Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of Executive Director Waly, I am pleased represent UNODC. Regretfully she cannot join us tonight as she was feeling unwell.
As you know from her dialogue with civil society earlier today, as well as from previous meetings, she is very supportive of your work and deeply appreciates our longstanding cooperation with the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are here tonight to celebrate the spirit of cooperation and partnership that is essential to tackling the challenges posed by drugs.
This spirit is embodied by the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs, which for 40 years has served as a crucial bridge between civil society and the United Nations.
Many Committee member organizations are represented here tonight, and I am so pleased to be able to celebrate this anniversary with you.
I applaud the Committee for your steadfast commitment to promoting drug policies and solutions that put the health, well-being and dignity of people first.
And I would like to thank you for bringing a wide range of voices into the debate on drugs, including the voices of affected populations.
Your practical experience and diverse perspectives enrich the discussion, helping to ensure that drug policies and solutions are balanced and inclusive.
For UNODC, civil society organizations are indispensable partners, both here in Vienna and across the globe, where you contribute to national drug policy discussions and deliver essential services on the ground.
Throughout our long history of cooperation with the Vienna NGO Committee, civil society has also made meaningful contributions to international drug policy.
I would also like to acknowledge the work of the Committee’s many member organizations in supporting implementation of the joint commitments to tackle the world drug problem.
Your contributions have been particularly valuable in the lead-up to important international milestones in drug policy, including:
In this regard, I would like to acknowledge the leading roles played by the Committee Chair, Jamie Bridge, and two of his predecessors, Esbjörn Hörnberg and Michel Perron, who guided the NGO contribution to preparations for UNGASS 2016 and the 2019 Ministerial Declaration. Thank you, gentlemen, for this valuable work.
Looking ahead, I look forward to continued close collaboration with civil society on the 2024 mid-term review of the implementation of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration.
As in years past, the discussions of the 66th Commission on Narcotic Drugs under way in Vienna this week will greatly benefit from contributions from civil society.
So I am really pleased that this year over 130 civil society organizations are participating in the CND, with most represented in person. This makes for a vibrant exchange.
And that’s not all.
This year, civil society organizations are organizing or co-organizing 65 CND side events on a wide range of issues – from drug use prevention and treatment to alternative development to drug trafficking, just to name a few.
Side events highlight experience and good practices from around the globe, and many focus on women, young people and children, or other vulnerable groups.
The CND is an excellent platform for exchanging information, experience and good practices, and for making contacts with other civil society organizations and with UNODC and our Member States.
We should leverage these synergies to the max to catalyze new ideas and create new partnerships.
I would like to thank the City of Vienna for hosting tonight’s reception, and I wish the Vienna NGO Committee a very happy anniversary.
You are both excellent partners.
As our host city, Vienna has long been a steadfast supporter of the United Nations, for which I am very grateful.
And the Committee has done so much to advance our shared commitment to tackling the world drug problem and achieving our joint drug policy commitments.
I look forward to continuing our fruitful cooperation.