By Marie Nougier and Adria Cots Fernandez (IDPC) / Harm Reduction Consortium

The Global Drug Policy Index is a unique tool that documents, measures and compares national-level drug policies, providing each country with a score and ranking that shows how much their drug policies and their implementation align with the UN principles of human rights, health and development. As such, the Index provides an essential accountability and evaluation mechanism in the field of drug policy. It is composed of 75 indicators running across 5 broad dimensions of drug policy. This first iteration evaluates the performance of 30 countries covering all regions of the world.

Key takeaways from the Global Drug Policy Index

  1. The global dominance of drug policies based on repression and punishment has led to low scores overall, with a median score of just 48/100, and the top-ranking country (Norway) only reaching 74/100.
  2. Standards and expectations from civil society experts on drug policy implementation vary from country to country.
  3. Inequality is deeply seated in global drug policies, with the top-ranking 5 countries scoring 3 times as much as the lowest-ranking 5 countries. This is in part due to the colonial legacy of the ‘war on drugs’ approach.
  4. Drug policies are inherently complex: a country’s performance in the Index can only be fully understood by looking across and within each of the dimensions.
  5. Drug policies disproportionately affect people marginalised on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and socio-economic status.
  6. There are wide disparities between state policies and how they are implemented on the ground.
  7. With a few exceptions, the meaningful participation of civil society and affected communities in drug policy processes remains severely limited.


The Global Drug Policy Index is a project of the Harm Reduction Consortium, which includes the following partners: the European Network of People Who Use Drugs (EuroNPUD), the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), the Eurasian Network of People who Use Drugs (ENPUD), the Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO) / Swansea University, Harm Reduction International (HRI), the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), the Middle East and North Africa Harm Reduction Association (MENAHRA), the West African Drug Policy Network (WADPN), the Women and Harm Reduction International Network (WHRIN), and Youth RISE.