Home » Side Event: From principle to policy to practice: Implementing a human rights approach with people who use drugs

Side Event: From principle to policy to practice: Implementing a human rights approach with people who use drugs

Organised by Release Legal Emergency and Drugs Service Limited with the support of Ghana, Norway, the Global Commission on Drug Policy and the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy.


Michel Kazatchkine, Global Commission on Drug Policy

Angela Constance, Minister for Drug Policy, MSP

Seth Kwame Acheampong, Minister of State, Ghana

Stephen Cutter, Head of Legal Services, Release

Aditia Taslim, INPUD

Alan Miller, Chair of National Collaborative, Scotland

Julie Hannah, Director, International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy

Michel Kazatchkine: So we are aiming at having a very concrete discussion today. What does it take to actually implement a human rights approach? When it comes to drug policy, human rights approach to all aspects of policies that are today a challenge to people who use drugs in the area of health in the social sector in the from an economic perspective, in terms of service provision? So I would like to call on the speakers to really think of implementation here, which are the challenges that people face? And what do governments and affected communities academia can come together and think would be concrete approaches to implement? And we’ll hear already implemented policies from Ghana and Scotland. Thank you for being here again. So, let us start, we have 50 minutes, please speakers stick to your seven minutes time. And our first speaker will be Madame Angela Constance, Minister of drug policy, Scotland.

Angela Constance: Thank you very much, Michel. And good morning, colleagues, can I start by expressing my thanks to Release for hosting and organizing this vital conversation, which as Michel says its very core is about turning principles into actions, how we turn our words into deeds, and also want to recognize the contributions that fellow speakers will make this morning, who have been very much at the vanguard of that global shift towards a public health and a human rights based approach. And I’m particularly heartened and glad that we will also hear from Minister Seth Acheampong, who has shown considerable leadership in Ghana, which is all about making rights real for people. And that’s what matters most. How do we implement our policies? How do we put that into practice? And how do we all work together to turn lives around? I’ll just tell you a wee bit about Scotland. Scotland is one of the four home nations within the UK, we have what is called in Scotland, a devolved government, where we have control over health education, our justice system, some partial powers on the economy, tax and welfare. And the powers that remain reserved to the UK are those bigger macro economic and welfare powers, international relations, and also drugs law. So in Scotland, we’re in quite an interesting space between having a duty to deliver health education and justice services. But the framework, the legal framework, particularly with drugs law, remains reserved to the UK. So our arrangements are similar, but with some differences, to maybe state federal arrangements and other parts of the world. So I’m Scotland’s minister for drugs policy. This was a new dedicated post created just over two years ago. And it’s my job to lead a national mission to reduce drug deaths in Scotland. And the reason that this post was created was Scotland has the worst drug deaths rate in Europe. We also have very high alcohol related deaths as well. We are beginning to see some very early signs of progress. We’ve been quite cautious about this. So our suspected drug deaths for 2022, which are published this morning, will show a 16% decrease so our suspected (not confirmed) suspected death rate as the lowest that it’s been in five years. The scale of the tragedy and the loss of individuals and the impact on families and on our communities of Scotland has resulted in that it’s now accepted that we have a public health emergency and an urgent human rights issue.  And the debate in Scotland has actually shifted to: what does this mean in practice? And how will we deliver for our people and our national mission is to save and improve lives by reducing harm and promoting recovery. And there are three parts to that. Part number one is our emergency response. This is about increasing the distribution and availability of naloxone through our emergency services, Police Scotland in particular, peer to peer supply, particularly for people being released from prison, we’ve got a click and deliver, a very innovative service too. We have the UK’s only heroin assisted treatment project in Glasgow, we want to do more of that; we are learning all the time from the very best of international experience. And we are committed to delivering safer drug consumption facilities. And we are working through the delicate detail of how can we do that, within the powers, within the legal framework that’s currently at our disposal.  The second part of a national mission is to reduce risk by enabling people to access and or remain in treatment and recovery services. We have a new treatment target to get more people into OST that will increase to other forms of treatment. Next year, we are really pushing for the implementation, turning around our health and social care system to implement what we call the medication assisted treatment standards. So this is safety access to treatment, improved choice, how do we reach people? This is about outreach. How do we retain them and treatment? How do we reduce the harm all of these core standards, but also connecting to the broader social determinants of health, connecting drug policy and drug services to housing, advocacy, welfare, education and the much needed reforms that we’ve pursued in and around our justice system, we’re also increasing Residential Rehabilitation, because of some of the work we’ve done in Scotland, demonstrates that people with multiple complex needs who would benefit most from a residential option. It’s sometimes those people that find access and loose treatments, heartless, and we’ve opened some really innovative new services in terms of keeping families together, child and Mother recovery houses, and a new family Residential Rehabilitation Service that can help care for moms and dads, and their children too. And thirdly, this is about reducing vulnerability, addressing the social determinants of good health. So while my post is very dedicated to Job policy, my poor overworked civil servants, we have tentacles in every part of government. So we have a new cross government plan. And this is about team Scotland and how we turn what is a public health crisis around and the golden threads that stitch all of this together. As I lived and living experience communities, Professor Miller will speak about the work of the National Collaborative, and that’s very much about ensuring that we’re not just listening to the voices of real life experience, and that they also have the opportunity to shape what we do. So it’s not just about what we do, that lift and lift experiences shaping how, how we progress as well. And my final point, because I’m conscious of time, is that is our fundamental point of principle. And we treat drug and alcohol, problematic substance use, first and foremost, as a health condition. And we have a whole plan of action as a government about how you’re going to tackle stigma, because it’s a barrier to treatment, and we need to kick stigma and discrimination and to touch. So thank you very much for the invitation. And I hope one time you are

