The Human Rights are in the beginning of the recognizement on drugs. Appearing different approaches to introduce that on drug topics.
The 61st session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) took place at the UN building in Vienna, from 12th to 16th of March 2018. It was following, more or less, the frame of the outcome document of UNGASS 2016, it will be reviewed the next year in the 62nd session of CND. On the official website you can find the draft decisions and resolutions and in the following months the definitive decisions will be published.
Taking into account that there the decisions are taken through consensus and the existent diversity of opinion on drugs from different countries of the world (in a grey scale from the death penalty to the most progressive policies) the decisions are very difficult to make and processes are slowly in the international structures, suffering from a certain immobility, which means that the most progressive countries in the matter of drugs can not advance in the development of effective alternatives to mitigate the negative consequences derived from the prohibition.
Among the most prohibitionist countries, in the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) of 2018, we found Egypt, Pakistan, China and Russia. On the other hand, among the most innovative countries we have Australia, Canada and Mexico. In this context, with innervated positions in the General Assembly, it was difficult to make broad-ranging decisions, putting troubles to advance in the most innovative Resolutions.
As in the last editions, HIV, demand and supply reduction, New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), money laundering and online drug markets were recurring topics in the Plenary Sessions. The inclusion of a Resolution on women as a vulnerable piece in the chain of production and distribution, on one hand, and the consequences for them and their children of the legal damages caused by the prohibition, on the other one, was significant given the proximity temporary of mass global demonstrations to claim the role of women.
The medical prescription of opiates, usually Fentanyl, uncontrolled in the United States to alleviate the symptoms of common ailments, without the necessary indications regarding addiction and the possible negative consequences derived from the consumption of opiates, has derived in a lot of social problems. The alarms in the US have jumped because the deaths from opiate overdoses and the prevalence ratios of their use have risen considerably, coming to consider this situation as the crisis of opiates, to throw some data, in just 14 months, deaths from opioid overdoses have increased by 30% in the US. What has led to protests and the implementation of legal actions against pharmaceutical companies that trade with these products. This phenomenon is spreading to different countries, but in no other is an epidemic considered as in the US. Therefore, it was a topic that was also addressed during the Plenary Sessions, as well as in the Side Events.
The death penalty for drug issues was latent among social movements, welcoming the welcome news that countries like Iran have abolished the death penalty for drug crimes. Also, as it could not be absent, there were complaints against Duterte for the number of executions for drug crimes in a judicial and extrajudicial way, to give an example, according to Amnesty International. In the Philippines, thousands of people have been executed for crimes related to drugs, including the possession of small amounts, since Duterte came to power.
What nobody expected was that the INCB would declare itself contrary to the death penalty for drug-related offences, as this would be outside the conventions because it directly clashed with the Charter of Human Rights, and this was stated during its declarations in one of the Sessions that dealt with the role of the INCB. In addition, in its annual report published in 2018, on the activity of the INCB in 2017, it highlights the coincidence with the 50th anniversary of Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration.
In the Civil Society scope the anti-prohibitionist approach is rising. In the Vienna NGO Committee is the first time that the forces inside the Vienna NGO Committee are anti-prohibitionist wing majority. What is clearly running on for the change of paradigm on Drugs Policy, at least among the Civil Society. You can find the new Board of the Vienna NGO Committee here.
Other claims were the Freedom to Research, from the scientific community and the think-tanks, now these academic organizations are faced with numerous difficulties to get permits and substances properly processed, to investigate on the matter of drugs, there are still several countries in which the analysis of the substance is prohibited. Besides the availability of means for the use of various substances for the medicinal or therapeutic field, as well as the communities that use entheogenic plants with regional or traditional purposes.
The proposals from Civil Society are more hopeful, we find from the MDMA regulation for PTSD for 2021 in the US (MAPS), to a proposal for the regulation of cocaine for 2034 in Colombia (Coca Regulada, Paz Garantizada (Regulated Coca, Guaranteed Peace)). Going through multiple proposals to regulate cannabis and various examples of countries that have already implemented regulations for this plant, such as Canada, Uruguay and Mexico.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Students for Liberty, INPUD and ENCOD organized a Rally on the previous Sunday of the CND at Sigmund Freud Park in Vienna. It was composed by live music, Dj´s and drug talks, where the different entities joint a debates on Drugs Policy and Risk Prevention alternatives.
In conclusion, It seems like there is a change in the paradigm on drugs, from the prohibitionist stage to the risk prevention and rational regulations one. But it is going slowly, not enough to palliate the harms produced by the prohibitionist public policy. We all know that billions of euros are destined to maintain the structures to forbid the drugs, meanwhile such structures are providing the ideal frame to the black market and the establishment to continue trading them and taking profit of all this incoherent situation, excluding of this process the health and the rights of the users to can have access to a quality substance with all the information available to promote the knowledge about risk prevention topics.
By Ana Afuera Gómez