UNGASS Special Segment Day 3 – Interactive discussion on cross-cutting issues: drugs and human rights, youth, women, children and communities

UNODC. Introductory statement. Agenda item 4c relates to the health and human rights, focusing on the need of women, children and youth, who are affected in many ways by drugs and their consequences. UNODC has drawn several conclusions:

  • drug use disorders and their health complications such as HIV, HCV and overdoses are public health issues that can be prevented by health assistance and institutions. Challenges have to be overcome to ensure the right to health is enjoyed in practice. Initiation in drug use is not always free choice, can be also a result of vulnerabilities and availability of drugs. Prevention should therefore tackle these vulnerabilities. A public health and evidence based approach to drug use is more cost-effective and beneficial to individuals. Many drug users face obstacles that impede access to services they need. UNODC works to remove these legal, policy and practical barriers, including violence and stigma. In many countries, men, women and children who inject drugs have no access to HIV prevention, care and treatment services such as NSPs, OST and other evidence based treatment or ART.
  • There is a strong need for alternatives to prison for drug offences. The provisions of the drug conventions on alternatives for consumption and minor offences are not always used adequately. Prisons in many countries are overcrowded by drug offenders, particularly women who have a minor role in the trade.
  • When providing technical assistance, UNODC encountered approaches of concerns – coerced treatment, detention without due process in compulsory detention and rehab centres. Together with other UN entities we advocate for the closure of these centres. We promote services in the communities
  • We must give prominence to rights of women who use drugs. They are victims of violence by the police and must be protected. Treatment must be gender responsive. There must also be alternatives to prison for women drug offenders, with mitigating factors.
  • We need a stronger focus on the protection of children’s rights. Conventions on children’s rights raise this need and more needs to be done. Despite the fact that initiation in drug use is early, there is a need to address the proper development of children and youth. Children also have inadequate access to treatment. Many end up in the criminal justice system instead of child protection systems. A comprehensive approach must be adopted to remove barriers to HIV and drug use prevention. We must ensure that children who have infringed the penal law but have dependency problems have access to treatment, rehab and social reintegration.

Asian Group. we meet in this important forum with strong determination and good intentions at protecting our societies against the most serious threat that is narcotics. Saudi Arabia as part of the international community is working towards the implementation of the 3 UN drug conventions. We are implementing all obligations under the conventions, in respect with our faith, in order to realise social justice and preserve the rights of women and children.

The authorities who seize the accused place on record facts and evidence, then the case is referred to an independent body for investigation. They have the right to set aside the case if the accused is not guilty, or to refer them to the court. Police, courts are all independent, preserving the rights of the accused, and preserves the integrity of the system. If a person volunteers to seek treatment, the case is also set aside. If the accuse is not linked to a penal offence, and that the offence of abuse is not related to a traffic accident resulting in harm, and that there is no violence.

We consider that drug dependants are ill, they have the right to treatment and after care, as well as to necessary medicines and to a dignified life for those who recover. We follow up with programmes implemented by the government or the private sector.

We have programmes for youth to avoid they fall prey to drugs. Our work is based on scientific evidence. It is important to stress prevention.

Another issue is the smuggling and abuse of amphetamine tablets. The contribution of the laboratory section of UNODC provides quality assurance tests, samples and scientific references, and this has an important role. We have discovered 500 samples from our amphetamine seizures. But they are a mix of medical and other substances, providing great danger and toxicity. We are aware of the effects on youth. Synthetic drugs and ATS in particular represent a great danger. We must increase cooperation in this great challenge.

GRULAC. It’s an honour for me to present Argentina and GRULAC on this panel, where I invite you to consider the need for public drug policies to be designed and implemented with respect to human rights. I underscore the long way Latin America and the Caribbean have come in defending human rights. We have suffered a social and economic crisis, recurring military dictatorships, but we have worked together to consolidate and strengthen democracy, the rule of law, social development, in the framework of peace and security as set out in the UN Charter. The world drug problem involves all of us, going beyond national borders.

We need a comprehensive and balanced approach with joint and shared responsibility, taking into account local and regional specificities. Dealing with the problem requires international cooperation, in which our region has been largely involved at different levels. We have respected international agreements, and the implementation of measures agreed in political declarations from 1998 and 2009, and we have invested many resources.

