The following statement was delivered by Jake Agliata on behalf of INPUD at the plenary session 64th Commission on Narcotic Drugs. This statement was delivered as an intervention under Agenda Number 9: Contributions by the Commission to review and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Excellencies and distinguished colleagues,
I am making this intervention today on behalf of the International Network of People who Use Drugs, who are here as part of the delegation of the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations.
The 2016 UNGASS Outcome Document encouraged member states to consider efforts to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mutually reinforcing to the global drug policy response. We believe continuing to construct global drug policy around the goal of a drug free world prevents progress on the SDGs by escalating an oppressive environment towards people who use drugs.
Over the past decade there have been increasing claims that the world is moving towards a critical turning point in international drug policy, based on a growing recognition that governments must consider alternative approaches to drug policy which include decriminalisation. While this shift has been hailed as a sign of progress by many, INPUD believes there are still important and overlooked questions regarding the extent to which the needs and rights of people who use drugs are being prioritised in countries that have decriminalised drug use. In 2018, INPUD published a ground-breaking analysis of the Portuguese decriminalisation model - Is Decriminalisation Enough? Drug User Community Voices from Portugal - which for the first time assessed the impact of decriminalisation of Portugal from the perspectives of people who use drugs. The report noted how "interactions with the state and the police, and issues of violence, social exclusion, stigmatisation, and discrimination, are often entirely omitted from discussion and analysis of decriminalisation".
INPUD is excited to present Drug Decriminalisation: Progress or Political Red Herring? This report, like our previous report on Portugal, is intended to open up the debate on decriminalisation and make clear the expectations people who use drugs have for future action on drug policy reform. Most importantly, it includes a call for full decriminalisation without sanctions as the new baseline for measuring progress on decriminalisation in the future.
This letter was originally published on the MPact website and sent to United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on 25 March 2021, on behalf of the global key population networks including INPUD, MPact, GNP+, GATE, GBGMC, and NSWP.
Dear Secretary Blinken,
On behalf of the global key populations networks on HIV, we congratulate you on your confirmation as U.S. Secretary of State and look forward to working together in a productive manner for the health and rights of all. We heartily welcome the U.S. back to the global health arena and applaud the Biden Administration for rejoining World Health Organization (WHO) and for ending the Global Gag Rule. We look forward to the U.S. reclaiming a leadership role in addressing global pandemics, including COVID-19 and the now 40-year-old HIV epidemic that we have dedicated our lives to ending.
We write to you today to bring your attention to The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), whose $85 billion investment in the global HIV response has had a profound impact on the Key Populations (KP) that we represent: gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, and people who use drugs.
We urge you to take action on the following critical issues:
INPUD, along with HIV Legal Network, UNAIDS and the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services, are excited to be hosting a virtual side event at the 64th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on Monday, 12 April 2021 at 14:00 CEST.
'We Are the Evidence': Community-Led Responses on Decriminalisation, Harm Reduction and COVID-19 will be a discussion on why and how people who use drugs should be at the centre of advancing policy towards decriminalisation of drugs. While recent moves towards the decriminalisation of drug use in some jurisdictions has been viewed as politically transformative by many, people who use drugs have criticised predominant decriminalisation models and practices as misleading. This session will launch a new, first of its kind publication by INPUD addressing this criticism, exploring different decriminalisation models and their impacts based on peer-led research and voices from the grassroots. We will also draw from examples of peer leadership on harm reduction and the COVID-19 response to discuss how the same leadership is necessary to ensure the best possible health and rights outcomes for people who use drugs when implementing decriminalisation.
Simultaneous translation will be available in French, Russian and Spanish.
Leading the discussion will be:
PhD Candidate, University of New South Wales
Executive Director, HIV Legal Network
Senior Drug Policy Advisor, Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services
INPUD strongly condemns the sharp rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, racism and bigotry around the world. These hate crimes are founded on the scapegoating of Asian people and fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, yet anti-Asian bigotry long predates the pandemic and is closely tied to the war on drugs.
A report by Human Rights Watch last May showed COVID-19 was fueling xenophobia against Asian people and people of Asian descent. This has manifested itself in vandalism, verbal harassment, violence and death, including last week’s murder of six Asian women in Atlanta, Georgia.
Prominent political figures such as Donald Trump or Jair Bolsonaro have stoked this hate, using racially charged language such as referring to COVID-19 as the ‘China pandemic’ and ‘Kung Flu’. Along with political parties in countries such as Italy, Spain, Greece and Germany, these so-called ‘leaders’ have intentionally spread xenophobic conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 to advance an agenda of hate. INPUD has long argued that words matter and shape the ways in which we see the world. In this case, language is being used to dehumanise and denigrate Asian people and communities.
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