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Dec 31, 2007

Drug War Log December 2007

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Dec 18, 2007

Executive Programme Committee Meet in Barcelona (IHRA communication)

Stephane Ibanez de Benito (UK, INHRN)
and Mukta Sharma (India, IHRA Chair)

In December 2007 (10-13), the Executive Programme Committee for Harm Reduction 2008: IHRA’s 19th International Conference met in Barcelona in order to finalise the programme from the 1,200 abstracts received. The ‘Marathon Meeting’ lasted for three days and has resulted in a packed programme including over 60 sessions covering a huge range of topics. The meeting was hosted by the Generalitat de Catalunya.

Martin Donoghoe (WHO) prepared "the executive program marathon shrine"

Nice booty Martin!

The Executive Programme Committee (EPC) is a group of 10-15 harm reduction experts from around the world whose role is to create and guide the conference programme. The group is chaired by Professor Gerry Stimson (IHRA’s Executive Director), and this year it includes members with a wide range of specialties from the UK, France, Spain, Brazil, Belgium, Australia and India.

Xavier Major and Gerry Stimson

The whole process of creating the programme is also supported by an International Programme Advisory Group (100-or-so individuals from around the world who help to review the abstracts) and various key international organizations.

The full programme will be available to view early in 2008 (once abstract authors have been contacted and have confirmed their participation). The preliminary programme (which is subject to changes) includes:

  • Numerous Satellite Sessions on Sunday 11th May.

  • An Opening Session on Sunday 11th May - including the 2008 Rolleston Oration from Professor Paul Hunt (the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health) – followed by an opening reception.

  • A focus on Global Issues on Monday 12th May – with a ‘Plenary Session’ on the global state of harm reduction followed by a ‘Double Concurrent’ from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,

  • World Health Organization, and the Centre for Disease Control.

  • A secondary focus on Hepatitis C on Monday 12th May, in order to build up to World Hepatitis Awareness Day a week later.

  • A focus on Gender Issues on Tuesday 13th May, with a ‘Plenary Session’, ‘Major Session’ and ‘Concurrent Session’.

  • A focus on Criminal Justice and Human Rights on Wednesday 14th May, , with a ‘Plenary Session’, ‘Major Session’ and ‘Concurrent Session’.

  • A conference party on the evening of Wednesday 14th May.

  • Three ‘Major Sessions’ on Thursday 15th May, followed by the Closing Session – including the 2008 IHRA Awards.

In addition to the these, there will be ‘Six O’clock Shows’ discussing topics such as new technologies in harm reduction, Ibogaine, drug user activism and drug consumption rooms. There will also be a full Film Festival programme, and over 50 ‘Major Sessions’, ‘Concurrent Sessions’ and ‘Living Room Sessions’ covering a massive range of topics, including:

• Alcohol Harm Reduction

• Tobacco Harm Reduction

• Sex Workers

• Young People

• Hidden Harms

• Evidence and Research

• Drug Treatment

• HIV and Anti-Retroviral Therapies

• Harm Reduction Training and Education

As this conference is taking place in Barcelona, there will also be a focus on harm reduction services, approaches and debates in Spain and Latin America. All of the conference’s ‘Plenary Sessions’ and ‘Major Sessions’ will be translated into Spanish, as well as six ‘Concurrent Sessions’ each afternoon and the opening and closing sessions. French translation will also be available for some of the sessions, and further languages may be added depending on funding.

In addition to these oral presentations, there will also be over 400 ‘Poster’ presentations in Barcelona, allowing people from around the world to promote, present and discuss their work, research and approaches. These ‘Poster’ presentations are an essential part of the conference, allowing as many people as possible to share their experiences, findings and/or best practice.

Overall, the conference will provide a packed programme with sessions to interest a huge range of delegates from around the world. More information will be available early in 2008.

Jamie Bridge

IHRA Communications Officer



IDPC Alert - December 2007

Discussing the advocacy guide
IDPC / IHRA Seminar in Lissabon (September 2007)


The second version of the IDPC Advocacy Guide provides an update on the
emerging process for the review of global policies on controlled drugs
being conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. It describes
the latest situation on the planning for the review, and sets out the
IDPC position on which issues need to be addressed in the review, and
how these issues may be tackled in order to achieve a constructive
outcome. The guide is currently available in English (through the link
below), and a Spanish language version will be available on the IDPC
website in early January.



