International Day of Support and Reform

by Brian Bergen-Aurand

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Today, 26 June 2016, is a day of action for Support. Don’t Punish, “a global advocacy campaign calling for drug policies based on health and human rights.” For twenty-four hours around the world, groups are gathering to resist the war on drugs, protest the abuse of drug users, and suggest  health care and support strategies as alternatives to current criminalization and stigmatization policies.

These innovative reform suggestions come from folks involved in law enforcement, drug treatment, and social services who see drug use and abuse as personal, social, and institutional situations best addressed at the communal level to provide long-term support and services that aim at harm reduction and medical intervention.

Why 26 June? In 1987, the United Nations passed resolution 42/112 making this date United Nations’ International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. While this move may have been inspired by attempts to bring institutional attention to global “determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse,” it has instead become a day when local regimes and international law enforcement agencies escalate their efforts in the war on drug users in attempt to outdo each other in the severity and violence of their tactics.

Support. Don’t Punish is just one of the organizations resisting this coercive and damaging campaign. What they suggest first and foremost is signs of solidarity in drug policy reform. After that, they ask us all to get more informed and to disseminate that information about how the war on drugs has been turned into a war on drug users. Then, long-term, perhaps we might begin to reclaim the UN’s message for this day and continue a coordinated global effort to support and reform efforts focused on health, human rights, and sustainable development.

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