Category Archives: Declaration

The Heemskerk Declaration

Heemskerk, 21 January 2016

Today in a meeting in The Netherlands, small scale farmers of cannabis, coca and opium from 14 countries* discussed their contribution to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS), to be held in New York from 19 to 21 April 2016. The UNGASS will discuss all aspects of global drug control policies, including the worldwide ban on the cultivation of coca, poppy and cannabis, an issue the Global Farmers Forum demands that their voices be heard and taken into account.

The Heemskerk Declaration – English (pdf)

Declaración de Heemskerk – Espanól (pdf)

Photo credit: Floris Leeuwenberg
One of the four working groups discussing drug policy issues in Heemskerk (Photo credit: Floris Leeuwenberg)


  1. To date representatives of small farmers of prohibited plants and affected communities have not been adequately taken into account in international debates on drug policy.
  1. Inherent contradictions and inconsistencies exist in the application of international drug control, including Alternative Development programs and human rights treaties, which take precedence over the drug control treaties. UN agencies and UN member states are all bound by their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations to promote “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
  1. A previous Farmers Forum provided input to the UN evaluation of the missed target of reaching a drug-free world by 2009. The UN Political Declaration adopted at the time established 2019 as a new target date to “eliminate or reduce significantly and measurably” the illicit cultivation of opium poppy, coca bush and cannabis.
  1. Taking into account the problems faced by the communities where these plants are cultivated the Farmers Forum discussed the following issues
  • Crop control policies and forced eradication;
  • Traditional, medicinal and modern uses of controlled plants;
  • Sustainable rural development;
  • Drugs and conflict



  1. Forced eradication – chemical, biological, manual or any other form – of crops produced by small farmers is contrary to human rights, causes diverse forms of conflict, expands countries’ agricultural frontier, leads to environmental degradation, causes food insecurity and destroys rural economic survival strategies. It aggravates social problems – as well as problems related to health and internal security — increases poverty, leads to displacement of affected populations, delegitimizes state institutions, militarizes local communities and is a form of undemocratic intervention, forcing those impacted to seek survival strategies in other informal or illicit economic activities and in some cases pushes people to take more radical positions. Finally, forced eradication is counterproductive with regards to sustainable development.
  1. The inclusion of the three plants in the international treaties impedes the recognition of both traditional, and modern uses** and the ability to obtain them legally. Not all people have access to medicinal uses and the market is controlled by the pharmaceutical industry. In some countries, laws recognize traditional and medicinal uses. Nutritional uses and other forms of industrialization of these plants have not been widely promoted, despite the fact that there are many examples of community and institutional initiatives that demonstrates the benefits of such use. Recreational use of these plants is completely prohibited even as an increasing number of countries seek to regulate these markets. Producers and users and their organizations, communities and leaders continue to be stigmatized, criminalized and incarcerated.
  1. Rural development strategies must promote small-scale agriculture. Most participants in the Farmers Forum have not been beneficiaries of Alternative Development or other forms of assistance. Those who have had experiences with Alternative Development programmes affirm that these have largely failed to improve the livelihood of affected communities. The main problems have been the lack of community involvement in the design, planning and execution of the interventions; short-term time-frames; inadequate technical assistance; foments corruption and funding does not reach the intended beneficiaries; failure to take into account a gender perspective; the use of alternative crops negatively impact the environment and do not promote food sovereignty but focuses on mono-cropping, fostering land grabbing for big companies, and a lack of sustained access to land, markets and technologies. The conditioning of development assistance on prior eradication leaves people without sources of income, pushing people back into illicit crop cultivation. Present Alternative Development programs do not envisage the cultivation for licit purposes.
  1. The prohibition of coca, cannabis and opium poppy generates conflicts, as the people that grow them are criminalized, their human and cultural rights are violated, they are discriminated against and legally prosecuted. The different levels of conflict that exist have their origins in both drug control policies and the drugs market itself. Conflicts and violence are caused by the interventions of state authorities (police and armed forces), through eradication acts or other interventions; the presence of armed groups and internal wars; ethnical divisions and territorial and border disputes; access to and control of land; access to water and other natural resources/common goods; corruption; migration and displacement; the overload of the judicial system; the illegal trade in arms and precursors and illicit logging; unemployment, amongst others.



