Catholic universities are keeping the faith for drug policies rooted in public health and human rights.
The International Federation of Catholic Universities recently launched a policy brief that concludes drug policies concentrating on law enforcement have not been as effective as hoped. Moreover, it suggests leaders view their drug laws as dynamic and open to change.
The brief, titled Drug Policies in Latin America and Asia: Towards the Construction of Responses Focused on Human Rights, states:
Prohibitionist policies have shown their limits, deepening the stigmatization of drug users, especially those living in situations of social vulnerability, and this has been translated into problems in accessing social and health services. The predominance of these policies has resulted in the criminalization of drug users and minor agents in the trafficking circuit (growers, small-scale carriers and drug dealers) and the consequent prison overcrowding...
A change of paradigm is therefore necessary, placing the restoration of drug users’ dignity at the center of the debate, respecting the international rules of human rights and promoting inter-sectorial responses based on integrated perspectives.
The Centre for Coordination of Research of the International Federation of Catholic Universities has also taken a keen interest in the issue. It helped support the work of a team of experts from around the world who developed a research project titled Studies of Policies and Practices in the Field of Drugs Use/Abuse.
Participants, from Latin America, Asia and the Near East, included a number of academic and civil society groups, such as Open Society grantee InterCambios. The brief summarizes its research findings and offers a set of recommendations on public policy. In particular, it suggests that a 2014 UN drug summit serve as an opportunity to explore other perspectives on the issue and to try new ways to address drug policy.