However, stemming from national measures and obligations, we have faced unexpected and unwanted results – high rates of deaths, discrimination against drug users and constant link drug-youth-poverty-crime, disproportionate penalties and increase in the prison population. Because of these consequences, we have tried to develop solutions. We are therefore tackling the problem from a people focused approach, the dignity, well being, education, health, work, strengthening the social fabric. This strategy respects the different realities of our region. In this sense, we welcome the existence of new view points and approaches that attempt to deal with realities.

We have experiences now that don’t consider users as criminals. We have removed criminal sanctions and penalties while retaining administrative penalties or alternative social or health services. For small scale strategies, we are working to ensure proportionality through legislative reforms and differentiating types of offences in trafficking.

Harm reduction interventions are undifferentiated in our region – we must reduce the health and social impact of drugs and policies in the region. We are working on the rescheduling and reclassification of drugs – we must make distinctions when we deal with different schedules and characteristics of each substance.

Finally, some consider that the regulated markets would be better as they would remove profits from trafficking and would reduce damage and risks related to drug use. Argentina acknowledges that people must be at the centre of policies, not the drugs themselves. Our president separated consumption with other offences. We are working to ensure equal access to services and to ensure social inclusion through a comprehensive approach taking into account the needs of each individual. Lack of these are often linked to alcohol and drug abuse. A comprehensive approach would help counteract these issues.

We have 60 prevention services, 50 education centres and special services for pregnant women or mothers with young children. We also have space for young people who do not study or don’t have a job so that they can complete their education and get a job. Through these programmes and activities, we continue to implement the social and health perspective. It means that our drug policies include all the social elements that are essential at reducing the damaging effects of drug abuse. We focus on people at the centre of policies, as well as communities. We must include them in reconstructing the lives of these people and respect their human rights.

We don’t consider people to be patients or addicts, rather people with full rights. We have removed the idea of abstinence, we focus on social reintegration, and overcoming social exclusion to move towards social inclusion. We study why people use drugs. We believe in economic policies that cover the redistribution of wealth and equality of opportunities. We defend the weakest and provide them with options. I hope this gives us food for though. We participate intensively in regional and global forums. Today in our region, it is dialogue and the pursuit of solutions that prevails to overcome drug problems.

Western Europe. Ruth Dreifuss. The UN Declaration on Human Rights is the cornerstone of international law. I congratulate the CND to promote drug control and human rights. The goal is to protect the well being and human rights of people in the conventions. Risks have increased over the last 20 years. The fact that we have lost the dream of a drug free world has pushed us to try and respect better human rights. We are looking at ending the death penalty for drug trafficking. But we see a reverse trend – people suffering from violence, seeing no alternative. Some countries have reintroduced the death penalty. We must be vigilant in the protection of human rights.

I want to call the Special Rapporteur on human rights: right to non discrimination, rights of individual peoples, right to life, to health, etc. In states that have not abolished the death penalty, this penalty should only be used for the most serious crimes, and therefore should not be applied for drug offences. How far can we promote human rights in countries that retain the death penalty?

The right to health should form the basis of our approach towards drug users. We must remove barriers that stigmatise and discriminate against drug users. This may deter them from requesting treatment. If the police arrest them, drug users will not go to treatment, harm reduction, and will suffer from overdoses. We have developed harm reduction and even drug consumption rooms. These services save lives and protect drug users and their families from possible infections. But these measures are still banned in some countries and not rightly used.

Another aspect of the right to health is access to essential medicines. This is one of the objectives of drug control, but it is far from the truth. Some substances have been outlawed, including pain killers and anaesthesia which are out of the reach of people who need them.  People who suffer from intense pain have no access to these substances, which is cruel and degrading.

The use of torture and ill treatment – people detained for minor crimes are not given replacement treatment, which is being used by authorities to confess. Corporal punishment in detention is also used. Compulsory reeducation through labour is also a concern. This includes sexual abuse, experimental treatment without consent, etc.

Indigenous people – some traditional practices of indigenous people involve substances included in the drug control treaties. These rights are protected in covenants on rights and indigenous rights. State parties can remedy these contradictions with the UN drug conventions can be tackled with reservations. National contradictions also exist. Specific attention should be paid to minorities and marginalised groups that are targeted disproportionately by drug policies.

