Human rights abuses in the name of national and international drug control are well known. There are various mechanisms to bring these violations to the attention of human rights monitors and experts. These mechanisms can help with national and international advocacy on particular issues. This is an avenue of advocacy that has not been utilised very often in the context of drug policies.
Unfortunately, these human rights mechanisms, and the very concept of human rights are not always very well known to civil society groups. They can also seem complicated and remote. This training is intended to be a point of departure for how to use human rights in a programme of work. It provides an opportunity to see how human rights may apply to a particular organisation’s work and how it could fit into a group’s advocacy.
Aims of the training
This training is therefore aimed at providing civil society groups with a basic introduction to the core concepts of human rights, the UN human rights system and some of the skills needed to engage with the various mechanisms within it.
The training will not, however, provide exhaustive training or detailed human rights education. No-one will leave a human rights lawyer! Nor will it go into detail on specific mechanisms. Rather, it will provide an introduction to human rights concepts, human rights law and the UN human rights system, as well as using human rights law and mechanisms in harm reduction advocacy.
Format of the training
The training is a mix of discussion, group work, games, exercises and presentations, and is divided into two modules.
Module I is an introduction to human rights. Its aims are:
- To introduce the basic concepts of human rights
- To understand accountability and participation as core elements of human rights
- To introduce international human rights law
Module II is about using the UN human rights system. Its aims are:
- To provide participants with a more detailed knowledge of the various types of UN human rights mechanisms
- To discuss why NGOs might engage with such mechanisms, what they would want to get from the process, and what they might expect from it
- To identify human rights issues from real life examples
- To connect rights issues to specific human rights mechanisms
- To understand the main information required for human rights mechanisms
- To articulate problems, their causes and consequences, and apply a rights analysis to them
Resources (needed for exercises - refer to training document for how/when to use)
- Powerpoint slides for presentations and exercises
- UDHR Cards (each article of the UDHR on separate cards for use in various exercises)
- Summaries of human rights treaties (UDHR, ICCPR, ICESCR, CERD, CAT, CEDAW, CRC, CRPD)
- 'Identity cards' for power-walk exercise
- Film clips (both were entered in Harm Reduction International's annual harm reduction film festival, FrontAIDS winning the festival award in 2007):
- CEDAW complaint mechanism - AT v Hungary
- Reporting to the CRC - Save the Children/Yemen
- UN Special Rapporteur on Torture - Jordan
- Individual complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health - Russia/OST (Russian. English translation here)
- UN human rights mechanisms in the media
- 100 Ways to Energise Groups (International HIV/AIDS Alliance)
Human Rights Basics
- The Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Available in over 375 languages.
- Core international human rights treaties. Available in the six UN languages.
- What Are Human Rights? A very brief overview from the UN Office of the High commissioner for Human rights
- History of human rights, drafting the UDHR, and the influence of the UDHR. A useful historical analysis
- The International Bill of Human Rights. This is a short (10 page) guide to the Universal Declaration, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. It includes a background, explanation of some key articles, and some comments on the influence of these documents. Available in Arabic English and French
- Human Rights: A Handbook for Parliamentarians, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2005. This handbook for government representatives includes discussions on the dynamic between rights-holders and duty-holders; rights as inalienable, indivisible and interdependent as well as the principle of non-discrimination. These ideas can be further explored at the Web site of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. These concepts are repeated in many of the above documents but a thorough understanding of them is necessary.
- An edited version of the handbook (which is very long!), highlighting key points
The UN Human Rights System
- Human Rights Documentation and Advocacy: A Guide for Organizations of People Who Use Drugs OSI, 2009. This guidebook is very much connected to the training programme and covers: Starting human rights documentation; Guidelines for documenting human rights violations committed against people who use drugs; Guidelines for conducting interviews; Monitoring legal systems. It is therefore particularly useful for Module II of the training. The guide also has a useful introduction to human rights concepts and a history of human rights. It does not have to be read in full but facilitators should familiarise themselves with it. Available in English and Russian.
- Working with the UN human rights programme: a handbook for civil society, 2008. This book is long but it is a good reference guide providing greater detail on the UN human rights system than provided in the ‘Brief Guide’ above. It is therefore a very useful companion. Available in Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish
- The United Nations Human Rights Treaty System: An introduction to the core human rights treaties and the treaty bodies Again, this is quite long but does not have to be read in full. It provides more details about the human rights treaties and human rights treaty monitoring bodies at the UN. Available in Chinese, English, Russian and Spanish
Human Rights, Drug Policy and Harm Reduction
- At What Cost? HIV and Human Rights Consequences of the Global War on Drugs, OSI, 2009. The entire book need not be read, but the essays do provide very useful context for discussion during the training. Essays may be used as case studies in the training to replace films when films cannot be shown.
- Drug Policy and Human Rights, Human Rights Watch. This site covers many human rights violations that occur under modern drug control strategies.
- Briefings on Human Rights and Drug Policy, Harm Reduction International, Open Society Institute, Human Rights Watch, and Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, 2010
- What is Harm Reduction? Harm Reduction International
- Harm Reduction and Human Rights: the global response to drug related HIV epidemics, Harm Reduction International, 2008
- Realizing the Right to Health, free online book of essays from eminent human rights scholars and practitioners. See in particular, “The human right to health: conceptual foundations” by Eibe Reidel
- Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 14, the right to health. General Comments set out in detail the requirements of specific aspects of human rights treaties. This General Comment on the right to health from the CESCR is well worth reading with drug use and drug control in mind! Available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish
- Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Anand Grover 'International drug control and the right to health'. Available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian.