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Statement of the Federal Government Drug Commissioner Marlene Mortler on  „Human Rights and Drug Policy“

Speech

Statement by Ms Mortler, the Federal Government Drug Commissioner, on the occasion of the 'From abstract Principles to concrete Guidance: International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy' side event at the 62nd Meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs on 15th March 2019


Ambassador Wild,

Ambassador Buenrostro Massieu,

Distinguished speakers on the panel,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


It's always good to be the last speaker:

instead of needing your own input, all you have to do is briefly summarise what the speakers before you have already said!


I am happy to oblige.

And, while I'm at it, I would also like to add my express gratitude to all those who have contributed to this event.

That would be, first of all, the speakers who enriched this event so much with their Expertise.


You spoke of the fundamental role of human rights in drug policy in areas as different as the prevention of blood-borne diseases and the significance of economic and social rights in reducing economic dependence on illegal drug economies.

You reminded us that human rights apply universally to all people, but also and especially to those who consume narcotic drugs.


For this I wish to thank you sincerely.

Of course, this event would not have been possible without the Swiss Government as its main sponsor.

Nor would it have been possible without the support of the governments of Great Britain, Canada, Mexico and Germany.

For this too, I am very grateful.


The main actors responsible for drawing up the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy were the employees of

the University of Essex International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy and

the United Nations Development Programme.


They had a great deal of work on their hands in recent years.

The dimensions and the quality of the International Guidelines are a clear testimony to their work!

I do not simply wish to thank you.


I also want to express my respect for the excellent work you have done! 

It has already been mentioned, but I want to emphasise it again:

Respect for human rights is the precondition for a balanced, health-oriented and people-centred drug policy.

And this is what I have been striving to achieve for so many years.

It affects all areas of drug policy.


Whether we are dealing with access to medical care, non-discrimination and non-stigmatisation, fair trials or the appropriateness of punishments.

To give you just one example:

the destruction of drug fields can have a devastating effect on the livelihoods of the affected rural population.

It goes without saying that we have to reduce the amount of land used for drug cultivation.


At the same time, the dignity, the rights and the livelihoods of the affected population must be protected.

We have to offer these people alternative ways of earning a living.

The Global Partnership on Drug Policies and Development is doing excellent work, precisely in this area!

The Global Partnership, which is funded by Germany, also made a decisive contribution to the International Guidelines that were published today.


Because a development-oriented perspective of drug policy contributes directly to strengthening the rights of vulnerable groups!

I am therefore happy that the German Federal Government has recently guaranteed the Global Partnership's funding for another three years.

And I am – there is no hiding it – also somewhat proud of the fact that I am the political patron of this valuable instrument of international cooperation.


However, it is not only in the drug producing countries that human rights must be respected.

In countries such as Germany this is an ongoing task!

Human rights are a matter of great importance for Germany.

We too have some homework to do.

For example, we need to consider how to improve the access of prison inmates to substitution therapy and hepatitis treatment.

And we must also determine how to care for the children of persons who are addicted to drugs.


In many cases, they are the ones who suffer the most from their parents' addiction.

And most of them need our help and support to avoid being drawn into the cycle of suffering and addiction themselves.


These brief examples are meant to illustrate the importance of respecting human rights in all regions of the world when dealing with narcotic drugs.

I hope for myself and, above all, for the sponsors and authors of the International Guidelines, that the future will see them spread and find practical implementation in many places!

Thank you very much!





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