Feb. 6, 2005

UN Bows To US pressure On Harm Reduction

The US is pressing various UN agencies to silence UN support for harm reduction and needle exchange. The story can be found at


http://www.tni.org/drugs/index.htm

click on 'harm reduction'

UNODC has bowed to US pressure (see the letter from Antonio Maria Costa the head of UNODC - to Bobby Charles at the US State Department). UNODC has decided to remove references to harm reduction and needle/syringe exchange in UNODC documents, websites. publications and statements. Funding has been pulled from some harm reduction related activities.

The US is a major donor for UNODC and other UN agencies, which makes it vulnerable to US pressure. We need to support the UN position on harm reduction and protect achievements in the fight against HIV on the international and country level.

A group of organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, International Harm Reduction Development Program,International Harm Reduction Association, Central Eastern European Harm Reduction Network, Transnational Institute, The Beckley Foundation, European AIDS Treatment Group and many others are undertaking a series of activities addressing this issue. Some of these will focus on delegates of Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). The thematic debate of the Forty-eighth session of CND, March 7-14 in Vienna, will be devoted to HIV/AIDS.

Could you please : 1) as an organization or as an individual add your support now to the attached Open Letter to delegates of the Forty-eighth session of CND.

To sign simply send your name, organization, city and country and email to Jennifer Nagle at hivaids@hrw.org . Indicate whether this is organizational or individual support.

The letter will be delivered to all CND delegates and to Antonio Costa.

2) contact your national delegations to CND and inform them about HIV/AIDS situation. Inform them of UN commitments (such as Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS ; ; > http://www.un.org/ga/aids/docs/aress262.pdf>; ;> and the UN position paper on HIV/AIDS prevention for drug users ; ;> http://www.cicad.oas.org/en/Resources/UNHIVaids.pdf. Briefings should be held prior to the March CND and are very important as in many countries the national delegations are formed mainly of law enforcement representatives who are often badly informed on HIV/AIDS.

3) use your NGO ECOSOC status if you have it, to attend CND and participate in the official NGO forum scheduled at the meeting.

4) Inform your media of US pressure on the UN and encourage them to cover this story.


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