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Schardt Susan - 1 luglio 1994
(22) Susan Schardt - The European Cities on Drug Policy

Susan Schardt, Head of the ECDP Coordination Bureau, Frankfurt am Main

The European Cities on Drug Policy (ECDP) cooperate on the basis of the Frankfurt Resolution that sketches the principles of a pragmatic and accepting drug policy.

The Frankfurt Resolution was passed on the occasion of the first conference of European Cities in Frankfurt am Main in November 1990 by the initiating cities Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Amsterdam and Zurich.

Since then the movement of the cities of the Frankfurt Resolution has spread all over Europe and up to this day 14 cities and one region have officially signed the Resolution:

Amsterdam (Netherlands, 1990), Arnhem (Netherlands, 1991), Basel (Switzerland, 1992), Charleroi (Belgium, 1992), Frankfurt am Main (Germany, 1990), Hamburg (Germany, 1990), Hannover (Germany, 1993), Kallithea (Greece, 1991), Ljubljana (Slovenia, 1992), Luzern (Switzerland, 1992), Rotterdam (Netherlands, 1991), Province of Teramo (Italy, 1991), Venlo (Netherlands, 1992), Zagreb (Croatia, 1992), Zurich (Switzerland, 1990).

In 1992, on the occasion of the 3rd conference of European Cities in Bologna, the association "European Cities on Drug Policy" (ECDP) was officially founded and in March 1993 a coordination bureau was established in Frankfurt am Main where all our activities are coordinated and organized and information can be achieved on all matters concerning the ECDP.

Last year's conference of the ECDP, which has been hosted by the city of Hamburg from November 30 to December 2, 1993 has underlined on our international cooperation and the dialogue with national governments.

Even though it has become obvious throughout the world that prohibition of drugs does not lead to a decrease of the problem, the policy of a "war on drugs" is still carried out by most national governments and international bodies. But despite repressive measures the number of consumers has not decreased and neither have the problems resulting from illegal consumption of drugs.

These problems are concentrated in big cities, which are also centres of trade and of illegal drug trafficking. Here crisis and problems arise daily, which cannot be resolved or dealt with using merely the official guidelines of national governments and international treaties.

The cities of the Frankfurt Resolution have agreed that we cannot solve the problems related to illegal consumption of drugs all together. What we can do, however, is to reduce the risks and the burdens for both the drug users and the other citizens of our cities that are connected with the illegality of drug consumption.

This includes a depenalization of drug users and a stress on the prosecution of dealers. It also means prescribing methadone and/or heroin to drug addicts and low threshold helping facilities with a wide range of offers. It also means that less problematic drug consumption - such as the consumption of cannabis-products for instance - should no longer be prosecuted.

A sensitive and pragmatic approach to drug policy can only develop in the cities if practitioners, politicians, the judiciary and all other local bodies concerned with drug related problem work together in facing the responsibility arising from the problem.

The most important principle of a pragmatic drug policy is to recognize and no longer deny the fact that drug consumption - some of it unproblematic and some problematic - exists within our society and will continue to do so. The policy of the cities of the Frankfurt Resolution is to minimize harm and to help people where ever they are, where ever their problems lay and above all help them to survive in dignity.

During the three years of our cooperation the cities of the ECDP have found that a constant exchange of information, know-how and experts from the field can prevent many misguided approaches and gives us a common voice towards the national governments and international bodies.

The principles of our drug policy have now been noted across Europe and recently also in the United States and the experience of the cities who have to deal with problems surrounding drugs, often enough caught between "legality and feasability", can be made available - not only in helping each other to develop sensible approaches, but also by raising our voice in favour of a liberal drug policy throughout Europe and on an international basis.

Last summer, information of the ECDP to 11 cities in the US have been carried out and first experiences show that in many of these cities a movement in favour of a drug policy which tries out more liberal approaches is under way. Within the general context of dispute about those approaches, the Hoover-Resolution offers a valuable foundation on which an American movement for liberalization in drug policy will have to build.

In November 1993 a transatlantic cities' meeting has been held in Baltimore to discuss further common strategies and the possibilities and means of future cooperation between the ECDP and American cities. This meeting, hosted by the city of Baltimore and the Drug Policy Foundation, was a first and very important step to combine our efforts and to spread the idea of a pragmatic and liberal drug policy. A movement that in our opinion has to start in the cities as they are most concerned with the burdens related to illegal drug consumption and which will have to be introduced also to national governments and international bodies.

But also in Europe - especially in Italy - a very promising movement towards liberalization has been started on a national level with the referendum of April 1993. In Switzerland, steps are being taken to prescribe heroin and initiatives have been started for a legalization of drugs.

On the international level, the visit of Ed Giacomelli, vice president of the UN, to Frankfurt as one of the leading cities if the ECDP, has been a first vital step in introducing our common goals to the UNDCP.

Last November, at the world conference of mayors in Macau, cities of the ECDP was also represented and able to present our drug policy to an international audience.

Our close cooperation with international organizations such as the LIA, the Conseil des Communes et Régions d'Europe, the CORA, the Drug Policy Foundation and recently also the UNDCP has been very valuable in spreading our ideas and approaches in drug policy in Europe and America. If we continue to combine our efforts, we might activate an era of international pragmatic drug policy which pays tribute to the extent of the problem and offers realistic alternatives. We hope that this cooperation will be given a regular, solid basis in the future.

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