The negative consequences of the current prohibitionist drug control regime on health, human rights and development have been the subject of growing international attention. Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health, Paul Hunt, has described the co-existence of human rights law and drug control law as being situated in ‘parallel universes’.
1. That is, we find ourselves in the untenable situation where global drug control laws are in direct conflict with human rights law, where the application of one systemically breaches the norms and imperatives of the other. Less attention however, has generally been paid to the ways in which the international drug control regime specifically impacts women. Women’s rights and gender equality too rarely feature in discussions about the ‘world drug problem’. For example, only 2% of all resolutions adopted since 2009 address the issues faced by women who use drugs.
2. While the 2016 UNGASS Outcome Document adds some overdue attention to gender issues, it remains vital that governments maintain and build on such forward momentum during the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and its High Level Ministerial Segment. This report accordingly examines the particular impacts of drug control on women to serve as a background briefing to 2019 CND and HLMS deliberations.