International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy
Search About

Obligations Arising from the Human Rights of Particular Groups

Children have the right to protection from drugs and exploitation in the drug trade. They have the right to be heard in matters concerning them with due regard for their age and maturity, and their best interests shall be a primary consideration in drug laws, policies, and practices.

In accordance with these rights, States shall:

i. Take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social, and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in relevant international treaties and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances. ‘Appropriate measures’ are evidence based and compliant with wider human rights norms.

To facilitate the above, States should:

ii. Obtain and disseminate age-disaggregated data on drug use and related harms and on the nature of children’s involvement in the illicit drug trade.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [228] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 228. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

Children have the right to receive accurate and objective information about drugs and drug-related harm, the right to protection from harmful misinformation, and the right to privacy.

In accordance with this right, States should:

i. Undertake evidence-based and human rights-compliant prevention measures, including in schools.

ii. Avoid excluding children from school due to risk-taking behaviours and take measures to ensure their access to education.

iii. Avoid random drug testing, sniffer dogs, and strip searches in schools.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [1] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 1. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

Children have the rights to health, to be heard in matters related to their own health care, and to decisions based on clinical need in the best interests of the child, including decisions related to interventions for children who use drugs.

In accordance with these rights, States should:

i. Develop accessible, child-sensitive prevention, drug dependence treatment, and harm reduction services.

ii. Ensure that decisions regarding access to drug-related health services are taken in the best interests of the child, with due regard to their evolving capacities.

iii. Remove legal age restrictions on existing drug-related health services.

iv. Ensure that young people who use drugs have access to drug-related health information, and counselling without parental or guardian consent, and that treatment or harm reduction service provision without parental or guardian consent is possible when in the best interests of the individual.

Where these interventions concern drug-related criminality, States should:

v. Target efforts primarily at diversion from the criminal justice system and promote rehabilitation over punishment.

vi. Refrain from criminalising children because of their drug use or possession of drugs for personal use.

vii. Adhere to international juvenile justice standards in all efforts to address and respond to drug-related criminality among children and young people.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [1] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 1. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

Every child has the right to such care and protection as is necessary for their well-being, including where the child’s parents use drugs or are drug dependent.

In accordance with this right, States shall:

i. Ensure that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration in decisions regarding their care, including in the context of parental drug dependence.

In addition, States should:

ii. Ensure that a parent’s drug use or dependency is never the sole justification for removing a child from parental care or for preventing reunification. Efforts should be directed primarily towards enabling the child to remain in or return to the care of their parents, including by assisting drug-dependent parents in carrying out their child care responsibilities.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [1] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 1. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

Children have the right to protection from exploitation, including in the illicit drug trade. States shall take appropriate measures to protect children from exploitation in the illicit drug trade through preventative and remedial measures.

In accordance with this right, States should:

i. Prioritise addressing the root causes of involvement in the drug trade, including poverty and social marginalisation.

ii. Clearly define exploitation, ensuring that children’s participation in the rural cultivation of illicit drug crops through tradition or poverty is not wrongly treated as exploitation without specific evidence of such exploitation taking place.

iii. Avoid treating as criminals children who have been exploited in the drug trade.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [1] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 1. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

Women have the right to enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms on a non-discriminatory basis in all fields of life on the basis of equality with men. This right applies to women who use drugs and women who are involved in the drug trade or dependent on illicit drug economies.

In accordance with these rights, States shall:

i. Take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social, and educational measures, to prevent, mitigate, and remediate any disproportionate or otherwise discriminatory impact on women as a result of drug laws, policies, and practices, particularly where aggravated effects result from intersecting forms of discrimination.

To facilitate the above, States should:

ii. Obtain and disseminate age- and sex-disaggregated data on drug use and related harms and on the nature of women’s involvement in the illicit drug trade, including involvement in the criminal justice system as a result of allegedly using drugs or being involved in drug-related crime.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [253] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 253. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

Women who use drugs have the right to access health care, including sexual and reproductive care, on a non- discriminatory basis.

