By Jose Ramos-Horta

Around the world, people have experienced one of the most widespread and shameful human rights failures of our time—the global war on drugs. Barely a day passes without some tragedy or abuse fuelled by misguided drug policies hitting the headlines. Day by day, the costs of the war on drugs are tallied in the suffering, death, and missed opportunities across the entire drugs market chain, from production to use.

Today, 70 years to the day since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we might pause to reflect on the totality of these daily injustices. Decades of experience tells us that on this day, we have a crucial question to ponder about our approach to drugs: what do we value more, living up to the promise of the Universal Declaration or chasing the illusion of a “drug-free society”?