The international debate on the fight against drugs greatly contributes to the current political course and orientation adopted in Portugal. The paradigm shift on the subject and the focus given to the aspect of public health, to the detriment of a highly repressive approach, date back to the António Guterres administration. Possession and consumption are no longer a crime (although they are still penalised under certain conditions) and the user is no longer seen as a criminal, being, instead seen as a patient with addictive behaviours, in need of care.
This approach was initially contested, but it gradually gained traction, showed good results and gained visibility in the United Nations. Over the last 20 years, Portugal has gained ground and credibility, especially in Vienna, where the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) is located, and we can say without exaggeration that it has led much of this debate.
With regular annual meetings (every March in Vienna), the Commission on Narcotic Drugs is UN's central body on drug policy. There, "liberal theses" (the European Union, several Latin American countries, and also the UN, albeit in a more nuanced line) are pitted against "repressive theses" (Russia, Pakistan, China, the Arab world), which look at the subject as a matter of justice and criminality, and developing highly repressive policies, in some cases even applying the death penalty.
Modern global terrorism is currently one of the most serious threats to global security and stability. Since September 2001, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council have been making a normative contribution to global efforts in terms of counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism through the adoption of several resolutions on counter-terrorism, with particular emphasis on UNSCR 2178 (2014), on foreign terrorist fighters (FTF); 2199 (2015), on combating the financing of terrorism; 2309 (2016) on civil aviation safety; 2322 (2016) on judicial cooperation; 2341 (2017) on the protection of critical infrastructures, 2354 (2017) on countering terrorist narratives, 2368 (2017) which updates the ISIS/Daesh sanctions list, 2370 (2017) on preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons, and 2379 (2017) on ISIS's accountability for war crimes in Iraqi territory.
Portugal has ratified 17 international legal instruments related to terrorism (out of a total of 19). The other two instruments (Convention on the suppression of unlawful acts relating to International Civil Aviation and Additional Protocol to the Convention for the suppression of unlawful seizure of aircraft) are currently in the process of being ratified.
In response to the terrorist threat of ISIS, an International Coalition was created in September 2014, at the initiative of the United States, of which Portugal is a founding member, aimed at defeating extremism through a multifaceted and long-term approach that leads to the weakening and defeat of the ISIS/Daesh. Our country, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is a member of the Working Group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters of the International Coalition against ISIS/Daesh.
Portugal is a party in a large number of Council of Europe Conventions, having, on March 15, 2016, signed the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, which in the final stage of the ratification process.
Human Trafficking is a global, transnational phenomenon carried out by organised crime networks that victimise millions of people every year around the world.
Since 2007, Portugal has a National Plan against human trafficking that includes several Ministries (among them the MNE), private entities and non-governmental organisations. The Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality (CIG) is the national focal point for the issue of human trafficking, in the person of the National Rapporteur.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in liaison with the National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, assures national representation at the several meetings of the Council of Europe, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). We are a member of the Working Group for Support of the Coordinating Entity of the Third National Plan for the Prevention and Fight against Human Trafficking and of the Network for Support and Protection of Victims of Human Trafficking.
In all that is related to Human Trafficking, we seek to maintain a close and effective dialogue with the national entities in charge, involving the posts of the external network and sensitising them to this issue, in particular in the consular dimension.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, established by a United Nations Security Council resolution, is intended to regulate the trade of rough diamonds mined in conflict zones.
The Kimberley Process currently involves 54 participants representing 81 countries – the EU is considered a participant and, like its 28 Member States, is represented by the European Commission – including all diamond producing, exporting and importing countries. The Process is based on a unique tripartite structure between Governments, producers and civil society. The Presidency of the Kimberley Process is chosen by consensus at the plenary meeting, which takes place annually in the country holding the Presidency.
Although Portugal is not included in the range of diamond-importing/exporting countries, our country has been participating in the Kimberley Process since the beginning and is represented (like the other EU Member States) by the European Commission.
In 2015, Portugal established its certification authority (entity responsible for diamond certification under the Kimberley Process and for issuing certificates that establish the legal origin of diamonds in compliance with the provisions of the Kimberley Process). The EU currently has 5 other Certification Authorities: Germany, Belgium, United Kingdom, Czech Republic and Romania.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the Ministry of Finance, attends the meetings of the European Union Committee on the Kimberley Process and the meetings of the European Union's Diamond Certification Authorities.
Transnational Organised Crime
We coordinate national representation and positions at relevant meetings, in particular the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the Working Groups on the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the meetings taking place within the framework of the European Union.
We have representatives at international meetings, in particular within the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with special emphasis on the working groups dedicated to the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), and the Council of Europe.