Over the last 30 years the Pompidou Group has created and provided tools that have enabled decision makers and policy managers to implement policies that have helped to counteract trafficking, abuse of illicit drugs and associated negative effects in society.
Policy responses to drugs and drug-related problems cannot only be based on scientific evidence and vigour but also need to take into account cultural influences, organisational structures and public opinion. In this respect the PG provides the only forum of open discussion beyond ideological or political constraints; a quality which has lead to many improved policies based on achieving actual results in reducing drug use.
Major achievements of the Pompidou Group
Concepts of monitoring trans-national drug abuse and indicator development was created and initiated by the PG. This PG project was then taken over by the EU in the form of the European Monitoring Centre EMCDDA. Methodologies to effectively measure the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs were developed by the PG. The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other drugs (ESPAD) is now an independent Programme that serves governments in 51 countries as the principal data source in drug use trends and continues to be an "export hit" to countries outside Europe.
Controlling drug trafficking in general aviation through cooperation between customs and law enforcement agencies across member states exists because of the creation of the PG’s Airports Group. This body regularly provides member states with the most recent knowledge on modus operandi used by drug traffickers in civil aviation as well the technical action required to counter act.
The PG provides Member States with concepts of drug prevention policies that actually have proven impact, like the standard on drug prevention “Prevention Handbook” for policy managers and practitioners. School-based Life-skills training, developed by the PG, and implemented in several Member Sates with the support of the PG, are today widely used in Europe.
Making effective use of civil society involvement in reducing drug use and the associated negative social and health consequences is a further achievement of the PG. The European Consultative Forum and the European Prevention Prize of the PG have been able to engage young people, particularly those in risk groups, to actively prevent drug use among young people in their communities.
Target drug treatment policies leading to the re-integration of drug users into society have been the result of the PG’s integrated approach to link policy with practice and research. The examples in Member States the PG can be credited with include: treatment as alternative to prison, treatment standards for young drug users and women, drug addiction treatment in prisons, principles and guidelines that lead to a reduction of drug-related HIV/AIDS infections.
Furthermore the PG was the first body to develop and promote policies for effectively dealing with open drug scenes in cities. The significant reduction of open drug scenes in Europe over the past 15 years can be to a great extend attributed to the PG’s work. Thus the PG has contributed to saving lives, as well improving public safety and health.
The PG is the only body which is addressing ethics and human rights issues related to drug control policies. This aspect has been identified by the International Narcotics Control Bureau (INCB) of the UN as one of the key aspects for moving ahead with drug policies. The PG has already provided Member States with guidance as to conduct drug screening. This has helped countries to avoid infringements of individual rights when developing drug screening programmes.
Cooperation in the Mediterranean region on drugs and drug addiction with the MedNET network made it possible to measure for the first time the scope of the drug problem in Algeria, Morocco and Lebanon. The population surveys will serve to develop drug strategies based on the introduction of risk reduction policies. These policies have been encouraged by the Pompidou Group training of medical staff on drug addiction treatment including opiate substitution treatment taking into account the right to health of the drug user.
It needs to be recalled that policy responses to drugs and drug-related problems cannot only be based on scientific evidence and vigour but also need to take into account cultural influences, organisational structures and public opinion. In this respect the PG provides the only forum of open discussion beyond ideological or political constraints; a quality which has lead to many improved policies based on achieving actual results in reducing drug use.
In the future the PG will continue to facilitate added value through civil society involvement by successfully involving target groups in the reduction of drug use in society. It is acknowledged that target group involvement is a key to successful drug demand reduction policies.
There is a continued need for the PG to connect policy with research and practice to provide governments with solutions, based on scientific evidence and cross-sectoral professional experience. This combination will help governments to overcome existing barriers in policy implementation and allow for more impact whilst using resources more effectively.
Bringing the human rights dimensions to the forefront in tackling drug problems has been identified as a key approach to better advance drugs policies. In riding at the forefront of a development that came out of the UN global assessment programme on drugs (UNGASS) the PG will tackle the following to provide governments with guidance and instruments:
- Human rights and ethical aspects concerning vaccinations against cocaine use
- Human Rights as a key factor to better balance repression and prevention
- The Ethics of using results of neuro-science to influence behaviour
- The crucial role and added value of Human Rights in drug treatment and rehabilitation