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22/06/2023, Rome (Italy)

Humanitarian Drug Policy and “deflection“ event in Rome, Italy

On June 22nd, Massimo Barra, founder of Villa Maraini and the Rome Consensus, had the opportunity to talk about humanitarian drug policy and deflection with Law Enforcement representatives during a planting ceremony of an olive tree, donated by the Carabinieri (Italian Military Police).  The aim of the event was to celebrate the over 20 years of collaboration between Villa Maraini foundation and Carabinieiri in Rome.

During the last two decades Villa Maraini established a collaborative partnership with all Law Enforcement and Public Prosecutor officers in the Metropolitan area of Rome. While they were mainly focused in fighting drug trafficking, we had the chance to spread our humanitarian attitude in dealing with people who have drug problems. Year by year they recognized the therapeutic, evidence based and helpful role of Villa Maraini’s clinic center and social workers, and the development of a strong and collaborative partnership that allowed to diminish violence, stigma and overdoses on one side, and increase the access to treatment, the awareness on drug disorders, and the rates of people who started a treatment path.

The penalty must be re-educational and open places like Villa Maraini are fundamental spaces for restoring dignity to people, useful for removing them from a circuit of crime and exploitation by organizations dedicated to international drug dealing and giving them back the hope of a new life. Furthermore, this recovery work also helps us (Prosecutors/Judges) to improve our daily duty” this was said by the Deputy Prosecutor of the Republic at the Court of Rome, Giovanni Conzo.

A State that seriously wants to address the drug problem should have the interest to get in contact with all drug users and facilitate their access to treatment paths instead of prisons. Streets are the places where everyday law enforcement mainly encounter people with drug problems that use to commit minor crimes to get drug doses. It is therefore necessary to encourage a non-violent and therapeutic attitude from first responders, so they can carry out the first steps to ease the access to treatment for people that need help because they have a disease and not punishment.  Our role as Villa Maraini, open 24h/7, is also to be available to support law enforcement all around the city, in order to build a contact with the drug users in the streets or under arrest, providing help and treatment where they are, and assisting them through our social workers who know how to deal with people under effect of drugs, in overdose or with withdrawal syndrome. This service has a multiple impact, it helps clients, police and community” concluded Massimo Barra, founder of Villa Maraini.

Here a tv news where Massimo Barra talks about deflection and diversion


Click below to see how you can join the event in person or remotely:

Join our side events on March 16th, 2023 during the 66th session of the UNODC Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND):


9:00 AM CET “HUMANITARIAN DRUG POLICY: The Rome Consensus 2.0 as a pragmatic tool of advocacy to implement universal health coverage”


During 2022 our main goal was to bring the Rome Consensus to a higher level and get support from high level stakeholders. Here’s the most important achievements of 2022:

VIENNA, March 2022

We kicked off the year by receiving very powerful endorsements during the 65th UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs that took place in Vienna in March 2022:

“We are working with all the countries worldwide to facilitate access to treatment to all people with drug disorders in line with the Rome Consensus initiative”


Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (WHO Director-General)


“UNODC last year was active in 65 countries to guarantee access to treatment and reduce sufferance for people who use drugs, thanks to Italy and to Rome Consensus to encourage humanitarian drug policies”


Ghada Fathi Waly (UNODC Executive Director)


“The humanitarian approach to drug problems is the only way to make progress in the fight against addictions. The intervention must focus on the patient as a human being and on his/her health, and needs to be supported by evidence-based programmes. Governments should support civil society that undertakes all this. The Rome Consensus is a valuable initiative to achieve this goal”.


Minister Fabiana Dadone (former Italian Minister for Youth Policies with the mandate for Drug Policies)


The Rome Consensus 2.0 initiative is a good practice of effective cooperation between government and CSOs and a key tool to promote health and human rights protection for PWU. We need to ensure that all PWUD have access to lifesaving health services, free of stigma, transforming commitment into tangible action, strengthening effective, comprehensive, scientific evidence-based demand reduction initiatives in a continuum of care” Massimo Barra  (IFRC)

“We welcome initiatives like the Rome Consensus which is totally in line with Pompidou Group’s approach on health and human rights protection for PWUD”.


