Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (Liberal Democrat)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following their objection to the proposed Bolivian amendment to the 1961United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, whether the obligation to prohibit the traditional practice of chewing coca leaf in paragraphs 1(c) and 2(e) of article 49 of the Convention takes account of the right to take part in cultural life set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, given that coca leaf chewing is a long practised part of indigenous culture in Bolivia and that the coca leaf and its use is recognised in the Bolivian constitution as part of Bolivia’s cultural heritage.

Baroness Neville-Jones (Minister of State (Security), Home Office; Conservative)

The Government have the responsibility of balancing cultural rights with the threat of harm to the UK from illegal activities under international law. If coca leaf production was effectively legalised under international law, on existing evidence it would result in further deviation of coca towards the illegal drugs trade. This view is widely shared by many of our international partners including the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan and Mexico.

Hansard source (Citation: HL Deb, 16 February 2011, c162W)

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