Anand Grover calls for new drugs policy

Anand Grover is the “Special Rapporteur” for the UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council).  Yesterday he gave a speech to the UN general assembly entitled “The right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”  In his report he called for a complete re-evaluation of the way in which the international community tackles the problem of illicit drug use.

His argument focused upon the fact that the present approach of international anti-drug policy has been attempting to achieve complete eradication of the problem; Grover suggested that this approach does not reflect the realities of drug use and drug users’ situations worldwide.  He claimed that an all out ban has led to the detriment rather than improvement of populations and societies affected by drug use.  

The argument focuses upon the fact that drug users fearing recrimination may not seek medical help when they need it; others may be refused such services due to their dependency.  Users are often incarcerated without thought to treatments or therapies, often delaying rather than eradicating the problem. Indeed he cited thirty-two jurisdictions that still enforce the death penalty for drug offenders.

Grover underlined the extent to which the often punitive policies were felt especially by less fortunate social groups; furthermore he highlighted the fact that the lack of treatments and alternative controlled drug distribution programs leads to the spread illness such as HIV.  

He suggested that a policy of decriminalization should be pursued by member states, though he clearly noted the difference between decriminalization and legalization.  The suggestion he put forward was for a “Human rights based approach to drug control.” A good example of this is the case of Portugal which having decriminalized personal drug possession, has seen almost entirely positive results.

Grover recommended the adoption of a new regulatory system similar to that of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Grover is calling for a far more humanistic approach to drug control; with his call for decriminalization and de-penalization, he has also called for a far greater effort to be made in the areas of treatment and social care for those affected by illicit drugs.  

Anand Grover is a lawyer in the Mumbai high court India and the Supreme Court of India.  He has focused much of his career on working with the problem of HIV/Aids, and is director of: “the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS India.”

He took up his position as special rapporteur in August 2008.