Michel Kazatchkine: Thank you very much for delineating these three ways of approaching the issues and the overarching, health based and human rights based approach. So thank you very much, Minister. Let me now turn to you Minister Acheampong, with a few words on the experience in Ghana. It’s a pleasure having you today.

Seth Acheampong: My ambassador was here with a high powered delegation from Ghana, the head of drug policy control the agency that does enforcement for the Republic of Ghana. Ken is here with us. As part of our Ghanaian delegation, one of Ghana’s good people was being helped him with drug policy reform from the civil society forum, that’s Maria Goretti, which most of you know already, and an officer for the CND here, Emmanuel. So these are the team that is supporting me here today. So I will just want to take a quick introduction for them, as I proceed to Ghana’s story.  Ghana story has been one, that over a decade and more, we were just on demand and supply reduction as a practice for prohibiting people who carry drugs, who use drugs, in terms of possessing and save time for trade. And so as a destination where we were gradually becoming a transit area, we were always looking at purely on demand, and supply reduction mechanisms and measures in respect of drug policy reform are ever we as a country have signed on to all the international treaties of the United Nations. And so at a point in time, when the conversation is changing, the narrative is changing globally. We were forced to immediately amend our way. So in 2020, Ghana enacted a new legislation on drug policy reform. And so we had a new Narcotics Control Commission, which is the Drug Enforcement Agency in Ghana. Therefore, on fast forward, we have goals set up to develop a master plan for policy formulation, assessing and reassessing the enactments we’ve already done. I must say that, even before we could complete our regulations, as in terms of instruments to complete the new law we had passed, some interested parties took us to the Supreme Court for some interpretations from the sections. And as a result of that, some particular section that would allow us on alternative development was called to be an unconstitutional law. However, government is very resolved to help us come back to the table. And it was a slim decision by the Supreme Court of Ghana of four-three, and the administration is poised to overturn the decision. And we’re hoping that in the next couple of months, this will be beyond us.  So, we need to go further in the conversation, these were some of the points that members when we broke ourselves into various groups and into working groups, we developed these outcomes so, urgent need for evidence based drug treatment and harm reduction services in Ghana. Ghana is already practicing some syringes program which is known in other parts of this industry. However it is not so eminent in Ghana, so it is good for us to scale it up. The need for opioid agonist treatment such as methadone for people who inject drugs: because already people are having it on the streets in Ghana, because from our history, as I said earlier, we become a transit point. So all manner of drugs, both from the West and the East, you find it in our center, because when it goes when you become a transit point, come what may, some will remain in your in your neighborhood, and people will use it. Again, the justice system from arrest to sentencing is critically assessed for opportunities to support people who use drugs. In the new law, we took away custodial sentencing for people who possess and use drugs. And so you go through some fines. And then that is how the new law puts it for us. We needed to also encourage the judicial system of our country to come up to speed because if they were they wouldn’t have outlawed a very good provision in the current legislation. It was noted that Ghana’s laws do not envisage an amnesty for people already incarcerated for drug offenses, the penalised under the Narcotics Control Act 1019, that is the current act. So, this is a matter that going forward when we are looking for amendments we will consider as part of the considerations alternative development is a very key matter for us, because people you cannot help them on psychotropic substances, they grow them. So small-scale farmers have difficulty participating in the regulated cannabis market which we are envisaging to hold because our legislation clearly did not give us the opportunity to do recreational cannabis – we are going to purely for medicinal and industrial purposes. Come to this, it became eminent on Ghana to hold a very important discussion, which was a national dialogue. The national dialogue, we had sponsors and support this, and these are the advertised entities that assisted us in having a national dialogue. So the conversation here is to discuss the content and implementation of international guidelines