our work

Drugs and Human Rights

Drug laws and policies infringe the rights of people who use or are involved with drugs. Punitive drug laws have provided the architecture within which racist and discriminatory policing practices operate. They have driven mass incarceration and limited the realisation of the right to health.

Our advocacy places human rights at the centre of a harm reduction approach to drug laws and policies, recognising that punitive laws and policies are detrimental to health and safety, and the realisation of human rights for all.


people executed for drug offences in the past ten years


people in drug detention centres in Asia

2 million+

people detained for drug offences worldwide

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We monitor rights abuses committed globally in the name of drug control, and advocate for the human rights of people who use drugs and their communities.

The Death Penalty for Drug Offences

34 countries retain the death penalty for drugs, even though it is a violation of international law. Drug offences do not meet the threshold of ‘most serious’ crimes to which the death penalty can be applied.

We monitor the death penalty worldwide to expose these rights violations and advocate for people facing the death penalty for drug offences, their families and communities.

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Prisons, Detention and Drug Policy

Punitive drug policy has led to over incarceration and prison overcrowding globally. It has driven involuntary treatment and detention of people who use drugs.

Our work on prisons, detention and drug policy sheds light on the harms of incarceration in order to advocate for the rights of people in prisons and those who are detained in other settings.

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Drug Policy at the United Nations

The UN shapes drug laws and policies through the international drug control conventions. It is responsible for ensuring that countries adhere to international human rights standards, including in their responses to drugs.

We engage with UN agencies and member states to advocate for a rights-based approach to drug policy, to ensure that drug policy is in line with international human rights standards.

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