Citing large scale human rights abuses and discriminatory enforcement practices, more than 100 organizations on Wednesday sent an open letter (pdf) to the United Nations calling for a significant shift in global drug policy.
The international coalition is comprised of non-governmental organizations and drug reform advocacy groups—such as Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Drug Policy Alliance—as well as businesses, including Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.
The letter charges that with its heavy emphasis on the criminalization of drug use, possession, manufacture, and distribution, the international War on Drugs has driven such abuses as discriminatory policing, disproportionate sentencing, mass incarceration, and in some cases, the use of death penalty for drug offenses.
Further, the criminalization of personal drug use and possession "infringes on the right to privacy and basic principles of autonomy on which other rights rest."
The impact of these rules, the group argues, has damaged public health with the "proliferation of infectious diseases and the suppression of essential and promising medicines." And by forcing the drug trade underground, the drug war "has dramatically enhanced the profitability of illicit drug markets, fueling the operations of groups that commit abuses, corrupt authorities, and undermine democracy and the rule of law in many parts of the world."