'Support. Don’t Punish' is a global advocacy campaign to raise awareness of the harms caused by the criminalisation of people who use drugs. The campaign was created in 2013, in acknowledgement of the need to change laws and policies that impede access to harm reduction interventions, and to promote respect for the human rights of people who use drugs. The objectives of the campaign are to:

  • Change laws and policies that impede access to harm reduction interventions for people who use drugs;
  • Raise awareness about the need to stop criminalising (‘punishing’) people for using drugs;
  • Raise awareness about the need for greater funding and attention for essential health services and other ‘support’ for people who use drugs;
  • Promote respect for the human rights of people who use drugs; and,
  • Engender public support for drug reform.

Global day of action in India

The campaign attempts to mobilise public action for policy change. It was originally conceived of by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Harm Reduction International (HRI), and the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) and several national partners (AIDS Care China (ACC), India HIV/AIDS Alliance (Alliance India), Kenya AIDS NGO Consortium (KANCO), Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC), and Rumah Cemara in Indonesia) as part of the project, ‘Community Action on Harm Reduction’ (CAHR) funded by the Government of the Netherlands; an independent evaluation of CAHR was completed in December 2014 and also contains positive references to the 'Support. Don't Punish' campaign. 

Overall, the SDP campaign has far exceeded its objectives in terms of the number of countries involved in the 'Day of Action' on 26 June each year; the initial target was 5 cities in 5 different countries, but in 2013 it reached 41 cities in 20 countries, rising to 100 cities in 48 countries in 2014. In developing the campaign brand, considerable debate took place among campaign developers on the specific wording, especially the possible misinterpretation of the word 'Support' as disempowering people who use drugs. Although it is noted that there needs to be greater involvement by organisations and networks of people who use drugs in the campaign in the future, the campaign has been actively engaged by people who use drugs, such as in Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Thailand and Ukraine among others, with one organiser noting that, "it's a day that most of our issues as drug users can be raised at the community, national and international level".

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