Human Rights and Drug Policy

Human Rights – Drug Policy

Human Rights and Drug Policy
Posted on March 15, 2019
Vienna – A coalition of UN Member States, UN entities and leading human rights experts meeting at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs launched today, a landmark set of international legal standards to transform and reshape global responses to the world drug problem.

The International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy introduces a comprehensive catalogue of human rights standards. Grounded in decades of evidence, they are a guide for governments to develop human rights compliant drug policies, covering the spectrum of cultivation to consumption. Harnessing the universal nature of human rights, the document covers a range of policy areas from development to criminal justice to public health.

The guidelines come at an important moment when high-level government representatives are convening at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to shape a new global strategy on drugs. Under the mounting weight of evidence that shows the systemic failures of the dominant punitive paradigm, including widespread human rights violations, governments are facing growing calls to shift course.

“Drug control policies intersect with much of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the pledge by Member States to leave no one behind. Approaches that violate human rights and fail to curb the illicit drug trade are leaving a trail of human suffering,” said Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director of UNDP’s HIV, Health and Development Group. “For countries who are ready to place human dignity and sustainable development at the heart of their drug control policy, these guidelines offer valuable guidance to promote more effective and humane drug control policy.”

Seeking to promote the rule of law, the guidelines feature recommendations across the administration of justice—from discriminatory policing practices, to arbitrary arrest and detention, to decriminalisation of drugs for personal use—the guidelines articulate the global state of human rights law in relation to drug policy, which includes ending the death penalty for drug-related offenses.

At least 25 national governments – from Argentina to South Africa – have scrapped criminal penalties for possession of drugs for personal, non-medical use, either in law or practice, setting an example for others to follow. The United Nations system has jointly called for decriminalization as an alternative to conviction and punishment in appropriate cases…