About us


In July of 2007 Dianova International was granted “Special Consultative Status” to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). Consultative Status was awarded on the basis of a number of key criteria, including Dianova’s work in three of the United Nations’ principal fields of interest: addiction, youth and education.

Of what importance is Consultative Status?
Nongovernmental organizations are able to establish a mutually beneficial cooperative relationship with the UN, through consultative status to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), one of the UN’s main bodies. In order to fulfill its mission more effectively, ECOSOC calls upon the resources offered by NGO’s whose activities and expertise may complement those of the UN.
In concrete terms, consultative status conveys a number of privileges, the principle ones being: attendance at ECOSOC meetings and conferences and those of its subsidiary bodies, the opportunity to submit written statements and, in certain cases, to make oral presentations; participation in UN-led international conferences; and attendance at General Assembly special sessions, as well as at other intergovernmental meetings.

Activities of Interest to the UN
Dianova is engaged in promoting social progress and individual self-reliance through numerous initiatives that so far impact nineteen items of the United Nations’ agenda, among which are:

  • Residential and outpatient drug treatment programs (referral, treatment, reintegration)
  • Prevention (addiction, delinquency and other at-risk behaviors)
  • Youth personal development
  • Access to formal schooling (primary and secondary education)
  • Remedial work for homeless individuals
  • Sustainable and adequate housing
  • Remedial work for street youth
  • Gender equality

Nearly twenty different programs are offered by Dianova member organizations in twelve countries of Europe, South America and North America, caring for approximately 5,000 persons every year, with an overall annual budget of 15 million Euros. To mention a few of these initiatives:

  • In Nicaragua, disadvantaged and rural children have access to formal schooling, in addition to a social support program developed by Dianova with the cooperation with the national government. In 2008, more than 300 pupils entered our primary and secondary school programs.
  • In Spain, educational programs address two different groups of adolescents at-risk for social exclusion: 1) adolescents with social maladjustments, including the use of illegal substances, delinquency or potential delinquency; and 2) unaccompanied migrant minors, confronting the same situation with no secure social or family environment.
  • In the United States, programs provide personal development activities and workshops, including environmental education, all designed primarily to help disadvantaged young people build protection factors against social risks (delinquency, drug use, school drop-out, etc.)
  • In Canada, a program is designed to help homeless individuals integrate into mainstream society while promoting a better understanding and acceptance of homelessness by the mainstream population.
  • In Chile, substance abusing women with dependent children can enter a holistic residential program consisting of drug treatment and the development of family bonds, child care, education, nutrition, parenting skills reinforcement).

According to Ms. Montserrat Rafel, Executive Director of Dianova International, “the achievement of consultative status to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations represented a milestone in the development of the Dianova network.
Ms. Rafel further states: “Beyond the acknowledgement of the importance of the programs offered by our member organizations, it represents an opportunity to begin working with the United Nations, with other NGO’s and with UN member states. We strongly believe that the sharing of expertise and experience in areas of mutual concern works to the benefit of all those participating in the process”

“The experience of Dianova in its twelve member countries, and with the multiple people groups within and beyond these countries who seek our services, bring about an invaluable, multicultural outlook”, Ms. Rafel notes:

“We learn every day in the field, and we use what works best, depending of course on the characteristics of the individuals themselves, including their various cultural considerations. This is the reason why we expect great things of ourselves in our role as 'consultant' to ECOSOC, and why we wish to share our diverse sensibilities and contribute our experience and expertise to decision-making processes at the international level"

The criminalisation of illicit drug users is fuelling the HIV epidemic and has resulted in overwhelmingly negative health and social consequences. A full policy reorientation is needed.

