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The U.N.’s complicity in international human rights abuses

March 11, 2013
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A very powerful OpEd in the New York Times by Fernando Henrique Cardoso (former President of Brazil) and Ruth Dreifuss (former President of Switzerland): An Ugly Truth in the War on Drugs

This week, representatives from many nations will gather at the annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna to determine the appropriate course of the international response to illicit drugs. Delegates will debate multiple resolutions while ignoring a truth that goes to the core of current drug policy: human rights abuses in the war on drugs are widespread and systematic.

Consider these numbers: Hundreds of thousands of people locked in detention centers and subject to violent punishments. Millions imprisoned. Hundreds hanged, shot or beheaded. Tens of thousands killed by government forces and non-state actors. Thousands beaten and abused to extract information, and abused in government or private “treatment” centers. Millions denied life-saving medicines. These are alarming figures, but campaigns to address them have been slow and drug control has received little attention from the mainstream human rights movement. [...]

The U.N.’s International Narcotics Control Board has refused to condemn torture or “any atrocity” carried out in the name of drug control, claiming it was not its mandate to do so. This is both shocking and contradictory: oversight of international drug control treaties is the control board’s very mission.

Late last year, despite the evidence before it, the U.N. Committee against Torture failed to condemn the widespread abuse of people who use drugs in the Russian Federation. [...]

You can’t have a drug war without human rights abuses, and the harder you prosecute it, the greater those abuses. This is a painful truth often carefully ignored by those who have chosen the drug war as their path.

Good to see this getting more visibility.

I don’t expect much from the upcoming CND sessions – the same posturing from U.S., Sweden, Russia, etc. – but it’s getting harder for them to pretend that they represent the will of the world (or what’s best for it).

Just hours ago, the sessions began with ONDCP’s Yuri Fedotov calling Iran “UN’s number one partner in the war on drugs.”

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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