The UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) gathered in New York to discuss the future directions of global drug policies in 1998. The meeting was dominated by the slogan "A drug free world: we can do it!" and, accordingly, the target adopted was to significantly reduce the demand and supply of illicit drugs within 10 years. Ten years later we can see that member states have failed to achieved these targets. For example, despite massive forced eradication campaigns against farmers, cocaine production has increased by 20% and opium production has increased by 120% in the past decade; and despite restrictive drug laws, in most countries the prevalence of illicit drug use is on the rise.
What is worse is the price we have paid for prohibitive drug policies, for example: illicit trafficking generates civil wars in producer countries and violent crime on urban streets and it leads to corruption and money laundering; eradication of drug crops, without the provision of alternative livelihoods for farmers, leads to humanitarian crises and aerial fumigation damages the agriculture and the environment; and repressive laws push drug users to the margins of society with millions of people incarcerated for simple possession of illicit drugs and the human rights of drug users often violated not only by law enforcement but also by public health authorities. This stigma and discrimination also causes huge public health problems, for example the spread of lethal overdoses and HIV; in fact, outside of Africa, one in three new HIV infections is related to the sharing of injection equipment. However, although this way of HIV transmission could easily be prevented by effective harm reduction interventions like opiate substitution treatment and needle exchange, in many countries the access to these services is limited by repressive drug policies.
In March 2009 the UN will hold a High Level Segment -- a meeting of high ranking government officials in Vienna -- to review the past 10 years of global drug control efforts and to adopt a new political declaration for the future decade. We can see from recent UN statements that there is a spirit of reform in the air -- but without the pressure of civil society we cannot expect governments to do anything other than congratulate themselves for what they have done already. In July 2008 more than 300 NGOs from all around the world gathered in Vienna to adopt recommendations to governments about reforming the drug control system and there was a consensus that there is a need to shift the focus from criminal justice and repression to public health and human rights. However, there is very little knowledge and discussion amongst the general public about the failure of the global drug control regime -- therefore we need to raise the awareness of people on the harms caused by this system and to promote alternatives to the current framework.
"Unintended Consequences -- Global Drug War Poster and Video Contest" aims to highlight the unintended consequences of drug control efforts on public health, crime, environment, human rights -- by articulating personal stories and tragedies, lost opportunities and liberties, and the irreversible damage that has been caused to lives and property.
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) is looking for creative, attention-grabbing and poignant images and videos that graphically express the everyday reality and impact of the global drug war on public health, public security and human rights.
- Repressive law enforcement interventions;
- Imprisonment of drug users;
- Impact of forced eradication on farmer's lives;
- Environmental impact of eradication;
- Barriers to access to health care;
- Stigma against drug use;
- Poverty and drug use;
- Contrast of attitudes toward licit and illicit drugs;
- Drug use as a cultural heritage;
- Impacts of the drug war on ethnic minorities;
- Violence related to the black market of drugs;
- Forced treatment of drug users;
- Drug users with HIV and AIDS;
- Death penalty;
- Impact of the drug war on families;
- Fear-based drug education & prevention;
- Mandatory drug testing in schools and workplaces;
- Best practices in education, care, treatment & harm reduction.
In the Poster Category:
- This contest is open only to individuals and/or organizations from any country who submit original posters that they have personally created;
- Posters can illustrate fictional scenes -- but should be based on existing, real problems in the context of the global and national drug control regimes;
- You may submit multiple entries, so long as each entry meets all requirements;
- Posters should be submitted in high quality format not smaller than 3MB, by sending them to: [email protected];
- You must add a title and a short description (where and when it was taken and what it illustrates) to the poster in English;
- Each entrant can win only one prize.
In the Video Category:
- This contest is open only to individuals and/or organizations from any country who submit original videos that they have personally created;
- Videos can be filmed about real events or fictional scenes that are based on real events;
- Videos should be submitted in digital format, preferable formats: Windows media video, MPEG 4, Flashvideo (.flv);
- HCLU accepts submissions in DVD format to their postal address (1084 Budapest VÃg u. 28. 1/3);
- HCLU also accepts films posted on video sharing sites - the link should be sent to our email address: [email protected];
- Only short (not more than 10 minutes) videos are accepted (this is the upload limit on YouTube);
- You may submit multiple entries, as long as each entry meets all requirements;
- The language of all entries must be in English, or subtitled to English -- entries in any other language will not be considered;
- Each entrant can win only one prize.
Deadline of poster submission: February 20, 2009. Deadline of video submission: March 5, 2009. (Entries posted later than the deadline will not be considered.)
HCLU will select two winners at the end of contest period in the two categories: (1) Best Poster Submission and (2) Best Video Submission. Each winner will be selected by a panel of experts based on the following equally weighted criteria: originality, creativity, appeal to a worldwide audience and delivery of a clear message about the failure of the current drug control system and/or a positive message about alternatives to the current drug control system.
The Best Poster Submission will be awarded $1,000 EUR, and the Best Video Submission will be awarded with $1,500 EUR. In the video category, the second best wins $500 EUR and the third best wins $300 EUR. In the poster category the second best wins $400 EUR and the third best wins $200 EUR.
All submissions to the contest will be licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license. The choice of license shows HCLU's commitment to the ethos of free culture.
HCLU plans to organise a poster exhibition of the best poster submissions in March 2009 in the UNO City, Vienna, and also to show the best videos publicly. HCLU may also use all photo and video materials in its campaign in the forms of public advertisements, posters, flyers, stickers etc.