In New York, on 10 February 2016, an Informal Interactive Stakeholder Consultation in support of preparatory process towards UNGASS 2016 was convened by the President of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, together with the Civil Society Task Force for UNGASS 2016 (CSTF) at the United Nations Headquarters. The event was opened by high profile speakers, namely the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Khaled Shamaa, Chair of the Board, Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Mr. Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC and Ms. Asia Ashraf, Director of Sunny Trust International Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre in Pakistan.
H.E. Amb Shamaa & Ms. Ashraf
The Consultation provided Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) with an opportunity to exchange views on key priorities for UNGASS, while underscoring best practices on the ground and highlighting specific local and regional challenges. In her keynote speech, drawing on her own experience in the field of drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation, Ms. Asia Ashraf signalled the need of having female-oriented treatment services. She also expressed the hope that UNGASS 2016 would lead to a community based global campaign that addressed the needs of female drug users.
Other key points that emerged during the two interactive roundtable discussions that followed were the need for: an increased use of a public health-based approach; improved access to essential medicines and palliative care; evidence-based prevention measures, in particular for youth and for access to readily-available and tailored treatment services; and increased cooperation with the most affected communities, especially in least developed countries, including effective measures to counter stigma and discrimination against drug users. Furthermore it was agreed that the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved without significant progress on the world drug problem and collaboration between different stakeholders.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft noted that the outcome of this consultation would be of great added value for the UNGASS 2016 preparatory process currently underway in Vienna and would contribute significantly to the negotiations on the draft UNGASS outcome document.
The event was an important milestone in a series of initiatives of the CSTF, aimed at providing substantive input from grassroots CSOs to the UNGASS preparatory process.
The website of the CSTF: www.cstfondrugs.org
Official UNGASS 2016 website: www.ungass2016.org