New publication from UNODC Toxicology Portal

The first volume of the new biannual Current NPS Threats was launched with data reported to the Toxicology Portal (Tox-Portal) of the UNODC Early Warning Advisory on NPS developed in collaboration with The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists (TIAFT) that collects data on toxicology and harm related to the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) at a global level.

These data from post-mortem, clinical and other casework were reported by toxicology laboratories from 29 countries in all regions of the world and allowed to identify some key recent developments regarding health threats posed by NPS:

  • Synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic opioids and stimulants account for the majority of NPS reported to the Tox-Portal
  • Synthetic cannabinoids, in particular remain harmful, persistent and prevalent with more reports in 2018 than synthetic opioids
  • Poly-drug use continues to be a factor and an important consideration in NPS fatalities
  • Benzodiazepine-type NPS feature highly in driving under the influence of drugs.

To download this publication follow this link>>>>

A week before the Commission for Narcotic Drugs session

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), a functional Commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), is the principal policy-making body within the UN system on drug control issues and, as such, is the governing body of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in the area of drugs. It analyses the world drug situation and develops proposals to strengthen the international drug control system to combat the world drug problem. The Sixty-second session of the CND will be held in Vienna, Austria from 18 to 22 March 2019.

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs was established in 1946 as a functional Commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The history of CND is presented in the clip presenting its timeline.

In 2019, an extra two days have been added to the usual CND meeting, for a high-level Ministerial Segment. This is because it has been ten years since the adoption of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem. The Ministerial Segment will include a general debate as well as two interactive, multistakeholder round tables and will precede the CND on 14 and 15 March 2019.

The International Drug Policy Consortium streamed a webinar on CND 2019 live on 1 Mar 2019. This webinar shed light on the key controversies that are likely to structure the debates, discussed tabled resolutions and opportunities for engagement and showcased the experience of IDPC network members in navigating and leveraging this forum for political advocacy. Presenters were Jamie Bridge (IDPC), Olga Belyaeva (Eurasian Harm Reduction Association – EHRA) and Nazlee Maghsoudi (Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation – CDPE).

The video from the IDPC webinar is bellow

A calls for global drug policies that promote & protects the humanrights of women

Οn the occasion of International Women’s Day (ΙWD), celebrated on March 8 every year, the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD)  has published recommendations on the importance of promoting gender equality to achieve a balanced approach to the drug phenomenon and calls for global drug policies that promote & protects the humanrights of women. CSFD hopes that these recommendations “can be of use in informing the positions of the European Union at the Ministerial Segment and at the 62nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs”.

The Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) takes this opportunity to emphasize the need for global drug policies to pay special attention to women and the promotion and defence of their rights.

Civil sociaty forum on Drugs

They note that the theme for IWD in 2019 is ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’, focusing on: ‘innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure’.

Also they note that the provisional agenda for the Ministerial Segment includes a roundtable on ‘Taking stock of the implementation of all commitments made to jointly address and counter the world drug problem…’. These commitments include the Outcome Document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs – which includes a strong gender component as it relates to drug policy.

The UNGASS Outcome Document also highlights the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, noting that ‘efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to effectively address the world drug problem are complementary and mutually reinforcing’.

The achievement of SDG 5 on gender equality will necessitate that drug policies and programmes adopt a strong gender component to ensure that women are not left behind in efforts to control the illicit drug market.

Using the UNGASS Outcome Document structure, the CSFD wishes to offer specific recommendations which CSFD hope can be of use in informing the positions of the European Union at the Ministerial Segment and at the 62nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

To download this Recommendation follow this link>>>>

The Barcelona Declaration

In February 2019, more than 40 womxn from Europe and Central Asia met in Barcelona to work together on intersectional feminism, drug policy, harm reduction and human rights. The result of the meeting is the Barcelona Declaration which “declares that the War On Drugs is a war on Womxn Who Use Drugs”.

DPNSEE member organisations have already signed the declaration including ARAS, Margina, NGO Re Generation.

On International Women’s Day 2019, DPNSEE added our Network’s name to the signatories,

To read and maybe support the Barcelona Declaration, follow this link>>>>

Programmatic Mapping to Estimate Size, Distribution, and Dynamics of Key Populations in Kosovo

The burden of an HIV epidemic in Kosovo* lies among the key populations (KPs) of female sex workers (FSWs), men who have sex with men (MSM), and people who inject drugs (PWIDs). The aim of this study was to estimate the size and distribution of these populations to create evidence for developing action plans for HIV prevention.

Results of this Study: Study in Kosovo

Of the estimated 6814 men who have sex with men (range: 6445 to 7117), nearly 4940 operate through the internet owing to the large stigma and discrimination against same-sex relationships. Geo-based men who have sex with men (who operate through physical spots) congregate at a few spots with large spot sizes (13.3 men who have sex with men /spot). Three-fourths of the men who have sex with men are distributed in 5 major municipalities. Fridays and Saturdays are the peak days of operation; however, the number only increases by 5%. A significant number are involved in sex work, that is, provide sex to other men for money. People who inject drugs are largely geo-based; 4973 (range: 3932 to 6015) people who inject drugs of the total number of 5819 (range: 4777 to 6860) visit geographical spots, with an average spot size of 7.1. In smaller municipalities, they mostly inject in residential locations. The numbers stay stable during the entire week, and there are no peak days. Of the 5037 (range: 4213 to 5860) female sex workers, 20% use cell phones, whereas 10% use websites to connect with clients. The number increases by 25% on weekends, especially in larger municipalities where sex work is mostly concentrated. Other than a few street-based spots, most spots are establishments run by pimps, which is reflective of the highly institutionalized, structured, and organized female sex workers network.

