Evento paralelo: The case for a Harm Reduction Decade. Progress, potential and the future.

Jamie Bridge – Moderator


Olga Szubert – Harm Reduction International.

She explains the campaign 10by20 (10% reduction by 2020). Available here: http://www.ihra.net/harm-reduction-decade


Monica Beg – ONUDD

Need to unlock policies and legal barriers. Brokering between health, law enforcement and justice. Teaming with communities, in order to respond to special needs.

The reality is that the programs depend on funding, and this is the most important issue, otherwise the opportunity will be missed.

In conclusion: in 1999 HIV was a completely new challenge for UNODC. But things have changed, and today there are actual programs calling for a harm reduction approach inside UNODD.


Annette Verster -WHO

Need to understand how UN agencies work. The WHO is the institution for health and has called for harm reduction for two decades now. They have also called for alternatives to incarceration, with the support of UNODC and UNAID since 2006.

All the UN governing bodies politically enforced the implementation of Harm Reduction, as defined in 2009.

But these discussions must not help to decide what to do, but actually question how to surpass the structural barriers to the implementation of a harm reduction approach. The key population is people how use drugs, in prison, men who have sex with men, transgender, and sex workers.

This ideas to decriminalize behaviors like drug use and possession for personal consumption, were enforced by WHO with UNODD, UNAIDS and UNDP support.

There is a need of reporting and developing indicators for measure harm reduction. This will show which countries actually act and which don’t do anything.

WHO wants to act at a political level in order to take all the potentials of the documents resulting from UNGASS.


Monique Middelhoff – UNAIDS

There is a need to channel funding to support more harm reduction initiatives. In order to move forward to the UNGASS agenda that is very important.


Q & A

  • Do you consider prevention and elimination of drug use as the ultimate harm reduction strategy?

We regret this vision. Harm reduction is about pragmatism and accepting people as they are. Everybody should get the information about what drug use is. And they can choose by themselves. We don’t believe in a world without drugs. So we have to be pragmatic and deal with it.



  • What about other diseases other than HIV?

There is an agreement for the need to act more because there are still real problems. For example, hepatitis B is very present because vaccination is not happening. So there is a need to also focus on Hepatitis C, Tuberculosis…


Conclusive remarks by Rick Lines (Executive director of Harm Reduction international)

In conclusion, we support all this organizations and institutions that are working with us about a global approach to drugs based on harm reduction. We have to keep in mind that is an important key pillar and we support everyone that is wiling to act along with us.