Drug Offences: A Violation of International Human Rights Law’*

On 10^th December 2007 – International Human Rights Day – IHRA released
a major report calling for an end to the use of the death penalty for
drug offences around the world. The report argues that the on-going
execution of drug offenders is a violation of international human rights

* *


*BECKLEY** BRIEFING PAPER 13. "At A Crossroads: Drug Trafficking,
Violence and the Mexican State"*

In this joint WOLA-BECKLEY policy brief, the authors provide an overview
of current and past drug policies implemented by the Mexican government,
with a focus on its law enforcement efforts. It analyzes the trends in
the increased reliance on the Mexican armed forces in counter-drug
activities and the role that the United States government has played in
shaping Mexico's counter-drug efforts.

* *

* *

*BECKLEY** BRIEFING PAPER 14. "The Effects of Decriminalisation of Drug
Use in Portugal"*

In 2004, the Beckley Foundation reported on the legal changes that took
place in Portugal in 2001, which effectively decriminalised the
possession and use of all drugs, and diverted those arrested into
education or treatment programmes (Allen, Trace, & Klein, 2004). This
report aims to provide an updated overview of the effects of these
changes, using data from the evaluations that have been carried out and
from new interviews with key stakeholders in Portugal.

* *

*CORRELATION NETWORK REPORT: "Overcoming Barriers*:* Migration,
Marginalisation, and Access to Health and Social Services"*

The authors of this book come from a broad variety of professional and
geographical backgrounds. They examine barriers to health and social
services - and ways to overcome them - in their respective working
environments. The diversity of contributions produces rich information
and provides an overview of emerging issues and approaches related to
migration in different European regions.

* *



As both governmental and NGO preparations for the review gather pace,
the IDPC has been collating and disseminating information and analysis
that is designed to help NGOs to understand how the UN system works, and
how they can engage constructively with government officials to promote
a positive outcome from the forthcoming review. As part of our ongoing
engagement with EU officials and governments, we will be hosting a
briefing session for delegates from the Horizontal Working Group on
Drugs, and other European stakeholders. This session will be an
opportunity for participants to meet informally to discuss the
procedural and substantive issues regarding the UN review.


* *

*"BEYOND 2008" NGO Forum on Drugs and its Regional Consultations*

A Global NGO Forum contributing to the 10 year Review of Achievement
following the 1998 United Nations General Assembly Special Session
(UNGASS) on Illicit Drugs. The "Beyond 2008" process consists of a
series of regional NGO consultation meetings, culminating in a global
meeting in Vienna in July 2008. Details of all these events can be
downloaded from <>

Regional consultation meetings have been successfully concluded in the
following regions in recent months:

Eastern Europe and Central Asia:

Kiev, 13 -14 September

Belgrade, 12 - 15 October

Sub-Saharan Africa:

Johannesburg, 26 - 28 October

Dakar, 2 - 4 November

Nairobi, 9 - 11 November

Latin America and the Caribbean:

Lima, 11 - 13 November

North Africa and the Middle East:

Cairo, 25 - 26 October

Southeast Asia, East Asia and the Pacific:

Macau, 31 October - 1 November

Further regional consultation meetings are scheduled over the next few
months in:

South Asia

Dhaka, Bangladesh - January 8 & 9, 2008


Budapest, Hungary - January 24 &25, 2008

North America

St. Petersburg, Florida (USA) - January 24 & 25, 2008

Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada) - February 4 & 5, 2008


Wellington, New Zealand - February 19^th , 2008

* *

* *

*European Outreach Work Conference*: /*Perspectives on outreach work in
Europe.*/*/ //Reaching youth at risk - working towards social inclusion/*
The focus of the conference is early intervention and youth at risk, and
the aim is to gather practitioners, researchers, policy planners and
outreach workers from all over Europe to exchange of best practice,
research and training/education. The conference takes place in Oslo 22 -
24 April 2008. For more information, please check:

Dec 13, 2007

Report of the 1th N-American INPUD meeting in New Orleans (Dec. 8, 2007)

Louis Jones (VOCAL NY, INPUD)
1th N-American INPUD meeting
December 8, 2007
IDPR Conference New Orleans, USA

Meeting chair: Becky Brooks

On December 8, 2007 a group of (more or less) 40 DU Activists held the 1st N-American INPUD meeting during the IDPR Conference in New Orleans. Apart from the N-American INPUD members of the first hour (Dimitry, Michael, Howard, Norma, Jason, Becky, ...) there where a lot of new and long time DU Activists who now first met with the International Network Of People Who Use Drugs. We also welcomed our first Mexican and Colombian DU Activists in the International DU Activism scene.

INPUD board member Becky Brooks opened the meeting of which the first part was dedicated to explanations by N-American DU Activists, International DU Activists and allies on how DU Activism looks like from their point of view:

Ethan Nadelmann (DPA, USA):

DU Activism, DP Activism

Louis Jones (VOCAL NY, USA):

Connecting INPUD with VOCAL New York and the N-American DU Activists and DU Organizations

Luiz Guanabara (INPUD Board, Sao Paulo, Brazil):

Developing INPUD in South America. It's all about stigma and cocaine...

Allen Clear (Harm Reduction Coalition, NY, USA)

DU Activism and the Harm Reduction movement in the USA – Support of HRC

Stijn Goossens (Executive Director INPUD, Antwerp, Belgium)

Developing INPUD

Yvonne Sibuea (IDUSA, Jakarta, Indonesia):

INPUD in Indonesia

Matt Curtis (IHRD, NY, USA)

DU Activism in Eastern Europe and Asia

Second part of the meeting:

Question and Answers / Discussion on N-American INPUD Activism

Carol Romanov (Formerly Solid) mentioned Canadian DU Organizations (VANDU, UNDUN, WARS, MANDU, ...) and the (wrong) way we're heading with Canadian drug policy (mandatory minimums...).

Walter Cavalieri explained about Canadian Harm Reduction and DU Activism

Drug Users Minneapolis (Michelle, Heather, ...) declared themselves ready for scaling up DU Activism and closer cooperation with the other N-American DU Activists and DU Organizations, and to be part of INPUD.

Dimitri (VOCAL NY, Freedom Root) declared that the groups he's part of are ready for closer cooperation and scaling up American DU Activism.

Jason Farrel (HRCS, NY, USA) stressed the need for focus on the issues that unite us more then on the issues that could divide us. A lot is possible if we keep head cool and cooperate well.

Laverne from VOCAL NY expressed the need to involve more actively the street drug users in American DU Activism. She wants to help and develop activities for getting more marginalized DU to the bigger events and conferences. She also expressed the need for more attention for crack cocaine users needs and to not narrow down DU Activism to IV drug use.

INPUD director Stijn Goossens acknowledged the need to pay attention on the involvement of speed users and cocaine users in the International DU community. He explained that the only way that things will happen for the better is by the work and community organizing around targeted issues by DU Activists themselves. If we want attention for cocaine/speed users then we'll have to be VOCAL about it and push to get these issues on the agenda. The others aren't going to do it for us.

On the one hand it's the DU Activists task to be willing and prepared for involvement and participation with service providers and policy makers, and on the other hand to develop activities and be vocal about the issues that are not been taken care of now (like harm reduction for cocaine/speed users)

Kris from Seattle defined the issue of the need to pay attention for follow up after this meeting to not just have this meeting and then nothing. This N-American INPUD meeting reminds him of the meeting that we had with the International DU Activists during the 2005 IHRC in Belfast after which a two year process of close cooperation between DU Activists and IHRA and IHRD lead to the founding and registration of the international network of people who use drugs. Next occasions for N-American DU Activists to meet will be the American NEP Conference in spring and the Harm Reduction Coalitions Conference in Miami in November 2008.

The meeting closed with application forms completed by 25+ potential INPUD members. Stijn and Becki will compile and present as time permits.

I want to thank the N-American DU Activists for their enthusiasm and their engagement for developing as well N-American INPUD, as to be active in and be part of The International Network Of People Who Use Drugs.