In accordance with this right, States should:

i. Take all necessary legislative, administrative, and policy measures to ensure the availability of and non-discriminatory access to good-quality gender-sensitive prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and other health care services for women who use drugs, including opioid substitution treatment for pregnant women, tailored to meet women’s specific needs.

ii. Ensure that these services take into account the needs of lone or primary caretakers of children and other family members.

iii. Ensure that a woman’s drug use or dependency is never the sole justification for removing a child from her care or preventing reunification with her child, as this may deter access to necessary drug-related health care services and prejudice the woman’s right to family life and the child’s right to remain in the care and custody of their parents.

iv. Take immediate steps to end the detention and punishment of women as a result of their drug use during pregnancy.

v. End any practice amounting to involuntary sterilisation or abortion on grounds of drug use.

vi. Take all necessary legislative, administrative, and policy measures to ensure that voluntary, informed consent is a precondition for any medical treatment or diagnostic intervention for women and that drug use or dependence alone are not grounds for detention or to deprive a woman of the right to withhold consent.

vii. Take all necessary legislative, administrative, and policy measures to prevent and redress violence against women who use drugs and to provide care for such women.

In addition, States may:

viii.Utilise the available flexibilities in the UN drug control conventions to decriminalise the possession, purchase, or cultivation of controlled substances for personal consumption as an important step towards fulfilling women’s right to health.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [1] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 1. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

Women have the equal right to an adequate standard of living, including the right to food, clothing, and housing. This applies to women involved in the drug trade and dependent on illicit drug economies.

In accordance with this right, States should:

i. Develop specific, viable, and sustainable economic alternatives for women who are particularly at risk of exploitation in the illicit drug economy, including women who use drugs, poor women (whether urban or rural), and women from indigenous and ethnic minority communities.

ii. Take all necessary legislative, administrative, and policy measures to ensure that women’s specific needs and circumstances are taken into account in efforts to address involvement in the drug trade and dependence on illicit drug economies.

iii. Adhere to international standards in all efforts to address and respond to drug-related criminality among women.

iv. Make available gender-specific interventions that aim primarily at diversion from the criminal justice system, and address the underlying factors leading to women coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

With regard to sentencing for drug-related offences, States should:

v. Legislate for and prioritise non-custodial sentences for pregnant women where possible and appropriate.

vi. Ensure that courts have the power to consider mitigating factors in light of women’s caretaking responsibilities, such as lack of criminal history and relative non-severity and nature of the criminal conduct.

vii. Ensure the earliest possible transfer of non-resident foreign-national women prisoners, following the request or informed consent of the woman concerned.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [1] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 1. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

Women have the right to participate in and benefit from, on an equal basis with men, efforts to provide alternative livelihoods, including in rural communities dependent on illicit drug crops.

In accordance with this right, States should:

i. Take necessary legislative and policy measures to ensure women’s equal right to participate in and benefit from efforts to provide alternative livelihoods in rural communities dependent on illicit drug crops. Such measures may include adopting, amending, repealing, or modifying laws, policies, and practices to ensure women’s rights, on an equal basis with men, to agrarian reforms, to ownership, possession, and control of land, and to water and other natural resources, as well as their access to financial services, credits, loans, markets, and marketing facilities, irrespective of their civil or marital status.

ii. Take measures to ensure that women in rural areas are meaningfully involved in decision making and benefit from programmes and credit facilities on an equal basis with men.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [1] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 1. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

All persons deprived of their liberty must be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the person. This includes those held in prisons and other closed settings and places of detention for drug-related reasons. Such persons have the right to a standard of health care equivalent to that available to the general population.

In accordance with these rights, States should:

i. Adhere at all times to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules).

ii. Adhere at all times to international standards relating to specific groups deprived of their liberty, including women (the Bangkok Rules) and children (the Beijing Rules).

iii. Ensure that all persons deprived of their liberty have access to voluntary and evidence-based health services, including harm reduction and drug treatment services, as well as essential medicines, including HIV and hepatitis C services, at a standard that is equivalent to that in the community.

iv. Organise such drug-related and other health care services in close parallel with general public health administration, taking into account the specific nature of individuals’ detention, and design services to ensure the continuity of harm reduction, drug treatment, and access to essential medicines through transitions of entering and exiting the detention facility, as well as transfer between institutions.

v. Ensure that drug-related and other health care services for these populations are provided by qualified medical personnel able to make independent, evidence-based decisions for their patients.

vi. Ensure the provision of training for health care professionals and other staff working in prisons and other closed settings and places of detention on drug treatment, harm reduction, and palliative care and pain management, as well as other medical conditions that require the use of controlled substances for medical purposes.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [285] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 285. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

Indigenous peoples have the rights to self-determination and to freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development. They also have the right to own, use, develop, and control the lands, territories, and resources that they have traditionally owned, occupied, or otherwise acquired. Indigenous peoples have the right to conserve their lands and protect them from harm caused by drug control measures.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [1] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 1. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

Indigenous peoples have the rights to self-determination and to freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development. They also have the right to own, use, develop, and control the lands, territories, and resources that they have traditionally owned, occupied, or otherwise acquired. Indigenous peoples have the right to conserve their lands and protect them from harm caused by drug control measures.

