Training for local advocacy

Six organisations that will implement local advocacy project that won the support throught a BOOST call for proposals gathered for a workshop in Budapest, Hungary on 13 and 14 June. Workshop aims and objectives were to:

  • Provide a comprehensive understanding of key advocacy concepts and the nuances of advocacy within the harm reduction field.
  • Familiarize participants with the BOOST project’s aims, objectives, and activities, including the Advocacy Strategy.
  • Review and improve local advocacy plans, emphasizing the community’s role in shaping and implementing these plans.
  • Provide tools and resources for the development and implementation of advocacy

Our colleagues from ARAS (Romania) and HOPS (North Macedonia) were among them, together with BerLUN (Germany), HuNPUD (Hungary), R3 (Portugal) and XADUD (Spain).

Besides inputs on the BOOST project, Advocacy, How to engage communities developing and implementing communities, and Media advocacy, participants had the opportunity to present their projects and work with mentors to fine-tune their projects and plans for their implementation.

ARAS plans to use the Electoral Year 2024, which in Romania includes elections on different levels, to ensure long term political support for harm reduction funding at all levels.

HOPS prepared a project to ensure the financial sustainability of Harm Reduction Programs in North Macedonia. It is important because last years the Ministry of Health cut the budget for harm reduction programs by about 40%.

Participants and regional network representatives were interviewed about their advocacy projects by the Right Reporter Foundation, Budapest based organisation that is an expert in video advocacy. The video they shall produce will be disseminated via BOOST project and partners’ communication channels.

Strengthening Harm Reduction Advocacy Across Europe

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, in collaboration with the Rights Reporter Foundation, offers a comprehensive webinar series. Designed for the focal points and members of our network, these sessions aim to bolster your advocacy skills and amplify your impact in the realm of harm reduction.


Webinar 1 – Harm Reduction Advocacy: Planning, Tools and Audiences

May 22, 12:00 – 1:30 pm

Advocacy is often a challenge for civil society organisations working in the field of harm reduction because of lack of know-how, capacities and resources. This webinar helps participants to gain a better understanding of what advocacy is: the art of influencing policy decision making. It explains how to plan and monitor advocacy activities. Various advocacy activities, tools and methods will be reviewed and discussed, according to their usefulness in influencing various groups of stakeholders in different contexts. In the second part of the webinar, participants will share their own on-the-ground experiences with advocacy in the field of drug policies, both successes and failures, and discuss lessons learnt.

Register for Webinar 1


Webinar 2 – Harm Reduction Video Advocacy

May 29, 12:00 – 1:30 pm

Online videos can reach out to a wide audience, mobilise people for a cause, and document best practices and/or human rights abuses. They can be used in public education, give voice to marginalised people, visualise research data and have the potential to go viral on social media. This webinar gives a short introduction to video advocacy, by presenting examples from the 17 years of work of Drugreporter, in the field of drug policy reform and harm reduction advocacy. The webinar will discuss the opportunities and challenges of video storytelling.

Register for Webinar 2


Webinar 3 – Meaningful Involvement of Civil Society

June 11, 12:00 – 1:30 pm

The meaningful involvement of civil society is now widely accepted in Europe as a crucial part of policy making. However, there is little or no consensus on what constitutes “meaningful” involvement. This webinar will present a new tool developed by the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs in 2022, the Quality Standards of Civil Society Involvement, and the findings of a focus group study to assess civil society involvement in four European countries (Hungary, Finland, Greece and Ireland). Participants will discuss the often opposing views on the role of civil society, the challenges and opportunities of civil society involvement in various political contexts at European, national and local levels. The webinar will address the worrying trend of shrinking space for civil society in Europe.

Register for Webinar 3


Webinar 4 – Fighting Disinformation and Moral Panics

June 18, 12:00 – 1:30 pm

Drug policies are often influenced by sensational media reporting that fuels moral panics about drugs and leads to the othering of people who use drugs. The spread of disinformation is a major barrier to drug policy reform, undermines basic norms and values like human rights and scapegoats civil society organisations. This webinar addresses strategies to fight disinformation in an age that is often characterised as post-truth. Participants will discuss what methods they use to educate the public about drugs and drug policies and how to defend civil society from politically motivated attacks.

Register for Webinar 4


Drug consumption rooms are coming to Slovenia

After decades of advocacy by civil society, Slovenia finally approved the opening of the first drug consumption room in the country. In 2023, the Ministry of Health finally approved the opening of a supervised consumption room for two organizations – Stigma and Šent Nova Gorica. The NGO Šent Nova Gorica will open a supervised consumption room for sniffing, smoking, and injecting. Stigma plans to facilitate sniffing in the drop-in centre.

On this occasion Rights Reporter Foundation interviewed Katja Kranjc from the NGO Stigma.

The interview on this and other interesting topics of the Slovenian drug policy is available following this link>>>.


The right to sit at the table

The Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) is an expert group to the European Commission. Its membership comprises 45 civil society organisations coming from across Europe and representing a variety of fields of drug policy, and a variety of stances within those fields.

The Rights Reporter Foundation produced a new video on why is it important to involve civil society in drug policy decision making, featuring the members of the EU’s Civil Society Forum on Drugs by interviewing its members about the valuable contribution civil society is doing in the field of drug policies in Europe. The movie was produced with the support of the EC JUST Drug Policy Grant.


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.


Is the new EU Drugs Agenda a disappointment?

The European Commission has published draft of its new EU drug strategy (now called the Drugs Agenda), which is part of a wider Security Union strategy entitled “Delivering on a Security Union: initiatives to fight child sexual abuse, drugs and illegal firearms.”

Péter Sárosi, the executive director of the Rights Reporter Foundation, sees this document as “a disappointment for civil society organisations that have been advocating for a sensible, balanced approach in drug policies. He listed 4 reasons for this statement:

  1. War on Drugs language & framework
  2. Not reflecting some key evaluation findings – and the reality
  3. Lack of measurable indicators
  4. Limited civil society involvement

Read the full article at Drug Reporter following this link>>>.

How have closing of services affected drug users?

DPNSEE member organisation Re Generacija implemented the survey “Access to services of ex-users of the needle and syringe programme closed in Belgrade and Budapest” with the support of the Rights Reporter Foundation. Aim of the survey, implemented in 2018, was to analyse the consequences of closing the services and the effects that it has on risks and daily life of injecting drug users. Objectives included to reach out to the service users and learning about their current use of substances, mapping their access to services, sterile injecting equipment and analysing their perception of the closure of services and most important currently missing service. The conference was also an opportunity to discuss the current situation with recently established outreach programmes, as well as opioid substitution therapy and early warning system for new psychoactive substances.

The results of the survey were presented today at the conference organised together with the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of Republic of Serbia. The conference was held in the Palace of Serbia, with participants coming from both governmental and civil society sectors.

Two major groups of users were approached by the survey: drug users which were using the services for a long time and Roma people. A typical drug user both in Belgrade and Budapest is male, in mid-forties, with low education and income. In Budapest, users mainly use new psychoactive substances (synthetic cathinones), while in Belgrade they mainly use opioids (heroine). One of the main conclusion from the survey is that closing the services caused even more difficulties to reach out to drug users who are usually very suspicious.

To get more information and results of the survey, please contact Re Generacija following this link>>>>.