Youth Address to the 54th Session of the Subcommission on Illicit Drug Traffic and Related Matters in the Near and Middle East in Tashkent

"We do not think that drugs are harmless or fun. We understand the seriousness of the problem and we are willing to help. Therefore, we urge you:  listen to us, listen to our ideas, support us, and let us help you make the world a better place" said Ms. Sadokat Ibodova, one of the outstanding students participating at the special youth session of the 54th Session of the Subcommission on Illicit Drug Traffic and Related Matters in the Near and Middle East.

On 25 September, the working group of the Subcommission discussed the importance of measures that take into account the specific needs and circumstances of children and young people with regard to the world drug problem. Moreover, the session provided opportunity to share national experiences in mainstreaming focus on youth and children into all stages of the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of drug demand reduction policies and programmes. It was evident that such programmes place the safety, health and well-being of all members of society, in particular our youth and children, at the center of efforts with a view to promote and protect health, including access to treatment.

To ensure that session would fit to the needs of the main beneficiaries of this session, youth and children, the Government of Uzbekistan jointly with the UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia organized a special youth session right before the working group. This intervention provided the opportunity for the youth of Uzbekistan to voice and share their vision and thoughts on the matter. At this rare moment of the history of the Subcommission, young boys and girls addressed the delegates and shared their concerns and ways to solve the drug problems among youth.

"Family-based prevention should target the enhancement of family bonding and affectionate relationships and include better parenting that will aid the reduction of the negative effects of peer pressure particularly on drug abuse. Family bonding is the bedrock of the relationship between parents and children. Bonding can be a result of parent supportiveness of children, longer hours of parent-child communication, and parental involvement in children's personal and social problems." - Mr. Azamat Norov, Level 5 Student of the Commercial Law Faculty, Westminster International university in Tashkent.

"We, as youth, acknowledge that there is not only one single reason for why some of our peers start to experiment with harmful substances. This can be due to difficulties in the family, poor or marginalized communities, easy accessibility of substances, lack of accurate scientific information, or as a way to escape from stress or social pressure. We believe that combatting these underlying problems through measures such as strong social protection, quality education, and psychological help to troubled youth can be more effective in reducing drug consumption. We also call upon the policymakers to prioritize the health and wellbeing of the youth, to protect them from the availability of harmful substances, and to oppose all exclusion and punishment, offering support and treatment instead."- Ms. Sadokat Ibodova, 2nd year student of the International Relations Faculty, the University of World Economy and Diplomacy.

"Teenagers deny everything if it is clear they are deemed not clever enough. We do not have to spell them it is W-R-O-N-G and paint it red and glue it on their forehead. Rather, it should be shown unobtrusively and low-key and not be the main message. For instance, making a supportive but attractive character in a quality movie, who tries the substance and experiences all the side effects apart from the drug intoxication. They need not die at the end from overdosing or becoming homeless (how it is usually portrayed in the advertisements), but to understand the lesson in the middle of the movie and move on with their life, rehabilitating." - Ms. Kamilla Ubaydullaeva, Westminster International University in Tashkent.

"By identifying drug users in the early stages and redirecting them to a healthy lifestyle, we will fulfill one of the Targets of the Sustainable Development Goal 3." - Mr. Shakhobbek Juraev, the University of World Economy and Diplomacy.

"We - the youth of Uzbekistan, are firmly convinced that combatting drug trafficking can only be realized through peaceful political ways and means, with strict observance of the basic principles of international law." - Mr. Davronbek Ergashev, the University of World Economy and Diplomacy.

The statements by youth helped the delegates to better understand the issues around drug abuse among youth. This interaction provided opportunity for delegates to look at this issue from the youth's perspective.

In the outcome document of the thirtieth special session of the General Assembly, entitled "Our joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem" (UNGASS 2016), Member States devoted a subsection to recommendations on cross-cutting issues, including drugs and youth, thereby highlighting the need to take into account the specific needs and circumstances faced by youth with regard to the world drug problem. Due to advancements in technology, increased resource development and expansion of populations, children and adolescents become increasingly vulnerable.

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