Small scale traffickers not involved in violence and have no other way to make a living end up reinforcing the power of the leaders.

I now turn to children who are extremely vulnerable. The Convention on the Rights of Children has called for children not to be put in prison. They need harm reduction services. Child drug addicts are often put to prison, have no access to health services, there have been criticisms around crop eradication campaigns as well. Women drug mules with children who are incarcerated also leave children.

Civil Society. Ms Kristina Sperkov, IOGT International. Civil Society Task Force invited me to participate in this discussion today, however, my statement should not be taken as representing all of civil society. My organization works from the premise that social problems cannot be solved from a military means. There is too little peace in the world, and too many wars, such as the war on drugs. UNGASS 2016 is hampered by the false dichotomy between criminalization and legalization on one hand, and the war on drugs on the other hand. Five points: 1) Polarized debate is counterproductive as it dramatically shrinks space for discussion by limiting space to discuss alternatives and promotes simplistic solutions and wrongly identifies options for treatment. We offer a new way that offers no changes to UN drug conventions. The global community has not lived up to what is allowed within the conventions. 2) Respect for the rights of children. General drug policy making is to be child focused. Human rights based approach to drug policy provides protection for children from drug use. Must ensure a drug free society. Prioritize children in areas, even in areas where this seems irrelevant. 3) Women’s drug use puts children and families in danger. Mothers fear losing their children or being incarcerated, and therefore do not participate in treatment. Need to empower and advance women. Urge governments to deliver on their promises to women. 4) Human rights for all. World Drug Report estimates that 95% of world’s population did not use illicit drugs in 2012. Large majority reject the risk associated with drug use. Need to ensure that the rights of the silent majority are protected. Development perspective needs greater prominence. Need to link our discussion with others in the UN system. Use of substances have a higher impact on marginalized groups. Need to ensure that substance use in developing countries do not reach the levels of developed countries. 5) It’s possible. Prevention first approach is the most cost-effective, the most sustainable, most humane, and most people empowering. Use all human rights infrastructure for guidance for broad, balanced, and humane drug policies. First objective of public-health oriented policies is prevention. There is a need for a comprehensive approach to drug-related harm.

Bulgaria. Align itself with statements made on behalf of the EU in the Special Segment. Welcome the inclusion of civil society in the overall process as this is an important voice that must be heard. Scientific research must be a core element of all discussions. Government policies should be comprehensive and multi-faceted, including prevention, harm reduction, and treatment. Marginalized groups are vital to account for in these policies, including young people affected by drug use. NPS must also be addressed. Condemn the death penalty in all circumstances. Reiterate strong commitment to combatting the world drug problem and hope UNGASS 2016 will actually make a change.

Israel. Recognize need to develop strategies that address needs of unique populations. Full respect for international conventions and human rights. Gender, eduction, age, and cultural background must be considered. Children and young people are target groups. Wide variety of evidence-based prevention, beginning as early as kindergarten. Need to discourage them to use drugs in all parts of their lives. Community centres, sports, and entire communities can help with this. Parents involvement in prevention efforts is vital. Necessary to develop broad range of treatment options for young people to ensure their reintegration into society. Separate them from adult patients. Address all aspects of drug disorder. Israel tabled draft resolution L4 regarding evidence-based treatment for young people with drug use disorders. Women also have unique needs. Women only services are important, as they have unique issues such as sexual abuse, motherhood, etc. Provide them tools to cope with issues such as prostitution and motherhood.

Norway. Panelists amply showed interlinkages between challenges of drugs and the needs to uphold human rights. New instrument under human rights called the universal periodic review. All countries are examined regularly on their human rights performance. Encourage all of us to put drugs in that. Are we good enough as countries to deliver as one on our rights and obligations? When it comes to human rights, its a question of individual rights. Thinking of the particular needs of children, women, and Indigenous peoples. In many countries, health ministries and social ministries are relatively weak in the context of government. How can we address this, and how can civil society help strengthen those? Need cohesion. Dignity and rights of people suffering from illness. We must not forget them. The disease burden of cancer is increasing, making this problem more acute. We need a forward looking document coming out of the UNGASS, and therefore need this to be included.

