The recently elected President of the INCB, Professor Viroj Sumyai, gave a statement to mark the ‘International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking’ which takes place each 26 June.

As is so often the case in drug control, the INCB President’s discourse remains ambivalent. While the broad theme consists of an anti-drug message, the specific contents involve many of the more progressive elements that have featured in the INCB’s discourse in recent years.

‘The health and welfare of humankind is at the heart of the drug control conventions’, said Professor Sumyai, noting that the Board has recently emphasized ‘that the conventions are founded upon respect for human rights and the principle of proportionality in responding to drug-related offences’. Professor Sumyai went on to stress the importance of human rights and proportionality in drug-related sentencing. The INCB also encouraged states that still maintain the use of the death penalty to abolish it in the case of drugs offences. Adding that women are too often the victims of disproportionate sentencing for minor offences, he completed what is a largely powerful and progressive statement of the Board’s objectives.

He also strongly contested the use of extrajudicial killings, which is not only contrary to the international drug control conventions, ‘but is also a serious breach of human rights and an affront to the most basic standards of human dignity. The Board strongly, categorically and unequivocally condemns extrajudicial targeting of people suspected of illicit drug-related activity’.

It is encouraging to see that the INCB maintains its new, progressive stance, as was widely hoped within civil society. It appears, at least in the short to mid-term, that the Board’s position has been consolidated, and is set to endure, and that the new President will continue on the lines of his predecessor.   

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Thumbnail: Flickr Tony Webster