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III. Obligations Arising from the Human Rights of Particular Groups

1.1 Prevention

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.

Commentary:

The Committee on the Rights of the Child has repeatedly called on States to put in place effective drug prevention measures pursuant to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including in schools.[627] Scare tactics and misinformation are counterproductive and should not be employed,[628] which is why the Committee consistently calls for ‘accurate and objective’ information.[629] The UN General Assembly Special Session 2016 Outcome Document also requests that States take practical prevention measures for children and youth by providing ‘accurate information’.[630] The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has developed international prevention standards that incorporate key ethical considerations and a review of the evidence.[631] These have been endorsed by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.[632]

Random school drug testing is ineffective and is therefore an unwarranted infringement of children’s right to privacy under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[633] The UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s prevention standards recommend avoiding such testing.[634] Given the absence of evidence of effectiveness of the use of sniffer dogs, this too should be avoided on the same rights-based grounds. Strip searches, meanwhile, have been found to be an unconstitutional violation of the right to privacy in some jurisdictions.[635]

Children have the right to education under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[636] Retention in school is an important form of protection from a range of health harms, while exclusion from school has been identified as a risk factor for the initiation or escalation of drug use.

  • 627. ^

    That is, pursuant to article 33 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. See, e.g., Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations: Germany, UN Doc. CRC/C/DEU/CO/3-4 (2014), para. 61; Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations: Saint Lucia, UN Doc. CRC/C/LCA/CO/2-4 (2014), para. 49; Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations: Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN Doc. CRC/C/BIH/CO/5-6 (2019), para. 35(b).

  • 628. ^

    Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Youth and Drugs: A Global Overview, UN Doc. E/CN.7/1999/8 (1999), para. 65(f).

  • 629. ^

    See, e.g., Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations: Guyana, UN Doc. CRC/C/GUY/CO/2-4 (2013), para. 50(d); Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations: Albania, UN Doc. CRC/C/ALB/CO/2-4 (2012), para. 64(b); Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations: Romania, UN Doc. CRC/C/ROM/CO/4 (2009), para. 71; Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations: Sweden, UN Doc. CRC/C/SWE/CO/4 (2009), para. 49(a); Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations: Bulgaria, UN Doc. CRC/C/BGR/CO/2 (2008), para. 50; Concluding Observations: Micronesia, UN Doc. CRC/C/FSM/CO/2 (2020), para. 55(d).

  • 630. ^

    UN General Assembly, Resolution S-30/1: Our Joint Commitment to Effectively Addressing and Countering the World Drug Problem, UN Doc. A/RES/S-30/1 (2016), para. 1(a).

  • 631. ^

    UN Office on Drugs and Crime, International Standards on Drug Use Prevention, 2nd ed. (2018).

  • 632. ^

    Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Resolution 59/6: Promoting Prevention Strategies and Policies (2016).

  • 633. ^

    Convention on the Rights of the Child, G.A. Res. 44/25 (1989), art. 16.

  • 634. ^

    UN Office on Drugs and Crime, International Standards on Drug Use Prevention, 2nd ed. (2018), p. 29.

  • 635. ^

    Safford Unified School District v. Redding, 557 US 364, 2009; see also Convention on the Rights of the Child, G.A. Res. 44/25 (1989), art. 16.

  • 636. ^

    Convention on the Rights of the Child, G.A. Res. 44/25 (1989), art. 28.

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