Korea. Full conformity with human rights law and other relevant law, including the drug conventions. Human rights based approached cannot be emphasized too much. Drug users and offenders should be provided proper treatment rather than criminal punishment. Nature of drug-related offence as a manmade crime should be considered in context of the death penalty. Women and children should be protected from drugs. Women and children are most precious. Sustainable development must be in our considerations for UNGASS 2016.

International Drug Policy Consortium. I am making this statement on behalf of the International Drug Policy Consortium, the Washington Office on Latin America, CELS, DeJusticia and Intercambios, to discuss an issue that has been raised by several panelists today on the impact of law enforcement-led drug control strategies on women, in particular in the Western Hemisphere.

Women across the Americas are being incarcerated for minor, non-violent, drug-related crimes at an alarming rate. Available research shows that, in Argentina, 68% of the female prison population is incarcerated for drug-related crimes. The numbers are 45% in Colombia, 60% in Brazil, 65% in Costa Rica, and 80% in Ecuador, to name a few.

Women serving or awaiting sentences for drug-related crimes usually have little or no schooling, live in conditions of extreme poverty, and are often heads of household and responsible for the care of young and elderly dependants.

Most women are not imprisoned for large-scale trafficking offences, nor are they leaders or protagonists in criminal networks. Rather, most are performing low-level, high-risk tasks and are sometimes coerced into drug dealing and trafficking by intimate partners. Many have been driven to small-scale drug distribution as a way to survive poverty and social exclusion, and to feed or provide basic support to their children.

Although women continue to be a minority in the prison system, the gendered dimensions of this issue require special attention and consideration. Indeed, incarcerated women suffer a triple stigma. First, the justice system condemns them, and then punishes them in penitentiary centres that are poorly equipped to meet their gender-specific needs. Secondly, society condemns them for betraying their gendered social role as care givers. And thirdly, their criminal record stigmatises them by thwarting their opportunities to gain decent work in the licit economy upon release from prison. The incarceration of mothers and care givers in particular can have devastating consequences for their families and communities.

Some countries, such as Costa Rica and Ecuador have already taken measures to address this issue based on a solid gender and human rights perspective. We call on all governments in the region and beyond to review their drug laws and practices to ensure proportionality of sentencing, the consideration of mitigating factors when imposing sentences and the adoption of alternative penalties for minor drug offences. We call on governments to ensure that imprisonment is used only as a last resort for vulnerable women involved in minor drug offences, making use instead of interventions that seek to reduce the socio-economic and personal factors that led them to get involved in the drug trade in the first place.


Sweden. The conventions should be much more focused on cross-cutting issues. We have lessons to learn here to be more engaged. When it comes to human rights, our work should be based on human rights. Every one has the right to health, and this includes the right not to be excluded from treatment. The human rights aspects and a balanced approach should be addressed in the Human Rights Council. We will ask them to prepare a statement on the drug control and human rights problems, and to hold a panel discussion to prepare for the UNGASS, to be held in September.
With regards to youth, we must prevent people from getting into drug abuse. It is the best way for them to live a healthy and normal life. We must also support the CSTF. Their input into our deliberations is extremely important.

Sudan. I would like to thank you for all your efforts to fight against drug abuse. Regarding harm reduction in alcohol and other drugs – INCB guidelines on restrictions in the use of narcotics and psychotropics are very clear. Some drugs need some exemptions in individual countries, and some change in estimates. Many have conservative approaches towards harm reduction – the view point from the media is that the marketing of harm reduction may increase use. We need enough efforts to decrease unwanted consequences from this possibility.

Thailand. Thailand takes part in the human rights centred approach, in particular in protecting children, youth, women and communities. With regards to women, we promote treatment, including for those involved in drug-related offences. The Bangkok Rules offers guidance on the specific needs of women in prison. We are committed to widely promote the Rules. Youth also can access treatment based on a gender balance and youth sensitivities. We invest in the well-being of adolescents and children, as well as community. We prevent the use of youth in trafficking as well. We must safeguard youth and women from falling prey to drug abuse and traffickers. We work closely with member states and other stakeholders to combat the world drug problem in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Colombia. We are working on identifying the challenges in terms of human rights to address the world drug problem. We must defend the agricultural workers caught in the illicit economy to provide them a way to access legal livelihoods. We also address the rights of consumers. In Colombia, a lot of pain is associated with the reduction of drug crops over the last 30 years. Nothing comes without a cost. We promote proportionality of punishment and alternative sentences for drug offences, in particular for people who use drugs and those caught for drug trafficking. Most of the time the penalties are not proportionate. We try to step up services offered, treatment for drug dependence. We target organised crime first and foremost. We provide assistance for those who suffer, in particular women and adolescents, in particular those caught in the criminal justice system to humanise our drug policies.

