Former president of Brazil calls on NGOs to back the Count the Costs initiative at UK event

Last Friday, on 18 November, Transform Drug Policy Foundation, in partnership with all the major UK drug policyorganisations, held a private dinner and discussion for a select group of 30 key NGOs from the development, security, human rights and environment sectors at the Commonwealth Club in London. The high-level event featured presentations by the former president of Brazil and chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy Henrique Fernando Cardoso (available to view below), the former president of Switzerland Ruth Dreifuss (also of the Global Commission) and Eduardo Medina Mora, Mexican ambassador to the UK and Mexico's former attorney general.


Former president of Brazil calls on NGOs to support Count the Costs from Transform on Vimeo.

The event, Time to Count the Costs of the War on Drugs, formed part of the wider Count the Costs campaign and focused on highlighting the devastating impact of the war on drugs on international development and security, human rights, and the environment. Briefings outlining the costs to these first two sectors can be downloaded from this site (development and security herehuman rights here), and the environment briefing will be available in the next few days. 

We were delighted by the high-level representatives who attended the event and the overwhelmingly positive and supportive tone of the evening. While many of the attendees wish at present to remain anonymous, we can confirm that senior representatives from organisations such as Health Poverty ActionAvaazChristian Aidthe Institute for Development StudiesPenal Reform International all came to hear about the costs of the war on drugs to their respective fields.

In addition, following his attendance at the event, Jonathan Glennie of the Overseas Development Institute wrote an excellent piece in The Guardian mentioning Count the Costs and calling on the development community to engage with the drugs debate.

As a result of this event, and the Count the Costs initiative more generally, we're increasingly confident that mainstream, non-drug policy NGOs will become more and more involved in the drugs issue and help advocate for reform. Indeed, Count the Costs is demonstrating to a range of organisations the extent to which their work is being undermined by current drug policy – and why they need to take a stand on it.

To see the current list of groups that endorse Count the Costs, visit the supporters page. And, if you haven’t already, please sign up to the Count the Costs statement.