In accordance with these rights, States should:

i. Ensure that drug control measures do not deprive indigenous peoples of their right to self-determination or their right to subsistence.

ii. Ensure that drug control measures recognise, respect, and protect the rights of indigenous peoples to own, use, develop, and control their lands, territories, and resources.

iii. Ensure that drug control measures do not negatively affect the right to conservation or productive capacity of indigenous peoples’ lands.

iv. Take effective measures to prevent and redress harms to the environment and productive capacity of indigenous territories and resources caused by drug control measures.

v. Require comprehensive environmental impact assessments to be carried out with the participation of relevant indigenous peoples in order to assess the environmental, economic, social, cultural, and spiritual impacts of drug control activities prior to their commencement and to determine the extent to which these activities can be modified.

vi. Monitor the implementation of such drug control activities and modifications.

vii. In the event of harm resulting from drug control measures, develop and implement adequate and effective remediation measures in consultation with affected populations.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [1] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 1. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

Indigenous peoples have the right to be consulted and to free, prior, and informed consent regarding matters affecting them. This includes the right to be consulted on drug control measures and national and international agreements that may affect their lands, resources, cultures, and identities, as well as the right to give or withhold their consent.

In accordance with this right, States should:

i. Consult and cooperate in good faith with relevant indigenous peoples, through their representative institutions, in order to obtain their free, prior, and informed consent before adopting or implementing any drug control measure that may affect them or their territories. Ensure that consultations continue as needed throughout the period of implementation.

ii. Adopt legislative, administrative, and other measures necessary to recognise and ensure the right of indigenous peoples to be effectively consulted, in accordance with their traditions and customs, and the right to give or withhold their free, prior, and informed consent with regard to drug control measures that may affect them or their territories.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [1] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 1. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalise their cultural traditions and customs and to manifest, practise, develop, and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs, and ceremonies. This includes the right to use and cultivate plants and plant-based substances that have psychoactive effects, where these are part of their cultural, spiritual, or religious practices.
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, cultivate, use, and protect and conserve medicinal and other plants and seeds that form a part of their cultural or ethnic identity or part of their spiritual or religious traditions, customs, and ceremonies. This includes plants that have psychoactive effects.

In accordance with these rights, States should:

i. Refrain from interfering with indigenous peoples’ exercise of their cultural, spiritual, and religious practices, including those involving plants that have psychoactive effects.

ii. Adopt appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures to ensure that drug control efforts do not interfere with indigenous peoples’ rights to enjoy their culture and to practise their religion, including with members separated by international borders.

iii. Take measures to protect indigenous communities from actions by private companies and third parties that deny indigenous people their traditional sources of nutrition, medicines, livelihoods, and ceremonies, including those involving plants that have psychoactive effects.

In addition, States should:

iv. Consider exemptions within drug legislation allowing indigenous peoples to use controlled psychoactive substances for traditional, cultural, and religious purposes.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [1] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 1. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

Indigenous peoples have the right to their traditional medicines and to maintain their traditional health practices, including those related to their spiritual health. This necessitates the conservation of their vital medicinal plants, some of which have psychoactive properties.

In accordance with these obligations, States should:

i. Refrain from depriving indigenous peoples of the right to cultivate and use psychoactive plants that are essential to the overall health and well-being of their communities.

ii. Repeal, amend, or discontinue laws, policies, and practices that inhibit indigenous peoples’ access to controlled psychoactive substances for the purposes of maintaining or increasing the overall health and well-being of their communities, and consider adopting appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures to guarantee the exercise of the right to traditional medicines and health practices.

In addition, States may:

iii. Utilise the available flexibilities in the UN drug control conventions to decriminalise indigenous peoples’ possession, purchase, or cultivation of controlled psychoactive substances for personal consumption.

iv. Consider taking specific measures to protect the right of indigenous peoples to use psychoactive substances for specially defined purposes, including those related to their right to health.

Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. [1] You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.

  • 1. ^

    Here is where you will see the cited reference for the Commentary feature.

Privacy Policy © 2019