Denis Huber (Pompidou Group  of the Council of Europe Executive Secretary)

During the 65th UN CND the Rome Consensus 2.0 experts joined 2 side events: one organized by the Italian Government: “The Humanitarian approach to drug policy: opportunities and challenges for effective cooperation between public authorities and health-based organizations”, and another one organized by Chicago T.A.S.C. Inc. with the support of the Council of Europe, Pompidou Group, Knowmad Institut gemeinnützige UG (haftungsbeschränkt) and The Villa Maraini Foundation/Italian Red Cross: “Police and Drug Treatment Together: The Global Emergence of Deflection as a Humanitarian Crime Reduction Approach to Drugs”. Among the panelists we had representatives from South Africa Police Services (SAPS) and NGO’s organizations that we selected among the Rome Consensus 2.0 signatories.


ABU DHABI, May 2022

A Rome Consensus 2.0 delegation joined the ISSUP conference “Uniting the Global Community to face the challenge of addiction”.

Massimo Barra joined the Group of Experts on Drugs, invited by the US State Department Drug Bureau, and Mauro Patti presented an evidence-based research on the “Cost effectiveness of naloxone programs for the treatment of heroin overdoses on the street provided by non-medical staff” based on the long experience of the Villa Maraini Foundation, the first in the world who implemented this best practice. 

Jac Charlier (TASC, PTACC) presented about “Integrating treatment into the Criminal Justice System. Stakeholders’ perspective: Police, Prosecutors, Courts, Probation”, and about Police Deflection as a new global practice for recovery, crime reduction, and social justice.


ROMA, June 2022

Another unique and unprecedented achievement that our team experienced on the verge of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2022 was having Italy’s Head of State, Sergio Mattarella visiting Villa Maraini Foundation, the National Agency of the Italian Red Cross for pathological addictions. From President Mattarella’s speech, “when people succeed in their recovery path-as is so often the case-it is a great contribution to civilization and to humanity.”

REYKJAVIK, September 2022

In Iceland, Massimo Barra and Mauro Patti joined the Group of Experts on Drugs meeting, organized by the US State Department, in which experts and professionals of the field from all over the world discussed the global challenges of substance abuse with a scientific and humanitarian approach. The table was held on the sidelines of the “Planet Youth 2022” global meeting, in which young leaders discussed models and virtuous experiences in the field.


VIENNA, September 2022

A delegation of the Rome Consensus 2.0, led by its founder Massimo Barra joined the Intersessional meeting at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs to promote Humanitarian Drug Policy. A quote from his speech: “We must ensure that all PWUD have access to lifesaving health services, free of stigma, transforming commitment into tangible action, strengthening effective, comprehensive, scientific evidence-based demand reduction initiatives in a continuum of care”.


LONDON, October 2022

The Rome Consensus 2.0 initiative was presented by Romina Marchionne and Jac Charlier during the launch of PTACC UK at the House of Lords in the Parliament of the UK. The event was hosted by Lord Benjamin Lloyd Stormont Mancroft, sponsored by PTACC and C4 Recovery Foundation.


MALAGA, November 2022

The XXII General Meeting of ERNA (European and Central Red Cross/Red Crescent Network on HIV/AIDS, TB, Hepatitis and substance abuse) was hosted by the Spanish Red Cross in Malaga. More than 60 representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and the Villa Maraini Foundation along with a delegation of the Rome Consensus, renewed their commitment to address with humanity and compassion the problems related to infectious diseases and drug addiction in the Region among the most vulnerable ones. 


BOGOTA’, November 2022

In September 2022, Knowmad Institut, one of our main partners, sent an invitation to the President of Colombia to join RC2. On November 29th, Rev. Martin Diaz (Knowmad Institut CEO and Founder) received a letter signed by the Chief of the Presidential Cabinet about the invitation including the following statement:


“I appreciate the information kindly shared concerning the Rome Consensus 2.0 towards a humanitarian drug policy. The government of President Gustavo Petro values very positively all the efforts made by civil society to humanize the world drug problem and considers of the utmost importance to change the prohibitionist approach given to this problem, looking for current and innovative strategies that privilege public health, the protection of human rights and international cooperation. Concerning the invitation contained in your communication, I would like to inform you that the details of the document submitted will be carefully analyzed in the light of the new public policy on drugs to be formulated by the Ministry of Justice and Law in the coming months. 