Transform (delivered by INPUD). You are all aware of the current and ongoing wave of executions of people being held on death row for drug offences. The UN has condemned the death penalty for drug offences as inappropriate and as a breach of human rights law. Will UNODC make a forma statement condemning countries for their actions and attempt to intercede in person either yourselves or by a senior in country staff person to stop these executions?

With regards to the closure of harm reduction programmes, specially OST clinics, a move that is clearly retrogressive in human rights law, and contrary to international normative guidance. More than 40 of the former clients of the recently closed OST programmes have died, others have become internally displaced. A similar process is under way in other countries with some OST clinics already closed, and stock outs of methadone and ART are frequent occurrences. Will the UN make a clear statement in condemning these actions, underlining the damage done to harm reduction programmes and human rights?

The next two requests are for Mr Fedotov.

Over the last few years, but this year in particular, we have seen several UN agencies making technical recommendations acknowledging the clear casual link between criminalisation of people who inject drugs and the high levels of HIV and hepatitis C in our community. Will the UNODC make a clear statement calling for decriminalisation, using both the WHO Consolidated Guidelines on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations, and last year’s High Level Segment State of the Art paper as support. Both of these documents are unequivocal in making this connection.

The UN should confirm that UNODC’s recommendations to the 2016 UNGASS will include a call for decriminalisation of drugs and people who use them given the widespread of evidence from multiple sources, including numerous UN agencies, including UNODC, that criminalisation is the major driver of poor health and human rights outcomes for people who use drugs, as well as a recognition that the Vienna Consensus on drug policy is broken and that a wide debate on alternative regulatory frameworks is put on the table?

South Africa. The president of Switzerland and the civil society representative asked to improve human rights. We are asking if it was an omission to highlight the right to development. We believe this is an integral part of human rights. There is a whole spectrum of human rights. As we go forward toward the UNGASS 2016, member states should uphold the right to development. We also want to raise our concerns because some of these human rights issues are done for the purposes of sensitivity, double standards and politicisation. These are principles that all member states have adopted. We also look forward to the OHCHR conducting a study on the human rights dimension of the world drug problem. We seek to create a balance to uphold social, economic and cultural rights, including the right to development.

Indonesia. We share the view that in addressing drug issues, the principle of the UN Charter should be upheld. We remain committed to promote and uphold human rights nationally and internationally with concrete actions. In combating crime and trafficking, the rights of the victims and society should be taken into consideration. We are also committed to rehabilitating 100,000 drug users and reintegrating them to society. Drug abuse has affected the lives of our people including youth, women and children. The government is not standing seeing people being victims to drug abuse. We are concerned about the use of the internet in drug abuse. We put emphasis on the impact of the internet and social media on drug abuse.

Sri Lanka. I speak a few words on prevention and rehabilitation. Nationally and internationally, we think that prevention and rehabilitation should be changed. We think of using the religious and spiritual values of our country. We have seen hundreds of people respond to their mother from a single word – we should use this strong spiritual value. The power of the rehabilitated person will keep him forever from using drugs. We will use religious organisations for this role.

??? Support the statement made by Norway. Civil society’s role is crucial in preventing and treating drug abuse. Highlight Saudi Arabia panelist’s comment regarding protecting and treating drug prevention at an early age.

Indonesian Network of People Who Use Drugs (PKNI). Concerned with renewed war on drugs in some places in Asia. Refuse clemency and imposing harsher penalties for drug offences. Urge governments around the world to consider evidence before making policy decisions, especially those that are a matter of life or death.

Pakistan. Human rights debate within the context of drugs should not be misused to legalize. Cannot undermine state sovereignty. Must be given equal importance along with the human rights debate. Any controversial concepts should first be legally defined under national legislation.

