Slovenia supports strengthened international cooperation to solve the world drug problem
Statement by Ambassador Andrej Benedejčič, Permanent Representative of Slovenia and Head of Delegation, at the 60th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, on Demand Reduction and Related Measures (Agenda Item 5a), Vienna, 14 March 2017
Slovenia fully subscribes to the statements delivered on behalf of the European Union. At the same time, I would like to make several remarks in my national capacity on the issue of demand reduction and related measures.
In Slovenia, we are convinced that the world needs a comprehensive and humane drugs policy. In our view, it should be based on a balanced implementation of the pillars of demand and supply reduction. It should also include international cooperation under the principle of common and shared responsibility, as it is defined in the Outcome Document adopted last year at the UNGASS 2016.
For a number of years Slovenia has been systematically developing drug legislation and policy. Already in 1999, my country decriminalized possession of a small quantity of any drug for personal use, with the aim of encouraging treatment instead of penalization. Greatest emphasis has always been given to public health aspects, including harm reduction programs and substitution treatment.
In Slovenia, we are convinced that all drug programs should be evidence based, evaluated and accessible to all people with drug use disorders. We therefore wish to stress the importance of developing a multi-sectoral and fully coordinated approach. In our case this means that multiple governmental agencies including education, social welfare, health and law enforcement come together in order to support the development of a full continuum of demand reduction programs. These promote prevention, early detection and intervention, treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration for all people suffering from substance use disorders. This interagency cooperation is coordinated by the Ministry of Health.
One of the key elements for a comprehensive drug policy structure is evaluating and empowering the development of treatment programs. Slovenia has been constantly monitoring their implementation to track the quality of work, as well as the accessibility and availability of services. The last evaluation of the Network of Addiction Treatment Programs in Slovenia revealed that these were essential for an interdisciplinary approach to the drug problem. In addition to early health issues related to older age, the ageing population of drug users has to cope with a number of social challenges. The greatest causes for concern among these are homelessness, poly-drug use and associated mental disorders. At the same time, the evaluation concluded that users of new psychoactive substances are facing new, different needs, and that the existing program networks will have to adapt to them rapidly.
Before concluding, I would like to point out that we believe in sharing our experience and expertise. This is why we are promoting enhanced regional cooperation, particularly in South Eastern Europe. In fact, Slovenia has set up a program of bilateral technical assistance for countries in this region already six years ago. One of the program's main priorities is to promote balanced measures in the area of drug policy, from countering drug trafficking to treating the drug use disorders.
Finally, I would like to emphasize that we also believe that the world drug problem can only be solved through international cooperation, in a coordinated and comprehensive manner. Progress must be based on verifiable facts, on arguments and with promotion of a broad dialogue between all stakeholders. On behalf of Slovenia, let me therefore express sincere hope that our joint efforts, including at this jubilee session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, will lead to a comprehensive and humane drugs policy.