More on: http://www.viennadeclaration.com/the-declaration.html

In response to the health and social harms of illegal drugs, a large international drug prohibition regime has been developed under the umbrella of the United Nations.1  Decades of research provide a comprehensive assessment of the impacts of the global “War on Drugs” and, as thousands of individuals gather in Vienna at the XVIII International AIDS Conference, the international scientific community calls for an acknowledgement of the limits and harms of drug prohibition, and for drug policy reform to remove barriers to effective HIV prevention, treatment and care.

The evidence that law enforcement has failed to prevent the availability of illegal drugs, in communities where there is demand, is now unambiguous.2, 3Over the last several decades, national and international drug surveillance systems have demonstrated a general pattern of falling drug prices and increasing drug purity—despite massive investments in drug law enforcement.3,4

Furthermore, there is no evidence that increasing the ferocity of law enforcement meaningfully reduces the prevalence of drug use.5  The data also clearly demonstrate that the number of countries in which people inject illegal drugs is growing, with women and children becoming increasingly affected.6 Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, injection drug use accounts for approximately one in three new cases of HIV.7, 8  In some areas where HIV is spreading most rapidly, such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia, HIV prevalence can be as high as 70% among people who inject drugs, and in some areas more than 80% of all HIV cases are among this group.8  
In the context of overwhelming evidence that drug law enforcement has failed to achieve its stated objectives, it is important that its harmful consequences be acknowledged and addressed. These consequences include but are not limited to:

  • HIV epidemics fuelled by the criminalisation of people who use illicit drugs and by prohibitions on the provision of sterile needles and opioid substitution treatment.9, 10
  • HIV outbreaks among incarcerated and institutionalised drug users as a result of punitive laws and policies and a lack of HIV prevention services in these settings.11-13
  • The undermining of public health systems when law enforcement drives drug users away from prevention and care services and into environments where the risk of infectious disease transmission (e.g., HIV, hepatitis C & B, and tuberculosis) and other harms is increased.14-16
  • A crisis in criminal justice systems as a result of record incarceration rates in a number of nations.17, 18  This has negatively affected the social functioning of entire communities. While racial disparities in incarceration rates for drug offences are evident in countries all over the world, the impact has been particularly severe in the US, where approximately one in nine African-American males in the age group 20 to 34 is incarcerated on any given day, primarily as a result of drug law enforcement.19
  • Stigma towards people who use illicit drugs, which reinforces the political popularity of criminalising drug users and undermines HIV prevention and other health promotion efforts.20, 21
  • Severe human rights violations, including torture, forced labour, inhuman and degrading treatment, and execution of drug offenders in a number of countries.22, 23
  • A massive illicit market worth an estimated annual value of US$320 billion.4  These profits remain entirely outside the control of government. They fuel crime, violence and corruption in countless urban communities and have destabilised entire countries, such as Colombia, Mexico and Afghanistan.4
  • Billions of tax dollars wasted on a “War on Drugs” approach to drug control that does not achieve its stated objectives and, instead, directly or indirectly contributes to the above harms.24

Unfortunately, evidence of the failure of drug prohibition to achieve its stated goals, as well as the severe negative consequences of these policies, is often denied by those with vested interests in maintaining the status quo.25 This has created confusion among the public and has cost countless lives. Governments and international organisations have ethical and legal obligations to respond to this crisis and must seek to enact alternative evidence-based strategies that can effectively reduce the harms of drugs without creating harms of their own. We, the undersigned, call on governments and international organisations, including the United Nations, to:

  • Undertake a transparent review of the effectiveness of current drug policies.
  • Implement and evaluate a science-based public health approach to address the individual and community harms stemming from illicit drug use.
  • Decriminalise drug users, scale up evidence-based drug dependence treatment options and abolish ineffective compulsory drug treatment centres that violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.26
  • Unequivocally endorse and scale up funding for the implementation of the comprehensive package of HIV interventions spelled out in the WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS Target Setting Guide.27
  • Meaningfully involve members of the affected community in developing, monitoring and implementing services and policies that affect their lives.

