Human Rights Council – 47th session
21 June - 13 July 2021
Oral statement on the importance of decriminalisation for the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the right to health
Statement delivered on 2 July 2021 by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) on behalf of the International Drug Policy Consortium, Accion Tecnica Social, Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, the Centre for Legal and Social Studies, Harm Reduction International, Instituto RIA and Penal Reform International.
This statement is delivered on behalf of the International Drug Policy Consortium, Accion Tecnica Social, Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, the Centre for Legal and Social Studies, Harm Reduction International, Instituto RIA and Penal Reform International.
The study presented today by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention shows that the human rights devastation brought by the war on drugs is – and should remain – at the centre of the Human Rights Council’s agenda.
With an estimated 2.5 million people in prison for drug offences, and hundreds of thousands more in administrative detention, the Working Group’s recommendations will be instrumental for the ongoing debates on mass incarceration and policing, but also on issues such as the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, the death penalty, and criminal justice.
The study also reveals the extent to which drug laws are used to target oppressed groups, such as women, LBGTQI+ people, and ethnic and racial minorities – a discriminatory effect that has also been highlighted in the High Commissioner’s recent report on systemic racism.
The United Nations must act with a strong and united voice to advance drug policies that are centred around human rights, public health, and social and racial justice, with the meaningful involvement of people who use drugs, and affected communities. History shows that this will only happen with the Human Rights Council taking a leading role.
The Council Resolutions on drug responses and human rights adopted in 2015 and 2018 were critical in bringing human rights to the core of global drug policy debates. We urge the Council to adopt a new Resolution on drugs, taking stock of new contributions such as the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy, or the UN system Common Positions on drugs and on incarceration, as well as of emerging themes such as mass incarceration, systemic racism, and non-discrimination.
Thank you very much.
You may also be interested in the side event that we organised at the 47th Session of the Human Rights Council: Strengthening the role of the UN human rights system in drug policies: The case of arbitrary detention