Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

February 6 2005 - The Observer (UK)

US Cash Threat To AIDS War

By Martin Bright, Home Affairs Editor, The Observer

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

The United Nations agency responsible for the global fight against drugs has been forced to abandon its campaign to reduce Aids infection by giving clean needles to heroin addicts after threats by America to end its funding, The Observer can reveal.

The Bush administration opposes any programme that appears to condone the continued use of drugs, and wants the UN to seek abstention by users, combined with an end to narcotics production.

Drug experts believe that if the UN shelved its so-called 'harm reduction' strategy in favour of an outright war on drugs, it could contribute to a rise in the rate of infection with HIV/Aids through shared needles and unsafe sex, as well as increasing the number of addicts.

Correspondence seen by The Observer shows that on 10 November 2004, Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) held a meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Charles to discuss the Bush administration's concerns about the direction the UN was taking.

A leaked letter sent by Costa the next day shows him agreeing to demands to expunge references about harm reduction from UNODC literature and statements.

'On the the general issue of "harm reduction", I share your concern. Under the guise of "harm reduction", there are people working disingenuously to alter the world's opposition to drugs. These people can misuse our well-intentioned statements for their own agenda, and this we cannot allow.

'Accordingly, as we discussed in our meeting, we are reviewing all our statements, both printed and electronic, and will be even more vigilant in the future.'

Costa goes on to clarify the UN agency's position on needle exchanges, where addicts are given clean injecting equipment to minimise the risk of infection from HIV and and hepatitis. In words that have caused alarm among drug treatment experts, Costa wrote: 'We neither endorse needle exchanges as a solution for drug abuse, nor support public statements advocating such practices.'

The issue will come to head at next month's meeting in Vienna of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the UN's central policy-making body on drugs.

Danny Kushlick, director of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation said: 'The evidence for the success of harm reduction in reducing HIV and AIDS among injecting drug users is unquestioned. It has taken decades to build harm reduction into the core of international drug programmes and this kind of intervention has the potential to severely undermine initiatives that have already saved the lives of millions of people.'

The shift in policy will have serious implications for Britain, which remains committed to the philosophy of harm reduction domestically and through aid programmes funded by the Department for International Development.

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact