The war on drugs and the right to health of drug users and patients in pain

March 26, 2013

Topics: ,

In an article on the Open Society Foundations website, Daniel Wolfe of the OSF Public Health Program shares five weaknesses, or failures, of the International Narcotics Control Board, the UN’s drug watchdog.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) describes itself as a ‘quasi-judicial’ group of experts charged with monitoring compliance with international drug control treaties. However, Wolfe states,   its latest annual report shows a huge bias in favour of the war on drugs.

‘The INCB is supposed to ensure balance in drug control and the availability of legal medicines used to treat addiction and relieve pain. The INCB report, though, takes a notably less kind, more punitive approach to drugs — stressing enforcement over health, and failing to note the many ways in which the countries it visited last year could improve responses to drugs and drug addiction.’

Five failures

According to Wolfe, this year’s INCB report fails on health and human rights in five ways:

  1. No criticism on bans on essential medicines
  2. Groundless criticism of medical marijuana
  3. No scrutiny of what countries mean by drug treatment
  4. No comment on the deaths of those in locked ward ‘rehabilitation’ centers, or the need to take the locks off
  5. No criticism of executions in the name of drug control

Wolfe: ‘The message that health and alleviation of suffering are a critical part of a global response to drugs is one that the INCB needs to heed – and reflect – in their annual reports. Otherwise, they risk reducing themselves to nagging anti-drug warriors who have failed in their responsibilities and lost sight of the core commitments affirmed in the drug treaties and UN mandate they claim to uphold.’

Read the article Is the INCB Dangerous to Your Health? 5 Ways the UN’s Drug Watchdog Fails on Health and Human Rights