In New York, Wednesday, April 20, 2016 – The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon. Hanna Serwaah Tetteh (MP), called on the international community to ensure that people who are dependent on drugs are assisted through the public health structure rather than being subjected to the national penal system: “they need public health and not criminal measures”.

Addressing the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on World Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016), the Honourable Tetteh affirmed Ghana’s position on the subject of drug usage, and the need for the world’s governing body, the United Nations, to put in place policies and systems for the promotion and protection of the human rights in drug-related cases. She urged the UN Statistical Commission to develop new pro-development metrics to help prepare the next Political Declaration:

“It is important to integrate Public Health and Human Rights approaches to drug control. We have to ensure an increase in resource allocation for Health and Human Rights based policies in drug control … We believe that this will naturally lead to the building upon and operationalisation of existing UN Human Rights Due Diligence and Policy”.

Adding, the Foreign Minister advocated for the institunalisation of a forum that would enable Member-states, international organisations, academia and civil society groups to dialogue, and share robust scientific evidence about the wide range of drug control criminal justice response policy interventions and their outcomes. This, she advised, should be the basis of any new political declaration and plan of action in 2019, and recommended the development of coherent UN-system-wide guidance on the programming of treatment of drug use disorders for applications across UN programming context:

“We also call for the establishment of a high level independent expert commission supported by the World Health Organization to analyse the state of global access to controlled medicines and advice on measures to improve it”.

Pressing forward Ghana’s position, the Foreign Minister Hanna Tetteh expressed hope that the outcomes of the review process would ensure that in “rebalancing international policy on drugs, greater policy is placed on health and human rights including treatment, care, harm and risk reduction”.

Concluding, the Honourable Minister pointed out that, in the determination to broaden the space for the reconsideration of global drug control strategies, it was the hope of Ghana that “implementation of any international drug policy should not be treated as an encrypted synonym for unprincipled laissez-faire”, and that flexibility must be seen as “a core part of a process of collective drug policy development within the United Nations”, founded on “principled pluralism”.