The ‘fifth stage’ of drug control: international law, dynamic interpretation and human rights

PhD thesis

Lines, R. 2014. The ‘fifth stage’ of drug control: international law, dynamic interpretation and human rights. PhD thesis Middlesex University School of Law
TypePhD thesis
TitleThe ‘fifth stage’ of drug control: international law, dynamic interpretation and human rights
AuthorsLines, R.

Human rights violations occurring as a consequence of drug control and enforcement efforts are growing concerns among both civil society and multilateral organisations. In many cases, these violations are driven by domestic and/or international attempts to meet the obligations enshrined within the three United Nations drug control conventions, creating a situation where seeking to fulfil the requirements of the UN drug treaties encourages or justifies policies and practices that violate international human rights law. This raises questions of treaty interpretation, and the appropriate balancing of concomitant obligations within these two legal regimes. This thesis poses the question of how the international law of drug control should be interpreted within the context of international human rights law. Tracing the evolution of international drug control law since 1909, and through what it identifies as four chronological stages, it explores the historic tensions within the regime between what are described as its humanitarian aspirations and the suppression of a common human behaviour as a form of ‘evil’, and the resulting impacts on human rights. Drawing from this history, it explores the object and purpose of the United Nations drug treaties, adopting a teleological approach to the question of treaty interpretation. Building upon this approach, as well as that of the International Court of Justice and of international human rights courts and bodies, it makes the case that international drug control law must be interpreted in an evolutive or dynamic fashion that considers treaty obligations in light of present day conditions and developments in international law. In doing so, this thesis posits the development what it calls a ‘fifth stage’ of drug control, a dynamic, human rights-based interpretative approach emerging from the engagement between the two regimes. Drawing upon illustrative examples from the jurisprudence or proceedings of domestic, regional and international legal bodies, it concludes by exploring basic principles for resolving tensions and conflicts between the two regimes in manner that safeguards human rights.

Department nameSchool of Law
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print13 Mar 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited13 Mar 2015
CompletedAug 2014
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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