INPUD’s Monthly Digest is intended to keep our member and supporters informed about INPUD’s activities month to month, as well as updates from national/regional networks and relevant news in drug policy.
We would first like to again acknowledge the huge loss our community felt this month. Jude Byrne represented the heart of our community, an extraordinary woman who will be remembered as a pioneer and hero to the global community of people who use drugs. A fearless advocate over a career spanning decades, Jude was a founding member of INPUD and acting Chair of the INPUD Board for almost ten years. The sheer amount of tributes to Jude shared over social media and among the community were all incredible touching, and INPUD will resolve to carry out the work which she left for us by fighting for the future she dreams of where people who use drugs are respected and free to live our lives in dignity.
The following updates cover March 2021.
GLOBAL ADVOCACY & EVENTS
The new Global AIDS Strategy was officially adopted on March 25th. INPUD has been following and responding to the strategy since December 2020, and we are pleased to report that thanks to the efforts of peers and key population networks, it is the most progressive strategy UNAIDS has ever passed as well as the strongest backing of key population-led and community-led organisations and responses the UN has ever seen.
Despite strong resistance from Russia and Iran around key areas, the strategy includes priorities for harm reduction on HIV prevention (including an increase in targets on OAT), ambitious targets on decriminalisation, gender equality, stigma and discrimination, and emphasises the importance of funding community-led responses, with new targets of 30% of testing and treatment services and 80% of service delivery programmes to be delivered by community-led organisations.
There will always be things to improve and INPUD will continue to engage in advocacy to improve the global AIDS response. Nevertheless we are thrilled of the progress our community has achieved here and hope the strategy can serve as a useful advocacy tool for communities moving forward.
Global Fund Strategy Development
INPUD continues to monitor and input into the Global Fund’s strategy development process. The Partnership Forums have concluded, but the window of opportunity for advocacy is still open as the approval of the new strategy by the Global Fund Board will happen in November 2021. INPUD’s three main points for the strategy remain the same from the community statement we signed on to in February 2021:
- Tackle barriers to getting services to people who need them.
- Invest more in community-led responses, including in mobilisation, monitoring and advocacy.
- Keep the main focus on HIV, TB and Malaria.
Peers can continue to advocate for better recognition of our needs in the new Global Fund strategy by contacting Developing and Developed Countries Global Fund NGO Delegations, as well as the Communities Delegation to the Global Fund Board, and inform them of our concerns regarding the future work of the Global Fund.
Alongside several other key population networks, INPUD sent a letter on 25 March to United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken regarding the future of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a $85 billion investment in the global HIV response which has had profound impacts on communities across the world. With the Biden administration lifting the Global Gag Order and the new national drug strategy embracing evidence-based harm reduction initiatives, including syringe exchanges, we urged the Secretary Blinken to take action on two critical issues:
- Maintain an unwavering focus on key populations.
- Develop a new, 5-year Key Populations Strategic Initiative with robust funding support.
INPUD plans to work alongside our key population network partners and peer groups in the United States to ensure PEPFAR funding is accessible to communities across the globe. This letter represents a first step in that advocacy.
Participating in the Global Fund national processes is an important step towards achieving and directing funding towards more rights-based policies and programmes that meet the needs of people who use drugs. This case study tells a story of the challenges drug user-led networks face nationally to participate in Global Fund proposal development and decision-making. It highlights the progress that has been made with support from the Community, Rights and Gender (CRG) Strategic Initiative (SI). It also showcases the progress, impact and outcomes of people who use drugs participating in the Global Fund, showing the value and effectiveness of both national drug user-led organizations and the key role of the global network in facilitating successful engagement in Global Fund processes.
PROGRAMMATIC AND ADMINISTRATIVE UPDATES
INPUD Strategic Plan 2021 – 2024
This month the INPUD Board, with support from the Secretariat, held a three-day workshop to facilitate the development of INPUD’s Strategic Plan for 2021 through 2024. During this workshop we reviewed the previous strategy to determine what is still relevant and what needs to be included as we move forward in a rapidly changing global environment. The results of a SWOT analysis on INPUD were also shared to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses.