on human rights and drug policy in the context of ongoing drug reform conversations, both in Ghana and within our sub region. So this is to create space for states representatives, where we have UN AIDS, the Ghana AIDS commission and other members of the public health institution where our new law, its main objective is to center conversations on drug policy on human rights and public health. So if this is the way to go, then we need to bring everybody in that sector on board, open up to civil society too for them to also have a voice. Because if you come up to this global platform, civil society has always been a major stakeholder. So the dialogue was to give all these facets of interest to come together under one umbrella to hold a conversation to help government formulate the proper policy, to develop key recommendations for the next steps in the reform process, including identifying national drug control and human rights priorities, which is very key, because we have already been practicing a certain culture that is purely on demand and supply prohibition. So, we are in a new phase of introducing human centered policies and it is proper to bring everybody on board so, we can all share in experiences and move on. So it was recommended by the group when we had a dialogue that the newly developed drag services in Ghana are standardized, regulated and gender sensitive, which includes inter alia, having provision for childcare provision for sexual and reproductive healthcare, measures to address gender based violence; because we are in an international platform, conversations look into gender mainstreaming. And so we should also be sensitive as to the conversations around the table. So we also not left out alternative livelihoods. I have spoken a little about them, should they show that there is equal distribution of resources, gender mainstreaming of men and women under specific needs of women must be adequately factored into programs. It is also recommended that women, particularly those impacted by drug policy, be included in drug related policy discussions to better address their needs and concerns. You have women in farm communities and farmlands who primarily would have to take care of their children, and some may be vulnerable. And we have to be curious for some people who are already diverting some psychotropic substances, and what sort of support systems do you envisage to offer them in the event of a regulated market where the licensing, as you may know, comes with a lot of – But if I think I may end my story here during the question time and if any matter comes up for discussion, how come let me take you through our little conclusions. I think we have some conclusions and I must say that we are working extremely strong on alternative development programs for local farmers, as I as I said in on cannabis, and a noncustodial bill is currently on the desk of the Minister of Justice. He’s also government’s Attorney General. And we are hoping that this will help us free our prisons, overcrowding conditions in prisons is a mess. We have NGOs back in Ghana help them class in that area. There are good examples where people are being reformed. And they are put into proper economical use, they are being given other alternative treats, and they are working back home. And this is evidence based and that is what gives us encouragement to continue in this path. And we’re hoping that with these engagements, we will also learn from international experiences, by way of helping to build capacity and engage various stakeholders. Especially back home in Ghana, our focus is on the judiciary, we need to encourage the judges and enforcement agencies and police. Drug Enforcement Agency in Ghana today is the National Drug Control Commission, but they’ve also been given by the law be given powers of the police. As the police works, however, most of arrest is effected by traditional police. And some of the methods and measures that are made out to would be offenders affronts on the rights of the human. So we are trying to encourage them to also put human centered practices in their way of arrest and management of the criminal justice system. I want to thank you for the opportunity of speaking in this platform.

Michel Kazatchkine: Thank you very much, honorable minister, and so many lessons to be learned as we listen to you. Thank you for that remarkable exposition of your approach. And this fascinating process, starting with the dialogue. In the first ever report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy 2010, we recommended that the first step when thinking of changing, reforming drug policy is to “break the taboo and open the dialogue at national level”. And I found your experience really fascinating from that perspective. Thank you very much. Now, according to Aditia Taslim, and now we’ll hear from the ground. Aditia is with INPUD, as I said, in Indonesia.

