Children are often at the forefront of political justifications for drug policies. There is nothing wrong with this, of course – what better justification could there be than protecting children? But it is often assumed, without more, that drug policies contribute to child protection and child wellbeing. Less often discussed are the negative impacts of drug policies on children and young people (and their families); the neglect of children and young people in responses to drug related harms; and what a child rights based approach to drug policies would look like.
Harm Reduction International has been working closely with partners such as Youth RISE and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network on these issues for some time and will be extending and focusing more on this aspect of our research and advocacy in the coming years.
To date, Harm Reduction International and our staff have published and contributed to numerous articles and reports on drugs and the rights of the child and have led international advocacy initiatives on these issues. Our focus has been on harm reduction and young people, and on drugs and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (the only core UN human rights treaty to refer to drugs).
D. Barrett (ed) Children of the drug war: Perspectives on the impact of drug policies on young people(New York and Amsterdam, IDEA,iDebate Press, 2011)
D. Barrett and P. Veerman, ‘Article 33: Protection from Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances’ in A. Alen, J. Vande Lanotte, E. Verhellen, F. Ang, E. Berghmans, and M. Verheyde (Eds) A Commentary on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden, 2011)
Research project: Legal age restrictions on harm reduction programmes
Articles, reports and presentations:
D. Barrett and P. Veerman ‘Children who use drugs: The need for more clarity on state obligations in international law’ International Journal of Human Rights and Drug Policy, Vol I, 2010 pp. 63-81
‘Excluded and Ignored: The gaps and failings in research on youth drug use and the implications for harm reduction’, Presentation, International Harm Reduction Conference, Beirut 2011
‘Decriminalisation, the UN Drug Conventions and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child’, Amicus Curiae Brief to the Colombian Constitutional Court, 2011 (English and Spanish)
‘Drugs and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: Unpacking Article 33’, Presentation, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota, 2010
Alternative report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, 4th Periodic Report of Ukraine, 2010: ‘Injecting drug use, sex work and HIV among children and adolescents at risk’ (with Eurasian Harm Reduction Network)
Eurasian Harm Reduction Network, ‘Young people and injecting drug use in selected countries of Central and Eastern Europe’ 2009 (with contribution from Harm Reduction International)
For more information contact Damon Barrett, Senior Human Rights Analyst