We further call upon the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to urgently implement measures to ensure that the United Nations system—including the International Narcotics Control Board—speaks with one voice to support the decriminalisation of drug users and the implementation of evidence-based approaches to drug control.28

Basing drug policies on scientific evidence will not eliminate drug use or the problems stemming from drug injecting. However, reorienting drug policies towards evidence-based approaches that respect, protect and fulfil human rights has the potential to reduce harms deriving from current policies and would allow for the redirection of the vast financial resources towards where they are needed most: implementing and evaluating evidence-based prevention, regulatory, treatment and harm reduction interventions.


  1. William B McAllister. Drug diplomacy in the twentieth century: an international history. Routledge, New York, 2000.
  2. Reuter P. Ten years after the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS): assessing drug problems, policies and reform proposals. Addiction2009;104:510-7.
  3. United States Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Price and Purity of Illicit Drugs: 1981 through the Second Quarter of 2003. Executive Office of the President; Washington, DC, 2004.
  4. World Drug Report 2005. Vienna: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; 2005.
  5. Degenhardt L, Chiu W-T, Sampson N, et al. Toward a global view of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and cocaine use: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. PLOS Medicine 2008;5:1053-67.
  6. Mathers BM, Degenhardt L, Phillips B, et al. Global epidemiology of injecting drug use and HIV among people who inject drugs: A systematic review. Lancet2008;372:1733-45.
  7. Wolfe D, Malinowska-Sempruch K. Illicit drug policies and the global HIV epidemic: Effects of UN and national government approaches. New York: Open SocietyInstitute; 2004.
  8. 2008 Report on the global AIDS epidemic. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; Geneva, 2008.
  9. Lurie P, Drucker E. An opportunity lost: HIV infections associated with lack of a national needle-exchange programme in the USA. Lancet 1997;349:604.
  10. . Rhodes T, Lowndes C, Judd A, et al. Explosive spread and high prevalence of HIV infection among injecting drug users in Togliatti City, Russia. AIDS2002;16:F25.
  11. Taylor A, Goldberg D, Emslie J, et al. Outbreak of HIV infection in a Scottish prison. British Medical Journal 1995;310:289.
  12. Sarang A, Rhodes T, Platt L, et al. Drug injecting and syringe use in the HIV risk environment of Russian penitentiary institutions: qualitative study. Addiction2006;101:1787.
  13. . Jurgens R, Ball A, Verster A. Interventions to reduce HIV transmission related to injecting drug use in prison. Lancet Infectious Disease 2009;9:57-66.
  14. Davis C, Burris S, Metzger D, Becher J, Lynch K. Effects of an intensive street-level police intervention on syringe exchange program utilization: Philadelphia,Pennsylvania. American Journal of Public Health 2005;95:233.
  15. Bluthenthal RN, Kral AH, Lorvick J, Watters JK. Impact of law enforcement on syringe exchange programs: A look at Oakland and San Francisco. Medical Anthropology 1997;18:61.
  16. Rhodes T, Mikhailova L, Sarang A, et al. Situational factors influencing drug injecting, risk reduction and syringe exchange in Togliatti City, Russian Federation: a qualitative study of micro risk environment. Social Science & Medicine 2003;57:39.
  17. Fellner J, Vinck P. Targeting blacks: Drug law enforcement and race in the United States. New York: Human Rights Watch; 2008.
  18. Drucker E. Population impact under New York's Rockefeller drug laws: An analysis of life years lost. Journal of Urban Health 2002;79:434-44.
  19. Warren J, Gelb A, Horowitz J, Riordan J. One in 100: Behind bars in America 2008. The Pew Center on the States Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts 2008.
  20. Rhodes T, Singer M, Bourgois P, Friedman SR, Strathdee SA. The social structural production of HIV risk among injecting drug users. Social Science & Medicine 2005;61:1026.
  21. Ahern J, Stuber J, Galea S. Stigma, discrimination and the health of illicit drug users. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2007;88:188.
  22. Elliott R, Csete J, Palepu A, Kerr T. Reason and rights in global drug control policy. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2005;172:655-6.
  23. Edwards G, Babor T, Darke S, et al. Drug trafficking: time to abolish the death penalty. Addiction 2009;104:3.
  24. The National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (2001).  Shoveling up: The impact of substance abuse on State budgets.
  25. Wood E, Montaner JS, Kerr T. Illicit drug addiction, infectious disease spread, and the need for an evidence-based response. Lancet Infectious Diseases2008;8:142-3.
  26. Klag S, O'Callaghan F, Creed P. The use of legal coercion in the treatment of substance abusers: An overview and critical analysis of thirty years of research.Substance Use & Misuse 2005;40:1777.
  27. WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS 2009. Technical Guide for countries to set targets for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for injection drug users.
  28. Wood E, Kerr T. Could a United Nations organisation lead to a worsening of drug-related harms? Drug and Alcohol Review 2010;29:99-100.

