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 23 June 2021 by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC).
Thank you for giving me the floor. The IDPC Consortium is a global network of NGOs that promotes drug policies that advance social justice and human rights.
On 26th June, advocates worldwide will mobilise for the Support. Don’t Punish Global Day of Action, to call for the human rights of people who use drugs to be protected. It is in this context that I am making this statement.
Fear of incarceration drives people who use drugs away from life-saving harm reduction and treatment services, increasing their vulnerability to blood-borne diseases, and the risk of overdose deaths.
In 2017 alone, the UN recorded 585,000 preventable drug use-related deaths. And today, over 470,000 people are in prison for simple drug possession, exacerbating health risks.
There is now overwhelming UN support for people who use drugs to be decriminalised, including in the UN System Common Position on Drugs and the latest report of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Globally, over 30 countries have turned to drug decriminalisation.
When grounded in a health and human rights approach, decriminalisation provides an enabling legal framework that promotes, protects and fulfils the right to health of people who use drugs.
We urge you to support this approach, as your predecessors did as far back as 2010, and include assessments on how drug policies are impacting on the right to health in your future reports and country visits, with a particular focus on women, gender non-confirming people, indigenous people, and racial and ethnic minorities.
Thank you for your attention.