The UN and Decriminalisation
Possession and use of illicit drugs are criminalised in most UN member states, including Ireland. The need to comply with the UN drug conventions has been cited as the reason many countries do not relax their national laws criminalising possession of even small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use.
However, a growing number of countries have recognised that criminalising possession of drugs for personal use breaches public health and human rights standards, which are also supported by the UN. A more nuanced approach is needed and in fact a significant number of countries have introduced some form of decriminalisation without breaching UN conventions.
In recent years a number of key UN agencies and two former Secretaries-General of the UN have all called for the decriminalisation of offences relating to the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use.
In April 2016 the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem adopted an Outcome Document. This document gives the green light to countries wishing to reduce the legal penalties for offences relating to the possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use.
In this section:
- How Criminalisation Impacts Globally
- Current Situation in Ireland
- Impacts of Decriminalisation
- UN and Decriminalisation
- Which Countries have Decriminalised and How?
- Evidence Overviews