What’s new in 2019?

In 2019, we began to build new partnerships and look for new advocacy allies. Our participation in the 13th annual conference of the International Society for Research in Drug Policy and the Lisbon Addiction Conference gave us the opportunity to rethink the use of scientific evidence and build cooperation with researchers.

While inspiring key populations to monitor community satisfaction with services, we saw that the most productive approach to collecting advocacy data on service quality is community leadership in partnership with professional researchers.

Feminist movements have become our new allies in the fight for humane drug policy. On March 8, 2019, as a result of a productive meeting of activists, the Barcelona Declaration, supported by 119 organizations from around the world, declared: “The war on drugs is a war against women who use drugs!”

The painful public discussions caused by voices and open opinions of women who use drugs during the 16 days campaign against gender-based violence showed how much more needs to be done to support activists and overcome stigma.

Human rights defenders have become our permanent partners in 2019 in the preparation of shadow reports on violations of the rights of people who use drugs in Estonia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

Harm reduction 2.0 is about developing support approaches for young people who use new psychoactive substances, and about introducing innovations.

We completed 2 joint research with the Swansea University School of Law on the use of #new psychoactive substances in Moldova and Belarus, in 2020 we will conduct research in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, and Georgia. The results are largely shocking and require urgent decriminalization of consumption, changes in approaches to harm reduction, and cooperation with the psychiatric service.

Drug checking, safe consumption rooms, harm reduction at music festivals, the involvement of peer consultants – these are world-famous services for a long time, but for the CEECA region, they still sound like innovations. How we can make them the usual reality for us, we figured out at the end of the year.

Most of the 2019 ideas are reflected in the new EHRA strategy for 2020-2024, developed by the EHRA Steering Committee. It prioritizes support for broad civic movements for non-repressive drug policies and ensuring quality of harm reduction services that meet the needs of key populations.

During 2019, 31 new organizations and activists joined EHRA. We are very happy that you are with us!

In 2019 EHRA started the implementation of nine new regional projects. For the first time, we began to work with the UNAIDS Technical Support Mechanism, with APDESH, a public organization from Portugal, in the regional consortium, and with the Swansea University School of Law to conduct research.

Greate news came 29th of December 2019, our friend and colleague, activist Andery Yarovoy finally after 16 month of imprisonment for carrying his legal OST treatment in so-called Luhansk republic is exchanged with Ukraine and could meet Holidays at home.

We can’t miss the loss and new challenges. We grieve for the soul of Alyona Asaeva, who remained in the warm Porto. New legislative initiatives that tighten working conditions for activists and harm reduction organizations in the Russian Federation will require our strength and unity.

Good luck and mutual support to all of us in the New 2020!