Generally it was agreed that what INPUD does best is bring the voices and advocacy of people who use drugs to global advocacy forums. In terms of improvements, there was a lot of discussion about expanding the reach of INPUD to reach more local communities of people who use drugs, governments and funders who are not yet familiar with INPUD’s work.
The workshop was very productive, and by the end we had clear alignment on INPUD’s priorities for the next three years. We will be officially publishing the new Strategic Plan in April and are excited to share it with all INPUD members.
NEWS AND OTHER UPDATES
In response to the sharp rise in anti-Asian hate crimes over the last year, including the recent murders of six Asian women in Atlanta, INPUD published a statement strongly condemning anti-Asian bigotry around the world. These hate crimes are founded on the scapegoating of Asian people and fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, yet anti-Asian bigotry long predated the pandemic and is closely tied to the War on Drugs. We must collectively work to demand an end to racism and discrimination in all forms, working to destabilise the foundations on which is was built such as the criminalisation of drugs.
64th Commission on Narcotic Drugs
The 64th CND will take place 12 April – 16 April, 2021. Due to ongoing COVID-19 protocols this year’s session will primarily take place virtually. The full guidelines for participation at this year’s CND can be found here. In summary: in-person participation is extremely limited, and online participation by civil society representatives has been limited to just 150 people. However, the entire session will be simulcast on the CND website for those who were not able to secure an online pass.
INPUD will be hosting a virtual side event over Zoom titled ‘We Are the Evidence’: Community-led Responses on Decriminalisation, COVID-19 and Harm Reduction which will take place on Monday, 12 April at 14:10 CEST. The event is co-sponsored by HIV Legal Network, UNAIDS and the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services. We will be discussing why and how people who use drugs should be at the centre of advancing policy towards decriminalisation of drugs, and also launching peer-led research conducted by INPUD analysing national models of decriminalisation. While the panel will be in English, we will have simultaneous translations available in French, Russian and Spanish. Make sure you have access to the Zoom webinar by registering prior to the 12th. If you can’t make it, no worries; we will have the entire recording available online after the event.
NPUD is also co-hosting a side event organised by the UNODC HIV/AIDS Section, with the support of the WHO, Norway and Sweden, titled ‘Ensuring access to measures for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV among women who use drugs and women in prisons.’
From 8-10 June 2021, the General Assembly of the United Nations will convene for a High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS (HLM). This meeting will review progress made in reducing the impact of HIV since the last high-level meeting in 2016 and the General Assembly is further expected to adopt a new political declaration on HIV/AIDS. This kind of meeting only happens once every five years and will have major implications for communities and people affected by HIV/AIDS.
To prepare communities and civil society on how they can engage with the HLM, a series of webinars have been planned, the first of which will happen Wednesday, 21 April and Thursday, 22 April. Webinars will take place in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Portuguese. Register now for these webinars here.
In preparation for the HLM, the Multi stakeholder Task Force, of which INPUD is a part of, has developed a survey where you can share your thoughts on the development of a civil society statement with the recommendations of communities. These recommendations will be central to our advocacy at the HLM to ensure the new Political Declaration reflects the current challenges faced by the communities most impacted by HIV/AIDS. The survey should only take 10 minutes to complete, is completely confidential and can be taken in English, French, Spanish, Russian or Portuguese.
Civil society organisations have been invited to participate during the High-Level Meeting, including those without ECOSOC status. In order to do so, you will need to apply for special accreditation. The link to do so can be found here (you will need to go all the way to the bottom and click ‘register now’ to begin the application). A call for speakers has also been put out. This includes opportunities to address the opening segment, plenary meeting and thematic panel discussions. More information about each can be found on the speaker application form here. The deadline for both applications is 25 April, and you should fill out the special accreditation application before completing the application for speakers.