Since 2010 the Drug Policy Network in South East Europe has functioned with a minimum of financial resources. The award of a grant from the European Commission for 2015, increases the potential for more systematic and adequate advocacy and more structured cooperation between NGOs. The project “Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public health and human rights oriented drug policy in South East Europe” is financially supported by the European Commission, DG Enlargement, Regional Cooperation and programmes and co-financed by the Open Society Foundations.
The objectives of the project are:
a. to promote drug policies and drug legislation based on a public health and human rights approach
b. to improve contacts with relevant national and regional authorities in the field of drugs and follow closely the European Union and international drug policy developments. More specific: a. to strengthen cooperation of the NGOs working in the field of drugs, by the creation of a legal umbrella organisation b. to ensure the cohesion of the Drug Policy Network in SEE and undertake joint actions
c. to involve youth and drug users organisations in drug policy and d. To improve the capacity of local NGOs in drug policy issues.
The organisations that initiated this project and are responsible for its implementation are: the partners Aksion Plus (Albania), Margina (Bosnia and Herzegovina), NGO 4life (Montenegro), Prevent (Serbia) and Diogenis as lead organisation (Greece). The project started its activities in January 2015 and will organise until the end of the year several activities in the countries of the Western Balkans.
The main priorities of the first year of the project will be the realisation of a legal umbrella organisation, harm reduction advocacy and capacity building of local NGOs, Drug Law reform initiatives and NGO involvement in drug policy developments in the European Union and worldwide.
Public meetings will be organised in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia on drug strategy and drug legislation in co-operation with universities and the relevant local authorities in these countries. In September 2015 a regional conference will be held about the upcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs. (April 2016). There will be several contacts with the authorities responsible for drug policy in the countries of the region. The Drug policy Network will try to initiate a meaningful dialogue with the countries in the Western Balkans and follow the political dialogue between them and the European Commission in the framework of the “Action Plan on drugs between the EU and the candidate countries in the Western Balkans and Turkey”.
We hope that during this year we will create the conditions for a coordinated and well-structured Network, make efforts for a good relationship with the authorities and relevant institutions in the field of drugs, react on developments in drug policy at the national, European and international level, enhance policy dialogue and support national and regional partnerships and Networks. The quarterly newsletter will keep interested organisations, institutions and individuals updated on drug policy developments along with news in the website and social media of the network. We will appreciate your feedback on this first issue of the newsletter and hope to improve it in the coming period.