Aditia Taslim: Thank you so much. Hi, everyone. I’m Aditia, I’m with International Network of People who Use Drugs, based in the UK but I’m living in Indonesia. First of all, I’d like to just begin with that, you know, this is beyond any of my wildest dream, knowing my background and having to sit next to ministers at this level. And it’s just proof that space for community to be able to speak of our experience, it’s possible to do. And also thank you so much Minister Constance for highlighting the importance of having choices, because I will also address that in my intervention.  So I started using drugs when I was 13 years old. And by the time I was 16, I was expelled from school. And so technically, I’ve never actually finished high school. And I’ve also been sent to countless number of religious based medical based rehab, without my consent; there was no options. And it was against my will. And also I was sent away to live in another country only to find out that I was discriminated against, because my passport was held up because of my HIV status and also my drug use for almost a year. So I started working on harm reduction with local community in Indonesia in 2005. And it was actually at the very early initiation of harm reduction in Indonesia. So you can imagine that we were very careful in doing so, because we had to bring needles and syringes out to the streets, hide them in our bags, distribute them to people who use drugs, at the same time also educate them on the risk of sharing needles, but also risking our lives to be arrested by the police. And we’ve been arrested by the police because of that. And despite all the progress made, with all the investment coming through from HIV response on harm reduction, the situation remains the same today. Needles and syringes are used as evidence by the police to arrest people use drugs, whether it’s people use drugs on the street or Outreach Officers. And services, even if they are available, most of them are inaccessible for many reasons, like operational hours that are not really fit to the needs of people who use drugs and also distance; they may also be administrative requirements, including mandatory urine test for people accessing opioid agonist treatment. Many of these services see abstinence from drug use as the only indicator of success and therefore making it uncomfortable for people who use drugs in accessing them, and most of the time, avoiding them. Organizations led by people who use drugs also continue to be challenged, stigmatized and denied. It also happened to our own organization recently: an arbitrary and discriminatory decision from a financial service that INPUD has been using for a few years led to the freezing all of our accounts without prior notice and on unreasonable grounds. This was just last year. So for the whole two months, we had no access whatsoever to our account, and posed financial risks because we couldn’t really do anything, we can’t send money to our partners and it’s really a complete mess.  Although the successful advocacy efforts that we will we did, through the support with the UK All Party Parliament group for drug policy reform and the UK media led to the reinstatement of our accounts. The unprecedented situation highlights a major challenge and violation of human rights. That even a globally recognized organization like INPUD, with strong support from the UN, international donors and UN member states, face unfair treatment and challenges accessing financial services. And this further underlines that many national networks of people who use drugs are still unable to open an independent bank account due to organizational identity and name, which not only impedes on the rights of freedom to assembly and association, but also means losing out on the already scarce funding opportunities.  For at least 40 years on, the Global Health human rights community continues to fail people who use drug as key population in the global HIV response. But for the first time, the world recognizes the critical importance of societal enablers on the criminal issues of drug use, and possession as well as the importance of the leadership of people who use drugs to the global AIDS targets known as the 10/10/10 and the 30/60/80 targets. However, these global commitments are often not translated international actions, and country continue to focus narrowly on treatment targets, leaving no space for discussion on the criminalization, societal enablers and community leadership. And also just a quick reminder that these targets are set to be achieved by 2025, which is just around the corner. And we don’t often talk about these targets at this space at the CND. Since last year, INPUD with the support from UNAIDS technical assistance mechanism worked with PKNI in Indonesia, SANPUD in South Africa and DHRAN in Nigeria, our network members, as well as networks from Africa and MENA regions in building the capacity of people who use drugs to really unpack the global targets and international human rights instruments and creating strategy in using them in advocacy for decriminalization as well as funding for drug user led responses, and, most importantly, making it easy for community to be understood, and making it in a way that language is understood by the community. And later this year, we’re also expanding our efforts by having a global training of trainers, bringing people who use drugs from around the world, and for them to bring back to the community, to hold the government accountable for the commitments and promises. And all of these drug user led responses will only be successful and impactful with fully funded UN AIDS. Since there are not many other institution that are willing to fund drug user led organizations.  Worldwide, we only have eight countries that have to decriminalized drug use. While some others have merely shifted towards administrative laws and penalties. They’re still fueled on moralism, prohibition, punishment, and pathologization of drug use. So we call on member states to unworn drugs and to fully decriminalize people who use drugs by removing all administrative sanctions, including fines, mandatory report, revocation of rights, and privileges, police surveillance, as well as the immediate closing of all compulsory detention centers that are used in several countries, particularly in Asia Pacific. We also call member states to meaningfully involve people use drugs, invite us to the table, not just as a requirement, but see us as an expert, by listening to us, who may be able to find a solution that speaks to the values and preferences of people who use drugs in accessing services. And lastly, in order to continue the advocacy on decriminalization and human rights for people who use drugs, drug user led networks need to be invested, not only just through project funding: organizational capacity building, as well as access to adequate core funding, or imminent forces for the sustainability of our movement. And let me close this with a quote from our friend in Canada. That goes, prohibition is the reason we have all these harms. We are overdosing, and getting harmed and dying, because of the war on drugs. When we finally acknowledge and confront the causes of almost all the harms, which is drug prohibition, we will be much closer to finally putting an end to them. Until such time, harm reduction saves lives. Thank you.

