Vienna Declaration: Drug policy based on science, not ideology.

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by bananaskin, Aug 1, 2010.

  1. bananaskin

    bananaskin Newbie

    Reputation Points:
    Jan 15, 2009
    from england
    Please consider signing the Vienna Declaration.

    Posted with full consent of Alfa.
    All links except the one directly to the Declaration are disabled

    Please sign the declaration here.

    Between now and 2012 it's up to you and your friends, communities, governments, newspapers, to advocate for evidence based drug policy and strengthen the call for policies driven by evidence. Join the movement to end the failed war on drugs, sign the declaration and share it with your networks today.

    The Vienna Declaration is a statement seeking to improve community health and safety by calling for the incorporation of scientific evidence into illicit drug policies. We are inviting scientists, health practitioners and the public to endorse this document in order to bring these issues to the attention of governments and international agencies, and to illustrate that drug policy reform is a matter of urgent international significance. We also welcome organizational endorsements.

    The declaration process was launched as the the official declaration of the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010) held in Vienna, Austria from July 18th to 23rd. The declaration was drafted by a team of international experts and initiated by several of the world’s leading HIV and drug policy scientific bodies: the International AIDS Society, the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP), and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.


    What the Vienna Declaration Is

    Why We Need It

    Policy Today: A Proven Failure

    The Need for Change

    Lending Your Name

    What Else You Can Do

    1. What the Vienna Declaration Is

    The Vienna Declaration is a statement seeking to improve community health and safety by calling for the incorporation of scientific evidence into illicit drug policies. The declaration is the official declaration of the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010) to be held in Vienna, Austria from July 18th to 23rd, 2010. The declaration was drafted by a team of international experts and initiated by several of the world’s leading HIV and drug policy scientific bodies: International AIDS Society, the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP). It was prepared through an extensive consultative process involving global leaders in medicine, public policy and public health.

    2. Why We Need It

    The world needs a new approach to dealing with illicit drugs. The primary international response to the health and social harms posed by drug use has involved a global “war on drugs” aimed at reducing the availability and use of illegal drugs through drug law enforcement.

    3. Policy Today: A Proven Failure

    In June 1998, the UN General Assembly hosted a Special Session on illegal drugs under the slogan “A drug free world – We can do it.” The session set out international drug control strategies and law enforcement goals for the subsequent decade in which it was hoped the world could be made “drug free.”

    However, it is now clear that drug law enforcement has not achieved its stated objectives. In fact, illicit drugs remain readily available worldwide, and the previous three decades have seen drug prices continue to fall while drug purity continues to increase. In addition, the over-reliance on drug law enforcement has resulted in overwhelmingly negative health and social consequences. This includes the enrichment of organized crime and associated violence, the spread of HIV among injection drug users, as well as other devastating harms as outlined in the Vienna Declaration.

    The negative effects of drug control efforts in the United States led to a unanimous resolution at the 2007 annual United States Conference of Mayors that stated that the War on Drugs has failed. The resolution called for a “New Bottom Line” in drug policy, and demanded a public health approach focused on reducing the negative consequences associated with drug abuse while ensuring that policies do not exacerbate problems or create new social problems of their own.

    4. The Need for Change

    The need for evidence-based public health approaches is clear, yet drug law enforcement continues to be the dominant policy approach at the expense of all others, including public health interventions that have been proven effective. For instance, methadone maintenance therapy remains illegal in Russia and other parts of the world where HIV is spreading most rapidly among heroin users. This ban persists despite the fact that methadone is on the World Health Organization’s list of Essential Medicines and is recognized as one of the most effective treatments for heroin addiction.

    The status quo cannot be tolerated any longer: illicit drug policy must be based on scientific evidence to protect and improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities around the world.

    5. Lending Your Name

    By signing the Vienna Declaration, you will be adding your name to those who have already called for the implementation of evidence-based policies that can meaningfully improve community health and safety by reducing the toll of drugs globally.

    6. What Else You Can Do

    To spread the word and support the organizations bringing forward this important work, click here. If you are a scientist, academic or health practitioner holding a PhD or MD who would like to continue to speak out about the need for evidence-based drug policy, please click here.

    The Vienna Declaration

    The criminalisation of illicit drug users is fuelling the HIV epidemic and has resulted in
    overwhelmingly negative health and social consequences. A full policy reorientation is needed.

