End 50 years of Injustice: Support Compensation for Communities Affected by War on Drugs.

A Petition by Binod Pun Gurung, Kathmandu. AIDS/Drug Policy Harm Reduction Activist Extraordinaire

This Petition by our friend in Kat, was prepared for the 2024 Commission on Narcotic Drugs, but larger NGOs chose not to help bring it to the UN, March 2024. As Editor of the usersvoice.org, I was surprised and disappointed as I used to bring this kind of documentation to the Vienna CNDs regularly. Drug User Activists were told that the US would ignore it anyways, as if the US ruled the drug policy world… Maybe they still do. Anyways, we decided to give it some breathing space, as we thought its content was very Important

Dear Friends and Advocates of Justice,

We reach out today with a profound sense of urgency and a relentless pursuit for justice. For half a century, the ‘war on drugs (WoD)’ has disproportionately impacted the world’s most vulnerable & the poorest populations, leaving behind a legacy of trauma, suffering, and disruption. For decades, countless communities have borne the brunt of a relentless war on drugs (WoD)—a war that has marginalized, persecuted, and shattered lives.

However, recently the UN human rights chief has made a ground-breaking call to all U.N. member states and to the entire UN agencies for a systemic drug policy reform. This significant global acknowledgment only underscores the urgency and importance of our plea.

Nepal, an early front in the WoD stands as a testament to its crippling effects. On July 15, 1973, the abrupt prohibition of legal cannabis businesses disrupted the livelihoods of many. This ranged from thousands of marginalized farmers in the distant mountains and terrains who were depended on the age-old practice of cannabis cultivation, to hundreds of local Cannabis & Hashish store owners on Freak Street in Kathmandu. After the abrupt prohibition of cannabis, these integral community members saw their crops, which were the primary source of income for their families, being eradicated. During the eradication of cannabis crops, these farmers were subjected to inappropriate actions by the police, they endured unjust detentions, violence, and breaches of human rights. What’s even more disheartening is that the Nepalese Government did not offer any support to these farmers, neither in the form of crop replacement programs nor any other form of assistance.

But Nepal’s story mirrors countless others. Across the globe, we’ve seen families disintegrate, futures obliterated, and potential unfulfilled due to this deeply flawed approach. The weight of this realization beckons our collective conscience and calls for immediate rectification. Hence, we the undersigned, alongside communities deeply impacted by this counterproductive WoD, urge both the U.S. Government and the United Nations (U.N) to uphold their responsibilities to global populations, by righting the wrongs they’ve made and ultimately spearheading the efforts to conclude this campaign.
Recognizing their duties to promote peace, uphold human rights, and ensure the welfare of all, we implore them to actively engage, both by initiating and by facilitating measures, to end the unwarranted actions against individuals who use drugs and their families. This encompasses ‘stop & search’ procedures without a warrant, verbal and physical misconduct leading to emotional trauma, unlawful arrests, abductions, and extrajudicial killings common in countries across the world. In line with their obligations, we further recommend them for

(1) Compensation Strategy for Drug War Impact:
Establish a committee: Form a team of representatives from impacted communities, policy experts, and U.N. entities to oversee compensation efforts.

Compensation Fund: Set aside funds focusing on Education, Employment, and Community Development to counterbalance the harm and promote growth.

Assess Needs: Periodically evaluate the most affected communities to direct funds effectively.

Collaborate with I/NGOs: Engage international & local NGOs and community groups for grounded insights and more effective program execution.

Ensure Transparency: Adopt a clear system for fund use, with regular reports, audits, and community feedback mechanisms.

Regular Review: Conduct biennial evaluations of the fund’s effectiveness, refining strategies for optimal results.
(By enacting these steps, the U.S. Government and the U.N. can offer significant support to communities affected by the drug war, paving the way for sustainable recovery.)

(2) Advocating Evidence-Based Drug Policies:
Form an Expert Panel: With individual experts, review and recommend global best practices in harm reduction and drug policy.
Promote Harm Reduction: Train law enforcement and medical professionals; support safe consumption spaces, needle exchange programs along with naloxone distribution & opioid assistance program.
Revise Drug Laws: Focus on decriminalizing personal possession & consumption, emphasizing education, support and rehabilitation over penalties.
Engage with I/NGOs: Collaborate with organizations experienced in drug policy reform at local, national and international level for a community-driven approach.
Allocate Resources: Establish a basket fund to support harm reduction initiatives and continuous research like The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria.
Monitor and Adjust: Regularly review initiatives, incorporating feedback to ensure relevance and effectiveness of the program. (By adopting these measures, the U.S. Government and the U.N. can lead a swift change from prohibitory approach towards a more humane & compassionate approach to drug policy one that the Chief of Human Rights at U.N. has recently called upon.)

(3) Prioritize Human Rights in Drug Policies:
Cease Violations: Immediately halt all acts of unprovoked arrests and unwarranted violence under the banner of war on drugs.
Human Rights Framework: Integrate and prioritize human rights within all global drug policies and law enforcement actions.
(By endorsing these measures, we ensure that the approach to drug policies remains firmly anchored in the preservation of human rights.)

(4) Building Global Partnerships for Justice:
We call on all laypeople, particularly individuals interested in issues relating to drug use & social services, activists, like-minded organizations, and stakeholders worldwide to collaborate with us. Together, by consolidating our efforts and resources, we aim to spotlight and address prevailing injustices and advocate for drug policies anchored in empathy, justice, and respect.

The time for reform is now. We must act, not just observe, as communities bear the brunt of decades of misguided policies. As we mark fifty years of these policies, our collective spirit seeks healing and unity.
Each signature and each voice, pushes us toward rebuilding affected communities. “Let’s not just observe history; let’s shape a kinder future.” We ask you to consider our plea deeply.

Together, we can transform past pain into a beacon of hope and healing.

With faith & in solidarity,   

Petition Disclaimer: WoD
(This petition has been periodically updated to reflect the evolving nature of the subject matter, as the dynamics surrounding the WoD continuously shift and adapt in response to new developments & findings. Major updates related to the topic will continue to be shared through our regular updates. While we strive for accuracy, we recommend verifying any data or claims before taking action. The views expressed may not represent all signatories. Stay informed and consider multiple perspectives.)

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