Afghanistan. Protection of children against drug abuse must be given an overall priority in drug policies, particularly drug demand policies. Prevention and treatment efforts must go in parallel to each other. Must mainstream protection of children against drug abuse. Rate of addiction among children in Afghanistan has been growing. Trying to, along with awareness raising, mainstream drug treatment.

Panama. We closely identify with what Argentina says. That is what we are moving towards in Panama as we move towards the non-criminalization of drug use. All panelists referred to special treatment for women and vulnerable groups. Women often commit these crimes in order to be able to have money to look after their children. Haven’t heard any of the speakers give specific examples of what to do with women when they have been detained, because that fragments the family even more. What can you tell us about what you’re all doing?

Iran. Considering our geographic location, Iran has spent heavily to counter international drug traffickers. Regretfully we are hearing sounds towards irrelevant topics, such as abolition of death penalty. Seems in the view of some member states that only greedy traffickers have some rights, not the police that died enforcing drug laws. There is no international consensus on the death penalty, and it is not prohibited under international law, including the drug conventions. Stress the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of states.

Ecuador. Decriminalized drug consumption because believe this is a health issue. Amnesty for people, especially for women an many were extremely poor and they had to take their children to prison with them as there was no one to take care of them. These women were trafficking minute amounts. We respect international law, and are a party to the human rights conventions. Parliament launched a debate to update the criminal code. Defend the proportionality of penalties. Most people in prison were serving the maximum sentence, despite having trafficked very small amounts, when large-scale traffickers were basically left alone. Unfair disparity. Ecuador’s current drug policy is focused on people. Never aimed to decriminalize drugs, but rather their use. Instead of punitive policies, we need public health penalties that are evidence-based. Need more effective formulas through a comprehensive approach.

Active Sobriety Foundation. Narcotic drugs pose a great risk to society. We support setting a focus on the rights are children. Young people are a resource, and they will play a crucial part in spreading the message on prevention. Including youth organisations as a stakeholder is crucial. Young people are at risk of becoming drug users. Young offenders are a very important target group. We support the findings of the European drug report. We hope children and young people’s considerations are involved in the process leading up to UNGASS.

USA. The United States is not a Kingdom [after being mistaken for the UK]. The human rights convention and drug treaties must underpin all of our effort on drug control policy. Ideally the UNGASS can serve as a mechanism for shoring up human rights issues surrounding drug policy. Within this is the access to essential medicine, which we support.

Three points merit out attention:

  1. Incarceration as a form of treatment is not successful.
  2. We must expand access to treatment.
  3. We must seek balance in our alternatives to incarceration polices.

Public health must underpin our policy. Drug addiction is a chronic and relapsing disease which needs greater understand. The UNGASS can combat this through working to improve treatment services around the world.

To improve treatment, reform must come at the practitioner level and the legislative level.

The finalised international standards on treatment will be available at the CND next year and the UNGASS. These can be used to create minimum treatment standards regardless of a country’s economic situation. This involves ensuring no harm is done in treating addiction, and that stigma is removed from drug use and addiction.

In conclusion, we must recall that the CND and UNGASS have a responsibility to help shape drug control. A major challenge for us all will be effective provision of treatment. CND is in the vanguard of improving human rights and health of all.

El Salvador. It’s been enriching to listen to the panellists. With regard to the use of drugs with a focus on young people and human rights, it’s necessary to refer to actual realities in our countries. Analysis shows we need to change our realities.

Organised crime has been found in our country to be very resilient, especially with regards to the activity of juvenile criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking. It’s concerning that organised crime exploit these youth, as children are our future. We must set out prevention measures not only for drug use, but provide reintegration young people caught in the drug trade. We need to change their reality by seeking public/private alliances as the government cannot do it alone.

We’re thinking that cooperation and assistance programs must be viewed through this prism with the participation of various stakeholders. Young people are taken hostage by criminal groups. This happens in countries like ours and other transit countries. These are some of the concerns we wanted to share. This type of dialogue is interesting and it would be good to hear from the panellists as to the links emerging between use groups and trade groups. We seek support in this regard.

The use of youth gangs affects the future of our country and our society.

Nicaragua. We wanted to reaffirm the position of our government with regard to the fact that the three UN conventions are the cornerstone of drug policy undertaken at the national level. Human rights are fundamental. We don’t think there are rights that prevail over the rights to family, the rights to life, health, among others. This must be highlighted in this debate.

