4 March 2010 - Over 160 representatives from some 55 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world will participate in the fifty-third session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which will take place in Vienna from 8 to 12 March 2010.
The NGOs will take part in plenary and informal discussions, as well as in various planned side events, representing the voice of individuals, families and communities from around the world directly affected by drugs.
For the first time, the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs is joining UNODC and the World Health Organization in organizing a side event on drug dependence treatment that will be held on 11 March. The actor, author and activist Christopher Kennedy Lawford will be a special guest speaker at the event.
Historically, NGOs - especially those in developing countries - have had limited access to international debates and have often been unable to bring and share their insight with Member States and the United Nations system. In 2007, UNODC, in partnership with the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs, carried out a project entitled " Beyond 2008 " to determine the merits of engaging NGOs in drug policy.
This project concluded with an independent evaluation that measured the results achieved in bringing the voice of NGOs to the 10-year review of the General Assembly's special session on illicit drugs. The evaluation found the project "participatory, relevant and efficient" and, given the limited funds, a remarkable achievement.
Building on the recommendations resulting from the evaluation, the Civil Society Team of UNODC is now working on the project "Looking beyond", which aims to consolidate the best practices of working with NGOs on drugs to further expand its outreach to NGOs working in to strengthen criminal justice and to prevent crime, including corruption and human trafficking.
Operating at the international, regional, national and local levels, NGOs offer experience and a wide range of skills that allow them to contribute to various international debates and policymaking events. Increased interaction between NGOs and Member States leads to stronger partnerships, the promotion of multilateral solutions and enhanced sustainability and democracy.
At this year's session of the Commission, UNODC will continue to channel the contributions of global NGOs to the debates.