Registration opens for European Drugs Winter and Summer Schools 2021

From the EMCDDA news

The EMCDDA and the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL) opened registration for two upcoming joint events in 2021: the European Drugs Winter School (EDWS) and the European Drugs Summer School (EDSS).

EDWS 1–12 March 2021 (online): Following the success of the EDSS in 2020, taught remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers have decided to deliver the first virtual EDWS in 2021. The theme of the event will be Responses to, and preparedness for, health-related threats (COVID-19 lessons learned). Following a similar structure to the 2020 edition, the two-week course will feature live lunchtime lectures with experts and practitioners, followed by afternoon exercises. Virtual fieldwork tours will also be offered. Completion of exercises and an exam are compulsory for those wishing to obtain credits. The sessions will be recorded and available for subsequent viewing. Increasing the offer of online training is in line with the EMCDDA’s digital transformation objectives. Registration EDWS Phase 1: 19 October 2020–8 February 2021 (notification of acceptance on 12 February 2021).

EDSS 28 June–9 July 2021 (Lisbon): This year, the two-week course will focus on Vulnerable groups. Sessions will include lectures on the prevention of drug-related problems; social determinants of drug use and interventions for vulnerable groups (homeless, prisoners, migrants). Study visits will be organised to one of the Portuguese commissions for dissuasion as well as a local harm reduction centre. During the course, students will participate in interactive workshops to discuss their own projects and views. The course will conclude with an open debate with guest speakers, followed by an exam for those wishing to obtain credits. All recommended COVID-19 safety measures will be put in place, if applicable. Deposits and fees will be reimbursed if the summer school is cancelled in case of force majeure, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Registration EDSS Phase 1: 19 October 2020–28 February 2021 (notification of acceptance on 5 March 2021). Phase 2: 1 March 2021–7 June 2021 (notification of acceptance on 11 June 2021).

The target audiences for the two events are: university students, researchers, professionals and administrators interested in working on drug issues. The previous rounds of the EDSS brought together students from the EU Member States as well as from Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas. Profiles of former alumni and their testimonials can be found on the official summer school website and their statements viewed in a promotional video.

The courses prepare professionals and students to meet the complex policy challenges that face Europe in the field of drugs. Involving scientific experts from the EMCDDA, university professors and policymakers, they provide a multi-disciplinary and inclusive approach to the study of the drugs problem in Europe and beyond.

In 2021, students will again be able to apply for scholarships. Agreements with the IPA7 and EU4MD projects will also be sought for bursaries targeting key national experts. ‘Early-bird’ reductions will be available. The EDSS will be run in English.

For more on the EDWS and EDSS, see here >>.

Catherine Moury, EDSS Scientific Director –
Marica Ferri, Scientific programme –


A glossary of contested terms in substance use

The Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF) has launched a new resource entitled ‘Moving Beyond ‘People-First’ Language: A glossary of contested terms in substance use.

This resource describes the issues around some language and key concepts that often cause contention and some that evolve from or perpetuate stigma and the prejudice it fosters.

The glossary offers a resource that makes explicit the connection between language and power. The resource will hopefully raise awareness of how power and language can contribute to problem substance use and can also help Scotland and wider improve its response to problem substance use.

To access this useful publication, follow this link>>>.


130 project proposals for the RYCO Call

The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) opened its Fourth Open Call intended to support and empower partnerships between civil society organizations, secondary schools and other actors in implementing activities in the areas of regional youth cooperation, mobility and exchange; and enabling environment for regional youth cooperation. The general objective of this call for proposals is to support the civil society in the Western Balkans to foster reconciliation and regional youth cooperation during COVID-19 pandemic by providing young people with opportunities that create space for dialogue, mutual learning and increased understanding across communities and RYCO Contracting Parties, as well as contribute to increasing capacities of CSOs in offering meaningful opportunities to young people in a changed reality caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Call was closed at midnight on 12 October 2020.

DPNSEE and its member organisations Aksion Plus (Albania), Margina (Bosnia Herzegovina), Juventas (Montenegro), Prevent and Re Generacija (Serbia) prepared the project proposal No Risk, no borders for young people. Our project will strive to contribute to the efforts of the reconciliation processes in the WB countries and stronger youth participation in CSOs by developing and supporting regional youth cooperation focused on youth at risk, as its desirable overall impact/change. The project is strongly focused on marginalized youth groups that are in our context defined as youth at risk consisting of young people who use drugs, sex workers, LGBTI population, youth in conflict with the law and others addressed as “youth with alternative lifestyles and identities”.

