NEW YORK/VIENNA, 10 October 2014 -The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)supports drug users through a health-based approach founded on the UN International Drug Control Conventions and human rights, UNODC's Chief Yury Fedotov said today at a New York civil society event. The event, featuring a keynote address by UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, also included Ambassador Khaled Shamaa of Egypt, Chair of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and Esbjorn Hornberg, Chair of the Vienna NGO Committee, among others.
Mr. Fedotov said: "UNODC advocates for international drug policy to increase a focus on public health, prevention, treatment and care, as well as economic, social and cultural measures, within the framework of the three international drug conventions, in full compliance with human rights standards."
This aim, he said, was best illustrated by examples of UNODC's diverse work. Mr. Fedotov noted that, in Cambodia during 2013, UNODC had helped 1,000 people affected by drug use and dependence to receive health care; 170 NGO staff had been trained on offering evidence-based dependence treatment and care; 2,760 at-risk youth had participated in NGO-facilitated discussions, while 2,200 people attended community awareness meetings.
Mr. Fedotov accepted these numbers were modest compared to the 27 million people around the world who confront problem drug use, but, as he said, "… these small steps can make a real difference in the lives of individuals and their families, and such successes can help to generate wider support for evidence-based approaches."
He noted that, over the last two years, UNODC provided training on evidence-based HIV prevention, treatment and care among people who inject drugs in 20 countries."We brought together key civil society and community-based organization representatives with law enforcement officials to work collaboratively to ensure harm reduction services reach the people who need them," said Mr. Fedotov.
UNODC had also developed international standards on drug use prevention and given family skills training to more than 8,000 parents and children in 15 countries in West and Central Asia, Central America and Southeast Europe.
In all these activities, Mr. Fedotov said, NGOs were crucial partners to the many challenges posed by drugs. He said: "I commend you for your dedication and commitment."
Mr. Fedotov stressed that inclusiveness was also a hallmark of the Commission on Narcotic Drug's preparations for the UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem in 2016; as well as the work of The UN System Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking to adopt best practices concerning the involvement of civil society in this process.
Mr. Fedotov was speaking at a civil society hearing, during the 69th session of the 3rd Committee of the UN General Assembly, organized by the Vienna NGO Committee on the matter of health-based approaches to drug use.
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