    In response to the health and social harms of illegal drugs, a large international drug prohibition regime has been developed under the umbrella of the United Nations.1 Decades of research provide a comprehensive assessment of the impacts of the global “War on Drugs” and, as thousands of individuals gather in Vienna at the XVIII International AIDS Conference, the international scientific community calls for an acknowledgement of the limits and harms of drug prohibition, and for drug policy reform to remove barriers to effective HIV prevention, treatment and care.

    The evidence that law enforcement has failed to prevent the availability of illegal drugs, in communities where there is demand, is now unambiguous.2, 3Over the last several decades, national and international drug surveillance systems have demonstrated a general pattern of falling drug prices and increasing drug purity—despite massive investments in drug law enforcement.3,4

    Furthermore, there is no evidence that increasing the ferocity of law enforcement meaningfully reduces the prevalence of drug use.5 The data also clearly demonstrate that the number of countries in which people inject illegal drugs is growing, with women and children becoming increasingly affected.6 Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, injection drug use accounts for approximately one in three new cases of HIV.7, 8 In some areas where HIV is spreading most rapidly, such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia, HIV prevalence can be as high as 70% among people who inject drugs, and in some areas more than 80% of all HIV cases are among this group.8

    In the context of overwhelming evidence that drug law enforcement has failed to achieve its stated objectives, it is important that its harmful consequences be acknowledged and addressed. These consequences include but are not limited to:

    HIV epidemics fuelled by the criminalisation of people who use illicit drugs and by prohibitions on the provision of sterile needles and opioid substitution treatment.9, 10
    HIV outbreaks among incarcerated and institutionalised drug users as a result of punitive laws and policies and a lack of HIV prevention services in these settings.11-13
    The undermining of public health systems when law enforcement drives drug users away from prevention and care services and into environments where the risk of infectious disease transmission (e.g., HIV, hepatitis C & B, and tuberculosis) and other harms is increased.14-16
    A crisis in criminal justice systems as a result of record incarceration rates in a number of nations.17, 18 This has negatively affected the social functioning of entire communities. While racial disparities in incarceration rates for drug offences are evident in countries all over the world, the impact has been particularly severe in the US, where approximately one in nine African-American males in the age group 20 to 34 is incarcerated on any given day, primarily as a result of drug law enforcement.19
    Stigma towards people who use illicit drugs, which reinforces the political popularity of criminalising drug users and undermines HIV prevention and other health promotion efforts.20, 21
    Severe human rights violations, including torture, forced labour, inhuman and degrading treatment, and execution of drug offenders in a number of countries.22, 23
    A massive illicit market worth an estimated annual value of US$320 billion.4 These profits remain entirely outside the control of government. They fuel crime, violence and corruption in countless urban communities and have destabilised entire countries, such as Colombia, Mexico and Afghanistan.4
    Billions of tax dollars wasted on a “War on Drugs” approach to drug control that does not achieve its stated objectives and, instead, directly or indirectly contributes to the above harms.24

    Unfortunately, evidence of the failure of drug prohibition to achieve its stated goals, as well as the severe negative consequences of these policies, is often denied by those with vested interests in maintaining the status quo.25This has created confusion among the public and has cost countless lives. Governments and international organisations have ethical and legal obligations to respond to this crisis and must seek to enact alternative evidence-based strategies that can effectively reduce the harms of drugs without creating harms of their own. We, the undersigned, call on governments and international organisations, including the United Nations, to:

    Undertake a transparent review of the effectiveness of current drug policies.
    Implement and evaluate a science-based public health approach to address the individual and community harms stemming from illicit drug use.
    Decriminalise drug users, scale up evidence-based drug dependence treatment options and abolish ineffective compulsory drug treatment centres that violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.26
    Unequivocally endorse and scale up funding for the implementation of the comprehensive package of HIV interventions spelled out in the WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS Target Setting Guide.27
    Meaningfully involve members of the affected community in developing, monitoring and implementing services and policies that affect their lives.

    We further call upon the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to urgently implement measures to ensure that the United Nations system—including the International Narcotics Control Board—speaks with one voice to support the decriminalisation of drug users and the implementation of evidence-based approaches to drug control.28

    Basing drug policies on scientific evidence will not eliminate drug use or the problems stemming from drug injecting. However, reorienting drug policies towards evidence-based approaches that respect, protect and fulfil human rights has the potential to reduce harms deriving from current policies and would allow for the redirection of the vast financial resources towards where they are needed most: implementing and evaluating evidence-based prevention, regulatory, treatment and harm reduction interventions.

