The region of Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia (ECECA) is characterized by high levels of high-risk drug use and by slow progress towards more effective health- and human rights-based drug policies. Despite a common history as part of one Soviet bloc, the region’s countries take different paths in addressing drugs, mirroring their political and cultural diversity. The Russian Federation and a few other countries have defined their drug policy mainly as a security issue, while much of Central, South-Eastern Europe, and the Baltics take more complex approaches, close to those in the European Union.
Building effective, humane and responsive drug policies is more important now than ever in ECECA. The key current external as well as internal elements affecting the drug situation in the Region are as following: Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, increased opium production in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s return to power and increased prevalence of use of new psychoactive substances. Consequently, the Commission expects increased drug availability, as well as drug consumption and drug-related health impact, on a background of increasing mental health issues. The war in Ukraine creates additional challenges and possibly, opportunities, for drug policy reform: growing economic hardship especially among the poor, reduced regional cooperation and an increasing ideological gap between repressive countries such as the Russian Federation and Belarus, and pro-democracy economies of and around the European Union.
The Eastern and Central European and Central Asian Commission on Drug Policy aims to promote evidence-based and human rights approaches to drugs. The Commission endorses and advocates for the following key principles and priority directions for action.
Guiding principles towards effective and humane drug policies in Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia