Side Event: Public health, justice and development: Implementing comprehensive innovative approaches to drug policy

Ann Fordham (IDPC): Welcome.

Mexico: Comprehensive policy: peace, community and sustainable development. Mexican Congress is discussing national regulations at this moment where we consult civil society academia and the scientific community. Leave no one behind. Our approach is resting on 3 principles: public health (incl. gender and age perspective), prevention,
Our national strategy for addiction prevention is called ‘Together for Peace’. This week, we are discussing ways forward in drug policy and it is essential to mainstream gender perspectives and active participation of women. Synergies, UN Common Position. We are grateful for civil society to moderate this event – clear sign that we are engaging in actual dialogue that we hope will translate into concrete actions.

(Pompidou Group): Public health justice and development are key issues on which the Sustainable Development agenda is based. The 2030 agenda realizes drug policy goes hand in hand with health, education, reducing gender inequalities, better institutions, peaceful societies and justice. With the government of Mexico, we organized an international conference to align drug policies with SDGs. We discussed key elements in aligning objectives and provided best practices for participant countries. Coherence in policies and common goals, multi-agency strategies, multi-stakeholder execution. Protective legislation that safeguards civil rights, good governance is essential for good policies. It is important take note of all possible effects of policies regardless of intentions. Indicators showing changes must be followed-up with action. Human Rights are interlinked with drug policies, it is MS obligation to promote and protect fundamental freedoms. MS must ensure unintended consequences don’t interfere with these rights. The challenge is to ensure policies are effective in guaranteeing fundamental rights and also achieving the aims of regulation. The way forward: intersectoral collaborations, development and strengthening of monitoring mechanisms, human rights incorporated in drug policies (including the non-discrimination of users), balance between protecting human rights of individuals and ensuring public safety.

UNODC: On the common position – chief executive board looks after all the UN principles. We have a far more active approach on drug policy which doesn’t come as a surprise and the new Secretary General was involved in drug policy in Portugal. In 2018 we decided to create a common position. In 2019, we had a ministerial meeting. The SG wanted to make a contribution to that high-level segment based on what we have learned so far within the UN system about drug regulations – what we perceive the evidence to be up until that point. We mention common values, such as the practical implementation of the UNGASS outcome document; the complexities of the world drug problem with wide ranging impacts on security, human rights and development; common and shared responsibility; mutually reinforcing commitments; promoting sustainable livelihoods in rural and urban areas; the principle of proportionality; evidence-based informed policy decisions. How can we bring that to the field?

OHCHR: The international guidelines on human Rights and Drug Policy is our best tool now to implement the commons position outlined values. Since the 90s, the UN GA recognized that all programs must be carried out with respect to human rights and fundamental freedoms. It has been reaffirmed in a number of policy documents, also here in CND. The guidelines offer how “being in line with human rights obligations” can be implemented these commitments in reality. We’ve held a series of consultations with member states and stakeholders. It was a 3 year-long process to produce this document that was launched last year. The key features of the guidelines are criminal justice; public health and development. The document is based on fundamental human rights principles. It is taking into account special groups such as young people, indigenous people, women, etc. With regard to data collection, there is a huge discussion going on and we provided our input to the ARQ update to consider human rights indicators that are also mentioned in these guidelines. The document is available online. In terms of implementation, for example, the EC welcomed the guidelines as well as the High Commissioner of Human Rights, different treaty bodies in Geneva have been introduced to the contents and have embraced it. This document provides guidance for system-wide coherence.

Audience question: Incarceration of women for non-violent drug crimes and the collateral of separation of mothers and children that also induces cyclical poverty. How does this protect human rights of children?

Audience: Civil Society collaborations are very important and for the first time it is happening in Mexico.

Audience question: How do you see the documents connecting to structural development?

Mexico: The congress is carefully working on the new regulation taking into account these human rights principles. We are determined to implement gender-specific policies. We work closely with civil society because they have the relationships with users and stakeholders, people involved in drug-related problems. It is important for us to be sensitive to their opinions.

OHCHR: On the overincarceration question, the guidelines address the issue and offers measures to be taken. In the SDGs, there is a specific goal as well. We know that pre-trial detentions are a key contributor to prison overcrowding. The measures that could be taken: review legislation re mandatory detentions, decriminalization of personal use, of minor offences. These are my key points.

UNODC: The GA will give this issue, prison overcrowding, great interest. We have in place the Mandela and Bangkok rules as well as the principle of proportionality.

Pompidou: We are aware of the situations in prisons, the Pompidou group and this guideline see gender dimension on the broad vision – all genders!

IDPC: Thank you.

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