Home > Peer, professional, and public: an analysis of the drugs policy advocacy community in Europe.

O'Gorman, Aileen and Quigley, Eoghan and Zobel, Frank and Moore, Kerri (2014) Peer, professional, and public: an analysis of the drugs policy advocacy community in Europe. International Journal of Drug Policy, 25, (5), pp. 1001-1008. doi: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.04.020.

In recent decades a range of advocacy organisations have emerged on the drugs policy landscape seeking to shape the development of policy at national and international levels. This development has been facilitated by the expansion of ‘democratic spaces’ for civil society participation in governance fora at national and supranational level. However, little is known about these policy actors - their aims, scope, organisational structure, or the purpose of their engagement.

Drug policy advocacy organisations were defined as organisations with a clearly stated aim to influence policy and which were based in Europe. Data on these organisations was collected through a systematic tri-lingual (English, French and Spanish) internet search, supplemented by information provided by national agencies in the 28 EU member states, Norway and Turkey. In order to differentiate between the diverse range of activities, strategies and standpoints of these groups, information from the websites was used to categorise the organisations by their scope of operation, advocacy tools and policy constituencies; and by three key typologies - the type of advocacy they engaged in, their organisational type, and their advocacy objectives and orientation.

The study identified over two hundred EU-based advocacy organisations (n = 218) which included civil society associations, NGOs, and large-scale alliances and coalitions, operating at local, national and European levels. Three forms of advocacy emerged from the data analysis - peer, professional and public policy. These groups focused their campaigns on practice development (harm reduction or abstinence) and legislative reform (reducing or strengthening drug controls).

The findings from this study provide a nuanced profile of civil society advocacy as a policy community in the drugs field; their legitimacy to represent cases, causes, social values and ideals; their focus on both insider and outsider strategies to achieve their goals. The level of convergence and divergence in Europe in relation to policy positions on service provision ethos and drug control regulation is indicated.

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doi: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.04.020
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pp. 1001-1008
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