Despite the fact that drug use is both widespread and non-violent, the predominant approach of governments around the world has been to criminalize those who use and/or possess drugs. The harms of the criminalization of drug use cannot be overstated. The High Commissioner of Human Rights, in his report 30/65 (2015), recommended Member States consider decriminalizing the personal use and possession of drugs.

The Global Commission will organize a major session at the 25th IHRC decriminalization of drug use and possession. The event will discuss the following:

  • Ending penalties for drug possession for personal use and the cultivation of drugs for personal consumption. Why it is needed and how can it be implemented? Is it consistent with human rights obligations?
  • What are the existing decriminalization experiences? What is the state of harm reduction in countries that implemented decriminalization of use and possession? Where do the affected communities stand on decriminalization?
  • What is the medical community view on decriminalization of drug use and possession? What is the evidence on the deterrent effect of the criminalization of use and possession? Is decriminalization key to ending AIDS among people who inject drugs?


  • Professor Michel Kazatchkine, Global Commission on Drug Policy: decriminalization to uphold human rights
  • Niamh Eastwood, Release: What decriminalization models exist globally?
  • Ruth Birgin, International Network of People who Use Drugs: the impact of criminalization on people’s daily lives and health
  • Richard Elliott, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network: decriminalization to reduce harms in prisons and other closed settings
  • Dr. Marianne Jauncey, International Doctors for Healthier Drug Policies: decriminalization and the medical community (TBC)
  • Fionnuala Murphy, Harm Reduction International (moderator)
© 2011 - 2021, All Rights Reserved