In March 2023, the Human Rights Council requested a report of human rights challenges in drug policy from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The global drug control regime grounded in the three international drug conventions has been a driver of serious and systemic human rights violations worldwide.
Recognising this fact, this submissions urges the High Commissioner to use the report mandated by the Human Rights Council to call on the international community to transform its approach to drug policy, moving away from prohibition and law enforcement, and towards an international framework enshrined in human rights and health.
The following concrete steps are suggested:
- Recognise that the global drug control regime, including the international drug conventions, has promoted and contributed to punitive policy frameworks that have generated serious and systematic human rights violations.
- Recognise that several Member States have already proposed or adopted reforms, including the decriminalisation of drug use and related activities, harm reduction, or the legal regulation of internationally scheduled drugs, that seek to promote a human rights-based approach to drugs while discarding the goal of a society free of drug use.
- Call on the UN system and Member States to initiate a process to evaluate the human rights impacts of the global drug control regime, and to propose concrete steps for its reform and modernisation.
- Call on the UN system and in particular on bodies such as WHO, UNODC, and UNAIDS to develop guidelines and minimum standards on how to adopt a human rights and health-based approach to reforms such as decriminalisation of drug use and possession for personal use, alternatives to coercive sanctions and the legal regulation of drugs.
- Recommend that the CND, the UNODC, the INCB, and the WHO incorporate into their agendas and work plans a separate item on the human rights dimension of drug policies.
- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)