Michel Kazatchkine: Thank you very much for that powerful message from you and INPUD. I will now turn to Stephen Cutter from Release. And let me just take this opportunity. I mentioned the co sponsors of this event at the beginning. But at the top of the initiative is Release and the remarkable work that this organization has been doing in the policy field and in delivering services in the UK for so many years. So this is to acknowledge Niamh, your work and that of your team. Thank you very much, Stephen, the floor is yours.

Stephen Cutter: Thank you so much. And thank you to all of the panelists for joining us today. So our organization provides help and advice to people with the legal and social problems that they have. And we respect the rights of the choices that they make having received that advice. We find that this is an uncontroversial position for many advice providers, but in a society where the stigma of drug use means that there is a status quo of coercive and paternalistic interventions. This approach is often seen as surprising, and this is indicative of the problems I would like to talk about today. It’s because many of the people we support experience drug dependency, which is exacerbated or caused by structural poverty. People who use drugs are often othered and seen outside as being seen, are seen as being outside of social norms and stigmatized for their behaviors. We cannot separate that treating people as criminals is core to this experience of stigma. But it goes beyond the criminalization of drug use and pervades into socio-economic structures. That stigma particularly affects those who developed dependence and it’s likely to be felt even more sharply by those who have other stigmatized characteristics, such as physical health conditions, or those who are neurodiverse. The stigmatization will often result in people being talked about by a range of services as being chaotic, high maintenance, drug-seeking are simply difficult to reach. There can be a misplaced desire to pathologize drug use as always being a form of self medication. This is too simple an explanation given the many lives and motivations that make up our community. Just as people across the breadth of society use drugs, they are used for a range of reasons, from pleasure to a range of other beneficial reasons. Despite this, the present situation is a policy environment which seeks to coerce or control drug users behaviors outside of the criminal law through broader socio economic policies. The result is that life is made harder across a range of legal areas: employment, family, housing, social security and health. These difficulties are compounded by the stigma of drug use. Many of our clients report that services that support the community as a whole are in fact often stigmatized individuals because of their drug use. This creates a hurdle to accessing help and advice and a range of everyday social issues. Those using treatment services have found them increasingly hostile and often unable to meet their needs. This follows a decade of focusing on abstinence only outcomes, and the result is a treatment regime of paternalistic approaches.  For example, if someone has seemed to be using on top of their script, then it is more likely that compliance will be sought by additional drug testing or increased monitoring and supervision. In fact, what people may need is a higher dose, a less regimented collection schedule, or to try alternative medications. Our advocacy tries to secure people the latter. Our drugs team can provide because advocacy on behalf of people having difficulties with their treatment providers, and we’ve supported people in bringing legal challenges against them. We assisted one grievant, who had been in receipt of diamorphine, a pharmaceutical form of heroin for a long time, but they were suddenly told that this medication would be stopped. Most had been receiving this medication for years, and previously had poor experience with other forms of opioid substitution therapies. They did not want this change, and they were worried about what it would mean for their lives, just as anyone would be if their important medication was to be unilaterally withdrawn. However, the challenge we assisted on was limited to the mistakes the provider had made in doing this, but not to the person’s right to the treatment itself. The challenge was expensive. It took years and it provided no protection to the patients from other providers making the same decision again, but without making the same mistakes. The success in this case also provided no protection to other people with other providers from having the same mistakes made in withdrawing their medication. This uncertainty cannot be the framework on which people’s rights are based: it is one of hope, rather than of security.  