We are very pleased to present this sixth volume of the Stockholm Studies in Child Law and Children’s Rights series, published under the auspices of the Stockholm Centre for the Rights of the Child at Stockholm University, Sweden. This series seeks to provide timely and high-quality analyses of issues relating to the interface of children and adolescents with their surrounding societies. The focus is on legal research, but multi-disciplinary child-rights-related studies also have an obvious place in the series and the aim is to publish research from around the world.
This present volume by Damon Barrett addresses questions concerning how international law responds to the pressing challenges connected to drug use and drug trade and the protection of children in this context. It explores in particular how Article 33 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – according to which States have an obligation to protect children from drugs and involvement in the drug trade – has been understood and what the relation has been between the CRC and the UN drug conventions. By adopting a critical approach to children’s rights studies it offers an important addition to the growing literature on international law, drug control and children’s rights.
Problems caused by drug use and drug trade traverse health, crime security and borders, and there is a long-standing international debate about what the appropriate legal and policy responses should be, ranging from taking free market liberalization as a starting point at one end of the spectrum of options to stringent prohibitions at the other. The human rights consequences of failing to respond to drug related problems has gained attention in recent years, but in this book the question of human rights costs – including children’s rights – of achieving success is also foregrounded. A key question is what is permissible or acceptable from a human rights perspective, in pursuit of drug control objectives and that of protecting children.
This book is a much-needed study in which new questions are asked and analysed. By adopting a critical perspective, rather than looking “only” to implementation, the quality of norms and what they may reproduce can be assessed. One of many interesting conclusions is that Article 33 of the CRC should be viewed not only as a protection and provision right – using the well-established 3P-model – but also a permissive norm, or a human rights-based license for State action in drug control. It is concluded that Article 33 can be seen as being in a constant state of conflict internally (with other child rights), as well as externally (with wider human right law) – and that child rights law may well protect, but that it might also be law from which people (both adults and children) need protection. The book emphasizes a need to rethink and find alternative ways to approach the content of Article 33 of the CRC and its relationship to the drug conventions. We strongly recommend reading and learning from this excellent work.
Associate Professor of Public Law