Today is World Drug Day – We demand reform of drug policy!

The United Nations World Drug Day, officially known as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, is observed annually on June 26. This day is intended to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs pose to society. The aim is to combat drug abuse and to encourage international action against drug trafficking. Today, there is some criticism of the outdated formulation “against drug abuse” because it can be perceived as stigmatizing.

There is also an international movement that unites under the name Support. Don’t punish. The idea is to highlight the importance of focusing on care, not punishment. These activists and organizations that fight for harm reduction always release reports and organize seminars in connection with this day. In Tampere, Finland, a demonstration will be held. In Norway’s capital Oslo, a demonstration will take place outside the country’s parliament.

Harm Reduction International has recently released a report that shows that the budget for modern methods in many poorer countries is almost non-existent. In principle, all resources are instead spent on the judicial system and prisons. We have already written about how the UN Special Rapporteur has called on the international community to reform drug policy on the eve of this day. The same with the report from Amnesty International.

History and significance

The United Nations General Assembly established that day by Resolution 42/112 on 7 December 1987. The date was chosen to mark the centenary of the dissolution of the opium trade in Guangdong. Since then, the day has served as a day to strengthen action and cooperation to combat drug abuse.

Themes and activities

Each year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) chooses a theme for the day that highlights a particular aspect of drug abuse and trafficking. This year it’s prevention. Themes from previous years have included “Health for Justice. Justice for Health” and “Listen First – Listening to children and young people is the first step to helping them grow up healthy and confident.” These themes emphasise the link between health and equity and the importance of supporting young people through prevention.

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