Book review: Article 33: Protection from Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, by Aoife Daly

Written by by Aoife Daly, University of Liverpool, School of Law and Social Justice

Review of:
D. Barrett and P.Veerman, “Article 33: Protection from Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances; in A. Alen, J. Vande Lanotte, E. Verhellen, F. Ang, E. Berghmans, M.Verheyde and B. Abramson (eds),A Commentary on the United Nations Convention on the Rights ofthe Child (Brill/Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden, 2012). rssN:1574-8626. 92 pages.

The human rights discourse is crucial to drugs policy, as those who use drugs face discrimination, dehumanisation and criminalisation from both states and non-state actors on a daily basis (Elliot, 2012 ). Sustained examination of the matter of drugs in the context of the international human rights framework is, however, in its infancy. Within this field the interface of drugs and children’s rights has been even further neglected. There is a notable dearth of commen­ tary as regards children’s rights and drugs policy from academies, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and other bodies.

This analysis of Article 33 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) contributes strongly, therefore, to dealing with what is clearly identifiable as ‘a current gap in the literature’ (Mahgoub, 2012 ). The authors are well placed to engage in this examination. Barrett is Deputy Director of Harm Reduction International which works to reduce drug-related harms and Philip Veerman is a psycholo­gist and expert in the juvenile courts in the Netherlands (see also Barrett and Veerman, 2010 and Barrett, 2011).
The book, a worthy contribution to the “Commentary” series, conforms to the pattern of the series in that it is divided into three chapters, first provid­ ing an introduction to the background of the issue, then comparing Article 33 with other provisions in the CRC and elsewhere , and finally examining the scope of Article 33. The publication provides an insightful and, insofar as possible in a monograph of limited length, comprehensive analysis of this broad and complex topic, and the authors draw astutely on their extensive expertise in the area, contributing real-life examples to highlight gaps in interpretation and to inform the debate. The necessity of this analysis is laid out in the introduction. There are a range of children’s rights affected by drugs issues. There is little children’s rights guidance available. Both children and the CRC , according to the authors, can be used as an excuse for punitive laws in the area. Furthermore drug use, as well as our knowledge of it, has changed since the drafting of the CRC.

Download full article (pdf, 472kb)