Advocating drug policy reform

Dates: 11/1/2010 – 12/31/2011

 

Rationale:

In the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EE/CA) and globally drug policies are imbalanced, with significant focus and investment in enforcement of drug prohibition often at expense of harm reduction, public health and rights fueling HIV and hepatitis epidemics, stigma and discrimination and other health and social harms and economic problems. Internationally and regionally the evidence of failure of such policies is growing, as well as support for policy shift from Latin America to European countries including Czech Republic. One of the key barriers in the region for promotion of policy shift is the ability of civil society to use the evidence in the way that policymakers would respond and initiate policy change.

2011 is the Year of 50th anniversary of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, number of civil society organizations, such as Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Transform Drug Policy Foundation and Release will all work to make 2011 to make the year of reflection on drug policies under the idea of making impact assessment of the existing policies and their impact. EHRN partner organizations (Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Transform Drug Policy Foundation, Release) have also projects running in 2011 closely linked by goal of persuading impact assessment of existing policies.

Therefore this proposal is evolved around the concept of Counting the Costs – making evaluations of existing policies. The goal is to promote drug policies that are evidence-based and non-discriminatory which support the implementation of interventions to improve the health of and protect the rights of people who use drugs.

 

This proposal focuses on making such policy impact assessments (counting the costs of policies) in 4 countries (Georgia, Kyrgyzstan Romania, Russia) and disseminating the results on national and international levels and will have 4 components (1) making the research on policy impact assessment (2) work with media and media monitoring as a mean of self evaluation (3) promotion of results with the national stakeholders (4) promotion internationally.

 

The key costs of the War on Drugs are well known to drug reform organizations, which should be addressed in the framework of the project:

 

1. Creation of Crime –  a $320bn criminal market, fundraising related offending amongst problematic users;

2. Undermining public health – increased HIV/AIDS and other BBVs, increased drug risk and drug deaths;

3. Undermining Human Rights – forced treatment, mass criminalization and imprisonment, restricted access to pain relief;

4. Encouraging discrimination and stigmatization of users, vulnerable populations and minority groups;

5. Undermining international development and security – political and economic destabilization of producer and transit states; fueling of conflict and corruption;

6 .Environmental destruction – deforestation, aerial spraying and pollution;

7. Billions wasted – over $100bn a year spent on failing policies instead of effective initiatives;

 

Each country can decide which cost to raise in the national report, and which of the aspects of the drug policy harms/costs would make most sense to raise in their country and in their setting.

 

Expected results:

1. Representatives of civil society and DU community in at least 4 countries participate in the key national drug policy events and policy bodies (increased policy dialogue though in country round tables, media events, etc.);

2. Quality and availability of evidence on drug policy impact on health and human rights increased (though national and regional reports);

3. The capacity of at least 4 national partners for strategic advocacy of human rights and health based policies increased;

5. Increased civil society involvement in the international events (such as CND);

6. Widened media coverage of drug policy, harm reduction and human rights issues at regional and at least in 4 countries of the region.

 

Project partners:

International Drug Policy

OSI/Global Drug Policy Program

Human Rights Watch

Hungarian Civil Liberties Union

International AIDS Society

Transform Drug Policy Foundation

International Harm Reduction

National partners: 

Alternative Georgia

Romanian Harm reduction Network

Andrey Rylkov Foundation

Central Asian Center for Drug Policy