- Harm reduction
Decision 74/10. Flexibility of treaty provisions as regards harm reduction approaches (E/INCB/2002/W.13/SS.5)
6. (…) UNDCP would, however, support a balanced approach that would match supply reduction measures and prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation initiatives, with programmes aimed at reducing the overall health and social consequences and costs of drug abuse for both the individuals and their communities. This would be fully consistent not only with the Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction (Resolution A/RES/S-20/4) of the General Assembly Special Session (GASS-1998), but also with the stated position of the INCB. Moreover, this approach would also be in accord with the United Nations system ’s position on Preventing the Transmission of HIV among Drug Users, as approved in February 2001.
12. (…) it could easily be argued that the Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction provide a clear mandate for the institution of harm reduction policies that, respecting cultural and gender differences, provide for a more supportive environment for drug users
17. [methadone] substitution/maintenance treatment could hardly be perceived as contrary to the text or the spirit of the treaties. It is a commonly accepted addiction treatment, with several advantages and few drawbacks. Although results are mixed and dependent on many factors, its implementation along sound medical practice guidelines would not constitute a breach of treaty provisions.
23. (…) even supplying a drug addict with the drug he depends on could be seen as a sort of rehabilitation and social reintegration, assuming that once his drug requirements are taken care of, he will not need to involve himself in criminal activities to finance his dependence.(…)
27. It would be difficult to assert that, in establishing drug-injection rooms, it is the intent of Parties to actually incite to or induce the illicit use of drugs, or even more so, to associate with, aid, abet or facilitate the possession of drugs.
28. On the contrary, it seems clear that in such cases the intention of governments is to provide healthier conditions for IV drug abusers, thereby reducing their risk of infection with grave transmittable diseases and, at least in some cases, reaching out to them with counselling and other therapeutic options. Albeit how insufficient this may look from a demand reduction point of view, it would still fall far from the intent of committing an offence as foreseen in the 1988 Convention.
29. [Needle and syringe programmes are] rather straightforward strategy to reduce the risk of contagion with communicable diseases to IV drug abusers who share needles or syringes. It has been introduced in many countries around the world, to help reduce the rate of intravenous transmission of HIV and other transmittable diseases.
35. (…) It could even be argued that the drug control treaties, as they stand, have been rendered out of synch with reality, since at the time they came into force they could not have possibly foreseen these new threats.
This is an important document from the legal affairs section of then UNDCP (ancestor of UNODC), setting out the legality of various harm reduction interventions under the UN drugs conventions. According to the document, OST (paragraph 17), NSPs (paragraph 29) and drug consumption rooms (paragraphs 23, 27, 28) all operate within the framework of the drug control conventions.