By Khalid Tinasti, Pavel Bém, Anand Grover, Michel Kazatchkine, Ruth Dreifuss
Global health policy will enter a new era later this month as world leaders adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We believe that the SDGs should include a set of specific commitments to respond to the drugs issue and provide a frame for the basis of next year's United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem.
Not only should the UNGASS 2016 outcome be in line with elements of sustainable development such as justice, dignity, and people-centred policies, but drug policies at the national level should be reviewed to meet the terms of sustainable development. To achieve poverty eradication, ensure healthy lives or environmental protection, drug control policies can no longer be based solely on law enforcement, which has proven prejudicial to any improvements in other arenas with their “unintended consequences”.
The SDG target on illicit drug abuse is rightly placed under the Health goal (Goal 3), which, we would argue, should trigger reforms prioritising health and human rights-based approaches to drug policies.
For many years, drug control has in effect been a war against people and at the same time this war has maintained a focus on fear of the substances being used. But the past 20 years have proven that more harm comes from those drug policies that exclude, condemn, and reject people, rather than from policies primarily aiming at treatment and social integration of drug users. Drug policy reform will be needed if countries are to achieve the SDG targets by 2030.
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