Civil Society Involvement in Drug Policy


Definitions of “Civil Society”:

“the associational life operating in the space between the state and market, including individual participation, and the activities of non-governmental, voluntary and community organisations”

(GREEN PAPER on the role of Civil Society in Drugs Policy in the European Union 2005, Council’s Horizontal Drugs Group 2005)

“Civil society is an arena of voluntary collective actions around shared interests, purposes and values distinct from families, state and profit seeking institutions. The term civil society includes the full range of formal and informal organizations that are outside the state and the market – including social movements, volunteer involving organizations, mass-based membership organizations, faith-based groups, NGOs, and community-based organizations, as well as communities and citizens acting individually and collectively.”

(Voice and Accountability for Human Development: A UNDP Global Strategy to Strengthen Civil Society and Civic Engagement, UNDP 2009)

“the wide array of non-governmental and not-for-profit organizations that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious or philanthropic considerations. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) therefore refer to a wide of array of organizations: community groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labor unions, indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, and foundations.”

(Defining Civil Society, World Bank,

Dimensions of “Civil Society”

  • Impact should be assessed if your objective is to consider whether CSOs have effected change
  • Capacity should be included to understand CSO networks, or to reveal the level of resources with which a CSO is functioning
  • Engagement should be evaluated to determine how well CSOs reach out to their beneficiaries and other stakeholders.
  • Governance is relevant to show CSO accountability practices and the ways in which CSOs meet the standards they hold up for others
  • Environment will give the relevant information to determine the context in which civil society is operating, especially in situations in which it faces contravening forces

(A Users’ Guide for Civil Society Assessments, UNDP 2010)

Definitions of “Drug Policy”

“A system of laws, regulatory measures, courses of action and funding priorities concerning (illicit) psychoactive drugs and promulgated by a governmental entity or its representatives”

(EMCDDA, adaptation of Kilpatrick, Definitions of Public Policy and the Law)


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