I suspect all those living in this institution we call New Zealand would be generally appalled if it were argued that by our collective (in)actions we were held to be unfit members of the UN, yet everyday we incarcerate and continue to deprive the freedom of thousands of people in the name of compliance with one UN "Single Convention" - and to what end?
I have on many occasions raised the glaring human rights anomaly with government select committee and commissions including the NZ Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan.
It has been the character of the response that 'drugs are illegal' and that people may choose not to consume them, thus consumption or possession is not a 'rights issue', rather society has the preeminent right to be protected from drugs' harms and consumers. Else why the law?
This is wrong. It doesn't matter how one spins the moral probity of drugs on society and the self, it is still wrong. It is not a little wrong, nor is it a little right. It is neither gray nor fudgeable. UN Drug policy focused on punitive 'consequences' purportedly sending signals to some market has delivered the very market it set out to eliminate. It is a policy that is condemned by its own failure that one can legitimately ask "what is the moral probity of those who maintain it?"
This week past has seen 'tit for tat' claims and counter-claims surrounding Shapelle Corby's kilo's. Another, incarcerated for 20 years for possessing enough methamphetamine one could sneeze and the evidence would have been mere vapours. Yet another, a candidate whom has stood his good name before his electorate and has politically and actively engaged for reasoned drug policy now stands charged with possession of 1.6grams of cannabis plant (ESR weighed it)material - doubtless with 'active' THC in nanogram quantities. All this in the same week that the Health Select Committee was hearing from NORML and others about the undoubted efficacy of the herb. [Sativex/Marinol proves the lie]. Methamphetamine is a prescription drug so safe it is given to Children (Ritalin) and to stroke sufferers. It's prevalence and associated harms are a product of the very rules intended to protects us. There is little in the pharmacology of methamphetamine that redeems it as an 'illegal stimulant'. It is not a good drug by any means.. but the more dangerous a drug is the less responsible it is of governments to abrogate its control, distribution, profits and quality to unaccountable networks.
So do drug users have human rights? or are we to maintain the notion that 52% of adult NZer's are so craven that they should be deprived of their liberty, possessions and future options simply because we REFUSE TO BELEIVE they, drugs or consumers have any worth. For that is the PREJUDICE masked by this LAW. It is wrong. It must change. It is institutionalised 'othering' of people's master status expressly prohibited under UN Charter. Discussion within the community is no longer avoidable. Civil Society cannot ignore the unresolved tensions between the 'UN Single Convention on Narcotics' and 'Human Rights'. And is so doing it must engage those whose 'other status' has for too long been ignored. It is the stuff of social capital.
Protection of human rights is clearly, specifically and repeatedly identified as one of the purposes of the UN in the Charter, and as a specific legal obligation of all UN member states, whereas drug control has been conceived from the outset as a subset of the higher aims of the Organisation and its Members.
Furthermore, the Charter’s own provisions make it clear that Charter obligations take precedence over other, conflicting treaty obligations. The principal recommendation making body of the UN, the General Assembly, has specifically stated that drug control ‘must be carried out in full conformity with the
purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and other provisions of international law, and in particular with full respect for…all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and on the basis of the principles of equal rights and mutual respect.’
If a principal organ of the UN directs that drug control must be in conformity with human rights, then this must be reflected in the operations of the UN. Human rights violations stemming from drug control must be highlighted and brought to an end, and the drug control machinery must adopt a rights-based approach to its work in order to avoid complicity in human rights abuses and to influence domestic implementation of the international drug control conventions in line with human rights norms. / http://www.beckleyfoundation.org/pdf/report_13.pdf