UNITE Policy Desk to develop and advance drug policy reform in partnership with the APPG for Drug Policy Reform

UNITE seeks to be politically impactful across all major communicable diseases & global health priorities including COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria, Viral Hepatitis, Pandemic Preparedness, Neglected Tropical Diseases or Waterborne Diseases.  

Focusing on a whole-of-government approach, we propose to grow political momentum by working on a wide range of cross-cutting issues ensuring political & policy pathways for a larger consensus in a global health ecosystem.


At the UNITE Global Summit, held virtually in September 2020, UNITE launched a new workstream to develop and advance drug policy reform. This new initiative is in partnership with the UK based All-Party Parliamentary Drug Reform Group. While policy on illegal drugs is controversial, it is a policy area that has been dominated for decades by a repressive and criminal justice approach – the War on Drugs. A move to a more public health approach is long overdue. This is why UNITE is involved in the issue – to promote policies that are better at promoting public and individual health.

The UNITE/APPG programme  

The programme aims to promote: 

  • Drug policy reform on alternatives to incarceration for people who use drugs
  • Policy reform to reverse overpopulated prisons by releasing inmates facing minor drug-related charges
  • Promote drug policy reform on cannabis for recreational use

UNITE and the APPG will promote better public and individual health policies to a growing network of parliamentarians. This work’s initial focus will be on parliamentarians from Portugal, Kenya, Morocco, and Zimbabwe.  

To achieve these goals, the UNITE/APPG programme will: 

  • Gather data and advice from multiple stakeholders and credible sources for developing timely action-based tools, policies, and legislative alternatives specific to each countries’ background.
  • Involve global, regional, and local actors, to assess the political landscape and local appetite for policy-reform;
  • Assemble and monitor the proposed alternatives, checking their feasibility, stakeholder engagement, and effectiveness based on evidence and expert advice.