In 1971, French President Georges Pompidou proposed the creation of an international group to tackle the growing problem of drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Europe, with seven founding members. In 1980 it was incorporated into the Council of Europe as an enlarged partial agreement comprising 13 countries. It now counts 39 member states, including 3 non-European countries (Morocco, Israel and Mexico), while several other countries – such as Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Canada or Argentina – are co-operating in the Group’s activities.
Over the years, the Pompidou Group has developed innovative approaches to drugs policy, based on the philosophy that drugs and drug-related problems can be effectively addressed through science while many other cultural issues, such as public opinion and political ideology, need to be taken into account. Some of its major achievements include bringing in systems to measure drug use and dependency; incorporating human rights indicators into all stages of drug policy development; controlling drug trafficking in airports and on airlines through the Airports Group, which keeps member countries up to date on the latest modus operandi used by criminals; and the promotion of drug prevention policies with proven impact such as schools-based life skills education and drug treatments that lead to users being reintegrate into society.