Harm reduction is a set of strategies that aim to reduce negative consequences of drug use, by mitigating the potential dangers and health risks. UNODC has significantly expanded its HIV/AIDS programme thanks to support from harm reduction-friendly donor countries, despite ambiguities on the issue within UN drug control agencies. There is a need for up-scaling of basic services for HIV/AIDS prevention and the 'frontline' of heroin prescription and drug consumption rooms.

  • Beyond Punitive Prohibition

    Liberalizing the Dialogue on International Drug Policy
    Melissa T. Aoyagi
    Journal of International Law and Politics
    Volume 37, Number 3
    March 2006

    The primary objective of this paper is to evaluate whether the drug conventions permit states to experiment with alternatives to the punitive prohibitionist policies that have typified the global approach to combating the negative effects of personal drug use. Because harm minimization encompasses most policies providing alternatives to punitive prohibition, the analysis that follows will focus on comparing the two strategies, in an effort to frame the current debate on drug policy.

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  • Legislating for Health and Human Rights

    Model Law on Drug Use and HIV/AIDS
    Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
    January 2006

    The widespread legal, social and political ramifications of the HIV/AIDS epidemic make it necessary to review and reform a broad range of laws. Some countries have adopted national HIV/AIDS laws, but these laws often ignore crucial policy issues, as well as human rights abuses that perpetuate the HIV epidemic. This is particularly true with respect to illegal drug use.

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  • The UN and Harm Reduction - Revisited

    An unauthorised report on the outcomes of the 48th CND session
    Martin Jelsma
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 13
    April 2005

    The US pressure on the UNODC to withdraw support from needle exchange and other harm reduction approaches backfired at the 48th session of the CND in March 2005. Delegates from around the globe stood up to defend the overwhelming evidence that harm reduction measures are effective against the spread of HIV/AIDS. In this briefing TNI analyses the proceedings and results of the CND meeting in Vienna in March 2005, and outlines several options for follow-up and recommends next steps to take.

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  • The United Nations and Harm Reduction

    Martin Jelsma
    TNI Drug Policy Briefing Nr. 12
    March 2005

    In March 2005 the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) will meet in Vienna. The confrontation between zero-tolerance ideologists and harm reduction pragmatists will be fiercer than ever before. The US government – the biggest donor of UNODC – threatened to cut funding to UNODC unless the agency assured that it would abstain from any support for harm reduction, including needle exchange programmes and substitution treatment. Conflicting views within the UN system on harm reduction have become a major concern. Consistency in messages is crucial especially where it concerns joint global programmes such as the efforts to slow down the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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  • Displacement of Canada’s largest public illicit drug market in response to a police crackdown

    Evan Wood, Patricia M. Spittal, Will Small, Thomas Kerr, Kathy Li, Robert S. Hogg, Mark W. Tyndall, Julio S.G. Montaner, Martin T. Schechter
    Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), 170 (10)
    May 11, 2004

    Law enforcement is often used in an effort to reduce the social, community and health-related harms of illicit drug use by injection drug users (IDUs). There are, however, few data on the benefits of such enforcement or on the potential harms. A large-scale police “crackdown” to control illicit drug use in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside provided us with an opportunity to evaluate the effect.

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  • Measures to reduce harm

    Excerpts from the Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2003
    International Narcotics Control Board

    The conventions do not contain, refer to or define “harm reduction”. The three conventions refer to measures against drug abuse. Article 38 of the 1961 Convention refers to the need for a State to take measures for the prevention of drug abuse and for the early identification, treatment, aftercare, rehabilitation and social reintegration of drug abusers. Article 14 of the 1988 Convention requires parties to adopt appropriate measures aimed at eliminating or reducing illicit demand for narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, with a view to reducing human suffering. The ultimate aim of the conventions is to reduce harm.

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  • European report on drug consumption rooms

    Dagmar Hedrich
    European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)
    February 2004

    Drug consumption rooms have been established in several countries, where confirmed drug users are allowed to consume their drugs in hygienic conditions and without fear of arrest. These facilities, which mostly operate in big cities, emerged because of serious health and public order problems associated with drug use, especially drug injecting in public places. In 2004, there were about 60 consumption rooms in 36 European cities and two pilot projects of medically supervised injecting centres in Australia and Canada.


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  • HIV/AIDS and Drugs Misuse in Russia

    Harm Reduction Programmes and the Russian Legal System
    William E Butler
    International Family Health
    September 2003

    This report breaks new ground in the HIV/AIDS prevention literature by reviewing harm reduction initiatives and programmes in the context of Russian and international law. The intention is to guide the reader through the complexities of the laws governing HIV and drug misuse and to determine the various legal difficulties relating to these initiatives. The policy options that appear to be available to address them and to allow harm reduction programmes to become an integral part of Russia’s response to its HIV/AIDS epidemic are set out. With the intensification of the “harm reduction versus drug supply/demand reduction” debate there is a need to ensure that policy makers have a thorough understanding of the concept of harm reduction, related terminology and relevant aspects of the law.

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  • Evaluation of the work of drug consumption rooms in the Federal Republic of Germany

    Abridged version of the final report on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health
    ZEUS GmbH Centre for Applied Psychology
    July 2003

    Besides the classic approaches (drug counselling centres, therapy for substance abuse) there exist reform and pilot projects to develop alternative ways of helping. These are intended for longtime drug users who have undergone several therapies unsuccessfully or could not be reached by existing resources. Amongst those alternative services is the treatment with substitution therapy as well as the establishment of drug consumption rooms.

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  • Drug Consumption Rooms

    Background Information
    Federal Ministry of Health and Social Security
    April 2003

    The first drug consumption room for opiate-dependent persons in Germany was opened in Frankfort on the Main in December 1994. In March 2003 there were 19 drug consumption rooms in the Federal Republic of Germany: These institutions provide several hundred drug injecting places; they are used every day by several thousand addicts several times a day.

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