Statement of the RC at he first ever national dialogues on the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy in the Africa region was held in Accra.
I thanks the Government of Ghana for holding this first ever national dialogues on the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy in the Africa region.
This dialogue is organised in cooperation with UN agencies and civil society organisation. It is an excellent example of how national authorities, the UN family and civil society organisations can work together to advance human rights and Sustainable Development Goals in Ghana.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to us the basic truth that health and human rights are interconnected, and that human rights-driven efforts are crucial if Member States of the United Nations are to get on track to achieve the SDGs.
This pandemic also has made the criticality of science and evidence more important than ever – indeed a principle and practice that should also be the basis for both global as well as national drug policies.
The Secretary General’s Call to Action for Human Rights emphasizes that it is our common responsibility to put human rights at the centre of all policies and decision-making processes; including those related to drug control.
For too long, punitive and coercive efforts to address drug-related challenges have exacerbated stigma and discrimination, relied excessively on incarceration, and caused tremendous suffering.
In line with the international drug control framework, all States need to pursue a holistic approach that unites health, criminal justice and social services, and that respects and protects human rights.
We are pleased to see that Ghana is one of key countries that leading the world in pursuing such holistic approach. The current drug policy reform in Ghana clearly demonstrates it.
Most recently, this was further exhibited by Ghana at the UN- during the adoption of the General Assembly resolution on the drug related matter, which put people, human rights and health at the centre of the world drug policy. (Ghana voted in favour of the adoption I Resolution A/C.3/77/L.13/Rev.1).
The Outcome Document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS2016) is the agreed global framework for balanced, gender-sensitive and human rights-based drug policies.
The United Nations is working with partners around the world to advance the commitments made by Member States in the Outcome Document of UNGASS 2016 . In this blue print document, all Member States of the United Nations committed to respect, protect and promote human rights, to uphold the rule of law in the development and implementation of drug policies as well as the inherent dignity of all individuals.
Subsequently, in 2018, the UN System Common Position on drug related matters was adopted in 2018 by thirty-one (31) principals of UN agencies and entities under the leadership of the United Nations Secretary General. In the Common Position, our principals reiterated their commitment to support Member States in developing and implementing truly balanced, evidence and human rights-based responses to the world’s drug problem, in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In the Common Position, the UN also acknowledged that the international drug conventions and human rights treaties, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as other relevant instruments are all complementary and mutually reinforcing.
Two key guiding principles of the Common Position are: (i) ensuring no one is left behind; and (ii) speaking with one voice.
The Common Position also recognises the importance of the active involvement and participation of civil society and local communities in the development and implementation of drug policies and related programs.
In this regard, it is critical to foster a secure environment for their work and ensure their protection from threat, intimidation and reprisals.
In the spirit of the Common Position, the UN agencies cooperated with member States, academia, civil society organisations and the community of people of who use drugs to launch the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy in 2019, which you will discuss in the next two days.
In concluding, let me emphasize that we- the United Nations in the Ghana- strongly believe that the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy is the best tool at our disposal for the implementation of human rights commitments of UNGASS 2016 and the 2018 UN System Common Position. The work of UNODC and WHO here, among others, especially reinforces this commitment to support Ghana in this endeavour in partnership with Government.
All human rights issues - which are included both in the Outcome Document of UNGASS 2016 and in the Common Position - are elaborated with further guidance in the Guidelines.
I hope that national authorities in Ghana, civil society organisations and other stakeholders in the Ghana will use these important Guidelines for advancing the recent drug policy reforms and make such reform fully human rights compliant under the leadership of the Narcotic Control Commission – a trusted partner.
I believe that the on-going drug policy reform in Ghana will effectively and constructively address complex drug issues while concurrently upholding, protecting and respecting the human rights of all, including people who use drugs.
Thank you for the opportunity to be with you today, and I wish you all a fruitful discussion today and tomorrow.
The United Nations family in Ghana stands ready to support you in this noble endeavour.