Hundreds of people attended the Urban Drug Policies Conference in Warsaw on 17-19 February, supported by the Warsaw municipality and the Polish government agency on drugs. Most of the participants were Polish service providers and city officials. Researchers, policemen and NGOs from other European cities, including Barcelona, Zürich, Frankfurt, Coppenhagen and Lisbon, shared their experiences on best practice in urban drug policies. There were presentations about innovative ways to deal with drug problems, such as drug consumption rooms, cannabis social clubs and heroin maintenance programs, as well as examples of drug coordination mechanisms and the meaningful involvement of civil society. Barriers to access to harm reduction programs, especially opiate substitution treatment, and the challenges posed by new psychoactive substances, were central themes discussed in the sessions. Our Room for Change campaign was presented and two of the campaign movies - Where Do Poles Inject? and Life After the Closure of Needle Exchange in Budapest - were screened at the conference.

At the conference, a drafting committee was created, in which the International Drug Policy Consortium, the Rights Reporter Foundation, Krytyka Polityczna and the Polish Drug Policy Network played a major role in producing a set of recommendations on urban drug policies. The so-called Warsaw Declaration is based on the Prague Declaration (watch our movie about it here), an earlier document on urban drug policies, adopted in 2010. From the more general seven principles of the Prague Declaration, we developed ten concrete and more action-oriented recommendations. Here is a short summary of the ten recommendations:

1. Policy responses should be coordinated, and decisions should be based on evidence and consultation with civil society. 

2. Cities should allow innovation in drug policy.

3. Police should not target drug users, and should cooperate with health and social services.

4. The human rights of drug users should be protected.

5. A comprehensive menu of health and social services should be provided, including harm reduction.

6. Cities should create regulations and guidelines on safe nightlife and partying. 

7. Local governments should allocate adequate and sustainable funding for services.

8. Local communities should be educated, and forums for dialogue to resolve confilcts should be created.

9. Local policies should be monitored and evaluated.

10. Partnerships and networking should be established among European cities.

The declaration is available here.

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