Drug control efforts are frequently associated with violations of human rights and individual liberties. But national and international drug policy discussions have often dismissed human rights concerns as irrelevant or secondary to achieving what are regarded as overriding drug control imperatives.
As the drug policy debate becomes more open and vigorous, especially in Latin America, there have been increasing calls to make respect for human rights the central concern in designing and implementing drug policies.
Rodrigo Uprimny is a founder and the director of the Colombian think tank Center for the Study of Law, Justice and Society (Centro de Estudios de Derecho, Justicia y Sociedad, Dejusticia) and Professor of Constitutional Law, Human Rights, and Theory of the State at the Universidad Nacional in Bogota. He also currently serves on Colombia’s Drug Policy Advisory Commission (Comisión Asesora para la Política de Drogas). From 1994-2004, Uprimny served as Deputy Judge of Colombia’s Constitutional Court. His research and analysis focuses on the intersection between drug policy and human rights, constitutional law, and the tension between law and economics. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Economy from the University of Amiens Picardie and a J.D. from the Universidad Externado de Colombia.
José Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch’s Americas division, is a general expert on Latin America. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Vivanco worked as an attorney for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at the Organization of American States (OAS). In 1990, he founded the Center for Justice and International Law, an NGO that files complaints before international human rights bodies. Vivanco has also been an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center and the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University. He has published articles in leading American and Latin American newspapers and is interviewed regularly for television news. A Chilean, Vivanco studied law at the University of Chile and Salamanca Law School in Spain and holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School.