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).