At a press conference in New York on Tuesday 26 October, 2010, at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly, one of the UN’s key human rights experts will call for a fundamental rethink of international drug policy. Anand Grover, from India, is the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health, whose mandate is derived from the UN Human Rights Council.
Mr Grover’s annual thematic report, to be presented on October 25/26, sets out the range of human rights abuses that have resulted from international drug control efforts, and calls on Governments to:
The report is the clearest statement to date from within the UN system about the harms that drug policies have caused and the need for a fundamental shift in drug policy.
The report has been welcomed by the European Union in the EU statement on crime and drugs to the UN General Assembly.
Press conference details:
Tuesday, 26 October at 1:15pm at the Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium, New York, (close to the UN library in the Secretariat Building - entrance on 42nd Street and 1st Avenue). There will be a press release issued.
Mr Grover WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE for press comment prior to the press conference.
For press enquiries please contact:
Fiona Lander, MBBS(Hons)/LLB(Hons)
Research Assistant to Anand Grover, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health
Also available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian
The current international system of drug control has focused on creating a drug free world, almost exclusively through use of law enforcement policies and criminal sanctions. Mounting evidence, however, suggests this approach has failed, primarily because it does not acknowledge the realities of drug use and dependence. While drugs may have a pernicious effect on individual lives and society, this excessively punitive regime has not achieved its stated public health goals, and has resulted in countless human rights violations.
People who use drugs may be deterred from accessing services owing to the threat of criminal punishment, or may be denied access to health care altogether. Criminalization and excessive law enforcement practices also undermine health promotion initiatives, perpetuate stigma and increase health risks to which entire populations - not only those who use drugs - may be exposed. Certain countries incarcerate people who use drugs, impose compulsory treatment upon them, or both. The current international drug control regime also unnecessarily limits access to essential medications, which violates the enjoyment of the right to health.
The primary goal of the international drug control regime, as set forth in the preamble of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961), is the “health and welfare of mankind”, but the current approach to controlling drug use and possession works against that aim. Widespread implementation of interventions that reduce harms associated with drug use — harm-reduction initiatives — and of decriminalization of certain laws governing drug control would improve the health and welfare of people who use drugs and the general population demonstrably. Moreover, the United Nations entities and Member States should adopt a right to health approach to drug control, encourage system-wide coherence and communication, incorporate the use of indicators and guidelines, and consider developing a new legal framework concerning certain illicit drugs, in order to ensure that the rights of people who use drugs are respected, protected and fulfilled.
Member States should:
The United Nations drug control bodies should: