Update on planning for United Nations General Assembly Special Session 2016

Update on planning for United Nations General Assembly Special Session 2016

The United Nations will host a General Assembly Special Session in 2016 to review global drug policy. This is an update on the main forums of activity.

20th October 2014

Planning in New York

On 10th October 2014, the sixty-ninth session of the Third Committee of the General Assembly took place in New York, where crime prevention, criminal justice, and international drug control were discussed.

Alongside this, the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC), of which EURAD is a member, organised a Civil Society Hearing entitled “Addressing Drug Use together through a Health Based Approach as part of the International Drug Control Conventions” .This was attended by the Chair of the VNGOC, Jan Eliasson (Deputy Secretary General, United Nations), Yury Fedotov (Executive Director, UNODC) and Ambassador Khaled Shamaa, Chair of the Commission of Narcotic Drugs.

If you were not able to attend this meeting in New York, you can still view the following videos from the event:

1) Addressing Drug Use Through A Health Based Approach - High Level Civil Society Hearing

2) Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General, United Nations - Speaking at the High Level Civil Society Hearing

One of the main messages given by civil society organisations at this meeting about the clear involvement of civil society in the UNGASS 2016 processes and this clear message which was supported by the three speakers.

To this extent, civil society organisations, such as EURAD, have been involved in discussions with the United Nations about plans to establish a Civil Society Task Force (CSTF) which would have responsibility for civil society engagement in the various consultation processes that may ensue. EURAD has supported this initiative and has given feedback that the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs should be a leading body on this group, given that they have been the official body for NGO relationships to the United Nations in the past and have appropriate governance and experience to give to this task.

Planning in Vienna

In Vienna, inter-sessional meetings of the Commission of Narcotic Drugs take place and increasingly focus on UNGASS. The next inter-sessional will take place this week, on 23 October 2014, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Boardroom D of the Vienna International Centre (VIC).

Further meetings will take place on 4th & 5th December 2014 in Vienna.

Should you wish to attend these meetings, on behalf of EURAD, please contact: Fay.watson@eurad.net

Planning in Brussels

Planning for the UNGASS 2016 is not officially taking place in Brussels, as the responsibility lies within the United Nations; however Brussels does play an important role for galvanising a European-wide response to the UNGASS. The EU's Horizontal Working Group on Drugs which meet at the Council of the European Union, across the road from the EURAD offices, plays a key role here, as member states negotiates what the European position should be on various issues.

At this moment in time, the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSF) is trying to negotiate with the European Commission and the EU's Horizontal Working Group on Drugs, as to how civil society voices may be heard and consulted through this process. This is one large area for the CSF and in December, the European Commission will host a joint session between the CSF and the Horizontal Working Group on Drugs, where these issues can be discussed.

What are the priorities for the UNGASS 2016?

As you can imagine, different countries, civil society actors and external organisations will approach the UNGASS 2016 process with a wide range of priorities and issues to tackle.

According to informal "non-papers" which have been disseminated to civil society organisations, the 2016 UNGASS process will provide a platform for wide-ranging debates on the world drug problem, including its linkages to public health, human rights, development, crime and social stability.

What is EURAD doing to support the UNGASS process?

In 2013, EURAD shaped its workplan around what we saw as the key issues to address at UNGASS 2016. This has included:

- Writing and developing an extensive position paper on "Human Rights and Drugs Policy"

- Writing and developing an extensive review on "Alternative Development"

- Writing and developing an extensive position paper on "A Public Health Approach To Drug Policy"

- Carrying out primary research and developing an extensive review on "Recovery" with our network - the Recovered Users Network

 

We look forward to taking our members views forward into the UNGASS processes which follow in the next year and gathering opinions when necessary. For some tasks, there are short time frames, so we may need our board to take executive decisions on your behalf but otherwise, we will seek your opinions on any opportunities we have to intervene.

Due to the importance of the UNGASS process in 2016 and the rapidity of changes which may take place, we encourage all EURAD members to attend our AGM in December, to ensure you are up to date with our activities and to ensure the e-mail addresses of your staff are on our newsletter systems.