Human rights-based policy

In seeking to reduce drug-related harm, without judgement, and with respect for the inherent dignity of every individual, regardless of lifestyle, harm reduction stands as a clear example of human rights in practice  - Prof. Paul Hunt, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health

The evidence is clear, drug related health harms cannot be addressed without tackling human rights abuses related to drug control.

  • International drug control policies and national policies upon which they are based have created a system within which people who use drugs have been stigmatised and driven to the margins of society
  • A system that stigmatises and marginalises a specific group in this way is one within which human rights abuses are more likely to be perpetrated against that group, and less likely to be remedied
  • When people who use drugs are at risk from and suffer human rights abuses, harm reduction services can never properly function, and drug-related health harms will be made worse

A human rights-based approach is essential for evidence based public health interventions to be effective.

We advocate against human rights abuses committed in the name of drug control and to promote the full realisation of the human rights of people who use drugs.

We are one of the leading organisations applying international human rights law to drug laws, policies and practices, to the United Nations drugs conventions and to the activities of the UN drug control organs.

We advocate for a public health and human rights based approach to health and infectious disease prevention in detention.

For further resources from HRI, our partners and from academic sources, please search our Resource Library.

© 2019 Harm Reduction International.

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