One of the world’s most respected authorities on humanitarian crises has commended local policy makers, health and law experts for challenging the war on drugs.
Louise Arbour, former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and chief prosecutor for two international criminal tribunals, made the comments Monday at a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel.
“I’m delighted to see that this important debate is increasingly taking place, and I’m even happier to see that some of the very progressive work in this field is taking place here in Vancouver,” Arbour said.
She noted the decade-old fight to keep Downtown Eastside supervised injection site Insite open.
“I can assure you that it doesn’t go unnoticed in the broad-based movement to transform a repression-based war on drugs to a public health-based strategy that many of us believe at least should be experimented upon,” said the Montreal native.
“I think the empirical study, overtime, will overcome the ideological-based policies.”
Afterward, Dr. Evan Wood, Insite’s founding principal investigator, thanked her and shook her hand.
Arbour’s wide-ranging speech highlighted the global decline of warfare over the last 20 years and current challenges to international stability, including the increasing prevalence of civilian casualties and the use of killer drones in conflict zones.
It was also designed to drum up support for the International Crisis Group, a non-profit organization that works to resolve international crises, of which Arbour is CEO. She said the think tank is 50 per cent reliant on donations — which made the well-to-do Board of Trade crowd a perfect audience.