The limited application of that case is often repeated in the work that our legal team completes. Through our Community Legal outreach services, we see the socio economic effects of drug policy, as our advisors provide specialist casework support in social welfare issues. For example, in housing, we regularly challenge local governments for failing to help people who use drugs to access housing, as in many jurisdictions, there is simply not enough help available for everyone who asks for it. And so to qualify for help, people must pass through several gates, each of which is intended to restrict eligibility for help. One of these gates looks at a person’s medical, health and social needs. We find that in many cases a person’s physical or mental health needs will be dismissed when it is also found that they use drugs. While there is a danger in over pathologizing drug use as a whole, it is not untrue that some of the most vulnerable people that we help have experienced trauma or are managing multiple other conditions. Requests from help from the people living then easily dismissed as they are “just drug users”. While we are often successful in our challenges to these individual decisions, they are only case by case wins, and they provide no uniform rights based protections. Those who go without help find themselves trapped their drug use results in local government refusing housing, and at the same time their drug use makes it highly unlikely that any homeless shelters will accept them. If there were not health problems beforehand. It will not be long before there are we see a similar disdain to drug users in relation to government social safety nets. One client went into a residential rehab and days later, their partner said they would be leaving them and the children once out of rehab, the client had to find a new home and prepare it before they completed their stay. They had to prepare it for their children. They asked for help, and they were refused: the decision makers instead took to prefer that the residential rehab should be treated as their home. The decision was so clearly wrong, that even the children, not experts in social welfare law could have told you that this was not their home. The refusal meant that the family was left with 1000s of pounds in renter arreas and, having lost already already lost one family home, they were evicted again. It was at this stage that the client was introduced to us. Our service successfully challenged the chain of decisions that led to the refusals, the client was ultimately awarded all of the arrears and cleared the debt, a young parent recently out of rehab and homeless.  This case is not a win. It was an unacceptable and completely avoidable outcome of treating drug use or dependence as a moral failing, and of decision makers refusing to look beyond a person’s drug use and to provide help to people who were lawfully entitled to it. And we see this all of the time. Our work has its own problems. Those we are asked to help have to keep revisiting the awful treatment and trauma they have experienced so that we can help them in bringing their challenges successfully. They have to justify their entitlement to the small sums of money into support that the state actively describes as having been calculated to be the minimum needed to survive. The precarity of this support cannot be the framework in which people’s rights are based. It is one of hope, and not of security. The legal risks to employment from drug use are well known to many, and a clear demonstration of this is the absence in the room today of someone we hoped woulf join us to share their experience. They were one of the people that we helped when there diamorphine was withdrawn. However, they were worried that if their employer was to find that they received diamorphine, due to them speaking with us here today, that their job would be at risk and that they will be targeted at work and harassed. Having already had one draining fight over their medication, they are understandably reluctant to have another. It is the absence of a rights based approach that puts our clients at risks and it means that our client is disclosing the medication to their workplace. For the same reasons, without human rights based approaches, we will continue to witness the refusal of housing support just because of stigma around drug use. Without a rights based approach, we will continue to see assumptions that someone who uses drugs cannot look after their children. Without a rights based approach, we will continue to see people denied basic levels of income that they are entitled to. And without a change,  people who use drugs must plead to have even their basic rights and entitlements acknowledged, the right to respect to their family, of their home, of their employment, and to social security when things go wrong. The right to bodily autonomy, whether influenced by pleasure, adventure, despair, transcendence or for any reason at all. Our model of work has achieved real benefits for those who are able to access us but not everyone can, and these benefits are often limited to the specific individuals that we are able to see. This is why we welcome the discussion today of the roots to operationalizing human rights to ensure that people who use drugs have the same rights as everyone else.