  1. We reject prohibition and the war on drugs.
  1. We demand the removal of coca, cannabis and opium poppy from the lists and articles in the 1961 UN Single Convention and the 1988 Convention. No plant should be a controlled drug under the UN Conventions or national legislation. We claim the right to cultivation for traditional and modern uses of these plants.
  1. We call for the elimination of all forms of non-voluntary eradication.
  1. We demand that all affected communities should be involved in all stages of drug policies and development, from the design to its implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
  1. In case crop reduction is desirable and feasible it needs to be gradual and reached in dialogue and agreement with the affected communities, based on mutual respect and confidence.
  1. The conditioning of development assistance on prior eradication is unacceptable. The proper sequencing of development interventions is fundamental to its success.
  1. Integrated sustainable development should be the main intervention for crop producing communities. Such development should promote and protect the livelihoods of small scale farmers and rural workers, and should guarantee access to and control over land and common goods.
  1. The state and its institutions will need to assume responsibility to address the needs of the communities involved in cultivation of coca, cannabis and opium poppy.
  1. We demand that the farmers and their families involved in the cultivation of coca, cannabis and opium should not be prosecuted by criminal law, or discriminated against.
  1. Coca, cannabis and opium poppy and their use should not be criminalized.
  1. The expansion of licit markets of coca, cannabis and opium poppy should become part of development strategies.
  1. We support the peace process in Colombia and Burma, which should be inclusive.


*Albania, Bolivia, Colombia, Spain, Guatemala, Indonesia, Jamaica, Morocco, Mexico, Myanmar, Paraguay, Peru, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and South Africa.

**Traditional use understood as ceremonial, religious, traditional medicinal. Modern is recreational, alimentary, and self-medication.

Statement of 3rd Myanmar Opium Farmers Forum

On 11 and 12 September 2015 opium farmers and representatives of opium farming communities from Kayah State, Shan State, Kachin State and Chin State, came together in Upper Myanmar to discuss the drug policies affecting their lives. Following from the discussions the farmers issued a statement with recommendations to policy makers nationally and internationally.

Statement of 3rd Myanmar Opium Farmers’ Forum – English (pdf)

Statement of 3rd Myanmar Opium Farmers’ Forum – Espanol (pdf)

We, opium farmers and representatives of opium farming communities from Kayah State, Shan State, Kachin State and Chin State, came together in Upper Myanmar to discuss the drug policies affecting our lives and to make the following recommendations:

We grow opium in order to ensure food security for our family and to provide our basic needs, and to have access to health and education. We grow opium because of poverty and because we live in isolated and mountainous and high elevated areas, where it is difficult to grow other crops, infrastructure is weak and we face difficulties to transport crops, and where we have difficulty to access markets. We also have little access to land to grow other crops. The large majority of opium farmers are not rich and grow it for their survival. Therefore, they should not be treated as criminals.

Opium has many positive values for us. As there are few health facilities in our areas, we use opium as a traditional medicine for diarrhea, coughing, and as a painkiller and to keep us save from poisonous insects. For some of us, we believe it protects us from evil and if offered to spirits it will bring good luck. We also use it to treat sick animals.

Many of us live in areas with armed conflict. We have to pay opium tax to many armed groups. Some local representatives of government agencies, the police and the Myanmar army also come to our village, especially during harvest time, and demand money from us, and threaten that if we do not pay they will destroy our crop. Some armed groups ban opium cultivation and carry out eradication. In some places the government also carries out eradication.