We are awaiting December 2020 and some good news from RYCO!

Global Fund Regional Platforms’ Community Engagement Toolbox

Regional Communication and Coordination Platforms to support civil society and community engagement in Global Fund-related processes developed the Community Engagement Toolbox. It contains a variety of useful resources.

In particular:

  • This Toolbox contains more than 60 action-oriented resources, in 14 different languages, that help strengthen and support community engagement in Global Fund-related processes
  • These tools were developed by the 6 Regional Communication and Coordination Platforms, as part of the Global Fund’s Community, Right and Gender Strategic Initiative (CRG SI)
  • The tools are designed for use by civil society organizations and community groups who want to engage more meaningfully in Global Fund-related processes at country level e.g. civil society members of Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCMs)
  • Some of the tools are region-specific, but many have global application

You can download the Toolbox following this link>>>.


A New EU Drug Strategy is Being Prepared by the German Presidency

The 2021-25 EU Drugs Agenda recently published by the European Commission was criticised by civil society and member states. We have already posted comments from Péter Sárosi, the executive director of the Rights Reporter Foundation and an article about the sign-on letter of the International Drug Policy Consortium’s (IDPC) members, raising our very serious concerns regarding the new 2021-25 EU Agenda and Action Plan on Drugs.

The Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) also criticised the Agenda in its position paper for its stigmatising language and framework, lack of balanced approach, reduced role for harm reduction, decreased relevance of human rights and several other reasons.

Member States did not accept the new EU Drugs Agenda proposed by the EU Commission. The Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG) decided that a new EU strategy will be prepared by the German presidency.

To read more about the positions of the CSFD, follow this link>>> to the article on the Rights Reporter Foundation website.


European Union Enlargement Country Reports

Traditionally, the European Commission adopted its annual assessment of the implementation of reforms in the Western Balkan partners and Turkey, together with recommendations on the next steps for those countries, and published its annual country reports. This year, due to coronavirus pandemic, the report was published in autumn, not in spring as it used to be.

The Commission adopted its Communication on EU enlargement policy and the 2020 Enlargement Package: The annual reports, assessing the implementation of fundamental reforms in the Western Balkans and Turkey, are presented together with clearer and more precise recommendations and guidance on the next steps for those partners, in line with the enhanced enlargement methodology.

The Commission also adopted a comprehensive Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, which aims to spur the long-term recovery of the region, a green and digital transition, foster economic regional cooperation, boost economic growth and support reforms required to move forward on the EU path.

Accession negotiations have been opened with candidate countries Montenegro (2012), Serbia (2014), and Turkey (2005). North Macedonia is a candidate country since 2005 and Albania since 2014. Bosnia and Herzegovina (application to join the EU submitted in February 2016) and Kosovo* (Stabilisation and Association Agreement entered into force in April 2016) are potential candidates.

As in the previous two years, DPNSEE extracted segments related to drugs from each of the country reports and packed them in one document. Same like in previous years, it is a pity to see that, almost exclusively, except some references to drug abuse prevention and harm reduction in Chapter 28: Consumer and health protection, the reports deal only with law enforcement related to drugs.

The document we prepared with reports for 2019 is downloadable following this link>>>.

Full versions of the Commission’s documents from 2018 are available following this link>>>.


New HIV infections increasingly among key populations

Key populations constitute small proportions of the general population but they are at higher risk of getting HIV, largely due to criminalization, discrimination and social exclusion. UNAIDS published their estimations for relative risk of acquiring HIV infection and distribution of new HIV infections by population for 2019.

In 2019, the proportion of new adult HIV infections globally among key populations and their sexual partners was 62%. This shift to an HIV epidemic increasingly among key populations is a result of the strong progress in HIV prevention in settings with high HIV prevalence in eastern and southern Africa, combined with a mixture of progress and setbacks in lower-prevalence regions.

Key populations – which include sex workers, people who inject drugs, prisoners, transgender people, and gay men and other men who have sex with men – constitute small proportions of the general population, but they are at elevated risk of acquiring HIV infection, in part due to discrimination and social exclusion.

Comparing to recent estimations, especially in the region of South East Europe, this is a significant increase of risk for the population of people who use drugs.

CIPHER Grant Programme

From the International AIDS Society website

The CIPHER Grant Programme directly supports the development of early-stage investigators, awarding up to US$150,000 for up to two years to address research gaps in paediatric and adolescent HIV in resource-limited settings. This is a unique “stepping up” opportunity, designed to give investigators the experience they need to compete for larger funding. The grants are resulting in personal and career development, capacity building on the ground, and research that informs policies and programmes.

Since 2013, CIPHER Grantees have been addressing key clinical and operational research gaps in paediatric and adolescent HIV. They are doing this where it is needed the most, in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); in fact, recognizing the importance of building research capacity, CIPHER awards approximately 80% of funds to applicants from LMICs. The intention is to attract early-stage investigators – from inside and outside the field of HIV research – to address critical research questions while providing a unique opportunity for professional development.

CIPHER has partnered with the World Health Organization to develop global research agendas on HIV testing, treatment and service delivery for paediatric and adolescent populations. CIPHER implements these global research priorities as a funder through its grant and fellowship programmes.

The 2020/2021 round will focus on service delivery for HIV and related co-infections for paediatric and adolescent populations in resource-limited settings, including research on:

  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV and related co-infections service delivery
  • Community interventions to improve outcomes along the HIV cascade.

As the COVID-19 crisis disrupts health systems and affects human health globally, gains made in accelerating the HIV response for children and adolescents living with or affected by HIV could be reversed. This recognizes the need to strengthen service delivery models to improve quality of care and sustain efforts to achieve the AIDS Free targets. CIPHER aims to support research projects that could inform HIV policies and programmes, thus accelerating the HIV response in grantees’ countries.

CIPHER is pleased to accept applications in both English and French. To encourage more applications from young investigators in West and Central Africa, 50% of funds will be awarded to francophone applicants.

The CIPHER Grant Programme is made possible with the generous support of Founding Sponsor ViiV Healthcare. Its content is guided by experts in paediatric and adolescent HIV convened by the International AIDS Society.

To apply for the Programme, follow this link>>>.


Protecting communities: Responding to the impact of urban drug markets

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and it is predicted that by 2050 roughly two-thirds of all the people on our planet will live in urban areas. This creates opportunities but also challenges like drugs and organized crime.

Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime is a network of over 500 independent global and regional experts working on human rights, democracy, governance, and development issues where organized crime has become increasingly pertinent.

Their new paper looks at the challenge posed by urban drug markets, particularly the impact on crime, safety, and development. It combines a granular local analysis – based on research as well as interviews with current and former gang members, police, drug users, social workers, court employees and representatives of civil society – with a broader transnational perspective. The study focuses in particular on drug markets in the cities of Cali, Colombia; Chicago, US; Cape Town, South Africa; Karachi, Pakistan; Kingston, Jamaica, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The paper first identifies the problems, types and impact of urban drug markets, and then examines what can be done about them. It looks at what can and is being done at the community level to strengthen local resilience to drugs within a broader context of improving urban management to make cities safe, resilient and sustainable (in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities). The topic of protecting communities takes on added relevance as calls to defund the police open important debates about the limitations of militarized policing and create new opportunities beyond law enforcement to build safer communities.

In short, this study looks at the impact of urban drug markets: why they develop in some cities; how they manifest themselves; how they shape and are shaped by their environment; and what can be done to disrupt them and help nurture resilience in these communities.

To read the report, follow this link>>>.







On 5 October, World Habitat Day, The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) will convene a webinar to discuss contemporary challenges of making cities safer. The webinar will build on GI-TOC’s recent report Protecting Communities: responding to the impact of urban drug market. Among the topics to be discussed are:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on urban drug markets;
  • Militarized policing and its limitations;
  • How violence spreads like an epidemic – and how to interrupt it;
  • Lessons learned from alternative development for urban security;
  • Promoting safer communities in vulnerable neighbourhoods.

To join the webinar, follow this link>>>.

Community Matters

The International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD), Mainline, King’s College London, AFEW International, the South African Network of People who Use Drugs, AFEW Kyrgystan and Rumah Cemarah shared the results of a three year research programme exploring how community involvement impacts the quality and accessibility of harm reduction services for people who use drugs. The research Community Matters: Lessons from a Bridging the Gaps research programme, supported through the Bridging the Gaps II programme, was completed from 2018 through 2020 as part of a community-academic partnership across Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan and South Africa which were linked to a ‘rapid review’ of the literature on low and middle-income countries.

Evidence from the report shows how difference forms of community involvement across these three countries impact harm reduction access and quality, especially in low and middle income settings. This evidence base can guide the scaling-up of community involvement efforts globally in support of harm reduction targets.

The report has four core messages:

  1. More ambitious support is needed for expanded community involvement in harm reduction services
  2. Community involvement can support increased access and quality of harm reduction services
  3. Community leadership delivers research with impact
  4. Research agendas need to expand and methodologies need to adapt

To read the report, follow this link>>>.