JS2 2 - Panel Discussion on Drugs and Human Rights

Thank you Mr. President.

I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of the core group of 10 countries that have presented this initiative (Albania, Brazil, Colombia, Greece, Guatemala, Mexico, Norway, Paraguay, Switzerland and Uruguay)

We would like to thank the panellists for their insightful presentations as well as the Office of the High Commissioner for its study on the impact of the world drug problem on the enjoyment of human rights, including its recommendations.

Mr. President,

Our common goal is to promote an open and all encompassing discussion to effectively contribute to the United Nations Special Session on the world drug problem (UNGASS2016) that will take place next year. We believe the special session gives us a unique opportunity to assess the challenges of the international community in countering the world drug problem. To this end, our discussions should be informed by the best available evidence as to allow us to conduct a realistic review of the global response to the drug problem, based on measures that are working and giving us the chance to improve those that are not.

Experience has proven worldwide that measures relying mostly on a punitive approach have had limited efficacy to deal with a problem that is complex and multidimensional. The so called “unintended consequences” of drug policies have had a very negative impact on the enjoyment of all human rights, with very high costs to our societies.

We must continue working to achieve the aim which is at the core of the Conventions on drugs: the protection of the health and wellbeing of mankind. When addressing the world drug problem, policies must put the individual at its centre, and be implemented under a human rights based approach in order to promote, protect and fulfill civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, with a view to strengthening social cohesion.

Prevention must be privileged, especially when dealing with people in vulnerable situations, including women, children, homeless and indigenous people. Access to treatment, including harm reduction strategies, social rehabilitation and reintegration must be guaranteed without discrimination of any kind. Arbitrary and compulsory detention, as well as torture and ill-treatment should be avoided. Proportionality is a basic principle guiding the issuing of sentences for drug-related offences. States must respect and protect the right to life when dealing with drug-related challenges. The death penalty can never be used in order to sanction drug-related crimes. Cooperation to support responses with a sustainable development based-approach, including alternative development programmes must be promoted.

We hope that our debate will be taken as a contribution in order to ensure that a human rights dimension is properly considered when addressing the international response to the world drug problem.

Thank you.