Committee Reports

Charting a Wiser Course: Human Rights and the World Drug Problem


To coincide with the three-day UN conference on the world drug problem (UNGASS 2016) held on April 19-21, the Drugs & the Law Committee (Zarah Levin-Fragasso, Chair)  issued a report, “Charting a Wiser Course: Human Rights and the World Drug Problem,” which calls for public dialogue to “expand to address the global reach of the drug trade and the international implications” of drug control. Noting that the existing paradigm of prohibition and criminalization has been ineffective, the committee urges the international community to rethink global drug policy under a multilateral and public-health oriented approach. The report offers a number of recommendations, including (1) making quality, evidence-based drug treatment available and issuing guidance on “best practices” for drug treatment; (2) ensuring access to essential medicines; (3) removing restrictions on cannabis; (4) encouraging de-escalation and/or considering the removal of criminal sanctions for possession of controlled substances for personal use; (5) allowing regulation of new psychoactive substances; (6) stopping crop eradication and promoting economic development; (7) ending the death penalty for drug-related offenses and ensuring proportionality in sentencing; (8) promoting alternative policing methods; (9) changing the metrics of success in international drug control policy to reflect goals centered around public health and human rights; and (10) convening an independent commission to study the impact and efficacy of the international drug control architecture which would report back with specific recommendations for the UN and the international community.