Civil Society Involvement in Drug Policy


Drug related health risks and social problems are major concerns in Europe. Civil society organisations (CSO), working for and with drug users play a vital role in implementing effective measures to tackle negative consequences of drug use, because they directly work for and with the drug users and face the problems daily.

This is acknowledged by many major agencies and political institutions (e.g.: ‘WHO – the role of civil society in health’, ‘EU Drug Strategy 2012’, ‘EC green paper 2006’). At the UN level, the UNGASS process offers an important opportunity for civil society in Europe to unite around a shared goal and to shape the European voice and position on drugs. The Lisbon Treaty outlined the principle of involving citizens, in public dialogue. The European Commission reflected these recommendations by creating the Civil Society Forum on HIV/AIDS (2005) and the Civil Society Forum on Drugs (2006), which aim to support policy development and implementation through practical advice.

Despite of this European acknowledgement, the civil society involvement (CSI) in drug strategies in the European countries is low. In some countries CSOs are consulted on an informal basis, however in most countries the involvement of CSOs is very ad hoc and fragmented, if any.

This leads to a mismatch between policy and practice, due to the large distance between policy makers and the field and the rapidly changing environment (new drugs appear weekly). Combined with a lack of knowledge and structures within CSOs on how to get meaningfully involved in policy making, lack of cooperation between CSOs (national and European level) and a lack on awareness of the positive effects of CSI among policy makers, a European approach for tackling this problem is needed.


The Regenboog Group (RG) is the main applicant of the project.

RG is an Amsterdam-based NGO committed to people with social problems, such as homelessness, drug and alcohol use and psychiatric disorders. RG is the host of Correlation – European Network Social Inclusion & Health.

The Centre for Interdisciplinary Addiction Research of the Hamburg University (ZIS)

has a sound record of successfully implemented projects on national, European and international level.
The ZIS conducts practice-oriented research in the field of drug policy, drug treatment, harm reduction, monitoring and health promotion for a variety of vulnerable groups such as prisoners, sex workers, women, ageing drug users. It also organises conferences, capacity building seminars and provides education to health professionals.

Apdes (Portugal), Ana Liffey (Ireland), Droghe Forum (Italy), Lila (Italy), Initiative of Health (Bulgaria)

are all leading CSOs in their country, working with marginalized groups and people and engaging in political dialogue.

  • Ana Liffey also provides the chair of the civil society working group in the current CSF on Drugs.
  • Lila provided the co-chair of the Civil society Forum on HIV/AIDS.


is a research institute in Slovenia, engaged in national and European projects, also chairing the working group on quality standards at the Civil society Forum on Drugs.

A number of relevant European Networks support the activities:

  • European Civil Society Forum on Drugs
  • European Civil Society Forum on HIV/AIDS
  • International Drug Policy Consortium
  • Harm Reduction International (European Harm Reduction Network),
  • European Network of People Who Use Drugs
  • European AIDS Treatment Group


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Civil Society Involvement in Drug Policy (CSIDP)
c/o Foundation De REGENBOOG GROEP
tel. +31 20 570 7826 (direct)
Droogbak 1d
1013 GE Amsterdam
The Netherlands


 Co-funded by the European Union