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Reflections On Drug Policy And Its Impact On Human Development: Innovative Approaches By Member States

Apr 19, 2016

Drug control policies have left an indelible footprint on human development. In many instances, they have fuelled the poverty, marginalization and exclusion of people and communities linked with illicit drug use or illicit drug markets. They have entrenched and exacerbated systemic discrimination against poor and the most marginalized populations and resulted in widespread human rights violations.


Drug policy cuts across core areas of sustainable development: food security, health and well-being, gender equality, peace, justice and strong institutions, to name but a few. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also identified illicit drugs and crime as a “severe impediment” to achieving sustainable development, as well as to securing human rights, justice, security and equality for all (UN, 2012). The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda thus provides a framework to evaluate the development impact of drug control laws, policies and practices, as well as to design and implement development-sensitive drug control in response.


Many countries have experimented with policy solutions to address the harmful consequences of drug control efforts – many of which depart from punitive approaches to drug control. This paper describes some of these initiatives in an effort to enrich the body of evidence about what works and what does not. These initiatives might help countries better understand how to address drug-related issues in their respective economic, political and social circumstances.

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