Mr. Jim Corr
Introduction to ECAD
An Address by Mr. Jim Corr
Chairman of ECAD
to the Conference of the European Cities Against Drugs
April 25, 2002
Right Honourable Mayor of Reykjavik, Former President of Iceland, Lord Mayors, Mayors and Deputy Mayors from all over Europe, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my pleasure and honour to welcome you, on behalf of the Advisory Board to the 9th Mayors' Conference of ECAD.
At each of the previous Mayors' Conferences the Advisory Board at this point of the proceedings was represented by its Chairman Mr. Peter Rigby C.B.E.J.P.
Peter passed on to his eternal rest and reward just two weeks ago and we send our sympathy and condolences to his wife and family and indeed to his colleagues on the London City Council. Please stand for one moment of silence to his memory.
He was a committed public representative, a man who delighted in progress and advancement whether it be of an infrastructural nature, economic growth or social development.
He held firmly to the conviction that the most important element in the life of any city is its people and that service to people, particularly those in need of care and assistance, is the noblest service that a person can provide.
In my almost three years of membership of this Advisory Board, Peter presided over meetings which were always lively, never complacent and while we would have crossed swords over matters of policy or operation of ECAD, no one of us ever doubted his commitment to this organisation and his utter contempt for unscrupulous people who for self gain ply their evil drug trade and willingly destroy the minds and the bodies of people of all age groups across Europe.
Following the Mayors' Conference in Belfast last year the Advisory Board engaged in a comprehensive, in dept and fundamental reappraisal of the aims, objectives and operation of ECAD.
I can report that we held very long and intensive meetings in St. Petersburg and here in Reykjavik where we teased out our approach to assisting our member cities.
We invited our member cities to make submission regarding how they saw ECAD operating.
We were very pleased when we received some 19 submissions.
These submissions demonstrated clearly for us that there is a strong desire among our members to ensure that ECAD is an up-to-date, well informed organisation capable of advising member cities in relation to prevalence, prevention, treatment and the consequences of illicit drug use in Europe based on careful analysis and interpretation of research findings available to it.
The Advisory Board believes that the basic principles on which ECAD was founded should continue to underpin its existence i.e. an organisation which adheres to the Stockholm Resolution, to the ECAD Mission Statement and to the UN Conventions on Drugs. We should continue to be an organisation promoting drug prevention, conscious of the suffering of addicts and supportive of provisions for rehabilitation, treatment and working towards the ideal of a drug free society.
We believe that the Plenary sessions of the annual Mayors' conference must become a more vocal occasion where member cities may propose motions and debate. Such discussions would, no doubt, highlight the broad policy parameters within which drug policies are formulated by governments throughout Europe and be a great learning occasion for all of us.
There is among responsible civic leaders today a thirst for information on illicit drugs - information on drug demand and supply and responses to illicit drug use.
This social concern arises from a clear understanding of the social and economic implications of illicit drugs and how they undermine the human rights of Europeans of all age groups.
It is then a source of encouragement for all of us in ECAD that the City of Reykjavik is hosting this the 9th Mayors' Conference and that it has chosen the theme of "Basic Human Rights".
A number of eminent speakers will set out for us how the rights of people who are being trampled on in a variety of ways at the beginning of a new century and a new millennium in Europe.
The EU Commission report on drugs 1999 identifies drugs as an ongoing threat tot the population of the EU.
On page 6 of that report results from the first Eurobarometer survey (1996) on drug use highlighted that illicit drugs "considerably affect the life of citizens". It goes on to say that 14 per cent of the population of the EU have been in contact with "drug-related problems". Of finding syringes in parks, seeing people openly dealing in drugs and victimisation of violent crime. In addition, the survey reported on "feelings of insecurity in European cities".
The purpose of this organisation is to promote and advance the fight against illicit drugs through democratic means. Our constitution says that ECAD will work for democracy and developments in the cities of Europe.
We are part of a much wider movement committed to making European cities better places in which people may live, work and spend their leisure time.
As civic leaders we are all conscious of the fact that the misuse/abuse of drugs leads to harmful life-threatening consequences for some of our citizens.
There are also huge social and economic costs for the individual person, families, communities and the city as a whole. Your distinguish former President has depicted so accurately the plight of lonely addicts.
We believe that it is of great importance for European cities to unite and jointly strategize on how to react - and to be proactive - in dealing with a social plague, which is not impended by national frontiers.
Illicit drugs are depriving our fellow citizens of their human rights. Let us renew our commitment to people so that on this the first day of summer in Iceland we will strive to ensure that people - young and old - who are "at risk" today from illicit drugs will live to enjoy many summers in the future.