GoJIL Vol. 5, No. 1 (2013)
Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Drug Control Regime: The Case of Traditional Coca Leaf Chewing
This article discusses whether there is a normative conflict between the rights of indigenous peoples and the international drug control regime. Treaty obligations to abolish coca leaf chewing might clash with the indigenous peoples’ right to practice their customs and traditions in States of the Andean region where indigenous peoples have practiced coca leaf chewing for centuries. Taking into account the manner with which States have addressed this issue, the article focuses on the case of Bolivia and its recent attempt to amend the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. It is argued that the normative conflict can be resolved or at least avoided by applying the methods of treaty interpretation, though only at the expense of indigenous rights. Options to change the international drug control regime to ensure indigenous rights are not only limited by the common interest in preserving its integrity, but also by the negative impact this could have on treaty relations.
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