Reshaping drug policies: development, human rights, health

Project description

Title: Global Partnership on Drug Policies and Development (GPDPD)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2015 to 2022


Developments in recent years show a clear increase in the cultivation, production and use of illegal drugs. The illegal cultivation of coca and opium poppy is at an all-time high. This affects especially disadvantaged regions in developing countries and emerging economies. Drug trafficking is particularly prevalent in regions where state institutions are too weak to deal with the issue” Organised crime, violence and corruption are closely linked to the diffusion of drug economies, despite further hampering the countries’ development.

Die Drogenbeauftragte der Bundesregierung, Marlene Mortler MdB, auf einer Nebenveranstaltung der VN-Suchtstoffkommission zur alternativen Entwicklung 2016 © GIZ

The German Federal Government is committed to support affected states in tackling illicit economies. The framework for such activities is provided by the outcome document of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016) and the annual resolutions of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). 

International drug policies are currently in transition. They are moving away from the so-called war on drugs and increasingly incorporate human rights, development issues, and public health concepts such as harm reduction. Interested governments, however, often lack serviceable and scientific approaches that help them attain these goals. Working on behalf of the BMZ, this is where the the Global Partnership on Drug Policies and Development (GPDPD) comes in.


Interested governments increasingly gear their drug policies towards development, human rights and health. 



The project helps to position and implement innovative and holistic approaches to drug policies at the international level. It is the first inter-ministerial project on drug policy based on a cooperation arrangement between BMZ and the Federal Drug Commissioner in the German Federal Ministry of Health (BMG).

The focus is on four fields of activity:

  1. The project provides an international dialogue forum in the United Nations (UN) with regard to drug policy approaches geared towards development, human rights and health.
  2. It works directly with interested governments in South-East Europe, South-East Asia and Latin America to adapt drug policy instruments on a local level.
  3. It helps to expand the scientific foundations for innovative drug policy approaches.
  4. It disseminates innovative drug policy approaches among international experts.

In all four fields of activity, the project works in close cooperation with its international implementation partners: the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Mae Fah Luang Foundation Under Royal Patronage (in Thailand), and the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) Transnational Institute (based in Amsterdam), as well as the London-based International Drug Policy Consortium. The project also works with renowned research institutions such as the London School of Economics (LSE) and the University of Essex. In addition, it cooperates on specific issues with civil society groups, including the Open Society Foundations (OSF) and Harm Reduction International.


On behalf of BMZ, the project regularly participates in meetings held by the CND. Since 2015, it has successfully negotiated several UN resolutions with a view to anchoring the BMZ’s approach to drug policy on an international level. Likewise, it incorporated the approaches of BMZ and BMG with regard to handling drug cultivation and use into the UNGASS 2016 outcome document. 

The project supported the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy, which were presented to CND in 2019. Together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the University of Essex and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, it produced a guiding document that allows governments to navigate potential conflicts between the UN human rights- and drug control regimes.

Soldat im Kokafeld, Kolumbien, Copyright GPDPD/GIZ

The project facilitates reforms concerning drug crop cultivation and use in South America, South-East Asia and South-East Europe. Colombia, Myanmar and Thailand have since redesigned their drugs strategies and action plans in consultation with GPDPD.

GPDPD has supported several research projects on drug cultivation and use, the results of which have been included in the relevant UN World Drug Reports in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019. 

Additional information

Additional information