Vienna, 26 February 2019 - Addressing the complex issues of drug abuse and crime and their harmful effects on society requires strong partnerships with civil society organizations at local, national, regional and global levels.
As part of its engagement with these important stakeholders, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today hosted a Global Civil Society Hearing in Vienna to update Member States on the results of a recent global civil society consultation on drugs. The Hearing was organized by the Civil Society Task Force (CSTF) and supported by the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations in Vienna.
The hearing, with the title 'Voices of Civil Society: Beyond 2019' also provided a space for civil society experts from around the world to present their work on the ground.
At the opening of the event, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said that "civil society is an indispensable partner in our efforts to promote the health and safety of individuals, their families and communities." He also thanked all the civil society organizations, and their dedicated staff, working with UNODC in the field to provide help to people in need, often in hardship conditions.
The hearing took place following the 2 nd intersessional meeting of the 62 nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and featured voices from grassroot civil society organizations from Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Indonesia, Jordan, Nepal, the Russian Federation, South Africa and Sri Lanka, covering all aspects of the drug spectrum. Some 75 people attended the Hearing, including representatives from some 40 Permanent Missions.
In his remarks, the Chair of the 62 nd session of the CND, Ambassador Mirghani Abbaker Altayeb Bakhet of Sudan welcomed the innovative effort of the CSTF to conduct an online consultation for civil society in advance of the 2019 ministerial segment.
The Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations in Vienna, Ambassador Claude Charles Wild, highlighted the importance of the CSTF in the preparation for the ministerial segment, citing that "the work of the Civil Society Task Force is a further proof that civil society is seriously and actively engaged in contributing to drug policies at all levels."
Reflecting on her journey as a former user, Cecilia Hajzler, Udruzenje Proslavi Oporavak from Bosnia and Herzegovina talked about the need to improve access to recovery services, saying that "recovery is not just about being clean from substances, it is about rebuilding your life, learning how to live your life by solving problems and not running away from them, fighting your battles daily and learning from them, improving and growing through education and then using all you have become to help others find their recovery pathway."
Other civil society representatives spoke about citizens' impact on cannabis drug laws, the importance of international drug free programmes, the necessity to connecting drug policy to social justice, and meaningful participation of civil society in addressing the drug problem.
The results of the global consultation presented at the meeting show, among other things, that 75 per cent of civil society respondents believe that the outcome document of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) held in 2016 is a helpful tool for their work. The results also indicate that most respondents would like to see the goals set in the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on the World Drug Problem of 2009 extended to 2029.
The results of the survey were also shared with Member States with a view to the deliberations they will have on the outcome of the 62 nd session of the CND at its ministerial segment taking place from 14 to 15 March 2019.