By Damon BarrettToday is Universal Children’s Day. It marks the day when the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child (1959) and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) were adopted. The Convention was a landmark document that took ten years to draft and that has now been ratified by 196 states; every country on the planet except the US.

This is on my mind as I prepare to speak on human rights at the biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference, taking place in Washington DC, an important convening of civil society actors in advance of next year’s UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem next April. It is a gathering of some 1,400 people that seek an end to the global war on drugs — a war that has been waged for decades in the name of protecting children.

We all agree that we have to protect children and young people from the harmful effects of drug use and from exploitation by the drugs trade. This is so self-evident it hardly needs saying, but it is nonetheless reiterated time and again as if, without more, it is justification for staying the course.

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