Jonathan Osei Owusu

2023 IVLP Impact Award Project: Substance Use and Prevention: A Comparative Dialogue Between Ghana and the USAGhana

Jonathan Osei Owusu is the Founder and Executive Director of the POS Foundation, a leading civil society organization in Ghana that focuses on Access to Justice, Human Rights Advocacy, Law/Policy Reforms, Youth Development and Gender and Women's Economic Empowerment. As a human rights advocate, Jonathan has actively prepared Civil Society Organizations (CSO) shadow-reports for UN Committees and Councils. The POS FOUNDATION serves as the convenor for the Ghana UPR Civil Society Platform, while making oral submissions to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva. 

Jonathan focuses on advocacy, litigation, public education, and youth development and is the second Vice President for the Federation of Youth Associations of Ghana. He is also the Vice Chairman of the Ghana Human Rights NGOs Forum and a member of the Steering Committee - Coalition on the Right to Information- RTI Ghana, an author and publisher. Jonathan is trained in development leadership and human rights advocacy from the Coady International Institute of St. Francis Xavier University and has addressed several human rights abuse cases in court and in the media. He also facilitates the state initiated ‘Justice for All Program’ for remand prisoners which aims to decongest prisons in Ghana.

IVLP Impact Award Project: Substance Use and Prevention: A Comparative Dialogue Between Ghana and the USA

In 2020, Ghana passed the Narcotics Control Commission Law, Act 2020 (Act 1019) into law. This new law represented an important example of drug policy reform advocacy in West Africa, as it seeks to treat drug use and dependence as a public health issue and approach it from a human rights perspective rather than focusing on incarceration, punishment and repression. Consequently, it has become imperative to sensitize critical stakeholders to this new development, including judges, prosecutors, and the youth, on substance use.

Jonathan organized a seminar that united 271 participants from Ghana and the USA to participate in a comparative dialogue about substance use, prevention and drug policies and reforms in line with international best practices and standards. Participants included students from three US universities, fellow IVLP alumni who joined virtually, as well as interested community members and Ghanaian Law students who attended the event in person. Through this seminar, the project equipped attendees with a comprehensive understanding of drug reforms in line with international best practices and standards to ensure that the public discussion around substance use in Ghana adopts a human rights and public health approach.

Jonathan also moderated the IVLP Impact Awards Alumni Discussion Series panel on “Global Public Health” which you can read more about here.

"There needs to be more seminars such as this to create public awareness and demystify entrenched misconceptions." - Project Participant

IVLP Exchange Experience 

Jonathan was a participant in the IVLP Project Human and Civil Rights for Marginalized Communities II organized by the U.S. Department of State and World Learning.

Jonathan's exchange experience led to the development of his IVLP Impact Award Project: "The opportunity to travel around the United States of America to understand the various operating systems within different states on policy/law reforms and enforcement of laws, as well as judicial interventions, gave me a fair understanding of how community-driven reform is undertaken."

U.S. Communities Visited

Washington, DC; Jacksonville, FL; Albuquerque, NM; New York City, NY

"I think that in being a key part of the advocacy for the passage of the Narcotics Control Commission Act, there is a need to undertake prevention and education campaigns for the youth in our country on an in-depth understanding of substance use and prevention." - Jonathan Osei Owusu

Country: Ghana

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