While we have many problems to feed our family, we are also facing the risk of eradication. We feel there should be no eradication of our poppy fields, until we have access to alternative sources of income. Some of us mainly rely on opium cultivation for our livelihoods.

At the moment, very few of us have benefitted from development projects. Only very few alternative development programmes are in our areas. These programmes should be designed with our involvement, and should be suitable for our local environment and climate. The efficiency of the few programmes that are operating could be much improved.

In our areas there are also many problems related to drugs use, especially ATS and heroin. This is causing problems in our families and our society. We feel threatened by these problems. But until now there are very few services and programmes available to address these problems. We hope these programmes can be improved.

In conclusion, we do not want to be regarded as criminals. We demand to be involved in decision making processes about drug policies and development programmes that are affecting our lives.

Valencia Declaration on UN Guiding Principles of Alternative Development

The Observatory of Crops Declared Illicit (OCDI) in Valencia (Spain)

Valencia Declaration – English (pdf)

Declaracion Valencia – Espanol (pdf)

The expert meeting held in Valencia was organized to discuss the UN Guiding Principles for Alternative Development,  soon to be at the core of the International Conference on Alternative Development in Lima, Peru, on November 15-16, 2012.

The result of these discussions was the following Valencia Declaration on Alternative Development.

Valencia Declaration 2012

The people present* in Valencia (Spain), on 9th and 10th November, convened by OCDI (Observatory of Crops Declared Illicit) concerned about the process of discussion and possible outcome on the Guiding Principles for Alternative Development, to be approved at the ICAD II (International Conference on Alternative Development), celebrated in Lima on the 15 th and 16 th of November, have agreed to make the following statement:

Having accessed the draft Ministerial Declaration on Alternative Development we observe a prominence accorded to international drugs conventions and drug control agencies above the struggle against poverty, the Millennium Development Goals and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Human related to illicit crops.

We note that the draft Ministerial Declaration presents generalities, repetitions, inconsistencies and an Andean bias, in contrast to the contributions of the workshop Thailand ICAD 2011, where experts and officials from different geographical areas, as reflected in the document E/cn.7/2012/8 of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, made progress in the debate in a concrete and consistent manner.

After reviewing the draft of the Lima Declaration, we want to emphasize that:

• Alternative Development is raised mainly in a framework of crop reduction, ignoring the broader social, economic and cultural context.

• The definition of the role of the state has its emphasis clearly on control and enforcement. However, we believe that the emphasis should be placed unconditionally on the role of the state as the promoters of human development while safeguarding fundamental rights of communities affected by problems of illicit crops.

• We appreciate that the draft recognizes the fundamental importance of a proper sequencing in implementing alternative development programs, understanding this as recognition that crop reduction is a consequence of development.

• We consider it essential for the state to assume an appropriate role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, generated in the framework of crop reducing policies, recognizing that often the intervention of bodies and state security forces is inadequate and counterproductive.

• We demand an explicit recognition of the right to the traditional use of plants declared illegal.

• We demand a guarantee of the right to access and use of land by small farmers.

• We recommend that you capitalize the experiences and lessons learned and good practice in the 30 years of Alternative Development.We demand that international cooperation does not condition the participation in development programs to eradication.

• T he legitimacy of the state, the efforts of international agencies and organizations that support the environment and rural economies, are violated when eradication programs and alternative development programs are applied simultaneously.

• The draft declaration aims at developing a unique model of agribusiness (which, among other modalities, promotes monocultures) within the framework of the World Trade Organization and free trade agreements, which excludes access to factors of production to ensure sustainability of small scale peasant economies.

• We note with concern that no mention is made to the mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and no due recognition of the importance of territorial ordering processes in included. Alternative Development policies should emphasize the accountability of the State and the private sector for environmental and social issues, and not just blame farmers involved in the cultivation of illicit crops.

*From Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe, some of which also participated in Thailand ICAD, 2011

Valencia, November 10, 2013
Observatory of Crops Declared Illicit (OCDI)