Drug policies should strongly consider human rights perspective

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16 December 2022 - In December 2022, the Council for Justice and Home Affairs endorsed the Council Conclusions on Human rights-based approach in drug policies.

  • "We had no small ambitions during our Presidency, but at ministerial level we finally managed to find a consensus on a document that significantly contributes to a paradigm shift in drug policies away from the criminalisation of vulnerable people towards rational drug policies within the EU," says the Czech National Drug Coordinator, Jindřich Vobořil, and adding: "Globally, the war on drugs does not work and brings more and more stigma, many millions of people in prison and executed. With this document, the EU is committed to changing policy globally and making it more focused on people's health."

The document was discussed at the working level of the Council of the EU from September to December 2022. It was officially approved by the Council for Justice and Home Affairs on 8 December. The text includes many amendments, however thanks to a constructive debate among all EU Member States, it was approved by consensus.

The Council Conclusions aims on the promotion of human rights in drug policies, on destigmatizing and non-discriminatory approach in order to support the public health responses to the world drug situation, on providing and applying the principle of adequate, proportionate and effective response to drug-related offences, including the exploration of evidence-based best practices and innovative drug policy approaches. It also aims to ensure that people have voluntary access to drug services and to promote specific needs of people in vulnerable situations.

The Council Conclusions invites EU Member States to support the participation and involvement of the civil society and scientific community, strengthen international cooperation and mainstream the human rights-, evidence-based and balanced approach, including strong opposition to disproportionate and inhumane penalties for drug-related offences.

  • "Prohibition has demonstrable negative impacts on public health. High penalties for non-violent drug offences, mostly related to personal use of illegal substances, do not lead to find a solution to the drug phenomena. It affects the most vulnerable populations. I firmly believe that the EU will be an inspiration in the concept of a human-rights based drug policies and that the shift will also be reflected at the level of national states. In this sense, the Czech Republic sets high goals for the adjustment of its national policy in the field of addictions also in the period after the end of the Czech Presidency," says Jindřich Vobořil.

By adopting this document, the European Union is sending a clear signal that modern drug policies should aim an approach based on the destigmatisation of people who use drugs, the principle of harm reduction, the implementation of proportionate sentencing and the promotion of accessible treatment for all.

  • "The Czech Republic confirms that we can be a leader within the EU community. Our team has worked hard and the result is such a fundamental document approved by the Ministers of Interior and Justice of the whole EU and demonstrates that the Czech Republic can have a strong voice in the whole EU and can assert its priorities. I must thank my team for this," Jindřich Vobořil concludes.


Originally published by the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union:

Drug policies should strongly consider human rights perspective

Drogové politiky by měly vzít v potaz lidská práva

Les politiques en matière de drogues devraient prendre en compte les droits de l'homme