July SSDP International Bulletin
Welcome to the SSDP International Organizing Committee’s first Monthly Bulletin! Here you will find updates on SSDP activities happening around the world, drug policy news from the United Nations and other countries, as well as calls to action. This month’s bulletin will cover news and activities from June 26th (the annual Support Don’t Punish Day of Action) through the end of July. SSDP’s International Organizing Committee (IOC) is dedicated to supporting youth-led drug policy activism all over the world. Any active member of SSDP or member of the Alumni Association is welcome to join. If you’re interested in getting involved, please e-mail Jake Agliata at firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll put you on the IOC mailing list.
- A group of SSDP members attended the second intersessional meeting of the 61st Commision
on Narcotic Drugs. These intersessional meetings are an opportunity for members of the Commission to discuss progress made on the resolutions & discussions that took place during the annual CND meeting in March. This intersessional meeting saw a lively discussion emerge regarding Canada’s legalization of adult-use cannabis. A number of member states, most vocally Russia, expressed opposition to the policy and called Canada’s policy a fundamental breach of the international drug control framework. Only one member state, New Zealand, expressed direct support for Canada, though a handful of other delegations (USA, Netherlands, France, and Germany) emphasized that the CND is not a place to single out the policies of one member state. Other topics discussed at the intersessional included a progress update on revisions to the Annual Report Questionnaire, a data collection survey filled out by member states each year, and updates regarding preparations for the 2019 High-Level Ministerial Segment. Check out the full takeaways of the SSDP delegation here.
Panagiotis Sevris ’17 and Jessica Steinberg ’17 show off some Support Don’t Punish flair while at the UN for the CND intersessional meeting.
- SSDP members in the United States attended the New York launch of the World Drug Report at the UN headquarters. This annual publication by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) contains research and data on drug use from all over the world. Yuri Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UNODC, made some introductory remarks where he called for member states to expand the availability of evidence-based treatment programs. Angela Me, the UNODC’s Director of Research, then presented some of the major findings of this year’s World Drug Report. One of the more notable findings was that reports of seizures related to cannabis use are dropping around the globe, indicating that the global attitude towards cannabis is shifting. In response to these findings, representatives from member states gave short talks to demonstrate their own local situations as well as their own goals in moving toward a safer world. Notably, Jamaica’s representative pushed for making information accessible and understandable to everyone rather than just those that are more educated than the majority of the global population.
- At the World Health Organization, an expert committee on drug dependence met in Geneva for a critical review of CBD, the first time such a meeting has focused on just one substance. Over 12 people gave video or in-person presentations, and 15 member states sent observers. The final outcome for CBD will come at the end of the summer along with a preliminary outcome for cannabis that could lead to a similar critical review.
Regional Updates Latin America
- EPSD México held an educational conference in México City for Support Don’t Punish that featured speeches on health and drug policy. Similar events were held in three other Mexican states.
- SSDP chapters in Ireland organized a Support Don’t Punish event in Dublin, where they talked to people in the streets about decriminalization. The event came at a great time as a working group has been set up by the government to talk about decriminalizing all drugs in Ireland.
- SSDP Nigeria participated in Support Don’t Punish by organizing marches and educational rallies in five different locations throughout the country. They were joined by representatives of law enforcement and the Ministry of Health at the Abeokuta event.
- SSDP Sierra Leone held a day long conference for Support Don’t Punish that was attended by the Minister for Youth Affairs, who called it “the most outstanding, popular and successful drug policy program ever organized in Sierra Leone.”
- Members of SSDP Nigeria, SSDP Ghana, and SSDP Gambia attended the 5th West Africa Executive Course on Drug Policy in Accra, Ghana.
SSDP Pakistan held a three-day workshop funded by our friends at YouthRISE titled “Harm Reduction, Drug Policies, and Advocacy for Human Rights in Drug Fields.” 22 people from all parts of the country participated, along with 10 journalists who covered one day of the event. The chapter also celebrated the Support Don’t Punish campaign in different parts of Pakistan, where they celebrated the work of young people raising awareness about drug policies and human rights.
SSDP Pakistan members celebrating Support Don’t Punish during their seminar on harm reduction and drug policies.
- SSDP and Akbayan Youth members in The Philippines worked with leaders of Sangguniang Kabataan (youth government officials) to execute a historic forum on harm reduction and public health as alternatives to the War on Drugs. Senator Risa Hontiveros was in attendance and discussed her opposition to Duterte’s drug war. The forum was well attended and got national media coverage. This is part of their strategy to go local in changing the narrative on punitive drug policies.
Calls to Action Apply to speak at the next CND intersessional discussion in September Deadline: August 23 at 11:55pm CEST In preparation for the high ministerial segment of the 62nd session of the Commission of Narcotic Drugs (CND), to be held in 2019, the Commission will host a number of thematic discussions in autumn. The first round of discussions will take place September 25-28 in Vienna. For each thematic segment, representatives from 4-5 NGOs will have an opportunity to speak on issues relevant to their work. Each speaker will have 5 minutes to present their work on the thematic focus of the day (see official work plan for details). No funding is available for travel, accommodations, or visa arrangements. Participate in a student study on ecstasy use A member of SSDP Australia at the University of Melbourne is conducting a study on the factors that contribute to problematic ecstasy use. If you’d like to help, complete this 20-minute anonymous survey which will ask questions about your experiences with drug use, personality, mental health, and basic demographic information. You must be at least 18 years old to participate.
Drug Policy News Czech Republic Czech Drug Tsar Calls for Legalisation and Regulation of Drugs “Vobořil’s proposals for the new strategy, still to be agreed by Government, seek to include responsible market regulation of drugs within a broader ‘harm reduction’ approach that emphasises public health, prevention and treatment.” Georgia Cannabis Use Can No Longer be Punished in Georgia, Court Rules “Georgia’s Constitutional Court has ruled that all punishments for cannabis consumption, including fines, be immediately abolished. The court’s ruling – which took place on July 30 – was effective immediately, meaning it is now the law.” Mexico Incoming Mexican President to Seek Negotiated Peace In Drug War “Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s transition team unveiled a plan on Friday to shake up the fight against crime, including reduced jail time but stiffer controls on weapons, as the country reels from a militarized drug war.” Sri Lanka Sri Lanka to Hang Drug Criminals, Replicating Philippines ‘Success’ “Sri Lanka announced on Wednesday, July 11, it would start hanging drug dealers, ending a near-half century moratorium on capital punishment as officials promised to “replicate the success” of the Philippines’ drug war.”
Upcoming Events/Opportunities 28-31 August, San Francisco: Safer Inside 31 August, Worldwide: International Overdose Awareness Day 25-28 September, Vienna: CND Intersessional 18-21 October, New Orleans: 12th National Harm Reduction Conference 24 October, Vienna: VNGOC General Meeting 22-25 October, Vienna: CND Intersessional 5 November, Brussels: Civil Society Involvement in Drug Policy Conference 7-9 November, Vienna: CND Intersessional 10-11 November, Vienna: SSDP European Regional Conference 14-15 March (tentative), Vienna: High Level Ministerial Segment 18-22 March (tentative), Vienna: 62nd Commission on Narcotic Drugs 29 – 31 March, Chicago: #SSDP2019