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ID: HR23-626
Presenting author: Ann Fordham

Presenting author biography:

Ann has been the Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Consortium since 2011. She previously held several roles on drug policy and harm reduction. She has a Masters Degree in Human Rights from Sussex University where she specialised in human rights and harm reduction.

Making numbers count –Assessing The Global Drug Policy Index as an Advocacy Tool

Matthew Wall, David Bewley-Taylor, Marie Nougier, Jamie Bridge, Ann Fordham

The Global Drug Policy Index (GDPI) was launched in 2021 by the RCF-funded “Harm Reduction Consortium” (including the International Drug Policy Consortium, Harm Reduction International and Swansea University, among others). The GDPI is the first of its kind to measure and compare governments’ performance in drug policy and harm reduction across 30 countries. With the highest country (Norway) scoring 74/100 and the lowest (Brazil) achieving a mere 26/100 – and a median score of 48/100 across all 30 evaluated countries – the Index shows how drug policies remain highly punitive, while disproportionately affecting the poor, specific ethnic groups and women.


Civil society was central to the development, implementation and dissemination of the Index. Desk-based data collection was complemented by on-the-ground civil society surveys and real-life testimonials from each country. Since its launch, the GDPI has become a powerful advocacy tool for civil society to hold governments accountable for the human rights abuses resulting from their drug policies, and to initiate a much-needed dialogue to call for urgent reform.

Outcomes and implications:

As we are preparing for the second iteration of the Index, we will explore how the GDPI was able amplify the voices of those most affected by punitive drug policies, analyse activists’ experiences of using GDPI data in their own advocacy, and assess impacts on the ground through specific case studies. We will highlight the GDPI’s strengths and weaknesses as an advocacy tool, guide activists as to how to make best use of this resource to call for better drug policy and harm reduction services, and explore how to strengthen the Index for its second round of data scheduled for 2023.