Civil Society Involvement in Drug Policy


Assessment Report
Civil Society Involvement in Drug Policy in EU Member States

On the European Union level, the issue of how to strengthen the civil society involvement (CSI) in drug policy has increasingly attracted attention over the last few years, starting with the presentation of the “Green Paper on the role of Civil Society in Drugs Policy in the European Union” by the European Commission (2006) and the subsequent establishment of the “Civil Society Forum on Drugs” as a platform for regular dialogue on policy development and implementation between the Commission and representatives of European civil society. How the Civil Society Forum on Drugs is to be involved in EU drugs policy is further defined in the current EU Action Plan on Drugs 2017-2020 (Council of Europe 2017). However, the current action plan does not only refer to civil society involvement on the EU level, but also calls for action on the national level to “promote and strengthen dialogue with, and involvement of, civil society and the scientific community in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of drug policies”. The successful implementation of best practice in drug demand reduction in the member states, is further hinged (among other indicators) on the “involvement of civil society in the implementation of the standards, including in planning and introduction”.

Civil Society Involvement in Drug Policy –
A Road Map

The inclusion of civil society in the development and implementation of drug policies is widely recognised as being critically important. Civil society input can provide added context to policy considerations, giving policy makers access to a greater range of insights and information, and can support the popular legitimacy of policy actions. In short, a structured and formal civil society involvement (CSI) in policy arenas can better equip states to plan, implement and measure policy initiatives, thus directly contributing to national and EU drugs strategy objectives. However, states and civil society organisations (CSOs) do not always have ready access to good quality information on how this can be best achieved.

This is the challenge that this document is directed at assisting with. This is a ‘Road Map’ for civil society involvement in drug policy. It is directed at both policy makers and CSOs, and its main objective is to provide guidance through the different steps of developing and implementing effective and sustainable civil society structures in the field of drug policy on the local, regional and national level, as informed by the best available evidence. It is hoped that CSOs and policy makers will find it useful in planning and developing CSI in their countries.

Civil Society Involvement in Drug Policy –
Best Practise Collection


Bulgaria, Sofia, 2012
Action at national level
Policy makers: Implementation of dialogue mechanisms
CSOs: Building a coalition and proposing actual changes in national drug policy legislation

Drug policy decisions in Bulgaria are taken by the National Drug Council. This is an inter-ministerial body chaired by the Minister of Health and including members from ten ministries and eleven state agencies. It  operates in the area of national security and social issues. The Council adopts the national strategies and programs in the drugs area, coordinates international obligations and relations and has the mandate to propose legislation changes related to drugs. In principle, the Council does not collaborate with civil society structures and has no formal mechanisms to assess civil society experiences or opinions when taking decisions, proposing legislation changes or adopting official documents. There have been few isolated cases of inviting civil society representatives to the sessions of the Council.


2 + 12 =

Your contact information will only be stored for the purpose of sending information on the conference. Your personal data can be deleted at any time upon request.


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