What are Special Rapporteurs?

Drug Policy Question of the Week – 2-5-11

As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 2-5-11. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/3256

Question of the Week: What are Special Rapporteurs?

Shortly after enacting its charter in 1946, the United Nations established the Commission on Human Rights. According to its 2009 report, the Commission’s Human Rights Council fields,

“independent human rights experts with mandates to investigate, report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective.”

Some experts are called Rapporteurs, a French term for “reporter.” Rapporteurs carry out their designated mandates via “special procedures.” There are currently 31 thematic and 8 country mandates.

Special Rapporteurs have issued several reports on mandates germane to drug policy.

The May 2010 “Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, [by] Philip Alston,” stated,

“…in Afghanistan, the US has said that drug traffickers on the “battlefield” who have links to the insurgency may be targeted and killed. This is not consistent with the traditionally understood concepts under [international humanitarian law].”

The Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

“decided to devote particular attention in 2010 to the issues of the detention of drug users.”

The August 2010 “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health,” conceded,

“While drugs may have a pernicious effect on individual lives and society, this excessively punitive regime has not achieved its stated public health goals, and has resulted in countless human rights violations.”

The report then concluded,

“The primary goal of the international drug control regime … is the “health and welfare of mankind”, but the current approach to controlling drug use and possession works against that aim.”

These facts and others like them can be in the Human Rights – United Nations section of the Civil Rights Chapter of Drug War Facts at www.drugwarfacts.org.

Questions concerning these or other facts concerning drug policy can be e-mailed to mjborden@drugwarfacts.org