    1. William B McAllister. Drug diplomacy in the twentieth century: an international history. Routledge, New York, 2000.
    2. Reuter P. Ten years after the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS): assessing drug problems, policies and reform proposals. Addiction 2009;104:510-7.
    3.United States Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Price and Purity of Illicit Drugs: 1981 through the Second Quarter of 2003. Executive Office of the President; Washington, DC, 2004.
    4. World Drug Report 2005. Vienna: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; 2005.
    5. Degenhardt L, Chiu W-T, Sampson N, et al. Toward a global view of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and cocaine use: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. PLOS Medicine 2008;5:1053-67.
    6. Mathers BM, Degenhardt L, Phillips B, et al. Global epidemiology of injecting drug use and HIV among people who inject drugs: A systematic review. Lancet 2008;372:1733-45.
    7. Wolfe D, Malinowska-Sempruch K. Illicit drug policies and the global HIV epidemic: Effects of UN and national government approaches. New York: Open Society Institute; 2004.
    8. 2008 Report on the global AIDS epidemic. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; Geneva, 2008.
    9. Lurie P, Drucker E. An opportunity lost: HIV infections associated with lack of a national needle-exchange programme in the USA. Lancet 1997;349:604.
    10. Rhodes T, Lowndes C, Judd A, et al. Explosive spread and high prevalence of HIV infection among injecting drug users in Togliatti City, Russia. AIDS 2002;16:F25.
    11. Taylor A, Goldberg D, Emslie J, et al. Outbreak of HIV infection in a Scottish prison. British Medical Journal 1995;310:289.
    12. Sarang A, Rhodes T, Platt L, et al. Drug injecting and syringe use in the HIV risk environment of Russian penitentiary institutions: qualitative study. Addiction 2006;101:1787.
    13. Jurgens R, Ball A, Verster A. Interventions to reduce HIV transmission related to injecting drug use in prison. Lancet Infectious Disease 2009;9:57-66.
    14. Davis C, Burris S, Metzger D, Becher J, Lynch K. Effects of an intensive street-level police intervention on syringe exchange program utilization: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. American Journal of Public Health 2005;95:233.
    15. Bluthenthal RN, Kral AH, Lorvick J, Watters JK. Impact of law enforcement on syringe exchange programs: A look at Oakland and San Francisco. Medical Anthropology 1997;18:61.
    16. Rhodes T, Mikhailova L, Sarang A, et al. Situational factors influencing drug injecting, risk reduction and syringe exchange in Togliatti City, Russian Federation: a qualitative study of micro risk environment. Social Science & Medicine 2003;57:39.
    17. Fellner J, Vinck P. Targeting blacks: Drug law enforcement and race in the United States. New York: Human Rights Watch; 2008.
    18. Drucker E. Population impact under New York's Rockefeller drug laws: An analysis of life years lost. Journal of Urban Health 2002;79:434-44.
    19. Warren J, Gelb A, Horowitz J, Riordan J. One in 100: Behind bars in America 2008. The Pew Center on the States Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts 2008.
    20. Rhodes T, Singer M, Bourgois P, Friedman SR, Strathdee SA. The social structural production of HIV risk among injecting drug users. Social Science & Medicine 2005;61:1026.
    21. Ahern J, Stuber J, Galea S. Stigma, discrimination and the health of illicit drug users. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2007;88:188.
    22. Elliott R, Csete J, Palepu A, Kerr T. Reason and rights in global drug control policy. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2005;172:655-6.
    23. Edwards G, Babor T, Darke S, et al. Drug trafficking: time to abolish the death penalty. Addiction 2009;104:3.
    24. The National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (2001). Shoveling up: The impact of substance abuse on State budgets.
    25. Wood E, Montaner JS, Kerr T. Illicit drug addiction, infectious disease spread, and the need for an evidence-based response. Lancet Infectious Diseases 2008;8:142-3.
    26. Klag S, O'Callaghan F, Creed P. The use of legal coercion in the treatment of substance abusers: An overview and critical analysis of thirty years of research. Substance Use & Misuse 2005;40:1777.
    27. WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS 2009. Technical Guide for countries to set targets for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for injection drug users.
    28. Wood E, Kerr T. Could a United Nations organisation lead to a worsening of drug-related harms? Drug and Alcohol Review 2010;29:99-100.

    Vienna Declaration Writing Committee

    For comments and insights from members of the Vienna Declaration writing committee and other signatories click here.

