The Reconvened Session of the 64th Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was held from 9th and 10th December 2021. IDPC, HRI and INPUD drafted the following statement at the occasion of the UN meeting.
Statement by the International Drug Policy Consortium, Harm Reduction International and the International Network of People Who Use Drugs on Agenda Item 11 of the 64th Reconvened session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs
Madame Chair, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much for giving me the floor.
This statement is delivered on behalf of the International Drug Policy Consortium, Harm Reduction International and the International Network of People who Use Drugs.
Today, 10th of December, is International Human Rights Day. Unfortunately, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs has nothing celebrate.
In recent years, support for human rights has become a welcome mainstay of international drug policy documents. In the 2016 UNGASS Outcome Document, the 2019 Ministerial Declaration and many CND Resolutions, all Member States regularly commit to respect, protect, and promote human rights. The INCB has repeatedly stated that drug control must comply with human rights obligations. And through the UN system Common Position on drugs, under UNODC’s stewardship, all UN entities have pledged to support policies that put human rights at the centre.
Despite these commitments, repressive drug policies continue to fuel widespread and systematic rights violations, including the death penalty for drug offences, extrajudicial killings, mass incarceration, the systemic denial of harm reduction, and countless acts of police brutality and violence.
This year’s International Human Rights Day focuses on equality and non-discrimination. Drug bodies should be deeply compelled by this theme. As the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights wrote in her recent report on racial justice, ‘The discriminatory application of criminal law must be tackled at every stage, including by reforming drug policies with discriminatory outcomes’. Yet, even in yesterday’s session, we were shocked to hear objections to the inclusion LGBTQI+ populations in UNODC reporting.
Last June, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention published a watershed study on arbitrary detention and drug policies.
International law establishes an absolute prohibition on the arbitrary deprivation of liberty that applies to all Member States. This study documents the appalling extent to which this prohibition is breached because of drug laws. But the study also provides a series of positive country examples, as well as constructive recommendations, and the Working Group has always stood ready to dialogue and cooperate with Member States.
In light of this, we are deeply regret that the Chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, who had been invited to present their findings today, has been disinvited at the last moment.
This study requested by the Human Rights Council in a resolution adopted by consensus, which also mandated the Working Group to bring it to the attention of CND. The decision to disinvite the Working Group places Vienna in discordance with the rest of the UN system.
The move to silence a UN human rights mandate precisely on International Human Rights Day sends a disturbing message that human rights expertise is not welcome in Vienna, and that the Commission on Narcotic Drugs prefers to turn a blind eye to human rights violations.
This decision is unprecedented and deeply concerning. The CND has made repeated commitments on welcoming contributions by other UN entities to the work of CND, most recently in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration. And for several years now, UN human rights bodies have rightly addressed CND meetings without issue.
We urge Member States to ensure that the Chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is invited again to the upcoming regular session of the CND. The involvement of human rights bodies and experts needs to be welcomed and proactively encouraged in all CND meetings. Otherwise, the Commission will risk sliding into an increasingly isolated and irrelevant position within the United Nations system.
Thank you very much for your attention.