Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Drug Policy, Diplomacy and Public Health

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About the course

Negotiating the health dimension of drug policies

The 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem set the tone for the drug policy reform debate, but moving forward, many fear that this tone will be lost. In this 3-day course we will explore questions such as: What should the new direction post-2019 be for the future UN governance of international drug policy? How can different actors contribute to a global process in order to ensure that drug policies improve rather than harm the health and welfare of people? What should the role of civil society and user networks be in the international debate on drug policies?


Gain insight into the key concepts and current issues related to the international drug control regime and its intersection with global public health

Analyse the role of the Geneva-based agencies and understand how the human rights and global mechanisms balance drug control policies

Inform and influence the design and the implementation of drugs policies nationally and internationally

Identify the different stakeholders of the current debate at the regional and international levels be it governments, civil society or others

Consider national measures that protect public health in conformity with the international drug regime


This three-day course is designed to increase the understanding of participants on the main intersections between drug policy, public health and human rights in global policy processes. It includes the following topics:

International Drug Control Regime and perspectives for reform

Drug control, public health and human rights

Drug policy stakeholders and perspectives

The course is highly participatory, drawing on the national and international experiences of participants through a multi-disciplinary learning process. It includes lectures by internationally-renowned experts and negotiators, case studies, and working groups. A negotiation simulation exercise will complement the learning experience.

Who should attend

Policy-makers involved in public health, drug policy, and human rights negotiations including:

Government representatives from presidential offices, ministries of health, foreign affairs, justice, interior and drug control agencies

Representatives from international and regional institutions

Health attachés and diplomats with a portfolio linked to health or drug policy

Professionals in academia

Representatives from non-governmental organisations

Trust the experts

Michel Kazatchkine

Michel Kazatchkine has over 30 years of experience in the fight against AIDS as a leading physician, researcher, administrator, advocate, policy-maker, and diplomat. He attended medical school in Paris and has completed postdoctoral fellowships at St. Mary’s hospital in London and Harvard Medical...


Thomas Zeltner

Thomas Zeltner, former Director-General of the Swiss National Health Authority (1991-2009), has a long history as an innovative leader in public health. Currently, he is Deputy Chair of the University Council of the Medical University of Vienna (Austria), head of international affairs of the Swis...


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