    Evan Wood, MD, PhD (Chair)
    Director, Urban Health Research Initiative
    Associate Professor, University of British Columbia

    Frederick L. Altice, MD
    Professor of Medicine & Director of Clinical and Community Research
    Yale University School of Medicine

    Dennis Altman AM, FASSA, MA
    Professor of Politics, La Trobe University
    Director, Institute for Human Security

    Judith D. Auerbach, PhD
    Vice President, Science & Public Policy
    San Francisco AIDS Foundation

    Anurita Bains
    Senior Advisor, Office of the Executive Director
    The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria

    Prof. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, PhD
    Nobel Laureate
    Professor and Head, Unit of Regulation of Retroviral Infections, Department of Virology
    Institut Pasteur, Paris

    Damon Barrett
    Senior Human Rights Analyst, International Harm Reduction Association

    Jacqueline Bataringaya, MD, MA
    Senior Policy Adviser

, International AIDS Society

    Chris Beyrer, MD
    Professor, Department of Epidemiology
    Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

    Maria Patrizia Carrieri, PhD
    Researcher, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale

    Grant Colfax, MD
    Director of HIV Prevention and Research
    San Francisco Department of Public Health

    Marcus Day, DSc
    Director, Caribbean Drug & Alcohol Research Institute
    Saint Lucia

    Don C. Des Jarlais, PhD
    Professor of Epidemiology
    Director of the International Research Core Center for Drug Use and HIV Research

    Françoise Girard
    Director, Public Health Program, Open Society Institute

    Robin Gorna
    Executive Director, International AIDS Society

    Carl L Hart, PhD
    Associate Professor of Psychology
    Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry, Columbia University

    Ralf Jürgens, PhD
    Consultant, HIV/AIDS, Health, Policy and Human Rights

    Adeeba Kamarulzaman, MD
    Head of Infectious Disease Unit, University of Malaya Medical Centre

    Michel D. Kazatchkine, MD
    Executive Director, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria

    Thomas Kerr, PhD
    Director, Urban Health Research Initiative
    Associate Professor, University of British Columbia

    Danny Kushlick
    Head of Policy, Transform Drug Policy Foundation

    Rick Lines
    Deputy Director, International Harm Reduction Association

    Barbara McGovern, MD
    Associate Professor of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine

    Julio S.G. Montaner, MD, FRCPC, FCCP, FACP, FRSC
    Professor, Chair in AIDS Research and Head of Division of AIDS, University of British Columbia
    President, International AIDS Society

    David Nutt, MD, FRCP, FRCPsych, FMedSci
    Director, Neuropsychopharmacology Unit, Division of Experimental Medicine
    Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College of London

    Thomas L. Patterson, PhD
    Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego

    Tim Rhodes, PhD
    Professor and Director, Centre for Research on Drugs and Health Behaviour
    London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

    Brigitte Schmied, MD
    President, Austrian AIDS Society, AIDS 2010 Local Co-Chair
    Head of HIV Outpatient Clinic, Otto-Wagner-Spital Vienna

    Steffanie Strathdee, PhD
    Harold Simon Professor and Chief, Division of Global Public Health, Department of Medicine
    University of California, San Diego School of Medicine

    Sharon Walmsley, MD, MSc, FRCPC
    Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Division of Infectious Diseases

    Dan Werb, MSc
    Research Associate, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

    Alexander Wodak, FRACP, FAChAM, FAFPHM, MBBS
    Director, Alcohol and Drug Service, St. Vincent's Hospital
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2010
  2. Hypno-h

    Hypno-h Newbie

    Reputation Points:
    Mar 30, 2010
    43 y/o from U.K.
    brilliant and signed now, zapped onto facebook so this shuld go viral :)
  3. abuseforapie

    abuseforapie Palladium Member

    Reputation Points:
    Jun 13, 2010
    from Canada
    Signed ;)
  4. DXMBunny

    DXMBunny Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    Jun 20, 2006
    from U.S.A.
    2 signatures from this part of the interweb, good luck to this. glad to finally see that ignorance and counter productive measures are being questioned.
  5. mickey_bee

    mickey_bee Gold Member

    Reputation Points:
    Sep 17, 2008
    from U.K.
    To all those who sign it, be sure to like it on facebook, and send it to all of your contacts. Only takes 2 clicks!

    Turn one signature into hundreds!
  6. Hatter

    Hatter Palladium Member

    Reputation Points:
    May 23, 2010
    from mali
    Signed, forwarding this as far as possible...:thumbsup:
  7. Meow Tse Dung

    Meow Tse Dung Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    Dec 5, 2009
    from france
    Signed, getting the most signatures for it as possible!
  8. John Doe

    John Doe Palladium Member

    Reputation Points:
    Oct 9, 2009
    from ireland
    Absolutely brilliant, I've posted it publicly on my facebook and will do on my handful of websites now, I'm very excited at the prosptect of solidarity on the most pressing issue mankind has ever ignored.

    Thanks BS for posting this :)
  9. Euthanatos93420

    Euthanatos93420 Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    Mar 22, 2007
    from U.S.A.
    signed and forwarded to everyone I know. Printing a few copies to post around town on corkboards.
  10. bananaskin

    bananaskin Newbie

    Reputation Points:
    Jan 15, 2009
    from england
  11. Guttz

    Guttz Titanium Member

    Reputation Points:
    Apr 24, 2009
    from iceland
    They just updated their website quite a bit. Worth checking out if you haven't all ready. Nice to see they have gotten 18.000 endorsements so far, I think these guys are the ones with the highest chance to successfully change the policy.

    So far they've gotten a few Canadian City boards to sign, including Vancouver, Toronto and Victoria. They are using an excellent strategy to get this through, really looking forward to see what will happen in the next few years for this organization.
  12. talltom

    talltom Titanium Member

    Reputation Points:
    Jul 5, 2010
    from U.S.A.
    A recent essay on the Vienna Declaration taking an optimistic view that "backing for drug law reform is on the rise."

    The Vienna Declaration: Advocating drug law reform

    In 1998, the UN hosted a special session on illegal drugs which set out to implement law enforcement control strategies in the hope of creating a “drug free” world. Today, it is generally recognised that this policy has been an abject failure. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime stated in a 2011 report that the “overall number of drug users appears to have increased over the last decade from 180 to some 210 million people”.

    In Australia, studies have found that the government’s strategy of harm minimisation has not been matched in funding terms. They note that more money is spent on law enforcement than on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programs.

    Moreover, the Australian Crime Commission in its most recent Illicit Drug Data Report observes that drug related arrests have increased over past years. The conclusions are the global drug war has failed.

    In a country like Australia, where the legal use of tobacco has decreased over the years, some people may wonder why governments have refused to apply policies on illicit drugs similar to those regulating tobacco products.

    Some might view current drug policy as more akin to the US’s alcohol prohibition of the 1920s.

    In 2010 the Vienna Declaration was drafted as a response to this failed “war on drugs”. It’s advocates highlight how drug policies, to date, have been unsuccessful in limiting the spread of HIV.

    The Vienna Declaration was established by several HIV and drug policy scientific bodies, including the International AIDS Society, the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, with the purpose of shifting the drug law debate from an ideological one, to one based on scientific evidence.

    While previous unsuccessful strategies focused on reducing the availability and use of illegal drugs, partners to the Vienna Declaration recognise that a more successful strategy would be one which centres the debate on the health, safety and social consequences of illegal drug use.

    By the inclusion of such issues into the debate, the Vienna Declaration is admitting dialogue based on responsible policy into the conversation. Specifically, it allows for models of decriminalisation and legalisation to enter the discussion.

    In the broader context, it encourages conversations on a wide array of topics such as: drug policy and health outcomes; the drug trade and taxation; drug use in prisons; effects of imprisonment on families; cost of law enforcement and criminal justice; potential prevention, treatment and rehabilitation strategies and; the influence of organised crime in the drug trade.

    The Vienna Declaration is gathering interest from governments all over the world. In Canada, it has been endorsed by the local governments of Red Deer, Toronto, Vancouver, and Victoria.

    Leaders in the nation of Georgia have also backed the plan, as too have several former Latin American Presidents: Fernando Henrique Cardozo of Brazil, Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Cesar Gaviria of Colombia.

    In some parts of the world reforms have already occurred. In Portugal, for example, the government decriminalised the use of all illicit drugs in 2001.

    Recent research on Portugal’s reforms has found that — against the naysayers’ belief that decriminalisation would encourage increasing use of illicit drugs — “decriminalisation has had no adverse effect on drug usage”.

    Interestingly, the Portuguese government opposed straight-out legalisation on the grounds that they are signatories to many international treaties prohibiting drug use.

    Backing for drug law reform is on the rise. Organisations as diverse as AIDS awareness associations; drug reform advocacy groups; sex worker advocacy groups; drug user support networks; research institutes; university faculties and many others, have all signed the Vienna Declaration.

    The common denominator of these groups is their understanding of the consequences of blanket prohibitions. So long as such organisations continue to discuss the issue, policymakers will have to listen, and begin making genuine reforms to strengthen the health, and social benefits, of all in society.

    Cameron Ljubic
    The Green Left
    August 13, 2011