x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Call for unified Arab drug strategies

The 10th edition of the Hemaya International Forum on Drug Issues called on the Arab Interior Ministers Council to adopt the United Nations-prepared international standards for the prevention of drugs.

DUBAI // Arab countries have been urged to agree on a unified strategy for the prevention of drug abuse, based on international standards prepared by the UN.

The 10th Hemaya International Forum on Drug Issues on Thursday heard that Arab states should continue with their policies to fight drug supply and demand until the Council of Arab Interior Ministers decides on new standards.

More than 70 officials and experts from around the world took part in workshops on the final day of the three-day conference, which was organised by Dubai Police and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime.

The forum heard that drug-prevention agencies in each country should work with policymakers to further study the international standards, with a view to introducing them at national levels.

Participants also called for a team of experts from Arab countries to discuss and develop the standards.

They are based on “interventions and policies that have been found to result in positive prevention outcomes by the scientific evidence, and could serve as the foundation of an effective, health-centred national drug prevention system”, the UNODC said.

Delegates called for more workshops and training on the UN’s standards, while universities were asked to conduct research on the feasibility of adopting them.

It is also hoped that the standards would be integrated into existing training programmes for officials involved in drug prevention, such as the Hemaya International Programme’s e-diploma for the strategic planning of drug prevention.

Giovanna Campbell, of UNODC, talked about the basic components of implementing the strategies nationally and in the region.

Ms Campbell said that all parties, and not just security agencies, should cooperate to implement an effective method of drug prevention.

She said that Arab countries should apply them according to each country’s environment.

Delegates thanked Dubai Police chief Maj Gen Khamis Al Muzeina, Chief of Dubai Police, the Hemaya International Programme team and other relevant authorities for the forum, which gave them an important opportunity to exchange expert opinions and experiences.

“We meet annually to carefully consider with an open mind the most important experiences and latest studies that our local, regional and international governments and institutions conduct to combat drugs,” Maj Gen Al Muzeina said.

“We do this to examine the facts, familiarise ourselves with them and be inspired by [others], as well as look to [a brighter] future by protecting the nation from the dangers that surround the region.”

The suggestion was raised that the Hemaya International Programme should consider holding its annual forum on drug issues in different parts of the region.