VIENNA (Alliance News) - Military approaches against drugs and excessive punishment of users run counter to UN treaties, the UN narcotics control body said Wednesday, advocating policies that put people's health at the centre.
"The conventions never called for a war on drugs," said Werner Sipp, president of the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board.
The German drug policy expert presented the board's annual report in Berlin, as input for the UN drug policy summit to be held in New York in April.
The report not only criticized militarized law enforcement in some countries, but also warned that excessive incarceration rates among drug offenders and the denial of medical treatment for drug users are not in line with UN treaties.
"As the Board has stated on numerous occasions, the international drug control conventions do not require the incarceration of drug users," wrote the 13 medical and legal experts who make up the board.
Rather, these treaties advocate policies to prevent drug use and to treat and rehabilitate addicts, they said.
Such measures "would have a significant impact upon any illicit drug market," as heavy users are only a minority among drug consumers, while accounting for 80% of demand.
At the same time, the UN-appointed experts made clear that they advocate a balanced approach between law enforcement and other social and medical policies, rather than legalization of drugs.