Pour la troisième année consécutive, plus de 100 ONG demandent à la directrice de l'ONUDC de marquer la Journée internationale des droits humains en appelant à des politiques en matière de drogues respectueuses des droits

March in memory of 'disappeared' family members in Mexico. Brigada Nacional de Búsqueda de Personas Desaparecidas / Enlaces Xalapa


Pour la troisième année consécutive, plus de 100 ONG demandent à la directrice de l'ONUDC de marquer la Journée internationale des droits humains en appelant à des politiques en matière de drogues respectueuses des droits

1 décembre 2022

Les organisations de la société civile demandent à la directrice de l'ONUDC, Ghada Waly, d'appeler les États membres à modifier leurs politiques et pratiques en matière de drogues afin de respecter la Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme, et de placer les droits humains au centre de toutes les dimensions du travail de l'ONUDC. Pour en savoir plus, en anglais, veuillez lire les informations ci-dessous.

To: Ms Ghada Waly, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

30th November 2022

Dear Ms. Waly

Subject: Open letter on occasion of International Human Rights Day 2022

We urge you to mark International Human Rights Day 2022 by calling on Member States to change drug policies and practices to fulfil the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to place human rights at the centre of all dimensions of UNODC’s work

We are writing to you ahead of International Human Rights Day on 10th December 2022, which will celebrate the legacy and relevance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ahead of its 75th anniversary. For the past two years, dozens of civil society and community organisations have called on you to issue a statement on International Human Rights Day urging Member States to change drug laws and practices that undermine health and human rights. We reiterate this petition once again, as we call on you to mainstream human rights into all dimensions of UNODC’s work.

The human rights catastrophe brought about by punitive drug policies is well documented by the United Nations system. Every year, UN human rights experts pay increasing attention to the human rights consequences of drug policies, and more are announced to come soon. The recent and unprecedented joint statement released on 26th June 2022 (UN World Drug Day) by 13 UN human rights special mandates, in particular, notes that ‘the UN system, the international community and individual Member States have a historical responsibility to reverse the devastation brought about by decades of a global “war on drugs”’. The joint statement calls on all UN agencies to ‘ground their drug policy responses in international human rights law and standards’, and to ensure that their ‘financial and technical assistance on drug policy’ promotes responses that are ‘gender responsive’ while ‘actively seeking to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms’.

As the lead UN agency on drug-related matters, this call concerns UNODC most of all.

Furthermore, both the 2016 UNGASS Outcome Document and the 2019 Ministerial Declaration – alongside the UN System Common Position on drugs – commit the international community to ensure that drug policies are aligned with human rights obligations. As explained by the INCB on the occasion of the 2020 International Human Rights Day, ‘Human rights are inherent and inalienable. The world drug problem cannot be lawfully addressed without ensuring the protection of human rights’. The recent intersessional meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs showcased the growing centrality of human rights at the Commission, as well as the increasing presence of human rights bodies and experts in Vienna.

Taking into consideration the theme of this year’s International Human Rights Day, we urge you once again to mark this occasion with a strong statement, calling on states to reform drug laws, policies and practices in order to align them with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To be credible, such a statement should call on Member States to:

  • Abolish the death penalty in all circumstances. Imposing capital punishment for drug offences has been found to be contrary to international human rights law by the Human Rights Committee, and the Human Rights Council.
  • Put an immediate end to extrajudicial killings committed in the name of drug control, as has been repeatedly called for by the Human Rights Council and UN human rights experts.
  • Acknowledge the disproportionate impact of drug laws and drug control on people marginalised on the basis of their gender, race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status.
  • Promote the end of all criminalisation and punishment for drug use and related activities, as called for by the UN System Common Positions on drugs and on incarceration, OHCHR, UNAIDS, and UN human rights bodies
  • Permanently close compulsory drug detention centres, including those that masquerade as ‘rehabilitation’, and implement voluntary, evidence-informed, and rights-based health and social services, as recently called for by sixteen UN agencies, including UNODC.
  • Stress the urgent need to provide accessible, affordable, and adequately funded harm reduction services– including by well-funded peer-led services –, to fulfil the right to health and the right to life of people who use drugs. This is also central to UNODC’s core role as lead UNAIDS co-sponsor regarding prisons and HIV amongst people who use drugs.
  • Take immediate measures to address prison overcrowding, as already recommended by your own agency, the UN Common Position on incarceration and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, in line with the basic principle that prisons should only be used as a last resort in all circumstances.
  • Ensure that people who use drugs are not subject to arbitrary detention, torture, or ill-treatment – whether in state custody or in public or private drug services.
  • Make sure that drug policies incorporate a gender-sensitive perspective, by tailoring drug services to the specific needs of women, and by ensuring that criminal laws take into account the circumstances of women involved in drug offences, as most of them come from backgrounds of poverty, marginalisation, and oppression.

As the lead UN agency in drug-related matters, UNODC has the responsibility to promote drug policies that respect, protect, and fulfil human rights, including where appropriate to clearly speak out for their reform, in line with the commitments made in the UN System Common Position on drugs.

In that regard, we also call on you to use your leadership at UNODC to place human rights at the centre of all dimensions of the agency’s work. This should include not only providing technical guidance to member states, but also:

  • Ensuring that UNODC’s operations do not contribute to, fund or facilitate the implementation of policies in contravention of international human rights laws and standards
  • Mainstreaming reporting on the human rights consequences of drug policies, including by remedying the current absence of human rights in the World Drug Report;
  • Stepping up UNODC’s involvement in human rights cases that require urgent action, in close cooperation with civil society and with other UN entities, including where appropriate through public statements and diplomatic interventions;
  • Working as the lead of the Task Team responsible for the implementation of the UN System Common Position on drugs to update the Task Team’s excellent 2019 report as a key contribution to the 2024 mid-term review of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration.

