It been another tremendous year for the IDPC network, in an increasingly complex political environment where the space for civil society continues to shrink in the face of rising populism in many parts of the world. In these challenging times, IDPC’s core mandate of empowering and strengthening our network of civil society organisations in advocating for the reform of damaging drug policies and for the human rights of those affected is more critical than ever.

History has shown us that civil society that is empowered and informed is fundamental for fighting inequality, injustice and spearheading transformative social change. Civil society actors hold a mirror up to governments, reflecting back to them the real impact of policy decisions on people and communities. The watchdog role of civil society in being vigilant in policy formulation, implementation and evaluation cannot be underestimated if the interests of society’s most marginalised are to be central to decision making processes. The IDPC Secretariat remains deeply committed to our core mandate and will continue to work alongside our members and partners to fight for civil society space in drug policy forums at the national, regional and UN levels.

Reform-orientated civil society has made important strides in recent years and this success has been built upon increasing international solidarity, shared objectives, collaboration and networking. The drug policy reform movement, while still relatively young, has gained in strength, diversity, visibility and credibility – and the recent momentum of the 2016 UNGASS has been a major catalyst for this. There is now solid and fertile ground on which the movement can continue to grow. Drug policy reform is increasingly seen as one of the key social justice issues of our times and new actors from different disciplines and sectors are joining the calls for change.

In these coming years, reform-orientated civil society effort must continue to ‘beat the drum’, speak truth to power and leverage the growing international solidarity on this critical social justice and human rights issue.

For this year’s Progress Report, we have decided to switch to a new format, providing monthly highlights to showcase some of the most exciting and impactful advocacy events and activities from the IDPC membership. I hope you will enjoy reading it!

Read previous IDPC progress reports: