Video of the Event | ‘Drug Policies and Development: Conflict and Coexistence’, A Presentation for South Africa, 19 Nov. 2020

International drug control mechanisms are focused on the elimination of drug production, use and trafficking, through the operationalisation of repressive public policies criminalizing these substances and their non-medical use. The implementation of these policies has had a detrimental impact on other global development objectives.

The last five years have seen major changes and intense debates on drug policies in South Africa. These changes have included the introduction of harm reduction services to the decriminalization of cannabis use through a Constitutional Court judgment. During the time there has been dynamic advocacy to address setbacks on the ground against people who use drugs.

In the midst of the South African debate on drug control, this event presented the history and effects of drug policy on health and standing development gaps (see programme of the event below).


Summary of the discussion

The publication examines the immense obstacles that repressive criminalization-based drug policies create for development, in particular human development broadly understood. International and national policies aimed at eliminating, limiting or controlling the production, commercialization and consumption of narcotics have, as mentioned by one of the speakers, a “schizophrenic approach”, which has led to exclusions and criminalization. The international development goals would have no-one left behind, whereas the policies aimed at narcotics specifically are designed to leave a whole swathe of the population behind, on re basis that their behaviour is immoral, wrong, or bad. The publication tries to articulate these impacts – which reinforce sexual, gender, racial and global inequalities – whilst putting the individual at the centre, The metrics of international drug control do not address development, stakeholders are simply excluded, and sit in a silo, detached from human rights based approaches, and all the United Nations principles. The publication has a global audience whilst advocating for more attention to localized problems in drug policy making, in South Africa and elsewhere.

The roundtable, moderated by Dr. Andrew Scheibe, Technical Advisor for TB HIV Care and researcher at the University of Pretoria’s Department of Family Medicine, South Africa, was articulated around the article written by Dr Sheibe, alongside Mr. Shaun Shelly, Researcher at the University of Pretoria and the Policy, Advocacy and Human Rights lead at TB HIV Care, South Africa, and Dr. Anna Versfeld, independent Medical Anthropologist, South Africa. Also spoke at the event, the co-author of another chapter, Mr. Martin Jelsma, Director of the Drugs and Democracy programme at the Transnational Institute (TI), the Netherlands, and Senior Research Associate at the Global Drug Policy Observatory at Swansea University, UK, Prof. Julia Buxton, co-editor of the publication, British Academy Global Professor in Criminology at the University of Manchester and Senior Research Associate at the Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO), Swansea University, UK, Prof. Jannie Hugo, Head of Family Medicine, University of Pretoria, South Africa, and Prof. Harry Hausler, CEO TB HIV Care, South Africa. Closing remarks were delivered by Prof. Quarraisha Abdool Karim, the Associate Scientific Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA).

Professor Jannie Hugo reminded us that the objective of any policy remains the individuals at the heart of these policies, and that those who use such substances are often the object, rather than the subject, of these polices. Professor Hausler, who works to prevent TB and AIDS, reminded us that it we cannot contain these diseases if at the same time, we cut off many of those at risk from medical care, through repressive policies. The cost of criminalization of the use of these substances if high not only for the users, but also for society, as it bears to cost of the increased risk of disease. How much better off we would all be, he argues, if the sums spent in repression of drugs use could be invested in prevention and treatment?

Talking of their paper, the authors argue that there is an assumption that international drugs policies are neutral, for the greater common good, and evidence-based, and they use the South African example to show that this is a false assumption. They point out that the Constitution does guarantee human rights, such as non-discrimination, and that these rights are not respected in the framework of drugs policies. Martin Jelsma talks about some of the more global issues involving crop production.

Legislative power engagement: The introduction of harm reduction services to the decriminalization of cannabis use requires engagement with critical stakeholders, such as people with decision-making power, i.e. legislative power. Drug policy must be in line with the Constitution to guarantee the human rights of drug users, which is currently not the case.

The session was followed up with a lively Q&A session.


 
PROGRAMME
Welcome Remarks
  • Prof. Jannie Hugo, Head of Family Medicine, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Prof. Harry Hausler, CEO TB HIV Care, South Africa
Moderator
  • Dr. Andrew Scheibe, Technical Advisor for TB HIV Care and researcher at the University of Pretoria’s Department of Family Medicine, South Africa
Speakers
  • Prof. Julia Buxton, British Academy Global Professor in Criminology at the University of Manchester and Senior Research Associate at the Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO), Swansea University, UK
  • Dr. Anna Versfeld, Postdoctoral Fellow, School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Mr. Shaun Shelly, Researcher at the University of Pretoria and the Policy, Advocacy and Human Rights lead at TB HIV Care, South Africa
  • Mr. Martin Jelsma, Director of the Drugs and Democracy programme at the Transnational Institute (TI), the Netherlands, and Senior Research Associate at the Global Drug Policy Observatory at Swansea University, UK
Concluding Remarks
  • Prof. Quarraisha Abdool Karim, the Associate Scientific Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA)

Read the full thematic issue (in open access) : ‘Drug Policies and Development: Conflict and Coexistance‘.

Paperback reference: Julia Buxton, Mary Chinery-Hesse and Khalid Tinasti (eds.) (2020) Drug Policies and Development, Confict and Coexistence, International Development Policy series No.12 (Geneva, Boston: Graduate Institute Publications, Brill-Nijhoff). Order your copy on Brill-Nijhoff’s website.


Vous aimerez aussi...

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search