Statement submitted by Dianova International prior to the fifty-ninth session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

In 2015, which marks the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, the entire international community should undertake a renewed and strong commitment to human rights in general, and to women’s empowerment in particular, with a view to reaching the goal of gender equality. This goal is both a fundamental right and a crucial condition for achieving sustainable human development. However, despite the great progress that has been made, no country, even among those that have made most progress with regard to the issue, has been able to eliminate gender-based discrimination entirely.

Discrimination against women and girls is a human construct, and can therefore be eradicated by changing the behaviours and attitudes of both men and women. To that end, the international community can draw support from a number of universally recognized and accepted texts and treaties, the shared aim of which is to put an end to discrimination against women and to promote gender equality.

Access to education, especially in rural areas, is particularly important for women’s empowerment, as education enables women not only to make informed and responsible decisions with regard to reproduction, but also to break the cycle of exploitation and poverty. This is why the greatest possible effort should be made in this area, while at the same time tackling the root cause of these problems by combating gender stereotypes and encouraging more respectful relationships.

We, the member organizations of the Dianova International network, call upon the Member States that are taking part in the fifty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women to implement the on women’s rights instruments that they have all ratified, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the General Assembly’s Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993), the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and Security Council resolution 1325.

At a time when many countries in the Middle East are threatened directly by religious fundamentalism, we are particularly worried by arguments based on religion, tradition or culture in order to justify the status quo with regard to the promotion of women’s rights, as such arguments perpetuate violence and discrimination against women.

For these reasons, we call on the Commission to establish a roadmap for women’s empowerment, based on the following:

Promoting basic education for women and girls, particularly in rural areas, to help them to manage their own health and that of their family and to develop skills so that they can contribute to the development of their communities;

Eliminating the legal, social and financial obstacles that form the basis for discrimination against women and girls; promoting the creation of a broad range of support services and mechanisms for the protection of women’s rights that are accessible to all women, regardless of their age;

Creating a high-quality sex education pathway, starting at the primary-school level, in order to help women and girls to take responsibility for their sexual and reproductive health, as this would also help to combat poverty and create social cohesion;

Developing high-quality, accessible services for the provision of information, contraception, maternal care, and care and treatment for sexually transmitted and blood-borne diseases, among other services;

Promoting women’s participation in all spheres of public and private debate, particularly by setting up quotas, and encouraging all other forms of positive action aimed at enabling women to build up a critical mass in terms of participation at all levels of government and in the boardrooms of public and private companies;

Adopting and implementing policies and mobilizing resources to enable women who are victims of violence to access protection measures, care and justice;

Putting an end to practices and customs that endanger the health and security of women and girls, such as forced marriage and genital mutilation;

Combating all forms of human trafficking, and taking administrative and legislative measures to prevent and combat the exploitation of women and girls in prostitution and pornography; fighting against the stereotypes used in advertising; combating all new forms of exploitation of and violence against women and girls that have emerged as a result of the development of new technologies, in particular those that involve the Internet and social networks;

Promoting meaningful partnerships between governments and civil society, in particular women’s organizations and third-sector organizations, during the implementation and development of the post-2015 agenda;

Identifying and promoting initiatives and best practices with regard to the inclusion of women in governing and managing bodies, particularly those implemented by third-sector organizations.