Cordially yours, LAURA SAR, Chief of Cabinet Presidency”.


ROME, December 2022

Massimo Barra, co-founder of the RC2.0, had bilateral meetings with the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of the Italian Republic, Antonio Tajani, and also with the Counselor for Social Affairs of the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, in order to officially illustrate the Rome Consensus 2.0 strategy, aims and achievements. A solution that combines humanitarian attitudes in health, criminal justice, prevention and community responses to addiction problems, that can be used as a tool also by Member States to positively influence the international community, especially those countries that still have a punitive approach against people with drug disorders, against human rights.


SAVE THE DATE! Rome Consensus live Summit in Rome, 3-5 May 2023

The RC2 founders are glad to announce that very soon we will open a call for participants to join a 3 days meeting in Rome, Italy, to relaunch this humanitarian initiative together with new key stakeholders and supporters and discuss the future goals and challenges. 

500 organizations, more than 5.000 individual signatories from +70 different countries worldwide already signed. Stay tuned and save the date if you want to be part of this global initiative!

By supporting the Rome Consensus 2.0 initiative, you are helping us build a more compassionate and fair world, despite the obstacles placed in our way. 

We will keep moving forward in 2023 and beyond. We won’t stop until we achieve our vision for health, equity, and social justice.  We are grateful to have you alongside us in spreading Humanitarian Drug Policy goals and principles across the world.

Together, we did a lot in 2022:

We fought to treat substance use and related behavioral issues as a health issue, not a criminal problem.

We stood up for policies that save lives and strengthen communities.

We worked with many countries worldwide to promote and facilitate access to treatment and social justice for PWUD in line with UN SDGs.

We boosted the high level debate on Humanitarian Drug Policy across the world.


Rome Consensus 2.0 launches video series for International Overdose Awareness Day 2021

There is still so much we can achieve together and this year the Rome Consensus 2.0 will be joining the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, raise awareness and remember without stigma those who have died. The campaign has been launched globally by Penington Institute (Australia), International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held on 31 August each year and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

International Overdose Awareness Day and Rome Consensus 2.0 spread the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable.

Check out the Rome Consensus 2.0 video series for #IOAD2021: here.

For more information about Rome Consensus 2.0 on International Overdose Day 2021: here

ROME CONSENSUS & Support don't punish on world drug day 2021


On June 23, 2021 the Rome Consensus 2.0 partnership presented an online event: “Humanitarian Drug Policy across 5 continents” as part of a co-branded campaign that Rome Consensus presented under the theme Support Don’t Punish towards United Nations’ World Drug Day 2021. Panelists from Thailand, Australia, Nigeria, Lebanon, USA, Ukraine and Italy shared best practices, opinions and challenges about stigmatization and criminalization of people who use drugs, access to treatment, diversion and pre-arrest diversion. 




The Rome Consensus 2.0 alliance presented a virtual side event at the United Nations 64th Commission on Narcotic Drugs on April 16th, 2021: “Moving beyond the divisions in order to develop humanitarian drug policies: the role of the Rome Consensus 2.0 initiative”.

388 people registered to attend the event an audience of 207 participants from all over the world joined the panel. During the event all seven speakers agreed that the primary objective of humanitarian drug policy is to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain human dignity by fighting social, legal and cultural criminalization and stigmatization of people with substance use disorders. An essential step in achieving it is to overcome the false dichotomies between harm reduction, prevention, treatment and recovery. 

The shared goal of the statement is to reduce the health and social harms caused by non-science based drug policies that do not address issues related to reducing drug use and the attendant linkages between drugs and crime. Rather than punitive approaches, the Rome Consensus 2.0 calls for prevention, treatment, harm reduction, medication assisted recovery, and adoption of the newly emerging practice of deflection from arrest.

We were pleased and honored to see such a large number of participants from all over the world including many Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers, UN agencies, Government bodies, NGO’s, universities, health and social workers, law enforcement experts and human rights activists.

If you or your organization want to bring your commitment in supporting the upcoming Rome Consensus 2.0 events, please send an email to: