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Jun 4, 2008

INPUD Board Communication

INPUD March 2008: @ CND
Luiz Guanabara (INPUD BOARD) & Stijn Goossens (INPUD E.D.)

Wednesday June 4, 2008

Dear friends, INPUD Activists,

In Barcelona we encountered the first serious threat to the existence and further development of INPUD, the International Network of People Who Use Drugs. Because of mistakes made by me (Stijn Goossens, INPUD Executive Director) and because of INPUD’s vulnerability to crash because we’re only in the 1st year of doing what no one else did before – the founding and development of the 1st officially registered International DU Organization – I’ll try to be as clear as possible and start, briefly, with the story of INPUD’s past year, propose some possible solutions to fix what is not right and to put us back on track to make INPUD the organization as we imagined it when we started the work in 2005 in Belfast.

INPUD was founded during the 2007 Harm Reduction Conference in Warsaw. The founding members voted unanimously to approve the INPUD statutes, a board of directors and the INPUD Executive Director (ED). INPUD was officially registered in Antwerp (Belgium) on July 26, 2007. The founding members of INPUD are the DU Activists who filled in the membership application form during the first INPUD General Assembly at the 2007 IHRA conference in Warsaw.

The International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) and INPUD signed a grant agreement for IHRA funding and support for INPUD on August 28, 2007, to develop the network, and to support DU involvement in the IHRA conference and DU advocacy at international level. The £20,000 IHRA funding provided INPUD with a budget for 1 office and staff. The budget was put together by me (Stijn Goossens, INPUD director) and board members and was unanimously agreed on by the board during the INPUD’s board meeting on November 29, 2007.

For some more detail, I prepared an INPUD activity report covering the period from August 2007 to February 2008, which is available by clicking the link. The next update will be ready at the end of June.

On December 27, 2007, the Open Society Institute and INPUD signed a $10,000 grant contract to support the participation of INPUD/Asia activists in the Goa Conference During the conference, INPUD Activists from the Asia Pacific region together wrote the GOA declaration. Some more information about INPUD Asia activities in 2007 through the spring of 2008 is available online in the activity report prepared by Fredy.

According to the INPUD statutes we were supposed to hold our next INPUD General Assembly (GA) during the 2008 IHRA conference in Barcelona, but because of my mistakes and because of administrative problems and lack of clarity about the INPUD structure and voting rights, we couldn’t hold a valid INPUD GA.

This caused a lot of understandable disappointment, dissatisfaction and discussion among participating DU Activists, but it also caused an aggressive atmosphere and sometimes even hostile moods toward the people who were active this last year in developing the network.

Apart from the excellent results in DU advocacy at the international level, greater DU involvement in the annual Harm Reduction Conference, and through the regional development of INPUD, it became clear that the first officially registered International DU organization is suffering some growing pains. My inability to communicate properly to the network and the errors that occurred in the process of organizing INPUD makes clear that a lot of work needs to be done to get us back on track and work out good institutional structures and procedures.

After the failed attempt for INPUD GA on Wednesday May 14, a group of disappointed, but enthusiastic and engaged DU Activists gathered in a meeting the next day, Thursday May 15.

As our approved statutes don’t allow a second GA within 15 days after a first called on GA (the meeting on Wednesday) I explained at the beginning of the Thursday afternoon meeting that we couldn’t consider this meeting an INPUD GA. I acknowledged the problems and the mistakes made by myself and other leading DU Activists and proposed a way forward - out of the mess - with a call for DU Activists to be active in 2 working groups:

  • One group to work out proposals for amendment to the INPUD statutes about INPUD membership and INPUD board.
  • The second group to work out proposals for amendment concerning INPUD regional development in INPUD offices and departments as this is very much needed for the DU Activists who want to develop projects and attract donors.

The proposals should be voted during an exceptional GA in the next months coming. According to our statutes, an exceptional GA can be called at least 15 days after the preceding GA by the INPUD Chairman (after decision in the INPUD board), or by a call from at least one-fifth of the INPUD members. Apart from calling for this GA, decisions also need to be taken on how we’ll organize the voting procedure for the much-needed amendments: that is, by voting online (which would allow greater participation), or during an additional INPUD meeting later the year (which would probably involve many fewer people, but allow for more detailed face-to-face discussion), or a combination of the two.

The atmosphere wasn’t right for the proposal and the explanation about the status of the meeting – it’s not a GA – was waived away by some of the participating DU with a call for a vote to declare the meeting a legitimate INPUD GA anyway and to vote a board. I then left the meeting.

The meeting went on and afterward I read that the meeting voted an interim board with 2 appointed task for this committee to execute in the first months coming:

  • Clarifying issues regarding INPUD membership (individuals and organizations) and structure
  • Figuring out a process whereby INPUD's membership will be able to elect boards in the future in a way that is inclusive of all the membership of INPUD.

I totally welcome the enthusiasm and engagement of the DU Activists who expressed their willingness to work together on making INPUD better. And I sure hope that the offer to give valuable input still stands and that we can cooperate together. I also want to emphasize that the proposals made by the committee lean very near to what I proposed myself at the beginning of the meeting.

After a discussion with INPUD board members Anan Pun, Luiz Guanabara, Fredy and the INPUD Executive director Stijn Goossens, the INPUD board proposes what follows as a solution to get out of the situation which we ended up with after the 2008 Barcelona conference:

The INPUD statutes are what they are, but as the INPUD board acknowledges the current problems we recommend clarifying the role of the committee that was voted during the meeting on Thursday May 15.

We propose to install this committee as an official board committee to work together with the current Board to propose solutions for the following appointed issues:

  • Clarifying issues regarding INPUD membership (individuals and organizations) and INPUD structure and to work out a voting procedure (on-line or during a meeting later this year, or a combination of the two) for board elections and the approval of amendments to the statutes.
  • To work out proposals for amendment to the statutes concerning INPUD regional development in INPUD offices and departments

The proposed Board Committee consists of the following people:

Anan Pun – Nepal - Recovering Nepal

Luiz Guanabara – Brazil - Psychotropicus

Fredy – Indonesia – IDUSA

Rebecca Brooks – United States - INPUD

Stijn Goossens – Belgium - INPUD

Jose Carbonell - Spain - A.P.D.O.

Natalya Kanaef - Australia/England - Vixen

Vito Georgievski - Macedonia – MHRU

Nicole Wiggins - Australia – AIVL

Eric Schneider - France – ASUD

Brent Taylor - Canada – UNDUN

As recently Tamara Speed (Australia – AIVL) resigned from the Committee, we’re not sure if shell reconsider and join the Board Committee.

The proposed Board Committee should be open for additional INPUD members with specific knowledge on the appointed issues to join the Committee.

The members of the INPUD board hope that this proposal will be acknowledged by the INPUD members and that it’ll get us out of the situation and put us back on track.

Warmest regards from the INPUD Board,

Anan Pun

Luiz Guanabara


Stijn Goossens

Executive Director, non-voting member of the board


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