My name is Dr. Evan Wood. I am the founder of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy


 

My name is Dr. Evan Wood. I am the founder of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy and Chair of the Vienna Declaration writing committee. The Vienna Declaration is at the heart of an international campaign calling for evidence-based illicit drug policies, and I am writing today to request your support for this initiative.

 

As you work globally towards the goals set out by the Nonviolent Radical Party, it is imperative to recognize the massive contribution to social inequity, violence, and the spread of disease caused by the international ‘war on drugs’. This 40-year social experiment has directly caused massive and continuing harm to millions of people who have been stigmatized, incarcerated, or executed because of their drug addiction, and has led to HIV/AIDS epidemics around the world, including critical areas in Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, and Central and Southeast Asia. Research has shown that as people who use drugs—and particularly injection drug users—are forced underground by drug law enforcement, rates of used needle sharing and other risky drug-using practices increase. This in turn seriously compromises public health efforts in the very countries where these efforts are needed the most. Further, the war on drugs has been linked to widespread violence. The Mexican war on drugs launched in 2006, for example, has resulted in the drug-related deaths of more than 28,000 people, many of them civilians. The global drug trade, worth an estimated US$320 billion, fuels violence and corruption in countries across the world and has been a major factor in the destabilization of countries such as Afghanistan, Colombia, and Burma.

In response to the continued propagation of the war on drugs, scientific experts in HIV/AIDS came together this July at the XVIII International AIDS Conference to launch the Vienna Declaration. The International AIDS Conference was convened by the International AIDS Society and international conference partners, including the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the European Commission. The biannual conference is the largest public health conference in the world, attracting more than 20,000 delegates. As the official conference declaration, the Vienna Declaration is a scientific statement seeking to improve community health and safety by calling for the incorporation of scientific evidence into illicit drug policies. Its message is clear: governments should adopt policies that have a proven track record of effectively reducing the harms associated with drug use and should abandon policies that are ineffective or harmful. For the full text of the Vienna Declaration, visit www.viennadeclaration.com.

Fortunately, there are concrete steps that governments can take to begin to reverse the harms of current drug policies. In this regard, the Vienna Declaration calls for governments to decriminalize drug users, endorse World Health Organization and UNAIDS recommendations to scale up interventions to reduce drug-related HIV transmission, and to implement science-based public health approaches to address individual and community harms stemming from drug use.

The war on drugs has had a devastating impact on global human rights and health. We therefore urge you to consider endorsing the Vienna Declaration and to encourage your affiliate organisations to endorse as well. By joining the more than 16,000 individuals and organisations that have already signed, and by working with us to expand the Declaration’s reach and impact in your respective cities and countries, you will help the international community forge drug policies that respect the fundamental human rights of people who use drugs. By doing so, you will help to meaningfully reduce the many harms associated with drug use.

Thank you for your consideration. If you would like to sign the declaration, please visit www.viennadeclaration.com. If you would like to work with us to raise awareness in your community or country, please contact us at declaration@icsdp.org.

Yours sincerely,


Evan Wood, MD, PhD
Chair, Scientific Board
International Centre for Science in Drug Policy
www.icsdp.org