Yury Fedotov

Director General/Executive Director

Remarks at the High-level Opening of the Civil Society Forum in Preparation for UNGASS 2016

New York, 18 April 2016


Mr. President,


Distinguished participants,

My warm thanks to Mr. Esbjörn Hörnberg, Chair of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs and the Civil Society Task Force for UNGASS 2016, for the invitation.

Civil society is a vital partner in all our efforts to address the challenges posed by the world drug problem, and I am very glad we could meet here just one day ahead of the General Assembly special session.

I welcome the key role civil society has played throughout the UNGASS preparatory process.

Civil society representatives will be speaking at the plenary and the five interactive roundtable discussions, as well as at numerous side events.

Your inputs and contributions, including through the efforts of the Civil Society Task Force, have helped to enrich the UNGASS debate.

For this I would like to commend the work of the Task Force, as well as its Vice Chairs, Ms. Heather Haase and Ms. Elisa Rubini.

Another step forward in our joint efforts to promote balanced, integrated and evidence-based approaches to illicit drugs is the launch of the "Marketplace" online platform at this forum.

The Marketplace is an initiative by UNODC and the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs that will help to shed light on the work undertaken by civil society organizations and to support sharing of experience and expertise on drug-related issues.

UNGASS 2016 is of course not an end in itself, but a means to tackle the problems we face more effectively.

The outcome document recommended for adoption at the special session contains a number of operational actions.

UNODC is looking forward to strengthening our cooperation with you on the ground, to translate Member States' agreed commitments into practical measures to help people, and address the multifaceted challenges posed by illicit drugs.

UNODC has worked with some 500 non-governmental and civil society organizations at the local, national, regional and global levels on prevention, harm reduction, treatment, social integration and alternative development.

Working with you, we have helped increase access to evidence and rights-based treatment and care in over 40 countries, and promoted access to controlled drugs for medical purposes.

Through grants and funds, we have supported NGOs to undertake drug use prevention activities empowering youth, and to promote strategic initiatives in HIV prevention, treatment, care and support among people who inject drugs.

This necessary work must continue and be strengthened.

I thank all civil society representatives for your active participation and dedication, in working with UNODC, and in the process leading to this very important UNGASS.

We rely on your continued cooperation.