Professor Paul Hunt, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health addresses Harm Reduction International's 19th international harm reduction conference

Date: 13 May 2008

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The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to the highest attainable standard of health today used his opening speech at the 19th international harm reduction conference to call on UN member states and the UN drug control system to abide by the "Article 1 objectives of the UN Charter"

In the strongtest statement to date on drug policy and harm reduction from any UN human rights mechanism or mandate holder, Professor Hunt spelled out the many human rights violations connected with drug policy, stating that the "litany of abuse is long". He referred to the lack of regard for human rights in the international drug control system not only as bizarre, given General Assembly directives, but also, as "inexcusable".

Professor Hunt's speech reaffirms the arguments made by Harm Reduction International, Human Rights Watch, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Programme in our recent report "Recalibrating the Regime: The need for a human rights-based approach to international drug policy". He concluded his speech by urging harm reduction, drug policy and user advocates to incorporate human rights into their strategies.

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union was thankfully on hand to film the speech.

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