Vienna. 23 March 2011. The head of the UN's drug and crime agency Yury Fedotov today met with members of the NGO community at the 54th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). The meeting, attended by close to 100 NGOs, marks the third annual informal dialogue between civil society and UNODC leadership during the CND and Mr. Fedotov's first engagement on this level. Reiterating his position on promoting health and justice in drugs and crime policy, Mr. Fedotov noted the need for a comprehensive and integrated drug policy inclusive of all views.
Considered an opportunity for civil society to engage directly with the Executive Director on his Office's approach towards illicit drugs and to highlight their main topics of work, Mr. Fedotov noted the underlying approach of UNODC's work: "We must continue to expand efforts to prevent drug dependence and strive to provide all drug users with the treatment, care and support they need. As we move to achieve this, we regard the NGO community as a key partner and a powerful voice in reaching the people whom UNODC ultimately work to serve" Mr. Fedotov said.
Engagement with the NGO community has been bolstered in recent years following the 'Beyond 2008' initiative which aimed to bring the voice of civil society to the 1998/2008 ten year review of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session. Spearheaded by the Vienna Non-Governmental Organization Committee on Drugs (VNGOC), an umbrella organization representing around 70 civil society groups covering diverse ideologies regarding international drug policy, and in partnership with UNODC, 'Beyond 2008' works to improve interaction between civil society, UNODC and Member States in programming responses to the global drug problem.
The meeting, which was moderated by Michel Perron, CEO of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Chair of the VNGOC, offered an open platform for discussion. "Our engagement with UNODC at the CND is a welcome and important one" said Mr. Perron. "The Beyond 2008 Political Declaration called for two crucial components: shared responsibility and accountability; and giving the most affected a voice. Fora such as this dialogue session offer a platform to expand on these outputs and discuss the way ahead. The VNGOC and its members look forward to moving ahead in addressing some of the most important issues in partnership with UNODC for those affected by drug use."
Mr. Fedotov expressed his appreciation for the work undertaken by the VNGOC with regard to the CND and called for increased integration and building of new partnerships among all actors: "The importance of NGOs in responding to drug use in the last 50 years is one which must be highlighted. The active work by civil society on the ground helps populations affected by drugs and helps us to be more informed about the grass-roots realities. UNODC is relying particularly on cooperation with NGOs in the areas of drug prevention and treatment and through a more active dialogue we look forward to promoting the balance between demand and supply reduction. I am pleased to say that the consensus reached by NGOs through the Beyond 2008 initiative is still very much alive and NGO's are contributing to their Governments' work in the implementation of the related 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action."
Kevin Town, Associate Public Information Officer: UNODC
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Alun Jones, Chief of Advocacy & Communications: UNODC
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