Michel Kazatchkine: Thank you very much for that very concrete analysis. And obviously, the challenges you have been describing that you face with your organization in the UK are clearly universal lessons for all of us. Let’s move to the next speaker, Julie.

Julie Hannah: So thank you all for being here and being here for an 8am side event. And really, it’s amazing to see a full room. And so I’ve been asked to discuss the international guidelines on human rights and drug policy, and the lessons that we have learned about how to move principle into action since their launch at the CND four years ago, which is just incredible how much the time has flown. So very briefly, I’ll cover what the guidelines are, for those of you who aren’t necessarily familiar with them. They were developed over a three year global participatory process and span the entire human experience of drug control. The guidelines cover the full spectrum of human rights, many of which have already been touched upon today. The guidelines, and this is really important, are capacious enough to support countries that are beginning to imagine Public Health and Human Rights frameworks to respond to drugs, as well as countries that still retain punitive and or criminalized frameworks for responding to drugs. They’ve been drafted to reflect a global lived experience of the harms of drug control from cultivation, to consumption. But they equally still remain bound by the current United Nations drug control treaties, for better or for worse. They do not invent new rights, but apply existing human rights law to drug control in order to maximize human rights protections, including the interpretation and implementation of the drug control conventions.  So the website is here, we have the guidelines translated into a number of languages, please feel free to explore in your own time. So what have we learned over the last four years? Alongside our partners at the UNDP, UNAIDS, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the World Health Organization and a range of civil society partners and national governments, we’ve convened for regional dialogues bringing together ministry officials, civil servants, civil society, academia, and affected communities, as well as UN regional and country teams to develop national pathways for implementation. And what is arisen from these conversations are important and promising lessons to help advance rights based change at the national level. So I’ll just talk through a few existing themes, and practical examples that we’re beginning to document and reflect upon, and it’s really just a taster for now, and we’ll hopefully launch a broader collection of these promising approaches in the coming months.  So importantly, a transversal aim/lesson/critical element for success and engaging in a rights based approach is really simple. But it’s so important. And it’s seeing all people as people. So bringing groups together and informal de-politicized spaces is a valuable way to break through people’s preconceptions about other groups, or behaviors, and to help everyone see people as people. For some participants in these dialogues, it’s their first chance that they’ve had to learn about the lived experience of people involved with drugs, rather than simply seeing them as criminals, or patients, affected populations and civil society in turn may experience it newly the mechanisms, complexities and process that influence how laws and policies come about, and the true challenges of governance. So by seeing people as people with whom dialogue is possible, even in the absence of full agreement, progress can and has been achieved. And we’ve seen that even demonstrated in the small panel here today.  So during our Latin America dialogue, members from the Latin American Network of People who Use Drugs reflected on how the environment enabled them a space to engage with government officials and UN agencies as an equal,  and developing and considering ideas for the community to take forward. And today LANPUD are using the guidelines as a framework to develop a legal environment assessment tool to assist drug users and community activists in advocacy work related to global HIV AIDS targets and commitments related to people who use drugs and human rights. So opening up spaces for dialogue can enable courageous civil servants the space to think about how to advance important policy initiatives and test ideas with a diverse community of stakeholders that are explicitly grounded in human rights, where human rights takes the center stage. And with this diversity comes unique opportunities for partnership and application of these standards of these principles in national policy development. In Brazil, the guidelines were used as a key source in the development of guidelines on drug trafficking is one of the worst forms of child labor, in accordance with the ILO convention as part of a partnership between UNDP and the National Council of justice. Sensitization and capacity building, which we’ve heard a little bit about from our colleagues in Ghana was a really important priority for many of the stakeholders throughout the regional dialogue process. Ensuring these international norms and their practical promise reach national stakeholders is vital. If you don’t know your rights, you can’t claim them. And if duty holders aren’t sensitized to your rights, they won’t promote, respect, protect or fulfill them. And it’s not the full piece of the puzzle, but it’s an important starting point.  So disseminating a static document, a static set of norms really isn’t enough. Idea generation that’s locally led and owned is critical to ensuring sustainable human rights capacity around drugs. In Nigeria, AfroLaw and the West African Drug Policy Network, use the guidelines as a resource for training criminal justice officers, capacity building for people who use drugs, on advocacy to address torture of people who use drugs, and on criminal justice reform. And Albania, at the request of the Ministry of Justice and with partnership with the OHCHR, the global drugs and development program of GIZ, UNDP, and our center, we convened a judicial training using the guidelines to train newly appointed judges in the country on the ways in which human rights can support their role as members of the judiciary overseeing drug related cases. And we’ve learned through feedback of this process from participants that because of this training, a case was dismissed, citing lack of fair trial standards, and another defendant was given house arrest as an alternative on human rights grounds. So without this sensitization and training, these tools would not have been readily accessible for members of the judiciary. And we’ve heard in Ghana that’s a priority. Okay, I’m gonna close up.  So collaborative and cross sectoral engagement plays a critical role in building consensus and priorities in national context. We’ve heard her about those core priorities for mobilizing action in Scotland and in Ghana, across public policy sectors, and each country will have a different set of priorities to build. On Friday, I encourage you to join a side event where we’ll learn about the first ever national level un joint programme on human rights in the Philippines, where a dialogue was also convened by the National Commission on Human Rights there to discuss with civil society, government and other UN actors about how to use human rights to develop core priorities for action around that. And of course, we’ve heard from Ghana, most recently about their national dialogue. And there’s another side of it that Ghana is hosting on Thursday to learn. So there’s so much to learn. And this is really hard work. It’s not easy. But it’s really been a privilege to play a very small role in this global project. So I hope that these practical examples and lessons can help contribute, encourage and inspire more of this important work ahead. So thank you very much.

Michel Kazatchkine: Thank you very much, Julie. Professor Miller, Alan, will be turning now to you and asking you to stay within five minutes.