We’ve heard this week discussion about new approaches and realities. Reality is the same everywhere, but there are different points of view. We don’t share the view of others who use the term human rights to call for a new approach and new drug policy system. My country believes in non-interference and territorial integrity. We reject the pretence of human rights to invoke innovative approaches to drug policy, especially within Nicaragua. These approaches are very dangerous. We want to join with other countries that believe drug abuse must not be fostered.

GRULAC. I would like to refer that earlier this month, we had an interactive session here in Vienna that was pretty interesting in many ways. We believe the social, economic and health approaches are essential. However, removing criminal approaches in some countries would be counter-productive.

The success of one country or region could not be considered a success for others, bearing mind cultural and political differences. But these successful approaches could ignite other international communities to take well balanced approaches by merging all fields such as social, economic and criminal approaches.

We hope UNGASS will spark new a era for dealing with the world drug problem.

Russian Federation. It is very important that we study the experience of many countries and those of NGOs. Exchanging information on programmes and their implementation can have very good impacts on demand and supply reduction. That particular view may not lead to success. Human rights must of course be considered, but jointly with many other things. The UN drug conventions are the achievement of consensus and we must continue our work with the conventions as our foundation.
 
Kenya. We want to bring the attention of member states on the illicit markets growing worldwide. Drug trafficking organisations are becoming more powerful. We have to look at this issue that we may be facing – illicit drugs are used as a weapon of war. We must learn from 9/11. That’s when the UN and the world in general appreciated dealing with drugs and coming up with sanction regimes and monitoring mechanisms. Some countries are faced with threats in security because of the growing influence of drug trafficking organisation. UNGASS 2016 must give direction on the security aspects of the drugs issue, as much as we look at it from a human rights perspective.

Ruth Dreifuss – Thank you Mr Chairman. I’d like to focus on the questions from South Africa, who asked why the right to development was not raised by myself and other panellists. This right has not received official recognition yet, despite the fact they play a vital role in addressing the drug problem.

I referred to eradication of drug crops and drug production, and the situation of farmers who face discrimination. But, of course development ios much broader than this, incorporating poverty, social discrimination, among other issues. All of these elements go into the issue of development and should go into drug policy.

Asia Group – I would like to clarify one point for all efforts to be combined in combating drugs. We need to distinguish between victims of drugs – the user who has the right to treatment and life of dignity – and the other side; those behind the trafficking and production. These people have only one right –  the right to a fair trial.

We should move toward promoting rights in these categories there will be harmony in the approach to drugs.

GRULAC – I want to make on short comment to three positions that were explained here from colleagues in my region. For Panama, women in prison is an unresolved issue. We’re working on how to respond to this. We have to talk about harm reduction because when a woman is detained, the family is also detained. Economic help does not work by itself. We need real policies, not technicalities or long-winded debates.

I believe the gender issue is an unresolved issue in our part of the world.

To our colleague from El Salvador and the fact of being a transit country, I’d like to clarify; if we are transit countries that is because there are countries who need us to be transit places due to their demand. We need to work on that. Countries that are consumers that tell us what to do and how we should provide them with everything they need, we have to be honest with our policies and positions. We need to debate this. We cannot allow intervention in our regional or national policies.

To Nicaragua, we are not imposing anything, we’re not imposing any policy to combat drugs and trafficking. We’re just engaged in dialogue and repsect sovereignty. When Uruguay made th decision it did, it did so with autonomy, and it imposed nothing  in neighbouring countries. We don’t believe on imposing things.

We want to work on policy. We need to change realities in our region.

EEG – Thank you for contributions.  I think that the UN system delivering as one there are trends. One example is the WHO being involved, but there needs to be involvement in this issue form other agencies and development here.

I think it’s time for governments to reflect on the issue and restructure the approach as this is a complex matter.

IOGT – I agree with South Africa. I work with development and we see that drugs are a huge hindrance to development. That’s why these substances need to be addressed to make progress.

I would say that we need to address the risk factors for using drugs and not the consequences. Of course, treatment must be delivered with dignity. But, to prevent this we must address risk factors such as poverty, and this is the responsibility of governments.

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