We look forward to your response, and to discuss these concerns and recommendations with you.

Yours sincerely,

Ann Fordham
Executive Director
International Drug Policy Consortium

Co-signatory organisations:

  • Africa Network of People who Wse Drugs (AfricaNPUD), Tanzania
  • African Law Foundation (AFRILAW), Nigeria
  • AGRRR, French Guyana
  • AIDES, France
  • Akzept e.V Bundesverband für akzeptierenden Drogenarbeit und Human Drogenpolitik, Germany
  • Alcohol and Drug Foundation, Australia
  • Alliance for Public Health, Ukraine
  • Alternative Georgia, Georgia
  • ANCS SÉNÉGAL, Sénégal
  • Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice, Russia
  • APDES, Portugal
  • Asociación Bienestar y Desarrollo, Spain
  • Asociación Costarricense para el Estudio e Intervención en Drogas (ACEID), Costa Rica
  • Asociatia RHRN - Romanian Harm Reduction Network, Romania
  • Associazione Luca Coscioni, Italy
  • Bensther Development Foundation,Nigeria
  • Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, Canada
  • Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERiA), Malaysia
  • Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, Canada
  • Centro de Convivência É de Lei, Brazil
  • Centro de Estudos de Segurança e Cidadania, Brazil
  • Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral, Dominican Republic
  • Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign, Ireland
  • Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos A.C., Mexico City
  • Conectas Direitos Humanos, Brasil
  • Corporación Acción Tecnica Social, Colombia
  • Corporación Humanas Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos y Justicia de Género, Colombia
  • Corporación Humanas Chile, Chile
  • Corporación Viso Mutop, Colombia
  • Correlation - European Harm Reduction Network, Netherlands
  • Dejusticia, Colombia
  • Drug Policy Advocacy Group, Myanmar
  • Drug Policy Alliance, United States of America
  • Drug Policy Network South East Europe, Serbia
  • East African Harm Reduction Network, Uganda
  • Elementa DDHH, Colombia and Mexico
  • Episteme Investigació i Intervenció Social, Spain
  • EQUIS Justicia para las Mujeres, México
  • Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), Lithuania
  • Fédération Addiction, France
  • Fédération Bruxelloise Francophone des Institutions pour Toxicomanes, Belgium
  • Foreningen Tryggere Ruspolitikk, Norway
  • Frontline AIDS, United Kingdom
  • Fundacion Latinoamerica Reforma, Chile
  • Groupement Romand d'Etudes des Addictions (GREA), Switzerland
  • Harm Reduction Australia, Australia
  • Harm Reduction International, Global
  • Harm Reduction Nurses Association/L’association des infirmiers et infirmières en réduction des méfaits, Canada
  • Health Poverty Action, United Kingdom
  • Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland
  • HIV Legal Network/Réseau Juridique VIH, Canada
  • HOPS- Healthy Options Project Skopje, North Macedonia
  • Humaania päihdepolitiikkaary, Finland
  • Indonesian Harm Reduction Network, Indonesia
  • Instituto RIA, Mexico
  • Intercambios Civil Association, Argentina
  • International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service (ICEERS), Spain
  • International Drug Law Advocacy & Resource Center (IDLARC), USA
  • Law Enforcement Action Partnership, USA, U.K. and France
  • Lawyers Collective, India
  • LBH Masyarakat (LBHM), Indonesia
  • Mainline, Netherlands
  • Me Representa, Brasil
  • Médecins du Monde, France
  • Metzineres, Spain
  • Mexico United Against Crime (MUCD), Mexico
  • Middle East & North Africa Harm Reduction Association (MENAHRA), Lebanon
  • National Harm Reduction Coalition, United States of America
  • New Zealand Needle Exchange Programme, New Zealand
  • NGO Re Generation, Serbia
  • NoBox Transitions Foundation, Inc. (NoBox Philippines),Philippines
  • Nyasa Rainbow Alliance, Malawi
  • NZ Drug Foundation, New Zealand
  • ONG REVS PLUS, Burkina Faso
  • Organisation for the Prevention of Intense Suffering (OPIS), Switzerland
  • Paroles Autour de la Santé Guadeloupe, Guadeloupe
  • Penal Reform International, Netherlands
  • Penington Institute, Australia
  • Perkumpulan Rumah Cemara, Indonesia
  • Plataforma Brasileira de Política de Drogas, Brazil
  • PREKURSOR Foundation for Social Policy, Poland
  • Recovering Nepal, Nepal
  • Release, United Kingdom
  • Release L.E.A.D.S., United Kingdom
  • RESET - Drug policy and human rights, Argentina
  • Rights Reporter Foundation, Hungary
  • Scottish Drugs ForumScotland, United Kingdom
  • Skoun, Lebanese Addictions Center, Lebanon
  • Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD),Guyana
  • South African Network of People Who Use Drugs, South Africa
  • Steps Non Profit Organization, Greece
  • StoptheDrugWar.org, United States of America
  • Students for Sensible Drug Policy International, Austria
  • TB HIV CARE, South Africa
  • Trans Research Education Advocacy and Training, Zimbabwe
  • Transform Drug Policy Foundation, United kingdom
  • Transnational Institute (TNI), Netherlands
  • Uganda Harm Reduction Network (UHRN), Uganda
  • Uganda Key Populations Consortium (UKPC), Uganda
  • West Africa Drug Policy Network, Ghana
  • Washington Office on Latin America, United States of America
  • Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance, United Kingdom
  • Youth Organisations for Drug Action, Poland
  • Youth RISE, Ireland
  • Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network, Zimbabwe