Alan Miller: I always like a challenge. Thanks to Release for organizing this, thanks to the co sponsors particularly member states, Norway and Ghana. The National drugs mission in Scotland, as you heard from the minister, represents a shift in public policy towards drugs in Scotland, from criminal justice to public health, and to human rights. And the National Collaborative, which is part of the national mission and which brings a human rights based approach to the national mission is very much what it says on the tin here of this workshop today. Turning principles into policy and into practice and working with those people affected by problems substance use at the heart of that process. So I just like very briefly to introduce you to the National Collaborative and give you some sense of what it is we’re trying to do in Scotland. The first slide that we have here, thanks very much for putting it up, it outlines the vision of the collaborative, and you see that they are for you. And it’s also very much aligned with developments in Scotland across public policy, that a human rights bill is being introduced to the Scottish Parliament very soon, and it will be bringing into our law a whole range of UN human rights treaties, including the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, both health care and healthcare determinants. So that’s going to be very significant over the next period, along with the creation of a national care service to make uniform throughout Scotland, the same rights based and quality of services that need to be provided to meet the right to help: availability, accessibility, acceptability and the quality of the services. The second slide indicates the two main purposes of the National Collaborative: firstly, to empower those people affected by problems substance use, and not only their voices be heard, but critically, their rights be acted upon in the design of policy and practice. And then secondly, to ensure that these new rights that are going to be introduced in the forthcoming human rights bill are made real in the drugs and indeed the alcohol sector in Scotland, and benefits the experience of those people in need of support. Next slide, please. The human rights based approach that we’re adopting in Scotland is very much based on the UN common understanding of HRBA, which we’ve organized into what we call the panel principles: participation, accountability, non discrimination on equality, empowerment, and legality. These are very helpful guiding principles. But to operationalize them, we are adopting a model of how to implement these in practice and to make these rates real. The roadmap in the top right hand corner is the process of implementation of this model of a human rights based approach. It’s been consulted upon widely in the drug sector and has received broad support. This is the sort of human rights based approach and practice that is giving hope and confidence that it will lead to progress. So just to talk very quickly through this model, which has been tried and tested in Scotland in different contexts, for example, in historic child abuse context. We start with the facts, the F. And that’s what we’re just about to embark on, next month for a period of several months. And that’s developing an evidence base and listening to the voices of experience of those people affected by problem substance use, and have that front and center. And then moving to the A, the analysis, then co-designing an analysis of what are the human rights at stake here, and clearly drawing on the international guidance on human rights policy, as well as the incoming human rights bill. And this process of getting the facts and the analysis will be shared by the C, the change team, which is the driving force within that collaborative, made up of about 15 people of different kinds of personal experience of problems substance use, in alliance with reference groups to ensure that all the voices and different experiences of women or family of children etc, feed into this process and co-design the entire implementation. And then a broader network in which everyone who wants to be part of this implementation of a human rights based approach joins a Leadership and Learning Network to share their experiences and ensure that they are included. And then that leads to the I, the Identification of an action plan to respect protect and fulfill the human rights that have been identified. And that will take the form of a Charter of Rights for those people affected by problem substance use and an implementation framework to make these rights real. So that will include for example, workforce development, models of good practice of engagement with those with lived and living experience by service providers, independent advocacy complaints procedure, scrutiny by oversight bodies, and as a last resort, where necessary, access to the courts for a legal remedy if all of that fails. And then leading to the final part of this cycle the R for Review, to review and monitor and evaluate the implementation of all of this plan and develop human rights based indicators, again, co-designed by those people affected by problem substance use, and then that would feeds into the repetition of the cycle, the next, looking at what the lessons have been from the attempts to implement it, and how to continuously improve the implementation of a human rights based approach. So that’s the journey, we would like to share it with you as we go forward. And as part of a broader global journey and unlearning from from all of your experiences. Thanks very much.

Michel Kazatchkine: Thank you very much. And thank you. We are one and a half minute before nine. So it isn’t time to really go into a set of conclusions here. I would like to thank all speakers we had, I think everyone will agree a remarkable set of interventions today, powerful interventions, and we can see how the momentum of a human rights approach to drug policy, is growing. It’s remarkable, as you said, Julie, how it’s been growing since, let’s say since UNGASS 2016 thanks to all of you. Let me thank you all for having come here early morning, today, and let me just conclude by first saying that a key word that I have been hearing throughout every intervention is dialogue. And I was really fascinated to hear how dialogue started the whole process in Ghana and how in the plan that Professor Miller and minister Constance, you outline how that dialogue plays a key role. We also heard from you Aditia about the need to start the dialogue at all level. And so here we are, as we learn the lessons from today, and I’d like here to actually quote, the remarkable intervention that we heard yesterday morning from the High Commissioner Volker Turk. He said let us focus on transformative change, crafting draft policies which are based on evidence, which put human rights at their center, and which ultimately improve the lives of the millions of individuals affected. Thank you very much.

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