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    Read our latest report calling for a Harm Reduction Decade, sign the Harm Reduction Decade Declaration, call for #10by20, and stand up for human rights of people who use drugs, their families and communities.

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    Global State of Harm Reduction

    Our flagship publication is the biennial Global State of Harm Reduction report. First published in 2008, it involves a coordinated effort across practitioners, academics, advocates and activists to map global data and responses to HIV and hepatitis C epidemics related to unsafe injecting and non-injecting drug use. It is the only report to provide an independent analysis of the state of harm reduction in the world. The information collated within the report is stored and regularly updated on an interactive e-tool for researchers and advocates.

    The Global State of Harm Reduction report is supplemented by regular thematic reports and advisories on key issues and emerging challenges. Please search our Resource Library for more information or join our e-list for regular updates.

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    Global State of Harm Reduction’ e-tool is an interactive resource containing up-to-date information on harm reduction policy and programming around the world. Users can select countries or regions and create tables for an at-a-glance guide to the current state of harm reduction worldwide.

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    About HRI

    HRI is a leading non-governmental organisation working to reduce the negative health, social and human rights impacts of drug use and drug policy by promoting evidence-based public health policies and practices, and human rights based approaches to drugs. Read more about HRI’s history.

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    What is harm reduction?

    Harm reduction refers to policies, programmes and practices that aim to reduce the harms associated with the use of psychoactive drugs in people unable or unwilling to stop. The defining features are the focus on the prevention of harm, rather than on the prevention of drug use itself, and the focus on people who continue to use drugs.

    Harm reduction definition and principles in 12 languages

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Thematic Briefings on Human Rights and Drug Policy (English, Russian, Chinese, Spanish)

Date: 26 October 2010

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HR DP

In many countries around the world, drug control efforts result in serious human rights abuses: torture and ill treatment by police, mass incarceration, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, denial of essential medicines and basic health services. Drug control policies, and accompanying enforcement practices, often entrench and exacerbate systematic discrimination against people who use drugs, and impede access to controlled essential medicines for those who need them for therapeutic purposes. Local communities in drug-producing countries also face violations of their human rights as a result of campaigns to eradicate illicit crops, including environmental damage, displacement and damage to health from chemical spraying.

These abuses are widespread and systematic. They are cause for considerable concern in themselves, but they are also impeding an effective response to the AIDS epidemic by denying people who use drugs access to proven, effective HIV prevention, care, and treatment services and by contributing to at least one million people living with HIV/AIDS going without adequate treatment to address moderate to severe pain.

It is not enough to apply the drug conventions in a vacuum. Every UN Member state has ratified at least one of the core human rights treaties. Most have ratified many more. Every state is bound by UN Charter obligations in relation to human rights, and every state is bound by customary international law. As such, these issues raise considerable legal and strategic questions for states seeking to live up to their international human rights and drug control obligations.

Increasingly, human rights monitors, mechanisms and NGOs have begun to focus on drug policies and their impact on human rights protections, but this rarely happens in a connected or thematic way. These briefing papers are intended to provide a basic overview of some of the core human rights issues related to drug control efforts and to show how they interconnect, and to spark a discussion of how international human rights law can be engaged to address a range of human rights concerns raised by drug enforcement laws, policies, and practices.

The briefings, from Harm Reduction International, OSI, Human Rights Watch and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, are available below in English, Russian, Spanish and Chinese.

Human Rights and Drug Policy Briefings Overview  (ERSC)

Briefing 1 - Harm Reduction (ERSC)

Briefing 2 - Criminal laws and Policing (ERSC)

Briefing 3 - Harm Reduction and Detention (ERSC)

Briefing 4 - Compulsory Drug Treatment (ERSC)

Briefing 5 - Access to Controlled Essential Medicines (ERSC)

Briefing 6 - Crop Eradication (ERSC)