Missing document found

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Our worries about a possible censorship of Mr. Costa's Conference Room Paper "Making drug control 'fit for purpose': Building on the UNGASS decade" are unfounded. It is now available at the UNODC website.

For those countries who were opposed to discussing human rights at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, I just want to quote what Mr. Costa wrote about the issue:

Human rights
The production, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs can only be understood properly if they are seen in their many different dimensions: the political, the social, the economic and the cultural. The drugs issue thus intersects many different domains: law, criminal justice, human rights, development, international humanitarian law, public health and the environment, to name but a few. In each of these domains, the United Nations has standards, norms, conventions and protocols. Their status varies, ranging from "soft" to "hard" law, from non-binding standards to obligatory conventions. While it is not always easy to establish a hierarchy between these different instruments, it is clear that the constituting document of the Organization, the Charter of the United Nations, takes priority over all other instruments. Article 103 of the Charter states:

"…In the event of conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail."

In the context of drug control, this means that the drug Conventions must be implemented in line with the obligations inscribed in the Charter. Among those obligations are the commitments of signatories to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The protection of human rights is further enshrined in another foundational document of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is now 60 years old. In Article 25 of the Universal Declaration, health is listed as a basic human right. It stands to reason, then, that drug control, and the implementation of the drug Conventions, must proceed with due regard to health and human rights. The former was discussed at length above in the context of public health and the drug control system. The issue of human rights, the protection of which is a growing international movement, is now also becoming salient in the implementation of certain drug control measures. The use of the death penalty (among others for drug offences) presently divides the membership of the United Nations. The recent General Assembly moratorium on the application of capital punishment is a way forward, but the gaps between international standards and the law of individual nations need to be bridged by means of negotiation and the promotion of good practice in this difficult area.