Public Policy Debate: “Drugs—It’s About Health, Not Policing”

In collaboration with the Open Society Foundation’s Global Drug Policy Program, the CEU School of Public Policy will organize a series of debates devoted to complex and interdisciplinary issues raised by illicit drugs and global and national policy responses to drugs.

The first debate will focus on what some see as incompatible objectives of national drug policy—ensuring public health and conducting effective policing. In many settings, it has been shown that aggressive drug policing tends to drive people who use drugs underground and away from health services, and that health services are especially absent when people are in police custody. The Global Commission on Drug Policy, an expert body including politicians, artists, business leaders and scholars, has suggested that in drug policy, policing should be balanced by explicit efforts to ensure access to health services, including finding alternatives to arrest and incarceration for minor drug infractions.

Other stakeholders have also contributed to the debate. For example, in 2011, the participants of the Strategic Meeting on Public Security and Drug Policies, which consists of high-level law enforcement agents and police officers from around the world, published a declaration that emphasized the need to reform drug policies in a way that would allow law enforcement agencies to direct their focus and resources more effectively.

With the participation from representatives of the Global Commission, the Open Society Foundations, and from a law enforcement agency, this first panel will discuss the impacts of existing drug policies on health-related issues, alternative approaches to drug-related law enforcement, and prospects for reform around the world.

This event is free and open to the public.


  • Opening Remarks: George Soros, Open Society Foundations and CEU Founder and Honorary Chair of the Board of Trustees

  • Dr. Michel Kazatchkine:  Global Commission on Drug Policy, Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, former Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

  • Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch: Director of the Global Drug Policy Program at Open Society Foundations, formerly head of the International Harm Reduction Program of the Open Society Foundations.

  • Roger Flury: Federal Criminal Police of Switzerland, Police Liaison Officer for the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia at the Embassy of Switzerland—Prague.

  • Moderator: Balazs Denes, Executive Director, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union.

Date: November 22, 2012
Time: 5:007:00 p.m.

Auditorium, Central European University, Nador u. 9, Monument Building, Budapest, Hungary

Balazs Denes, Roger Flury, Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, Kasia Malinowska, and George Soros