20th International Harm Reduction Conference in Bangkok, Thailand

16 May 2009

Harm Reduction 2009 took place in Bangkok from April 20-24th and brought together around 1,000 delegates from 80 countries around the world. ‘Harm reduction and human rights’ – the theme of the conference, was a running thread throughout the programme, providing delegates with both an understanding of human rights violations committed against drug users, the international system of human rights law as well as how this can be practically engaged with, in our work to advocate for change. There were large numbers of delegates and speakers attending from Asian countries. The situation faced by many people who use drugs in Asia, often characterised by poor access to harm reduction services and detention in ‘compulsory drug treatment’ centres featured prominently in conference sessions and was also highlighted by the ‘treatment not torture’ rally at the start of the conference.

The conference opened with an important keynote speech from Michel Kazatchkine, emphasising the need for drug policy reform, and in particular, the decriminalisation of drug use, as part of a public health approach. Kazatchkine’s organisation, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is one of the greatest contributors to harm reduction around the world. Despite this, there is a huge discrepancy between epidemiological need and the funds which currently go towards harm reduction, an issue which gained much attention during the conference.

Access IHRA’s Harm Reduction 2009 media centre to read Daily Updates from the conference, view media coverage, read keynote speeches and presentations. View videos of presentations given at HR 2009. Read Drink and Drug News Harm Reduction 2009 Special Issue with conference highlights.