The importance of civil society involvement in international policy-making and decision-making processes is widely recognised and promoted as best practice. Civil society organisations have valuable, and often differing, opinions and perspectives from those of governments and multilateral bodies and there is agreement across multilateral agencies – at least in principle – that the meaningful and active involvement of civil society is integral to relevant and accurate policy and programmes. Bodies that take a minimalist approach are becoming increasingly out of step within the broader UN system. Civil society organisations often struggle against these narrow interpretations in their attempts to have a sustained and meaningful impact on international drug policy, for example at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
This report examines the ways in which multilaterals are currently engaging civil society groups working on harm reduction in international policy, including the engagement of leading non-governmental organisations and the involvement of affected communities. It identifies examples of good practice in this area, highlights some of the shortcomings and concludes with recommendations for improving civil society involvement in the formulation of international harm reduction and drug policy.