Custom Search

Sep 27, 2008

IDPC Alert - September 2008 (+Carel Edwards bonus!!!)

Stijn Goossens (DU Activist):

"that EU states accept or not "human rights" to be researched in the next action plan depends on how this measure is formulated too, and perceived by the EU states"

Carel Edwards: "I Agree"

(during the 2nd EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs May 2008)

IDPC Alert - September 2008

The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) is a global network of NGOs and professional networks that specialise in issues related to illegal drug production and use. The Consortium aims to promote objective and open debate on the effectiveness, direction and content of drug policies at national and international level, and supports evidence-based policies that are effective in reducing drug-related harm. It disseminates the reports of its member organisations about particular drug-related matters, and offers expert consultancy services to policymakers and officials around the world.



In 2005, the 27 member states of the European Union agreed a drug strategy that runs from 2005 to 2012, with a mid-term review of progress in 2008. This advocacy note gives the IDPC perspective on this progress review, and makes recommendations for the action plan for the remaining 4 years of the strategy. As this revised action plan is now being finalised by member states, NGOs wishing to influence this process should urgently contact the relevant officials in their country to promote these recommendations.


The third of our regular "UNGASS News" updates, keeping our network up to speed with developments in the review process, reports on the Demand Reduction Expert Working Group and the 2008 Global ATS Report from UNODC.


This Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Programme briefing paper presents a critical assessment of Plan Colombia. Originally proposed as a peace programme, this soon became a military strategy aimed at weakening the link between illicit drugs and insurgency. The results of this approach in terms of the decline of illegal armies, particularly guerrilla groups, may be considered as a success. In relation to coca cultivation and cocaine trafficking, however, the results show otherwise. This contradiction raises a number of questions about the effectiveness of a predominantly military approach in tackling the drugs problem and the real impact of the supply control strategy on the international market of illicit drugs. The brief explores these and argues that the strategy has failed to address the structural causes of illicit drugs cultivation: poverty, lack of opportunities and on-going conflict. It also discusses how the current emphasis on fumigation has a negative impact on the fragile and strategic eco-system of the Amazonian region, as well as potential health problems for people who live in these areas. Moreover, the brief suggests that a militaristic approach to drug trafficking seems to contribute to the development of what can be called "markets of violence". Finally, it is argued that while the power of guerrilla groups - particularly the 40-year-old FARC group that controls some phases of the drug trafficking business - may be in decline, this situation needs to be analysed as part of their lack of political coherence and popular support. A key conclusion from the brief is that the case of Plan Colombia should be used as a learning experience about “what not to do" when addressing complex social and political situations involving the illicit drug trade and internal conflicts in producer countries.


In this response to the UNODC's World Drug Report 2008, the IDPC continues to support the concept of the Office acting in a capacity as a "centre of expertise" that collates data, analysis and information on best practices, objectively facilitates policy debates between member states and civil society, and implements multilateral programmes. Nonetheless, it argues that there are still too many examples in the Report where the objectivity and expertise of the Office can be questioned. This brief review looks at four key questions raised by an analysis of the document: Is the global market for controlled drugs being successfully contained? Does the history of opium use in China provide valuable lessons for 21st century drug control? How can we develop a workable international strategy on cannabis? To what extent can we rely on the data available globally on drug production, distribution and use? In each case, this IDPC response describes and critiques the positions taken in the Report, and attempts to articulate the nature of the future challenges faced by member states as they prepare for the review meeting in March 2009.


IHRA’s "HR2" (Harm Reduction and Human Rights) team have released a new report entitled "Human Rights, Health and Harm Reduction: States' Amnesia and Parallel Universes". This report is the transcript of the keynote speech delivered by Professor Paul Hunt (then UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health) at the opening of "Harm Reduction 2008: IHRA’s 19th International Conference" in Barcelona, Spain on May 11th 2008. It contains some of the strongest comments to date from a UN human rights monitor in support of harm reduction and against human rights abuses resulting from drug policies and practices. It details some of the multiple human rights abuses experienced by people who use drugs and criticises the "bizarre" situation in which countries can acknowledge their human rights obligations on one hand, yet suffer "amnesia" about these obligations when they participate in the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs. IHRA hopes that this speech and report will be a useful reference tool for future advocacy and research on harm reduction and human rights around the world. To view the report, please visit


TNI have released a new report entitled "Withdrawal Symptoms: Changes in the Southeast Asian Drugs Market". The studies findings are that the significant decline in opium production in Burma and Laos, which has been heralded as a major success for international drug control policy, is having a devastating effect on farmers and is triggering worrying consequences for drug users. The report draws on hundreds of interviews with farmers, users and traders. It finds that harm reduction and alternative livelihood policies must be in place before any opium reduction if negative health and development impacts are to be avoided. The rapid decline has caused major suffering among former poppy growing communities in Burma and Laos, making it difficult to characterise it as a "success story"' - explains Martin Jelsma, co-author of the report. For drug users, higher heroin prices and a lack of health services have led not to a reduction in consumption, but to shifts in consumer behaviour. These include shifts from smoking to injecting heroin which, as many users share needles, is one of the main drivers of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region. The methamphetamine market is expanding rapidly and users replacing heroin with other pharmaceutical drugs also face new health risks. "Drug control policies should be development-oriented and concentrate first on offering alternative livelihoods to opium farmers" says Tom Kramer, co-author of the report. "Similarly, drug users should not be treated as criminals. Instead, what is needed are improved harm reduction services and more humane drug laws". To download the report, go to:


Drugscope is well on the way to producing the second pilot issue of Druglink International. The response to the first issue was very encouraging. In the next issue, there are articles on coca eradication in Colombia; female addiction in Afghanistan; widespread drug testing in Georgia, a look at US drug policy and some special features on UNGASS. Both for this issue and for future communications work, it would be really helpful if IDPC subscribers could send Harry Shapiro, Director of Communications and Information at Drugscope, any contact details of journalists who they know are sympathetic to the values of IDPC. Also Druglink International is interested in any news stories that might be included in the next issue and any stories that might be of interest to syndicated broadcast media like the BBC World Service. For the broadcast media, the idea is that Druglink International would put a journalist directly in touch with agencies or individuals on the ground to try and get the story aired. These would be stories that highlight straightforward human rights abuses or anything that could be the "unintended adverse consequences of drug policy". Maybe something that has already been in the local press or a story that is yet to be investigated. Email Harry Shapiro with any thoughts, information etc on .



IHRA and the Conference Consortium are pleased to announce the latest in a long-running series of international harm reduction conferences. "Harm Reduction 2009" will take place between 19th and 23rd April 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand, and the conference theme will be "Harm Reduction and Human Rights". These conferences have become must attend events for the harm reduction community - attended by over 1,200 people from over 80 countries each year. They are the key fora for the dissemination of harm reduction ideas, research, projects and practice, and have helped to put harm reduction on the map over the last two decades. Registration and abstract submission are now open, and there are discounted delegate rates for early payments. For further information, please visit We look forward to seeing you in Bangkok!


The 3rd Annual Conference of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy will take place at UNODC in Vienna on 2-3 March 2009. It will focus on research isues that are relevant to the UNGASS on drugs. All researchers in the field of drug policy are invited to submit papers for presentation. There are scholarship competitions to support the costs of participation for postgraduate students and scholars from developing countries. More details can be found at


The First Conference of the Connections Project will provide an opportunity to discuss developments in drug treatment and harm reduction in European criminal justice systems. It will take place in Krakow, Poland, March 27-29 2009. A call for abstracts has been launched at This conference will build on the success of previous conferences of the European Network of Drug and Infections Prevention in Prison (ENDIPP).

Please feel free to pass this alert on to any contacts who may be interested in drug policy issues. If you have received this alert in error, or do not wish to continue receiving our alerts, you can unsubscribe yourself by emailing to

Sep 14, 2008

Acknowledge the human rights abuses against people who use drugs

... Acknowledge the human rights abuses against people who use drugs as an affected population and encourage Member States, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and other relevant organisations to solicit the participation of all affected and stigmatised populations in identifying and responding to these human rights abuses, to illicit/harmful drug use1 and to its adverse health, social and economic consequences...

Blog Directory - Blogged