The UNGASS on Drugs is underway and South Africa has delivered two statements in the plenary sessions. The first (PDF download) was by the Minister of Police, Honourable Mr Nhleko, as head of the South African delegation, and the second (PDF Download) was by the Deputy Minster of Social Development, the Honourable Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, on behalf of the African Union. Both these statements show a level of diplomacy in a difficult political landscape, and both are important if we want to try and predict the future of drug policy in South Africa. Which strutures, the security structures (with possible influence from trade-partners Russia and China) or the social development and health structures, will have the most influence on future policy, remains to be seen. Clearly the latest and previous statements by the Deputy Minister show the direction she would like to take - a direction that could result in a new National Drug Master Plan that aligns with our constitution, economic and development goals and the National Strategic Plan on HIV, STIs and TB and could significantly reduce the burden of illicit drug use on our most vulnerable and under-resourced communities. Despite the evidence that supports these progressive policies there is likely to be strong opposition from various sectors, including from communities who have largely accepted the narrative that drugs are the root of many of their social ills and the drivers of crime and gangsterism.
Click on the Read more link to see my analysis of the positions and some of the background and possible implications.
UNAIDS released a new report today (click on the image below left to download). While the report focuses on policy and interventions from an HIV perspective, the underlying message is clear: We need a new approach to ALL "illicit" drugs. The first of five policy recommendations highlights the failures of current policies by simply stating what the purpose of drug policy should be:
"THE OVERARCHING PURPOSE OF DRUG
CONTROL IS FIRST AND FOREMOST TO ENSURE THE HEALTH,
WELL-BEING AND SECURITY OF INDIVIDUALS, WHILE
RESPECTING THEIR AGENCY AND HUMAN RIGHTS AT ALL TIMES."
Read the press release below and by clicking READ MORE
GENEVA, 15 April 2016--Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem, which will take place from 19 to 21 April in New York, United States of America, UNAIDS has released a new report entitled Do no harm: health, human rights and people who use drugs.
(TB/HIV Care Association (THCA) are proud to have contributed to this report through the provision of harm reduction services in three cities. The work of THCA consultant Dr Andrew Scheibe is also referenced in the report. We also acknowledge the role of our funders and other supporters in this pioneering work.)
We will be adding the latest drug policy news here, as well as providing updates for the drug policy week.
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