India: Celebrating while reflecting on making drug use policies more effective

UNODC, ROSA commemorates the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

26 th June - the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is synonymous with thought on and understanding of the rights and needs of drug users. The day serves as a reminder to the global community in moving towards a society that deals with drug use from a health-centric and human rights approach. This year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Regional Office for South Asia commemorated the day through a series of events organized in New Delhi, India.  

On the eve of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, UNODC hosted a panel discussion titled: 'Deliberating, Deciding, Doing: Drug Day 2014', with eminent parliamentarians from the major political parties in India. The panelists highlighted a variety of social, economic, financial and legal issues related to drug use and the response to it in India.  They all agreed that there is an urgent need for more data and evidence generation on drug use trends and patterns in the country. This will ensure that response to this issue with respect to both demand and supply of drugs can be better tailored to the specific needs of the local context.

The speakers also stressed that laws, policy and policing alone cannot be the answer. Government efforts need to be matched by concerted effort from each and every individual in society. Such efforts should encompass activities that promote awareness, help reduce stigma and discrimination of drug users and most importantly help in their reintegration into society.   They also urged the audience to involve leaders elected by them in mobilizing dialogue and calling for action from policy makers.  

On the occasion, UNODC also presented the concept of the Integrated Drug Information System (IDIS). The IDIS is a web-based application with which information on drug use extent and patterns can be collected and analyzed. UNODC is in discussion with South Asian Governments about the application of the system, which will aid law enforcement authorities in identifying trends in seizures and also service providers to respond effectively to drug use issues.  

I n recognition of their significant efforts in the field of drug prevention, treatment and care across the country, UNODC presented a memento to the Indian Drug User Forum - a non-profit organization that promotes meaningful involvement of people who use drugs. 

The evening ended with a lively musical performance by the Delhi-based community group "Dayspring". The Dayspring band comprised of members and supporters of the drug using community, who through their performance highlighted the importance of engaging and partnering with the drug using community. 

The commemorations of 26 th June came to a close the following day with a  soccer match organized by UNODC, between the Dayspring community and a joint UN team. The nail-biting match saw a very strong performance by both teams with the game ending in a draw.