Vienna – In the framework of the annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), Dianova International organized a parallel event to present the treatment implemented at Can Parellada therapeutic community (Barcelona, Spain) and the relevance of long-term programs in treating addiction.

The session took place on Thursday 20th March at the building of the United Nations, and was moderated by Ms. Elena Goti (Dianova International). The event was primarily intended for representatives of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), technicians from various countries as well as for NGO representatives working in this field.

Marta Bonet and Esther Martos, both psychologists at Can Paerellada presented the organization Dianova, the profile of the residents and focused on Dianova's intervention models as well as on the activities implemented during each stage of treatment process. One of the distinctive elements of Dianova's treatment program is its individualized nature, with characteristics tailored to each person's needs and expectations.

Moreover, they presented the various activities implemented for the residents and their objectives. These include individualized and group psychotherapy, relapse prevention group sessions, occupational and arts and crafts workshops, leisure activities, internal and external training and activities to support the residents' upcoming social and professional reintegration.

One of the crucial elements of Can Parellada´s treatment program is that it requires time. In our culture of immediacy and in today's challenging economic times this element has almost been dismissed. Nevertheless, as Marta Bonet explained, time is a key element to achieve one's rehab successfully. It takes time to assess the overall problems residents are confronted with and to design a specific, individualized treatment plan. Furthermore, the brain needs time to stabilize and recover. Finally, residents need time to acquire healthy life-styles.

The participants were very active in the Q&A and they requested more information on the relapse prevention programs, admission procedures, frequence of activities, the needs of the residents, etc. The representative of the Greek NGO Kethea referred to the presentation as a ¨breath of fresh air¨ as it is unusual to address long-term treatment programs in a time where short-term and substitution treatments tend to prevail.

Dianova Canada, Inc. and the Canadian Government have recently entered into a partnership designed to take young, at risk adults off the streets of major eastern Canadian cities (Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa). The Dianova Urban Breakaway Program falls under the federal government’s Drug Strategy Community Initiatives Fund.

Download program's leaflet (pdf)

This particular Dianova program acts as a merging point between the federal government and the community non-profit sector by partnering with reputable, well-established organizations specialized in the area of social services, education, homelessness and addiction. Dianova consolidates the resources of different social service sectors and creates The Dianova Breakaway program, which is designed specifically to help the participants raise their potential autonomy...

The base of this program is a 6 day residential stay at Dianova Canada’s countryside center in Quebec, Canada. The 6 day intensive stay gives participants a chance to reflect on the possibility for positive life change. Fun, recreational, educational and healthy activities are organized in a safe, drug and alcohol free, stress free and friendly atmosphere. Additionally, the program offers educational workshops run by trained facilitators, such as a licensed nutritionist and certified therapeutic counsellors. A few examples of these highly specialized workshops and programs offered at Dianova’s facility are “Health and Nutrition” – designed to address general nutrition, eating habits, nutrition corresponding to addiction and food/budget management and “Dianova’s Therapeutic Ropes Challenge Course program” - designed to address leadership and independent living under the theme: Turning Over a New leaf/New Beginnings.

Currently, Dianova is working in partnership with Dans la rue/Chez Pops, Accueil Bonneau, The Old Brewery Mission (Montreal), YMCA House, YMCA Substance Abuse Program, SKETCH & Youthlink, Shout Clinic, Eva’s Initiatives, TPYS (Toronto). Partnerships are pending in Ottawa and Quebec City.

Summary of the Douglas Hospital research report on the Urban Breakaway Program (pdf document)