EHRA announces a Drug policy regional consultation

Dear colleagues, dear EHRA members!

Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) is launching a regional online consultation to define its priorities in the area of drug policy and human rights of people who use drugs in CEECA that would guide our future activities in 2018 – 2020. The strategic framework of our organization contains the following objective: advocacy of non-repressive drug policy in CEECA, based on public health and human rights. We need a more detailed general position of the organization with a clear vision of expected outcomes supported by the majority of EHRA members for policy and advocacy work.

We expect that this consultation will result in a joint position of EHRA on drug policy, which will reflect our common vision of drug policy in the countries of our region in the future and will identify key approaches to achieve that objective with the help of EHRA members at the national level and by our common efforts at the regional and global level.

This consultation is intended to help us to:

Jointly explore trends in drug policy in our countries and sub-regions, the impact of political, economic, cultural and religious factors on possible drug policy reforms and understand what should be changed in order to achieve our goals.

Share the views among EHRA members on drug policy reform and define common regional priorities in drug policy. To achieve this, we need to understand if the Association is ready to set ambitious goals for drug policy reform such as legalization/regulation of drugs – or if we should focus on promoting alternatives to punishment at this stage, without changing the existing legal prohibition framework.

Discuss if it is realistic for EHRA to engage in “drugeconomics“: the analysis of the economic impact of repressive drug policy and the effectiveness of funding law enforcement approaches to “combat drug abuse”, discussing advocacy issues of redistribution of public funding from law enforcement to social support, harm reduction and re-socialization programs.

– Explore the initiatives and projects of the community aimed at decriminalization, protecting social and economic rights of people who use drugs and OST clients, and document the approaches that have shown positive results in drug policy reform in our region.

The consultation will also help EHRA improve its expert knowledge of drug policy and develop a regional expert database.

The consultation will be held in several stages:

Step 1: Analysis of human rights violations

EHRA will continue to collect information on systematic violations of human rights, achievements and issues faced of people who use drugs, best practices and the results of community-led projects in the field of drug policy and advocacy, in order to develop a regional review. The consequent working stage of this activity took place in May 2018 when the Global Commission on HIV and the Law announced its call for submissions of  complaints and best practices . If you did not have the opportunity to do this before May 15, you still may send a short description of violations of the rights of people who use drugs or a description of the results of advocacy and drug policy projects.

Timeline: until September 1, 2018

Please send your submissions or to Dasha Matyushina-Ocheret,

Step 2:  Webinars “Drug Policy: threats and opportunities”

We will conduct a series of webinars that will allow you to learn more about drug policy and voice your questions and opinions. It will also help us to ensure that EHRA position is based on scientific evidence and analysis of the consequences of repressive drug policy as well as the experience of countries with progressive drug policy.

EHRA will conduct a series of webinars on drug policy, to introduce the members of the Association to the key international and regional trends:

  • July 17: Alternatives to punishment for drug use and possession of drugs

  • July 31: Decriminalization, depenalization, legalization – what does it all mean in practice?

  • August 14: The rights of people who use drugs, or the right to use drugs: what do the international law and common sense tell us?

  • August 28: International drug policy: the preparation to the HLM on Drugs 2019

All webinars will be conducted and recorded in Russian and English. We will develop a series of information materials in Russian and English to distribute before the webinars start.

Step 3: Face-to-face consultation during the AIDS Conference in Amsterdam: “How does the repression of people who use drugs interfere with the response to HIV, TB and viral hepatitis in EECA? Are we ready to change the situation? “

The discussion on priorities of drug policy in CEECA will take place in the Regional EECA Space of the Global Village on July 26, 2018. Members of EHRA as well as other activists will take part in the debate. The objective of the consultation is to develop a common vision of the drug policy reform in CEECA and determine the priorities for advocacy at the regional and national levels during a live discussion.

Main issues to discuss:

– Overview of the data on impact of current drug policies on access of PWID to prevention, testing and treatment of HIV, hepatitis and TB. Country cases demonstrating the barriers created by criminalization;

-The wording of key regional priorities to counter repressive drug policies at the national and regional levels;

– Discussion of opportunities associated with the implementation of alternatives to punishment, focusing on sustainability of harm reduction services in CEECA;

– Creating partnerships and finding allies for effective advocacy for drug policy reforms at the national and regional level.

The discussion is open to all EHRA members involved in AIDS2018, as well as to partner NGOs and community networks.

The discussion will be broadcast online to ensure that the maximum number of EHRA members and partners could take part in the consultation.

We will develop a draft position of EHRA on drug policy based on the results of the consultation.

Step 4: Online discussion of the draft drug policy position

A draft of EHRA drug policy position develop in August 2018 and will be shared online for review by the members of the association and partner organizations. Several calls will be held to discuss the wording of the position, there will be an opportunity to make edits and suggestions in writing as well.

Timeline: 1-31 August 2018

Step 5: Approval of EHRA Drug Policy Position by the Steering Committee.

Timeline: September 2018

We are going to use the following communication platforms to ensure that the maximum number of EHRA members can take part in the discussion:

– the EHRA members list-serve

– a Facebook group