The Netherlands associates itself with the EU statement.
The UNGASS preparations put a spotlight on the successes and failures of drug policy around the world. The UN drug control system is based on conventions. However, in different countries there are concerns on interpretation of these conventions and their flexibility.
There are issues concerning the access to essential medicines and proper drug education in schools as a result of strict control and complete criminalisation.
For us, the UNGASS has three priorities.
- We have years of experience of drug policy based on health and properly educating people on the risks associated with drug use, as well as providing harm reduction. The policy is successful. Pill testing, needle exchange and OST have proven effective in limiting the harmful impacts of drug use. In many countries, IV drug use is a driving force of HIV. We need more harm reduction measures globally to combat these diseases. Governments and donors must continue to support these measures.
- Access to medicine. Overly strict interpretation of the conventions has restricted access to essential medicines in the developing world. Ketamine is an essential medicine and anaesthetic in the developing world. Use of essential medicines should not have their access restricted, and a number of governments and organisations agree with this. That is why The Netherlands opposes the scheduling of ketamine.
- We advocate decriminalising drug use. Prohibition can make users fearful of asking for help, increasing the health risks of drug use.
Human rights is an important component in this debate due to forced detention in parts of the world, but also because of issues related to drug misuse. We advocate a humane drug policy.
The UNGASS on AIDS in 2001 proved a turning point on that issue. Let’s make the UNGASS on drugs in 2016 equally momentous and ensure it affects the lives of millions of people around the world in a positive way.