Civil society contributes to the UN drug policy review

4 July 2008 - From 7-9 July, more than 300 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from across the world will participate in "Beyond 2008", a global NGO forum on the 1998-2008 Review of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on illicit drugs.

NGOs enjoy a special status in their working relationship with United Nations Organizations, including UNODC. Over the years, NGOs have provided valuable contributions in the elaboration of major documents and subsequent decisions of the United Nations related to drug and crime control.

UNODC's dealings with NGOs are guided by mandates from the international community. For example, the Twentieth Special Session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS), held in June 1998, adopted a landmark political declaration on the Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction. In conjunction with the adoption of these principles, NGOs have been called upon to contribute to building a society free of drug abuse, emphasizing and facilitating healthy and innovative alternatives to illicit drug consumption, especially among young people.

Building on 13 consultative meetings held in all regions of the world, Beyond 2008 represents an unprecedented and historic engagement of NGOs that work with those most affected by illicit drugs and seek their advice and recommendations on the future of global drug policy. The Beyond 2008 forum represents the cumulative input of over 1,000 individual participants from more than 145 countries representing millions of members and constituents from across the globe. Selected participants will come together in Vienna, Austria, to discuss and debate a global declaration and three resolutions on topics discussed during the regional consultations. These will form the basis of forward-looking recommendations that will be tabled at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and UNODC as they prepare for the future of international drug policy.

The topics to be discussed include:

1. Reviewing NGO accomplishments since the 1998 UNGASS on illicit drugs;

2. Identifying mechanisms to improve NGO relations with the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and UNODC; and

3. Identifying guiding principles drawn from the global drug conventions to guide future deliberations of the CND and UNODC.

The Forum, to be held in the Vienna International Centre, is organized by the Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs, in partnership with UNODC.

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Beyond 2008: Call for "solidarity" against drugs

Addressing the NGO Forum "Beyond 2008", the Executive Director of UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa, called for solidarity: "among states taking a shared responsibility, between governments and civil society working together, and among all of humanity to ensure that no one falls through the cracks because of drug dependence".

Full text of Mr. Costa's remarks