against this political background, in early March, the Pompidou Group (together with leading European psycho-trauma experts) developed recommendations on how people can better interact and communicate with persons faced with a crisis situation. This followed a request of the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior, in light of the traumatic situations experienced by the Ukrainian population due to the Russian aggression.
Being the continent’s leading human rights organisation, the Council of Europe regards the protection of civilians of utmost importance. Traumatic experiences can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Epidemiological studies show that people with trauma and PTSD are more likely to have problems with alcohol and/or drug use.
The impact of the war in Ukraine on the drugs situation in the country and around is tremendous. Three aspects are of particular importance:
- the disruption of access to drug treatment services which undermines the health situation of people with substance use disorders
- the solidarity between Ukraine and its neighbours (members of the Council of Europe and of the Pompidou Group) to ensure the continuity of treatment for people who use drugs
- the drug production and trafficking situation for which lessons learned from past armed conflicts could serve as a source of inspiration.
The Pompidou Group, in close connection with the authorities from Ukraine and the relevant neighbouring countries as well as its international partner organizations, will continue to closely monitor developments in and around Ukraine, in order to contribute to providing informed policy responses to a constantly moving situation.