This study provides valuable information about the population size estimates as well as dynamics of each KP, which is the key to developing effective HIV prevention strategies. The information should be utilized to develop microplans and effectively provide HIV prevention services to various KPs.

To read more about this study follow this link >>>>

An interesting webinar on social contracting

Health Policy Plus, APMG, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, UNAIDS, UNDP, USAID and others hosted a webinar on 6 March 2019 to discuss social contracting for HIV care, treatment and support. Presenters from around the world discussed how to plan for social contracting as part of a long-term sustainability strategy and how to advocate for it, touching on policy and regulatory challenges, how to develop mechanisms to put social contracting in place and how to implement and monitor social contracting’s success.

To view the recording of the webinar, follow this link>>>>

Slides from the webinar are available following this link>>>>

Health Policy Plus also prepared a factsheet Social Contracting: Supporting Domestic Public Financing for Civil Society’s Role in the HIV Response from which you can learn more about social contracting and how it can support domestic public financing for civil society’s role in the HIV response. You can find the factsheet following this link >>>>

Improving partnership with Čovekoljublje

DPNSEE Vice-President Nebojša Đurasović and Executive Director Milutin Milošević visited “Čovekoljublje” (Philanthropy), the charitable foundation of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Foundation performs emergency (humanitarian) and development programmes. Philanthropy’s basic principle is respect of human rights, reflected in providing assistance to all those in need, regardless of their race, gender, nationality or religious affiliation. It cooperates and is supported by number of institutions: ministries, province and municipal authorities, health care and social welfare institutions, institutes for protection of children and youth deprived of parental care, and series of civil society organisations.

In scope of it’s the Health care and social welfare programmes, Philanthropy initiated a programme providing expertise and voluntary psycho-social support for people living with HIV/AIDS – PLHIV in 2003 with the blessing of Patriarch Pavle. This programme’s main purpose is suppression of social isolation and discrimination of PLHIV, as well as development of voluntary work and public awareness on presence of HIV/AIDS within various social groups.

For some time already, DPNSEE and its member organisations from Serbia actively cooperate with Philanthropy. The visit was an opportunity to exchange about activities and plans with project coordinator Aleksandra Božinović Knežević and generate ides for future cooperation.

Regular DPNSEE Board meeting

The meeting of the Board of the Drug Policy Network South East Europe was held from 25 to 27 February 2019 in DPNSEE Office in Belgrade, Serbia.

The Board adopted minutes from the General Assembly held in December 2018 and Board meeting held by Skype recently this month. The DPNSEE Narrative and Financial report for 2018 were also adopted.

The Board discussed various elements of the DPNSEE Plan for 2019. An important decision is that the Strategic planning workshop will be held from 14 – 17 May. More details about the programme and venue will follow.

To increase visibility of our work and present our experiences and expertise, the Board decided to support participation of DPNSEE representatives in various international events: Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Harm Reduction International Conference and Lisbon Addictions 2019 Conference.

The Board also discussed contacts with member organisations, producing an operational manual, process and criteria for appointing DPNSEE representatives to various events, production of web pages for Glossary and Resource Centre, human rights and discrimination of people who use drugs, opportunities for engaging volunteers, overview of personal expertise, tools for on-line communication, problems with immigrants in Slovenia, accreditation and licencing of HIV prevention services, Regional EECA multi country grant and other issues.

Consultations in the Office for Combating Drugs

The Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of the Republic of Serbia held a meeting with civil society organisations on 25 February 2019. Besides 11 organisations which signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the Office in 2018 (including DPNSEE and 3 of its member organisations), 4 new organisations which established formal cooperation with the Office also joined the meeting.

Most of the meeting was dedicated to the proposals for amendments to the Criminal Law related to drug-related offenses. DPNSEE sent a formal proposal to the Ministry of Justice, the Working group for changes of the Criminal Law it created, The Office for Combating Drugs and the Office for support to the civil society organisations proposing decriminalisation of drug use and possession for personal use and protection of civil society organisations providing services to drug users. The proposal is available in Serbian following this link>>>.

The proposal was appraised as a very good, clear, concise and evidence based, but concerns were expressed that it may not be supported due to current situation in the country and increased conservatism in relation to the drug use. The participants emphasized the need to establish a system of accreditation of civil society organisations services. It should include all elements of their work, from prevention, harm reduction, treatment to social services and rehabilitation.

The Office will, through their representative, present civil society proposals to the Working group for changes of the Criminal Law.

The participation of civil society organisations representatives in the Working group to prepare the new Action plan for implementing the National Drug Strategy was appraised as a very good example of partnership. The Office will propose full involvement of the civil society in designing the new Strategy.

The participants at the meeting also got acquainted with the current activities of the Office on Drugs Policy, exchanged experiences on the previous cooperation defined in the Memorandum and made suggestions for improving it.