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GCSP contributes to OHCHR panel on global trends in drug use and human rights

A summary report issued by the OHCHR cites analysis by GCSP Deputy-Director Prof Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou on the regional challenges of tackling drug use. 

Prof Mohamedou, appointed by Kofi Annan as Commissioner on the West Africa Commission on Drugs, observed that states with a low level of socioeconomic development were particularly vulnerable to the drug problem. A key concern is the impact of drug-related problems on governance, the rule of law and human rights in countries where drug-related issues have not been sufficiently addressed. To better isolate the fundamentals of this problem, the approach of the West Africa Commission on Drugs, launched in 2012, has been to shift its focus from supply reduction to that of local demand.

Prof Mohamedou highlighted the macroeconomic impact of drug production on society, pointing out that traditional analysis had focused on alternatives to illegal production by farmers. He explained that it was also important to focus on the impact on individuals and noted that the majority of those who produced drugs were poor and did not become rich from that production. His statements addressed the need to identify other employment opportunities for such people, as those who used drugs were socially stigmatized, had low incomes and came from deprived families.

According to Prof Mohamedou, drug policies focusing on wide-reaching arrests and harsh sentences exacerbated the issue and drives offenders further to the margins of society. Drug enforcement efforts disproportionately affected the poor and in particular ethnic minorities and women. He noted that female drug users could face the loss of custody of their children and were sometimes forced to undergo abortions. Indigenous communities also suffered from misguided drug policies. He concluded that disregard for human rights had led to drug policies with unintended adverse consequences and that new evidenced-based policies were needed.

 

See the official OHCR summary below:

The Human Rights Council, in its resolution 28/28, decided to convene a panel discussion at its thirtieth session on the impact of the world drug problem on the enjoyment of human rights, informed by the findings contained in the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the study on the impact of the world drug problem on the enjoyment of human rights (A/HRC/30/65), and to have a constructive and inclusive dialogue on the issue with relevant stakeholders, including specialized United Nations agencies and civil society, and with the participation of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The Council held the panel discussion on 28 September 2015, at its thirtieth session.

In its resolution 28/28, the Human Rights Council requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to prepare a report on the panel discussion in the form of a summary. The present report was prepared pursuant to that request.

The Deputy High Commissioner opened the panel discussion, which was moderated by the former President of Switzerland, Ruth Dreifuss. The panellists were Javier Andres Florez, Director of Drug Policy at the Ministry of Justice of Colombia; Ann Fordham, Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Consortium; Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, Deputy Director of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, Professor at the Graduate Institute in Geneva and Commissioner on the West Africa Commission on Drugs; Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse of the World Health Organization; and Aldo Lale-Demoz, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In addition, Arthayudh Srisamoot, Ambassador of Thailand to the United Nations Office at Vienna and Chair of the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, participated in the panel discussion.

The present report is submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 28/28, and provides a summary of the panel discussion on the impact of the world drug problem on the enjoyment of human rights, held on 28 September 2015, during the thirtieth session of the Council.

Read the full OHCHR report