DDN July_Aug_2022 DDN July/August 2022 | Page 21


i The drug control system is broken and in need of reform .
i People who use drugs should no longer be criminalised .
i The death penalty should never be imposed for drug offences .
i Drug policy should focus on health , wellbeing and harm reduction .
i Drug policy budgets need rebalancing to ensure health and harm reduction-based responses are adequately financed . the campaign ’ s co-creator and coordinator . Thanks to ongoing support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Robert Carr Fund , we were also able to provide more than 100 small grants to partners all around the world . IDPC ’ s role as the campaign ’ s central hub is also strengthened by a number of thematic , communitybased or regional ‘ sister hubs ’ that support partners to mobilise under our collective banner .
The campaign events continue to demonstrate the incredible ingenuity and creativity of this sector . Over the years , we ’ ve seen art displays , music concerts , demonstrations and processions , street performances , political
workshops , press conferences , webinars , radio shows , and so much more . In June 2022 , the campaign partners organised media events in Nigeria , community events in Canada , harm reduction workshops in Colombia , rallies and speeches in Morocco , naloxone training in Ireland , film screenings in Australia , community outreach in Portugal , street performances in Zimbabwe , and the list goes on . Here in the UK , the powerful Anyone ’ s Child network held a lobby event outside Parliament calling for reform of our own drug laws .
By giving local partners the flexibility , resources and tools to organise based on their own
‘ Thanks to ongoing support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Robert Carr Fund , we were also able to provide more than 100 small grants to partners all around the world .’
needs and advocacy targets , the campaign has fostered a decentralised movement that brings together thousands of people – whether attending events , engaging with policy makers , or simply taking a photo as part of the campaign ’ s photo project ( as participants at last month ’ s DDN conference were invited to do ). This power in numbers helps to open doors to advocate for better drug policies : local partners report that the campaign has facilitated access to decision makers that were once inaccessible to them . The campaign has been specifically cited as an important contributor to policy changes in places such as Ghana , Ukraine , Mauritius and Thailand – to name just a few .
Over this past decade , we ’ ve seen rapid spurs of progress in drug policies in places we would not have imagined . More and more countries are moving towards the decriminalisation of drug use , which has now been explicitly endorsed by every UN agency through their ‘ Common Position ’ on drugs . Harm reduction measures such as drug consumption rooms and drug checking are growing in acceptance .
But change is not a linear road and should never be taken for granted – and the last decade has also seen regression and rising authoritarian policies elsewhere , and the reversal of key wins where we thought they were well established . Here in the UK , at a time when Kate Bush tops the music charts and Top Gun is back in cinemas , Kit Malthouse ’ s rhetoric of ‘ clear , certain , swift and escalating consequences ’ that are ‘ increasingly painful ’ for ‘ recreational drug users ’ ( DDN , June , page 4 ) feels like it ’ s following a trend by taking us back in time to the 1980s .
It therefore remains invaluable that we can all still come together , as a global drug policy reform community , under the umbrella of a unified Support Don ’ t Punish message . The campaign ’ s growth is also measured in the way local partners have cultivated solidarity between different movements who are also affected by the ‘ war on drugs ’. We remain convinced that the question is when , rather than if , global drug policies will change . Until prohibition is consigned to history , campaigns such as Support Don ’ t Punish have an important role to play in seizing every political opportunity as and when it arises .
Juan Fernandez is campaigns and communications officer and Jamie Bridge is chief operating officer at IDPC