Law Enforcement Against Prohibition reports from the UN Drug Policy Meeting in Vienna.
Even while several Latin American presidents are calling for an outright debate on drug legalization, delegates at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting this week failed to even discuss a change in the global prohibitionist drug treaties, reports a group of judges, prosecutors and jailers who were at the meeting in Vienna to promote reform.
During consideration of a U.S.-sponsored resolution to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first laws banning opium, Norwayâ€™s delegation attempted to insert the phrase â€œwhile observing human rights,â€ but even this move encountered resistance from the US delegation, which preferred not to mention human rights.
â€œFundamentally, the three UN prohibitionist treaties are incompatible to human rights. We can have human rights or drug war, but not both,â€ said Maria Lucia Karam, a retired judge from Brazil and a board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
Richard Van Wickler, currently a jail superintendent in New Hampshire, adds, â€œI suppose itâ€™s not shocking that within the context of a century-long bloody â€˜war on drugsâ€™ the idea of human rights is a foreign concept. Our global drug prohibition regime puts handcuffs on millions of people every year while even the harshest of prohibitionist countries say that drug abuse is a health issue. What other medical problems do we try to solve with imprisonment and an abandonment of human rights?â€
The UN meeting, the 55th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, comes amidst a rapidly emerging global debate on the appropriateness of continuing drug prohibition and whether legalization and regulation would be a better way to control drugs. In recent weeks, Presidents Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala, Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica and Felipe Calderon of Mexico have added their voices to the call for a serious conversation on alternatives to drug prohibition.
â€œUnfortunately, none of these powerful Latin American voices were heard during the official sessions of the UN meeting,â€ says Judge Karam. â€œIn the halls of the UN building in Vienna we did speak to delegates who agree that the drug war isnâ€™t working and that change is needed, but these opinions were not voiced when they counted the most. During the meetings, all the Member States remained voluntarily submissive to the U.N. dictates that required that all speak with a â€˜single voiceâ€™ that mandated support for prohibition.â€
Apparently the U.N. drug policy discussions have forgotten the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which supposedly is to have supremacy over all other U.N. treaties…
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.