A paper from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been leaked which recommends that UN members consider “decriminalising drug use and possession for personal consumption”. Our Director, Amanda Feilding has published her response below.
This is wonderful news; in 2006 I commissioned the Beckley Foundation Global Cannabis Commission to investigate how best to minimize the harms of cannabis whilst respecting human rights. In the ensuing report, Cannabis Policy – Moving Beyond the Stalemate, the 5 experts on the commission recommended decriminalisation and regulation.
It is encouraging to see the UNODC reaching the same conclusion and joining other UN agencies such as UNAIDS, UNDP, and WHO in recommending decriminalisation as an effective way to promote a health and human rights based approach to drug policy.
We have long campaigned for this policy and we applaud the UNODC for recognizing that decriminalisation ‘may be required [in order] to meet obligations under international human rights law’. We will continue to advocate for decriminalisation and work with countries around the world, such as Jamaica, to help achieve this goal.
Finally, I believe this shows clearly that we were on the right side of history when I wrote in the foreword to Roadmaps to Reforming the UN Drug Conventions:
‘We feel that the reform of global drug policy is on the move and that at least the intellectual battle has been won. The wide realization that policies based on prohibition are ineffective and immensely more damaging than the drugs themselves has broken through’
Amanda Feilding, 19th October 2015
See the leaked briefing paper here
UPDATE The UNODC has released a statement about the leaked brief saying that the document cannot be read as a statement of UNODC policy
“The briefing paper on decriminalisation mentioned in many of today’s media reports, and intended for dissemination and discussion at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, is neither a final nor formal document from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and cannot be read as a statement of UNODC policy.
It remains under review and UNODC regrets that, on this occasion, there has been an unfortunate misunderstanding about the nature and intent of this briefing paper. UNODC emphatically denies reports that there has been pressure on UNODC to withdraw the document. But, it is not possible to withdraw what is not yet ready.
Overall, UNODC remains committed to the balanced approach that, in particular, promotes alternatives to incarceration in line with international human rights standards.”