At The Heart of the Response: Reunion of the International Harm Reduction Movement

May 22, 2017

Watch our conference movie and learn more about the key issues highlighted at the Harm Reduction International Conference in Montreal, 14-17 May 2017!    

This year's international harm reduction conference was very productive for the Rights Reporter Foundation. This a list of what we have achieved in these three days: 

- The International Rolleston Award was given to Istvan Gabor Takacs, RRF's video manager, and Peter Sarosi, the director of RRF, for their outstanding work in the field of international harm reduction advocacy
- 25 movies from more than 15 countries were screened at the conference film festival under the title Drugreporter Film Sessions. The RRF selected and presented them in thematic and geographical blocks during the conference - our head of administration, Magda Major, facilitated the sessions (movies will be posted on our website soon!)
- 6 movies produced by us were screened at the conference
- 5 movies produced by the members of our video advocacy network were screened
- 3 sessions included an RRF speaker. We discussed issues such as harm reduction in Hungary, shrinking space for civil society, and populism
- 1 session was chaired by us on drug user activism and resistance
- 1 conference movie was produced by our team and presented at the closing session of the conference - please watch & share below!

While we were making this movie we realised again and again that harm reduction is so much more than just reducing the harms of drug use. Harm reduction is more than just a “set of health interventions“ that are part of the UN comprehensive package of HIV prevention interventions; much more than a supplementary side dish on the plate of drug policies. Ultimately, harm reduction is a movement for freedom, for social justice, and for human dignity. 

And as harm reduction is more than the reduction of harm, the International Harm Reduction Conference itself is so much more than just sharing experiences, best practices, and learning about new trends of harm reduction. Most people who come here are coming from communities where they work in extremely repressive and hostile environments. 

If we work in such environments and wake up every day to a world that tries to attack us, discredit us, or sometimes even torture or kill us or the people we love, we can easily lose our faith in a better world, we can lose our motivation to continue the fight, and we can even lose our self-esteem as human beings. 

The International Harm Reduction Conference is the reunion of a movement that can give us back our hope for a better world, and our confidence that our actions matter. Despite our disagreements and internal conflicts, it reconnects us to a global community that shares our ideas and goals, gives us a feeling of unity, and reminds us that we are not alone - that we are a part of something bigger. 

Posted by Peter Sarosi and Istvan Gabor Takacs