All the best to us!

Stijn Goossens

Becky Brooks

International Network Of People Who Use Drugs


GuldensporenStraat 88/2

2140 Borgerhout


Phone: +32 3 297 8451

Mobile: +32 479 982 271





How to screw your relation with civil society (a European case study)

Joergen (Danish Users Union), Matt (IHRD),
Milena (INPUD, Belgium/Bulgaria), Luiz (Psycotropicus, Brazil), Stijn (INPUD Belgium)

and Berne's back side (Swedisch Users Union;)

DU Activists Organizing

Dear Friends,

People who use drugs from all over Europe participated in the 2-year process for the involvement of civil society in EU drugs policies, organized by the EU Commission.

The end of this process - and the beginning of the involvement - is the organization of the first European Civil Society Forum On Drugs in December 2007.

Despite our constant and constructive participation in the preparation of this civil society involvement in EU drugs policies, the European Commission didn't take into account European Drug User Organizations' applications for membership in the European Civil Society Forum On Drugs. The European Commission excludes people who use drugs from the forum about people who use drugs.

We'll not let this pass by easily. INPUD and allies are teaming up together to push for change and greater involvement.

I hereby present to you:

How to screw your relation with civil society

The Story Of The EC's Civil Society Forum On Drugs

January 2006 – December 2007

  • Meanwhile, The International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) and DrugScope (UK) refused the invitation to take part in the Civil Society forum on drugs because of the poor and amateuristic organization of the forum by Mr. Edwards staff. The crappy organization was named “an insult for civil society” by Professor Gerry Stimson. (Among other things, the London based IHRA Director received an air ticket Finland – Brussels to attend the forum (!!))

It's an ongoing story, ...
We'll keep you closely informed

Stijn Goossens
Executive Director

International Network Of People Who Use Drugs

GuldensporenStraat 88/2
2140 Borgerhout

Phone: +32 3 297 8451
Mobile: +32 479 982 271


Eurasian Harm Reduction Network Enables DU to speak for themselves in EC Forum on Drugs

Drug User Activists :

Dear colleagues at the European Commission,

Thank you for your commitment to have better involvement of the civil society and inviting Central and Eastern European Harm Reduction Network (now Eurasian Harm Reduction Network – EHRN) into newly established Commission’s Civil Society Forum on drugs.

The recent letter from the organizers indicated possibility to have two persons from the Civil Society Forum’s member organization. We had a discussion inside EHRN and we would like to allocate our second seat to INPUD, International Network of People Who Use Drugs.

We understand that INPUD was not selected to the Civil Society Forum on drugs as indicated in previous communication of the Commission. However, our expectation is that using the second EHRN’s seat for having the voice of wide network of people who use drugs will be allowed.

Milena Naydenova is indicated as INPUD’s representative and we are very glad if she is available to represent INPUD at the Civil Society Forum on drugs using her multi-year experience in the organization of people who use drugs in “Hope-Sofia” (Bulgaria) which was in the core of organization and current activities of INPUD and has long experience in development of organizations of people who use drugs in Central and Eastern Europe.

I copy this letter to colleagues in INPUD and representatives of the EHRN’s Steering Committee.

We look forward to hear from you soon.

Kind regards,

Raminta Stuikyte

Director, Secretariat

Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN)

Formerly: Central and Eastern European Harm Reduction Network (CEEHRN) NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

Address: Siauliu 5/1-21, 01133 Vilnius, Lithuania

Tel. (+370 5) 269 1600, 260 9007

Fax (+370 5) 269 1601

Cell (+370 699) 666 77

Email, (general)



Statement For The "Civil Society Forum On Drugs In The EU" (organized by the EC)

ENCOD, Drugscope and The International Harm Reduction Association released a statement on the first day of the forum.
Mukta Sharma (IHRA Chair)

Brussels, 13 december 2007

Dear participants,

Since the early 1990s, several official engagements have been made to involve civil society in the design and implementation of drug policies in the European Union. The issue was included as a matter of priority in the former EU Strategy on Drugs (2000 - 2004), the Mid-term evaluation on this Strategy (published in 2002), the EU Strategy on Drugs (2005-2012), the EU Action Plan on Drugs (2005-2009), as well as in various verbal and written communications made by the European Commission in the past years.

In spite of these engagements, EU authorities have yet to formally commit themselves to a mechanism to strengthen cooperation with civil society organisations in this field.

With the publication of a “Green Paper on the role of civil society in EU drug policy”, released on 30 June 2006, the European Commission started a process that was meant to establish this mechanism. EU citizens and their organisations could comment on the proposals made in this document to organise the dialogue between civil society and authorities. The Commission published these comments on [21 June 2007 ]

Together with the release of the comments to the Green Paper, the Commission announced the organisation of the first meeting of a “Civil Society Forum on Drug Policy” before the end of 2007. Interested organisations were invited to apply for this forum before 17 August 2007. On 31 October 2007, the Commission published a list of 26 organisations that were selected to participate in this meeting.

We believe the way the Commission has organised this first meeting of the Civil Society Forum on Drugs does not meet the criteria mentioned in the conclusions of the Green Paper consultation as they were formulated by the Commission in its letter of 21 June.

1. The Forum should represent a wide spectrum of views in a balanced way

In the letter of 31 October 2007, the Commission announced that it would publish the list of all 75 organisations that had applied for the CSF. No such list has been published yet. Therefore, it is impossible to say if the organisations that were selected represent a wide spectrum of views in a balanced way.

2. The Forum should be inclusive rather than exclusive, with transparent selection criteria.

In the Green Paper, the Commission used the following definition of “civil society” as a criteria to select organisations for the dialogue: “associational life operating between the state and the market, including individual participation and the activities of non-governmental, voluntary and community organisations”. Organisations representing local authorities do not fulfil with this definition, yet two of the selected participants to the CSF do represent local authorities (ECAD and EFUS).

On the other hand, at least four organisations that do fulfil all criteria mentioned by the Commission (FAUDAS, LCA, PIC and SDB) have not been invited. Among them are organisations representing drug consumers, an important stakeholder in the debate on drug policies, who is currently not (enough) represented in the forum.

3. The Forum should have a clear mandate, well defined agendas, transparent procedures and achievable agendas with real input into the policymaking process.

At least two of the 26 organisations (IHRA and Drugscope) did not receive the letter from the Commission that they had been invited. When they were notified by others, they contacted the Commission to ask for details about dates, venue and background documents for the meeting, but did not receive a reply in sufficient time. In view of the fact that they had other commitments on 13 & 14 December, they were forced to cancel their presence at this meeting.

The agenda for the meeting was sent on 6 December, mentioning issues that had never come up as a specific topic for dialogue before (like the situation of drug use in prisons). No background documents were made available until 11 December, less than 48 hours before the meeting. One of these background documents contains the Progress Review on the EU Action Plan on Drugs, a document of 90 pages, which was only officially adopted on 10 December 2007.

In this way, it is virtually impossible for anybody to engage in a genuinely interactive dialogue. This forum does not facilitate the participation of all legitimate representatives of European civil society affected by drug issues (regardless of whether or not they are able to send representatives to the conference itself). Therefore, this forum cannot be considered a legitimate instrument of dialogue.

The Civil Society Forum on Drug Policy should not become yet another addition to a long litany of failures. We propose to postpone this first meeting of the Civil Society Forum to a new date within the next 3 months, and use the two days in Brussels to discuss the way in which it should be organised next time.

Kind regards,






Dec 11, 2007

INPUD's reply to the EC's Mr. Carel Edwards affirmation on our exclusion from the Civil Society Forum on drugs

Dear Mr. Edwards,

We should probably thank you for answering us back, although we find your answer irrelevant, even insulting, instead of helpful, as you suppose. More over, your reply is illustrative for your and your staff unprofessional organization of the Forum. So, if you allow us, we will make few remarks on your letter. As far as INPUD is concerned we would like, in particular, to draw your attention to the following facts:

The criteria for selecting the participants in the Forum might be quite clearly stated in the Green Paper, but in practice they already became too blurred. Based on the information you publish, we encountered nine (up to now) organizations, that are invited to the Forum and do not have such clear track regarding their participation in the process, prior to the Forum. INPUD might have no clear track as a network in general, except for this only “track” - the participation of our members from the very first moment on in the process of the involvement of the civil society in the dialog about the future EU drug policies. We took part in the conference the EC organized in January 2006. We consulted our network and sent our opinion and remarks on the Green Paper, etc. People, who use drugs, are the most affected by the policies on drugs and that is the reason why since 2006 we have not missed even one occasion in the process prior to the Forum. Because of the visibly eroding confidence of the European citizens in the European ideal and the European institutions, European DU really believed that this time the EC was serious about engaging the civil society and that this time the EC will act in the only right way to regain the European citizens confidence in the Union that was lost over the past few years.

We never insisted that INPUD is the only eligible DU organization to take part in the debates. We just asked you why there are no DU representatives involved, which does not mean “why INPUD is not invited”. We can not accept that neither of the drug users organizations that have applied for the Forum is not good enough even to fill in one of the four initially unoccupied slots, which is obviously your opinion.

As far as your response to our specific questions is concerned:

- We asked for three names, not for political talks, so permit us not to accept that for a concrete answer.

- Your opinion that DU can not speak on behalf of themselves, but they need somebody else, appointed by you to protect DU interests is so insulting and outrageous, so we will not discuss it further.

And as you constantly refer to the Action Plan, let us quote: “... In terms of the ultimate goal it should be clearly understood that the Strategy and Action Plan are not an end in themselves; even if all the objectives they contain are reached we must conclude that they have failed if the result is not a measurable reduction of the drugs problem in our societies.” So, no actual need for evaluation. We have numerous evidence that the problem gets worse in many aspects, most alarming and evidential of which are the significant uprise of OD-related deaths in many EU countries, not to mention the unmeasurably high prevalence of HCV among the injecting DU and the renewed uprise in the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Because of all said above we fear that a “possible”future” dialog with DU will be too insufficient and too late. It is a waist of time for you, a waist of money for the EU citizens and again many deaths for us.

We hope you understand that because of the seriousness of the situation for thousands of DU across Europe we will not let you impose us again the role of the “silent minorityso easily.


Stijn Goossens
Executive Director

International Network Of People Who Use Drugs

GuldensporenStraat 88/2
2140 Borgerhout

Phone: +32 3 297 8451
Mobile: +32 479 982 271




Dec 10, 2007

IHRA Launch Death Penalty Report

UNODC Director Costa,
co-responsible for sustaining repressive policies against people who use drugs

On 10th December 2007 – to coincide with International Human Rights Day – IHRA released a major report calling for an end to the use of the death penalty for drug offences around the world. The report concludes that the on-going execution of drug offenders is a violation of international human rights law.

The report is entitled ‘The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: A Violation of International Human Rights Law’ and was written by
Rick Lines. It is the first major report from the HR2 Project– IHRA’s new harm reduction and human rights monitoring and policy analysis programme. The report emphasises how the harms faced by people who use drugs do not only include health harms such as HIV and hepatitis C infections, but also the effects of repressive law enforcement activities. While the number of countries practicing capital punishment has steadily decreased over the past twenty years, this report demonstrates that the number of countries using the death penalty for drug offences has steadily increased.

Across the world, 133 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. However, of the 64 countries that have retained capital punishment, half of which apply these punishments to drug-related offences (whether they be drug possession or drug trafficking offences). In one of the most shocking examples, the Chinese Government celebrates the United Nation’s ‘International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking’ each year by publicly executing people for drug-related crimes.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) - one of the main UN human rights treaties – states that the death penalty may only be applied to the “most serious crimes”. Both the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions have stated that drug offences do not constitute “most serious crimes” - making executions for such offences a violation of international human rights law.

Commenting on the report launch,
Professor Gerry Stimson (IHRA’s Executive Director) said, “Capital punishment for drug offences is but one illustration of how human rights have been sacrificed in the name of the ‘war on drugs’. Unfortunately, the death penalty is not the only example of such abuses worldwide. Repressive law enforcement practices, the denial of health services to drug users and the spread of HIV infection among people who inject drugs, due to lack of access to harm reduction programmes, are far too common in many countries across the globe.”



