Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries

High-Level Expert Group Meeting on "Preventing Drug Abuse in Educational Settings: Fostering Regional Cooperation and Partnership" 

Islamabad, 13 February 2019

Building on and contributing towards implementation of Resolution 61/2 " strengthening efforts to prevent drug abuse in educational settings" adopted during the sixty-first session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2018, a High-level Expert Group Meeting on "Prevention Drug Abuse in Educational Settings: Fostering Regional Cooperation and Partnership" was convened jointly by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Narcotics Control of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the UNODC Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries. The Expert Group Meeting was followed by a one-day training session on "Preventing Drug Abuse in Educational Settings".

The main objective of the event was to bring together policy makers and senior officials in charge of drug use prevention and health promotion to formulate a regional response to drug abuse in educational settings.

In her opening remarks, the Foreign Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the I.R. of Pakistan stated, " Drug abuse among our youth represents a clear and present danger to our families and societies. Our schools, colleges, universities and other seats of learning remain especially vulnerable to the scourge of drugs being abused. This threat spectrum requires shaping of multidimensional response strategies, underpinned by close cooperation at bilateral, regional and global levels".

Mr. Mark Colhoun, UNODC Representative for the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries emphasized the need for concerted transnational efforts on drug prevention in educational settings in the region as called for in Resolution 61/2.

During the Expert Group Meeting (EGM), senior officials and policy makers of the eight participating countries discussed and reviewed: existing programmes in educational settings; capacity building needs and efforts, advocacy and messaging including the use of social media; research and evaluation; as well as related laws and policies. All in all, there was an excellent exchange of best practices. The EGM concluded with the adoption of a list of recommendations to be shared during the sixty-second session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2019.

The participants were also briefed on both national and regional efforts of UNODC on drug prevention in education settings, notably the SFP (Strengthening Families Programme,10-14) and FAST (Families and Schools Together) programmes, which have been rolled out across the region with considerable success.

The Expert Group Meeting was followed by a training session which was held in the academy of the Anti-Narcotics Force in Islamabad, 13 February 2019. In total, 117 school teachers, university lecturers, drug prevention professionals and practitioners as well as law enforcement officials participated in the training session.

 The participants were updated on the value and positive impact of evidence-based drug prevention programmes on the health and well-being of children, youth and families. Also, they were presented the UNODC-WHO International Standards on Drug Use Prevention and the modalities of implementing evidence-based interventions and strategies.

The participants brainstormed ways and means by which the drug abuse among youth could be prevented in education settings, in the framework of international standards.

Many thanks to the European Union for supporting this event.