Global Drug Policy
SSDP International is committed to ending the failed war on drugs at a local, national and international level and work towards policies that respect human rights and focus on public health and harm reduction. International chapters coordinate actions, share lessons and support each other as they advocate for reform. Spanning the globe, international chapters exist in “producer, transit and consumer” countries, thus leading to diverse experiences regarding the global drug trade. SSDP students and youth have experienced the negative impacts of drug policy at all levels and work to combat those impacts through education, awareness and policy change. As a United Nations recognized organization, SSDP participates in international meetings such as the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the General Assembly.
International chapters have hosted debates on the need for supervised injection sites in Australia, are currently participating in the peace caravan across the United States, and attended the United Nations General Assembly Thematic Debate on Drugs and Crime. If you are interested in participating in these international actions, just send Drew an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will get you involved!
SSDP is ramping up its international activities with students in nine countries working towards changing local, national and international policy. These countries include Mexico, Colombia, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Poland, Australia, Ghana and NIgeria. And we are always looking to support opening new chapters!
Our greatest highlight over the past year was obtaining United Nations consultative status–which means that SSDP can attend and participate in any relevant UN meetings. This is a huge win because we can represent the youth perspective on the failed war on drugs as well as partake in shared international actions! Let us know if you want to become part of this growing movement!
Many thanks to our friends at the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union for producing this video following the 2012 Commission on Narcotic Drugs Meeting!
From March 12-16, SSDP International Organizer, Zara Snapp, along with students from Poland and Colombia particiated in the annual Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna, Austria. This meeting brings together all members states, advocates for both drug policy reform and those who want stronger enforcement. To put it simply, if you care about the issue, you have a representative present. SSDP was able to credential all the student participants thanks to our newly obtained consultative status.
To learn more about the experiences of those who attended, you can check out the following blog posts: Juan Ballestas reflects on the CND, and Zara Snapp explores whether change is really possible.
If you are interested in working on any aspect of global drug policy or our shared UN actions, please contact Zara@ssdp.org. We look forward to broadening the movement and ensuring that youth and students are always given a seat at the table!
Old News is still Good News:
On March 11-13, 2009 SSDP Executive Director Kris Krane participated in the High Level Segment of the United Nations annual Committee on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna, Austria.
At this meeting, every country in the world was asked to approve a political declaration and action plan that would guide the world’s drug policy for the next ten years. This was the culmination of a yearlong review process that included the first ever global meeting of NGO’s from around the world last summer, in which SSDP was a participant.
While the world’s NGO community unanimously approved a forward thinking set of recommendations, that stressed harm reduction and the fundamental human rights of drug users, the final declaration approved by the United Nations ignored most of these recommendations. Instead, they approved a document that can only be described as “more of the same.”“Harm reduction” refers to common-sense, life-saving programs and policies that don’t rely on an abstinence-only messaging (like contraceptives, but for drugs).
But due to the urging of a number of countries, including the United States, the words “harm reduction” were completely left out of the final declaration. After the unanimous approval of the declaration, a group of 26 countries including Great Britain, Germany, and Australia, made a statement to the United Nations that they would officially interpret the phrase “related support services” in clause 20 to mean “harm reduction.”
This ignited a firestorm of debate on the floor of the UN, with countries standing up to denounce the “group of 26.” Among the countries that chose to publicly denounce harm reduction were Russia, Cuba, Pakistan… and the United States of America.
Over 100 countries chose not to speak in support or opposition to harm reduction, yet the United States willingly chose to align itself with countries that are responsible for some the worst human rights abuses perpetrated in the name of the War on Drugs, rather than staying silent or aligning with America’s traditional allies.
The Obama administration has promised to rebuild America’s traditional alliances, yet they willfully set this process back in order to continue the disastrous global war on drugs and drug users. Clearly, this behavior will not change unless President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton hear a loud message from citizens that global drug policy must be based in science, reason, evidence, and human rights, rather than worn-out ideology and Drug War orthodoxy.
Please take a moment to send a message to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton expressing your outrage at the United States’ behavior at the United Nations last week, and urge them to correct this mistake by joining with our traditional allies in promoting harm reduction practices around the world.
To be fair, despite the U.S. delegation’s shameful behavior at the end of the U.N. meeting, their position has progressed from previous years. While the U.S. opposed the term harm reduction, for the first time ever they publicly supported needle exchange programs and methadone treatment at the global level. With some encouragement from citizens like you, we can continue to move the new administration’s position on drug policy forward in the coming years.