Home > Ireland participates in innovative policy think-tank.

Pike, Brigid (2015) Ireland participates in innovative policy think-tank. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 54, Summer 2015, pp. 8-9.

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Although the oldest international drug policy think-tank, the Pompidou Group, of which Ireland is a member, is arguably the most innovative intergovernmental body working in the area of policy on psychoactive substances and addictions in the world today. Its achievements over the past forty years are outlined in the following article. The new work programme for 2015–2018 has four thematic priorities:1

1. Bring human rights to the forefront

The Pompidou Group will support member states in meeting their obligations under the Council of Europe and United Nations Conventions to protect fundamental rights and freedoms, in particular the right to life and human dignity, the right to protection of health, the right to equitable access to quality health-care services for all, the prohibition of any type of discrimination as well as the right of children to be protected from narcotic drugs and psychoactive substances. Promoting gender equality will also continue to be a transversal aspect to be observed in all Pompidou Group activities. Aims include:

  • increasing awareness of human rights obligations and reduction in human rights violations occurring in the pursuit of drug policy goals;
  • contributing to reducing stigmatisation and discrimination;
  • promoting the right of access to healthcare for drug dependent people in detention;
  • highlighting and recognising the pivotal role of the Pompidou Group, as a part of the Council of Europe, in promoting human rights as a fundamental drug policy principle; and
  • promoting the mainstreaming of gender aspects in all areas of drug policy.

2. Analyse policy coherence, costs, impact and potentially adverse effects of drug policy measures

Recognising that understanding the costs and effects of different policies not only in terms of their immediate impact but also in view of indirect effects and costs is necessary for making the right choices and for understanding the return of investment, the Pompidou Group is committing to supporting member states to take into account the whole spectrum of drug control costs, as well as the impact of drug control measures on different aspects of life and sectors of policy. At the same time the Pompidou Group will emphasise that policy coherence between policies on licit and illicit drugs, as well as addictive behaviours, is a fundamental determinant of cost effectiveness. Aims include:

  • better understanding of how to determine a balanced approach in drug policy and ensuring that different approaches complement each other;
  • developing concepts for a cost benefit approach in drug policy planning;
  • providing guidance for prioritisation in times of diminishing public funds; and
  • promoting more coherence between demand and supply reduction policies, and other policies.

3. Address changing patterns and context of drug use, production and supply

While the international drug control conventions offer the possibility of scheduling new substances, the Pompidou Group identifies the sheer rapidity of emerging new psychoactive substances, as well as the time-consuming and costly way of bringing them under control, as a specific challenge. Other challenges include the rapid spread of methamphetamines in some regions, the continuing high levels of cannabis consumption, the emergence of heroin in social contexts not previously seen, poly-drug use, including mixed consumption of licit and illicit substances, and addictive behaviours.

The Pompidou Group will support the exploration of new ways in which demand reduction, supply reduction and risk prevention and harm reduction approaches can be adjusted or further developed while keeping in mind the need for coherence in policies. Aims include:

  • identifying feasible responses for effective prevention in changing environments;
  • adapting and refining detection methods in trafficking;
  • identifying new precursor products, means of production and means of precursor control;
  • adapting and broadening the concept of risk prevention and harm reduction;
  • developing concepts for adequate treatment and rehabilitation in pursuit of re-integration; and
  • facilitating dialogue between governments, civil society, professional groups and other relevant stakeholders to prevent use and risks.

4. Identify opportunities and challenges for drug policies arising from the Internet

Recent developments in information and communication technologies (ICT) have enabled the emergence of a new global black market for drugs sales which is rapidly growing. Easy access and anonymity reduce the threshold to buy drugs via the Internet and have created new distribution channels and payment systems that present new challenges for law enforcement and customs. By the same token, the Internet can potentially reach large groups of youth at both local and global level, including those not currently reached. Offering treatment to drug users via the Internet is rapidly increasing; the Internet can also be used to offer specialised services in remote areas and provide a cost-effective way to support a large number of clients. Aims include:

  • charting and better understanding of developments in cyber space in view of opportunities and challenges for demand and supply reduction efforts;
  • increasing competences for concerned government agencies;
  • providing guidance where action is needed; and
  • promoting cooperation with relevant stakeholders from the private sector.

Membership of the Pompidou Group (37)

Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey

1 For further information on the Pompidou Group and the Pompidou Group work programme 2015–2018: ‘Drug policy and human rights: new trends in a globalised context’ (P–PG/MinConf [2014] 4), visit http://www.coe.int/T/DG3/Pompidou/

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 54, Summer 2015
July 2015
Page Range
pp. 8-9
Health Research Board
Issue 54, Summer 2015

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