“Beyond 2019: An African Civil Society Common Position on Drugs”
Vienna, 6 March 2020 - “It is not where you are coming from, it is about your vision for the world” – with these words George Ochieng Odalo, the Founder and Executive Director of Slum Child Foundation (Kenya), launched the African Civil Society Common Position on Drugs, a consensus document developed by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from around Africa and signed by nearly 100 African CSOs.
The African Civil Society Common Position on Drugs builds on the 2019 Ministerial Declaration and the recently adopted African Union Plan of Action on Drug Control and Crime Prevention. The process leading up to the Common Position was strongly supported by the African Union, the UNODC Civil Society Team, and the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs. The document incorporates the perspectives of a wide range of CSOs from across the African continent and seeks to guide and shape the work of civil society and governments’ responses over the coming years.
In his welcoming remarks, Mr. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director of the Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs of UNODC thanked Slum Child Foundation for initiating the process that led to the Common Position, and the African Union for the support they have provided. He noted the link between drugs and crime, including drug trafficking being an empowering tool for criminal elements operating outside the law, undermining governance, and weakening state institutions for their own benefit. He further noted the need for continued and increased collaboration between the African Union, Member States, and African CSOs as stated in the Common Position.
Ms. Cisse Mariama Mohamed, the Director of Social Affairs at the African Union Commission reiterated the importance of partnership with civil society in addressing the world drug problem, stressing that “the African Union Plan of Action on Drug Control and Crime Prevention cannot be fully implemented without the involvement of CSOs.” She added that “CSOs have been instrumental in ensuring education on drugs especially among youths, providing treatment and health treatment services.”
Other speakers discussed a variety of issues, including the lack of access to medicine in Africa and other parts of the world, and highlighted the importance of linking the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with their work addressing the drug problem.
Since January 2020, 98 African CSOs have signed the Common Position which originates from a consensus-building partnership forum organised by the Slum Child Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya in April 2019. Since then, the document has gone through three rounds of consultation. It was discussed and agreed by CSOs during the third session of the African Union’s Specialized Technical Committee on Health, Population and Drug Control which took place in Cairo, Egypt in July 2019.
Letter from George Odalo, Executive Director of Slum Child Foundation