Dec 6, 2007

ENCOD bulletin December 2007


NR. 36 DECEMBER 2007


The European Union hosts almost 500 million inhabitants, 23 official languages and 27 countries with each their own cultural, political and social traditions. Cooperation between these countries has been crucial to ensure peace and prosperity on the continent for the past 50 years. Yet, many people tend to view "Europe" as a more or less artificial construction of the bureaucrats, with unclear structures for decision-making and insufficient democratic control. Efforts to give the EU a solid legal basis to develop common policies are met by many with scepticism and fears to have their lives "ruled by Brussels".

In theory, the European Union offers an excellent opportunity to compare the impact of different policies and facilitate the exchange of information and experience resulting in both good and bad practices. As such, co-operation in the field of drug policy, both between countries and institutions as well as civil society organisations, could be extremely helpful for developing effective approaches without making too many avoidable errors in the process. However, in practice, the lack of democratic control on drug-related decisions made at the EU level further contributes to the concept of a totalitarian superstate.


Since 2005 the European Council of (Justice and Home Affairs) Ministers has had the power to make new synthetic drugs subject to criminal provisions in the entire European Union if the Scientific Committee of the EMCDDA advises the Council to do so. In July this year, the European Council and Commission proposed a ban on the synthetic drug 1-benzylpiperazine (BZP). This substance is currently not controlled in several European countries (among them Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom).

On 14 November, the European Parliament approved an amendment to the resolution making control measures proportionate to the health risks of the substance, which are still to be researched and proven. But since this issue belongs to the area of Justice, in which the opinion of the European Parliament is not binding, it remains to be seen if this amendment will have any effect on the decision on which the justice ministers seem to have agreed: criminalization notwithstanding lack of studies and proofs on the risks.

According to the latest annual report of the EMCDDA, the total drug-related public expenditure by EU Member States is calculated to lie somewhere between 13 and 36 billion euros per year, i.e. between 35 and 98 million euros per day. Any public policy with this kind of price-tag should be closely evaluated, so lessons can be learned in order to correct approaches with an undesired effect and strengthen those with a desired effect.


However, EU institutions have great problems to implement such evaluation, let alone to publish its results. A closer look at the report of the latest meeting of the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (composed of government representatives from the Member States as well as the European Commission), a meeting that took place in September 2007 in Lisbon, shows that EU Member States are unable to produce one single concrete indicator with which to measure the impact of their drug policies. Nor is it possible to discover a clear vision other than the objective of maintaining a political status quo "in which everything remains as it is and none of the super-salaried bureaucrats has any problems ever". (Peter Cohen, University of Amsterdam)

Yet, there are various interesting developments to speak about. On 19 November, the BBC reported on the initial results from a London pilot scheme where heroin users have been injecting themselves with heroin in a clinic over the past two years, suggesting it has significantly reduced drug use and crime. Doctors and nursing staff say the lives of those on the scheme have stabilised because they are not buying from street dealers and getting involved in crime. Likewise, Danish Health Minister Lars Rasmussen announced he wants to start prescribing heroin to long term users in Denmark, after it appeared that this decision would count with a parliamentary majority. This brings the number of EU Member States where heroin prescription is an integrated part of government policy to a total of 6.

Meanwhile research from the US suggests that cannabinoids may be responsible for blocking the genes that provoke the development of breast and other forms of cancer. The research had been carried out by the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute and published in the November issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Additionally, the MedWire News published a study of UK researchers who concluded that there is no evidence for any causal relationship between the use of cannabis and the risk of schizophrenia.

Finally, an even less usual suspect, UK prime minister Gordon Brown, announced in The Independent that he will propose paying Afghan farmers more than they earn from their poppy harvests in return for ceasing to grow the crop, in an effort to curb the influence of the Taliban. According to the annual report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the British campaign to destroy poppy production has been an abject failure. Brown’s statements may cause tensions with the US administration, which would prefer to implement aerial spraying to destroy poppies. But this measure is opposed by Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and Downing Street has made it clear that Mr Brown will call for a more sympathetic approach to the farmers. "We have to work closely with the communities involved," he said.

