Hello from Liverpool once again!
Only this time it is not to update on the IHRA conference (April 10), but on a small international INPUD meeting which was held as a dozen or so senior activists and INPUD members descending on Liverpool in order to attend some UNAIDs/WHO training on Tuberculosis advocacy.
Liverpool has been transformed beyond all recognition these days due to lots of EU money, good strategic and town planning and involvment from the community, and you can really tell the people who live here have felt part of the process.
It has provided quite the backdrop to our INPUD meetings held over April at the IHRA conference as well as this week, a neat reflection on why it works to have the processes of change as transparent and inclusive as possible!
What are we here for?
So, this week we had 2 days to focus on pulling together an INPUD mission statement based on what has been previously discussed as central to INPUD. Pin down the final quanderies around membership (nominations, groups vs individuals, capacity); tighten up the existing final draft of the constitution and Terms of Reference, and to discuss and finalise the last strands of INPUDs strategy for the next 3 years in terms of capacity building and networking/partnerships.
Board members of INPUD are also here to sift through all this information and present it in a form to be voted on by members so people will get the final say as to the current shape of INPUD.
The final 2 days will be workshops hosted by UNAIDs and WHO to look at TB – its current prevention messages (and what we can add to this), how to disseminate the information on the ground and across our networks, how to develop education around TB – all to inform a joint declaration on TB and HIV/drug use which is to be launched at the World Aids Conference in Vienna this year.
I thought INPUD may have already had a mission statement but as I siad to Buff, it isnt always the first thing you do when setting up an org, one often has to get a lot of other issues clear first before being able to actually pin down just what the ‘mission’ is, and then how to put it in a few sentances! It is stripping everything back to find out ‘what is our objective? – our mission?’ Gathering all the input from members all over the world over the last 3 years in particular, it was about pinning the objectives of INPUD down in black and white. INPUD already has a Vision Statement, and this is what steered us further into knowing what the mission statement needed to include. The INPUD vision statement is ‘Health, Rights and Empowerment’. But as Jude cleverly said, INPUD is not a ‘movement ’ per say, it is an ‘organisation’. So the objectives need to be clearly defined for a number of reasons. It sparked an interesting discussion as members said what they felt INPUD needed to be doing; words like Stigma, discrimination, criminalisation, providing a unique and important voice on drug issues as well as the priviledged access to a hidden/marginalised population. INPUD also needs to have position statements on global, drug related issues, and to offer technical support to other user groups/networks around the world.
Health or Human Rights?
However, looking a little further we came face to face with an issue that is at the core of defining INPUD. Health and Human Rights; is INPUD a public health driven organisation, or is it Human rights based/focused? The conclusion is clear and passionatly held onto; that it must be through a public health centre, we also tackle human rights violations. Alliances and partnerships are all the rage these days, even on the global stage and INPUD has and is building relationship with many –health and human rights orgs. But we are an organisation fundementally set up to respond to drug users who face levels of harms, human rights infringements/violations and criminalisation – that seems to be the crux of INPUD; not the focus on the drugs people use or even how they use them, but the problems they suffer because of it. This could vary around the world but, as Jude said, it is injectors who bare the worst brunt in most situations and as such, it has been injectors at the forefront of getting an international organisation and movement moved forward.
So a mission statement evolved and Jude and Mat took it back to the hotel to work on it overnight (bang it into shape) and present it in the morning and it is a good statement to put very succintly what INPUD is for.
INPUD is a global peer-based organisation that seeks to promote the health and defend the rights of people who use drugs.
We will expose and challenge stigma, discrimination and the criminalisation of people who use drugs and its impact on our community’s health and rights.
We will achieve this through processes of empowerment and international advocacy.
The 2 days have been really interesting. I won’t write a really long blog as blogs are supposed to be kinda bite sized. Suffice to say it felt like we all straigtened out those few strands that were left over from previous decisions about consitutional matters. It was to pin down and clarify the final, few unresolved issues. Some of these were in the constitution. After the consitution was brought before INPUD members in Liverpool at the AGM, certain tweaks and changes were made and Annie Madden then incorperated them into the final draft, which she brought before us today. A last run through was done, a few tweaks made again and a final draft of the constitution will be ready to send out to all INPUD members and there will be the chance to comment and vote.
A couple of the of the changes were quite big things such as board members can’t now be made up of global regional reps chosen by their regional INPUD networks, because we just don’t have the capacity at this time to do this, simple as that. But it is certainly agreed to be something INPUD should strive to have, and this was added in the document. Other matters concerned voting, proxies, AGM’s, and membership.
Membership of INPUD has always been a rather hotly contested area; is it for individuals, it is for organisations or both? If the e-forums are the tool to communicate then how do we make sure everyone feels safe on it and are not jepordised in any way? How do we make sure it is for drug users only without exposing people who dont wish to be exposed?
In a nutshell, the final draft on membership looks like this: to join INPUD an individual will go to the website, fill out the form where it asks your details and the name of another member of INPUD who can vouch/validate your situation. You will need to know others in your community and be known or connected in some way. If, for some reason this is not possible then people can be individually spoken to by an INPUD board member. So you fill out the form, each month it goes to the board to be approved and you have the right to appeal if for some reason it is rejected. It seemed a good way to keep things ‘drug user only’ and secure. There is of course also the Facebook Fan Page where a person can support the INPUD cause, be rallied for campaigns and discuss issues without going through this process however they won’t have voting rights. This is to allow a whole range of people to support and befriend INPUD and be involved in the issues, but not the running of the organisation or the issues tackled.
The INPUD Strategy
We also looked over the 3 year strategy; basically it is to be a capacity building and networking period. International advocacy (eg INPUD diplomatic teams with set position statements and agendas) and international development programming were the leading
drivers of INPUD and in addition this also means campaigning around human rights infringements (advocacy, campaigning).
There is a clear need to underline the fact that we are not excluding other drug users (for example the dance drugs community or cannabis smokers), but we aim to be clear about our focus. It is around those drug using populations who experience the most harm, that will drive the INPUD agenda.
So, some important areas were covered over our 2 days and the board members got to have their meetings as well. The next 2 days will be TB training and discussion given by WHO/UNAIDs but as Mat said, it is about giving them information as well, it is two way training and I’m sure they could learn a lot from us.
Ok, goodnight from Liverpool, and will report back with TB news shortly.
Th reality, the disease, the link with HIV, its role in drug using communities and how we can act!
a really interesting couple of days focussing on yet another disease laden with stigma – on a stigmatised group. So it presents some very real ingrained problems from drug companies not bothering to invest in TB drugs because it is seen as a ‘poor persons disease’ (there have been no new TB drugs for 40 years!!) to it fast becoming the reason HIV positive people are dying in many countries. It is difficult to diagnose in many cases despite 1/3 of the world having the antibodies (however only 5 – 10% of these are actually infectious) though again, the diagnositic tools are outdated and often complicated. To be continued..