Papers

A study on the impact of the world drug poblem on the enjoyment of human rights was produced for the 30th Sesson of the Human Rights Council, Please read the recommendation from ECAD and WFAD regarding this study below. 

RECOMMENDATION THAT MEMBER STATES IN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL SHALL REQUEST THAT HIGH COMMISSIONER WILL WITHDRAW AND REVISE DOCUMENT A/HRC/30/65 (Study on the impact of the world drug problem on the enjoyment of human rights)

The document A/HRC/30/65 issued by the OHCHR overlooks several matters that are relevant in a discussion addressing the consequences of the world drug problem, including i.a. in the health, social, human rights, economic, justice and security fields. Here are some examples:

1. Vulnerable groups: Article 3 in The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) obliges States to give priority to children's rights in all forms of policy making. The reason is obvious; Children is prima facie the most vulnerable group of the population. CRC Article 33, obliges all states parties to protect all children from any illicit drug use, as well as from involvement in illicit production or trafficking. This is the only provision regarding drugs in any core human rights instrument, and hence should be an unmissable starting point for any investigation on enjoyment of human rights in context of illicit drug use.

The problem with Report 30/65:
Vaguely defined and non-legislated concepts such as harm reduction, and concerns on behalf of adult recreational drug users are treated as a priority in the Report. The Report is avoiding talking about rights of non-drug using children and adults as well as prevention. When in the end the Report makes reference to CRC Article 33 it is done in such a way that it is ignoring the main message of the Article (children shall be protected from any drug use), and the principles of child protection (starting with prevention and an enabling environment, as per UNICEF’s Child Protection Strategy 2008). The Report’s Paragraphs 55-57 refer only to children who are taking drugs and children in contact with the justice system. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has for over 20 years not issued a thematic report on the issue of Article 33/drugs. The present Report had an important contribution to make, but refrains from doing so. The Committee on the Rights of the Child have mentioned “harm reduction” in non-policy making country reports. This has been done with no definition of what ‘harm reduction’ is. The present Report is co-opting the Committee and other bodies to a definition of harm reduction that is including that “recreational drug use shall not be discouraged” (Report Para. 11). It is highly unlikely that this will be the eventual position of the Committee, as this explicitly goes against the spirit of CRC Article 33.

2. The document focuses exclusively on the human rights of the drug users and of the persons affected by drug addiction. Given the complex nature of the world drug problems and the multitude of its ramifications, a human rights study have also to address the rights of people who are not illicit drug users, but affected by other people’s drug use. By existing human rights law it can be noted that recreational drug users enjoys the same rights and obligations as other citizens. A legal transgression does not create extra rights, or a protected position. 

The problem with Report 30/65: The systematic exclusion of consideration of how nondrug using population is affected is discriminatory.

3. The only area where the rights of the population that do not use drugs is addressed is in relation to the access to essential medicines. However, in relation to the availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposed the study refers only to restrictive drug control regulations and practices that constitute barriers to accessing essential controlled medicines. The International Narcotics Control Board have repeatedly indicated that the situation needs to be addressed in a comprehensive manner and can be substantially improved through States parties action to address the regulatory, attitudinal, knowledge-related, economic and procurement-related problems.

The problem with Report 30/65: The present Report is too shallow. Human Rights Commissioner need to consult INCB on the issue of essential medicines before finalizing the Report.

4. In relation to the right to health, the OHCHR´s study does not analyze the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights general comment No. 14 (2000) observation that considers as a “violation of the obligation to protect” follows from the failure of a State to “discourage production, marketing and consumption of …narcotics and other harmful substances” and other paragraphs referring to illicit drugs. Such an obligation must be analyzed in the context of the definition used in the OHCHR study for the concept of “harm reduction”. Given the controversy arising from the utilization of this term a recommendation on the terminology clarification is welcomed.

The problem with Report 30/65: The Report is not legally systematic on the issue of right to health. With regard to the importance of this issue we hereby petition that the Report will be sent back to the High Commissioner for a review that is based on a systematic and transparent addressing of how the minimum standards set out in core human rights law are met, rather than a piece of activism to undermine the Drug Control system explicitly
endorsed by Article 33.


Stockholm, 2015-09-24


Erik Leijonmarck
Secretary General
European Cities Action Network for Drug Free Societies, ECAD

Linda Nilsson
Secretary General
World Federation Against Drugs, WFAD