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call for input | Special Procedures

Drug policies and responses: a right to health framework on harm reduction

Issued by

Special Rapporteur on the right to health

Deadline

15 November 2023

Purpose: To inform the Special Rapporteur’s forthcoming report to the Human Rights Council
Background

Within the framework of Human Rights Council resolution 51/21, the Special Rapporteur on the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health has identified health equity as a strategic priority, ranging from the underlying determinants of health to the need to eliminate structural and systemic barriers in accessing health care services, goods, and facilities, particularly among persons living under vulnerable or marginalised circumstances. In compliance with her mandate and in line with these priorities, the Special Rapporteur on the right to health has decided to devote her next thematic report to the Human Rights Council, to be held in June 2024 to the theme of “Drug policies and responses: a right to health framework on harm reduction”.

Objectives

All persons are entitled to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, which includes the underlying determinants of health and timely and appropriate health care. In the present report, the Special Rapporteur intends to explore the ways in which harm reduction intersects with the enjoyment of right to health and related human rights. Relying on the frameworks of the social and commercial[1], determinants of health, the Special Rapporteur will examine the laws, policies, and practices that give rise to the need for harm reduction, as well as the laws, policies, and practices that take a harm reduction approach, aiming to address the negative health, social, and legal outcomes in various contexts.

Harm reduction has been primarily developed in the context of drug use, including needle and syringe programs, supervised injection and drug use facilities, opioid substitution therapy, overdose prevention, and community outreach programs, as well as access to legal assistance, social services, housing, and adequate food. However, in this report, the Special Rapporteur will take a broadened view of harm reduction to examine how this approach can intersect with the right to health and related human rights in other realms, including but not limited to sex work, abortion, and safe sex.

The Special Rapporteur also intends consider harm reduction as key public health interventions for populations that are often stigmatised and discriminated against. She will explore how the laws, policies, and practices that give rise to the need for harm reduction can disproportionately impact certain people, such as those in situations of homelessness or poverty, persons who use drugs, sex workers, women, children, LGBTIQ+ persons, persons with disabilities, persons who are incarcerated or detained, migrants, Indigenous Peoples, Black persons, persons living with HIV or hepatitis, and persons living in rural areas. Taking an anti-coloniality and anti-racism approach, the Special Rapporteur will explore how in some contexts criminalisation and stigmatisation can serve as a legacy of colonialism and slavery.

Key questions and types of input/comments sought

The questionnaire can be downloaded below in English (original language), French and Spanish (unofficial translations). Responses can address some of the questions or all of them, as feasible or preferred.

(Please attach these files to your email request to InfoDesign.)

How inputs will be used

Please note that all responses will be published on the official webpage of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur by default.


Next Steps

Input/comments may be sent by e-mail/fax/postal mail. They must be received by 15 November 2023 18:00 CEST.

Email address:
[email protected]

Email subject line:
Contribution to HRC report – SR right to health

Word limit:
500 words per question

File formats:
Word, PDF

Accepted languages:
English, Spanish, French