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May 8, 2008

Harm Reduction 2008: The Global State Of Drug User Activism

The global state of harm reduction

Monday Plenary, 12th May 2008

Milena Naydenova (INPUD)

Harm Reduction 2008

The International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm
Barcelona, May 11-15

Chair: Gerry Stimson

Gerry Stimson
The global state of harm reduction

Milena Naydenova
The global state of drug user activism

Louisa Degenhardt
The global state of research

Graciella Touze
Harm reduction in Latin America

Lanre Onigbogi
Harm reduction in Africa

Anne Roche
Alcohol harm reduction: A global

The Global State of Harm Reduction

It is over two decades since the first harm reduction projects started in Europe, Australia and North America. Since then, harm reduction has grown in terms of acceptance, implementation, and scientific knowledge. Harm reduction programs currently operate in a wide variety of cultural, religious and political contexts, and the approach is supported by international organizations such as UNAIDS, UNICEF, WHO, UNODC and World Bank. Despite this, obstacles remain to the universal implementation of harm reduction – such as resource shortages, re-emerging “war on drugs” approaches, legal restraints on substitution treatments, and limitations on NGO operations in many developing and transitional countries. In order to overcome these barriers (and the vociferous opponents to harm reduction who still exist at the international level) and move forward, harm reduction must become a truly ‘global approach’.

This session will launch the ‘Global State of Harm Reduction’ report – the first in a series of major publications from IHRA’s new HR2 (Human Rights and Harm Reduction) programme. The report, and this session, will assess the current situation for harm reduction by highlighting a number of key issues, problems and responses. These include the scarcity of harm reduction in many parts of the world (especially Africa and Latin America), the need for improved harm reduction for non-injecting drug use (especially alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine), issues relating to global research on injecting drug use, the need to address human rights abuses of people who use drugs (and the lack of engagement of human rights issues by the international community), and the current state of drug user activism and civil society engagement. As such, this session will introduce and discuss many of the major themes that run though the conference.


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