The War on Drugs: Count the Costs campaign update December 2011

7 December 2011

"The Count the Costs campaign should be welcomed by those concerned about international poverty. It attempts to set out the costs of the drugs war not just on the children of the global north, who are the main concern of UK policymakers, but on the forgotten children of the global south, who are seldom mentioned when the topic is debated." Jonathan Glennie, fellow of the Overseas Development Institute, and former Head of Christian Aid’s Colombia programme in Prohibition vs. Development, World Development Movement Magazine

Since the last update in September, the Count the Costs project has gone from strength to strength, with new materials, supporters and activities. The main aim of the initiative is to mainstream the drugs issue into sectors that are affected by the drug war, but have yet to engage with it – and we are delighted to see that is now happening.

Former Presidents of Brazil and Switzerland call on NGOs to back the Count the Costs initiative

On 18 November, Transform Drug Policy Foundation, in partnership with all the major UK drug policy organisations, held a private Count the Costs dinner and discussion for a select group of 30 key NGOs from the development, security, human rights and environment sectors at the Commonwealth Club in London. The high-level event featured presentations by the former president of Brazil and chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy Henrique Fernando Cardoso, the former president of Switzerland Ruth Dreifuss, Eduardo Medina Mora, Mexican ambassador to the UK and Mexico's former attorney general and Danny Kushlick of Transform Drug Policy Foundation. (Thanks to HCLU for filming some of the presentations).

We were delighted to welcome high-level representatives from some of the the most influential organizations in their sectors to the event, and the overwhelmingly positive and supportive tone of the evening. Following the event, Jonathan Glennie of the Overseas Development Institute wrote an excellent piece in The Guardian mentioning Count the Costs and calling on the development community to engage with the drugs debate.

“As development NGOs we have been far too slow recognising this as a development issue. It's one of the biggest and most pressing development issues of all - and becoming increasingly urgent. We are certainly looking into mounting a campaign on this at Health Poverty Action. Thanks for the push!” Martin Drewry, Director, Health Poverty Action.

New Supporters

Since the last update over a dozen new groups have backed Count the Costs, with the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Human Rights Watch, Viva Rio and the World Development Movement amongst the latest, so we now have over 50 organisations and coalitions from all over the world supporting the initiative.

New Briefings

Two new Count the Costs briefings were produced for the NGO event, that will be translating into Spanish soon.

  1. The War on Drugs: Causing Deforestation and Pollution addresses the main reasons why the environment sector should be concerned with our approach to drugs.
  2. The War on Drugs: Creating Crime, Enriching Criminals explores why the current approach is a barrier to the criminal justice sector’s work and will be available on the website next week, but a copy is attached as a sneak preview.

“I sincerely thank you for sending me the War on Drugs: Count the Costs project in Spanish! Congrats for the amazing job you've done!” Dayana Requena, Permanent Mission of Bolivia to the Organisation of American States

Russian Website and Briefings

We have a new web company kindly providing pro bono services to us, and they will be completing the Russian version of the website and first two briefings early in the New Year.

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If you would like to post to the blog as a guest, receive hard copies of materials, or have suggestions for groups to approach to support the project, please let know.

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