UN drug policy

How we are preparing for UNGASS 2016 and the UN Meeting in March 2015

How we are preparing for UNGASS 2016 and the UN Meeting in March 2015

As the March 2015 United Nations Commission of Narcotics Drugs draws closer, we look at how NGOs are preparing their input into the wider UNGASS 2016 process.

23rd January 2015

Over the last year, NGOs have talked about the creation of a Civil Society Task Force (CSTF) which would ensure civil society engagement in the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs, which is due to take part in 2016. After a meeting with Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, on the margins of the 57th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs High-level Review in March 2014 and extensive consultations within the NGO community working on drug related issues, a proposal outlining the terms of the CSTF was drafted and then finalised in November 2014.

The purpose and mission of the Civil Society Task Force is therefore to serve as the official liaison between the United Nations and civil society in the preparatory process and at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem in 2016, with the objective being to ensure a comprehensive, structured, meaningful and balanced participation of civil society during this process. The plan is to involve 26 members, representing all regions as well as affected populations. Organisations active in the field of drug policy were asked to nominate themselves for this task force, through the Vienna and New York Committees and the make-up of the task force is currently being finalised.

EURAD's Position

EURAD's advocacy strategy towards the UNGASS 2016 will be drawn from evidence in our recent publications on human rights, public health, alternative development, recovery, as well as our previous publications. Our strategy will be further strengthened through the support of our member organisations, who are currently being asked to participate in a survey. The result of our members survey will be used to ensure that through every stage of the process, the Secretariat and Board of EURAD are speaking truly on behalf of our member organisations. The survey is also an opportunity for member organisations to become more familiar with the topics we believe will grow in importance during the UNGASS 2016 process. 

What will EURAD present at the United Nations Commission of Narcotic Drugs (CND) in 2015?

Alongside following political developments during the CND and our commitments to the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs, EURAD will be involved with four side events to take place at the United Nations. These are:

1) Drugs Policy and Human Rights: Event hosted by EURAD, co-sponsored by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (Drug Prevention and Health Branch), The Norwegian Policy Network for Alcohol and Drugs (ACTIS) and The San Patrignano Foundation. Wednesday 11th March.

2) A Public Health Approach To Drugs: Event hosted by EURAD, co-sponsored by The Norwegian Policy Network for Alcohol and Drugs (ACTIS), The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) with a speaker from The World Health Organisation (WHO). Thursday 12th March.

3) Recovery: Policies, Research and Grass Roots Voices From Italy, Norway, UK, Sweden and The Balkans. Hosted by The San Patrignano Foundation, co-sponsored by EURAD, RUN, WFAD and the Home Office, UK. Tuesday 10th March.

4) Eurobarometer Findings On The Situation on Drugs in Europe: Through The Eyes Of Youth Organisations. Hosted by Active-Europe, EURAD, The Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis, with a speaker from the European Commission. Tuesday 10th March.

EURAD Member Participation

If you are a member organisation from EURAD and would like to participate in the United Nations meetings from 9th - 17th March 2015, please e-mail fay.watson@eurad.net as soon as possible. We will attempt to find United Nations passes for our members who would like to contribute to this forum but we must know within the next 7 -10 days about your intention to participate.

Additionally, EURAD will host a meeting for its members on Sunday 8th March in Vienna.

Dates For Your Diary:

- 8th March 2015: EURAD Meeting in Vienna

- 9th March 2015 - 17th March 2015: United Nations Commission of Narcotic Drugs 2015. Vienna. This includes a Special Segment on UNGASS planning from 9th-12th March.

- 7th May 2015: High Level Meeting, United Nations Headquarters, New York. This date is provisional.

- March 2016: Commission of Narcotic Drugs 2016. Vienna.

- Spring 2016: United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs.

Summary of the High Level Segment at United Nations Commission of Narcotic Drugs 2014

Summary of the High Level Segment at United Nations Commission of Narcotic Drugs 2014

This year a High Level Segment and an Informal Civil Society Hearing took place the week before the UN's Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Find our summary here.

27th March 2014

Over the last two weeks, several EURAD members and partners have been attending the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs, where world leaders and officials meet to discuss the global drug problem.

This year’s meeting was attended by decision makers from across the world, as well as notable figures such as the Queen of Sweden and the Princess of Thailand. British Comedian and former drug user Russell Brand also made an appearance.

The Informal Civil Society Hearing

This year, the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs hosted an Informal Civil Society Hearing the day before the High Level Segment, were Fay Watson from EURAD gave a presentation on behalf of the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs about what practices are possible within the UN Drug Conventions and posed the question as to why these evidence based practices were not being implemented. You can find a copy of the presentation here and you can also find a full summary of the event here.

At the same event, Kevin Sabet spoke on behalf of Stig-Erik Sorheim, to introduce the new Drug Policy Futures platform. A side event was then held to officially launch the new initiative during the main Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the following week.

One of the panel's at the Informal Civil Society Hearing

Summary of the High Level Segment at United Nations Commission of Narcotic Drugs 2014


The High Level Segment

The purpose of this meeting is to review the progress made, and the challenges encountered, since the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action on the World Drug Problem. The main focus of the High Level Segment will be the negotiation of a ‘Joint Ministerial Statement’, which will set the scene for the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS), as well as recording member states’ views of progress. As far as discussions went, the Greek delegations (speaking on behalf of EU because they have the EU Presidency at the moment) regretted the lack of reference to the death penalty in the Joint Statement. They highlighted support for the INCB’s call to abolish the death penalty for drug offenders. This was furthermore backed up by Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Iran (speaking on behalf of Malaysia, Saudi, China, Vietnam, Singapor, Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar, Libya, Syria), then stated say that the death penalty is not under the mandate of the CND and that it is a criminal matter which should be decided by each sovereign state. The Central African region highlighted that they would like to see development on the agenda at the UNGASS 2016. The High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted the rights of children not to be subject to criminal proceedings, aerial spraying or compulsory drug treatment. Japan stated that they would like to strengthen countermeasures on precursors as well as on new psychoactive substances.

Roundtables were held on Demand and Supply Reduction during the High Level Segment. Fay Watson of EURAD spoke at the Roundtable on Demand Reduction on behalf of the Vienna NGO Committee. Here is the transcript of that presentation.

The Demand Reduction Roundtable

Summary of the High Level Segment at United Nations Commission of Narcotic Drugs 2014