"Collaborating with those who are most involved" has been the official mantra of the European Union since the first reflections on a common drug policy began in 1986. In all official declarations on EU drug policies released in the past 20 years it has been said that civil society should be consulted and involved in the design and implementation of policies. However, the big question has been how to carry out this consultation in an area where transparency and democratic control is absent.

Diego Rivera: Los explotados

On 13 & 14 December, the European Commission has invited 26 civil society organisations, ENCOD among them, to the first meeting of a so-called Civil Society Forum on Drug Policy. Our presence is legitimate: the proposal for a serious debate on drug policies has been our main objective for the past 15 years. However, to make it a meaningful experience, the organisation of this forum needs to fulfil professional criteria of transparency and participation. If it does, this will create an excellent starting point for the dialogue. If not, it may become difficult to continue to believe in the good intentions behind it.

Until 10 December you can have your say on what ENCODs role should be on this forum.

By Joep Oomen (with the help of Peter Webster)



INPUD Network Consultation on UNGASS Regional Consultations

Dear Fellow Drug User Activists,

I need all INPUD Activists input to support the network to make a difference when INPUD participates in the UNGASS regional civil society consultations on the global policies on drugs.

Anan Pun (Nepal, INPUD chairman) will represent us in Dhaka, 7-9 January 2008.

(South Asia)

INPUD director Stijn Goossens will participate in the Budapest meeting, 24-25 January 2008. (European Union and EFTA Countries)

INPUD board member Fredy (Indonesia) already participated in the Macau consultations. (South East and East Asia and the Pacific).

You can read the message below and share idea’s/ input on the INPUD forum:

The 3 specific objectives of the regional consultations

Interpretation of the meetings conditions and documents

INPUD objectives and approach

Your input is needed: The “Beyond 2008” regional consultations and Forum will focus on 3 specific objectives

· To highlight tangible NGO achievements in the field of drug control (achievement in policy, community engagement, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and social-reintegration)

· To review best practices related to collaboration mechanisms among NGOs, governments and UN agencies and to propose new and/or improved ways of working with the UNODC and CND.

· To adopt a series of high order principles, drawn from the Conventions and their commentaries that would be tabled with the UNODC and CND for their consideration and serve as a guide for future deliberations on drug policy matters.

What are your ideas/views on this? Please share your ideas with us and give input on the forum. Click here: Share idea’s, give input on the Beyond 2008 objectives

Your input is needed: Interpretation of the meeting conditions and documents

We have Fredy’s experience from the Macau meeting that’ll help to prepare:

The consultation organizers try to keep the focus limited to that what works in the drug field” (= the organizers try to keep away from naming the things that don’t work (and make things worse))

Fundamental issues like the Conventions and the global prohibition are hard to address (if possible at all)”

Beyond 2008’ websites and documents:

The Vienna NGO Committee (VNGOC)

Beyond 2008 Background Information

Beyond 2008 Regional Consultations

Beyond 2008 PowerPoint Presentation

What is expected from the NGO community is:

To reflect on its own achievements in drug control

Exchange ideas on promising new approaches

Reach agreements on ways to work together

To make recommendations on future directions for drug control (to UN/ UN members)

To rethink current collaboration mechanisms with UN agencies (effective partnership)

What are your ideas/views on this? Please share your ideas with us and give input on the forum. Click here: Interpretation Beyond2008 conditions and documents

Your input is needed: INPUD objectives and approach

Apart from the organizers objectives, what should be INPUD’s objectives for the consultations?

How to approach the consultation knowing that there’ll be tendencies to try to have everybody talk good things only about the past 10 years of UN drugs policies?

How to avoid that INPUD ends up in a UN document that states that even people who use drugs admit that things are developing pretty well under current policies? Or in other words: how to avoid miss use of our willingness to participate?

What are your ideas/views on this? Please share your ideas with us and give input on the forum. Click here: Beyond 2008: INPUD objectives and approach

Please do not hesitate to provide us with your view on things.

Be Active!


Stijn Goossens

Executive Director

International Network Of People Who Use Drugs



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