Home > Civil society joins international debate on drug controls.

Pike, Brigid (2007) Civil society joins international debate on drug controls. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 22, Summer 2007, p. 3.

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Between 12 and 16 March 2007 the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the central UN policy-making body dealing with drug-related matters, met for its 50th session in Vienna.1The session was attended by representatives of 47 states that are members of the Commission, observers for other UN member states and non-member states, representatives of organisations of the UN system, and observers for inter-governmental, non-governmental and other organisations.There were 81 registered civil society delegates and more NGO representatives included in government delegations.2 

Prior to the meeting, both the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC),3 mandated to assist member states in their fight against drugs, crime and terrorism, and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB),4 the independent and quasi-judicial monitoring body for the implementation of the UN international drug control conventions,  published their annual reports, and these formed the basis for much of the debate over the five days. In his opening address, Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of UNODC, reaffirmed his assertion at the 49th session that global controls had stabilised the supply of illicit drugs, as well as the demand. He observed that specific problems, some very serious, still persisted, and that ‘for even greater improvements we need stronger social vaccines to protect society against drugs’. 

The agenda for the CND session includeda thematic debate on the control of precursor chemicals, including those needed for the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine, amphetamine, ‘ecstasy’, heroin and cocaine. Drug demand reduction, illicit drug traffic and supply, and the implementation of the international drug control treaties were also discussed. Finally, there was a discussion on the progress made by governments in meeting the goals and targets set for the years 2003 and 2008 at the twentieth special session of the General Assembly (UNGASS), held in New York in 1998. 

Looking forward to the CND session for 2008, member states agreed that UNODC will present an assessment report on achievements in respect of the 1998 UNGASS targets, and that the thematic debate will focus on ‘underscoring the value of objective, scientific, balanced and transparent assessment’.5 After the 2008 session, there will be a year for reflection, concluding with a major focus (and decisions) on the way forward at the 2009 CND session.

The 2008/9 period is also seen as an opportunity for the NGO community to reflect on its achievements in drug control, exchange ideas on approaches, reach agreements on ways to work together, and make recommendations to multilateral agencies and UN member states on future directions for drug control. To this end the Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs (VNGOC),6 working with the CND and UNODC, is hosting a 4th International NGO Forum to contribute to the 1998–2008 review and the forward-looking, agenda-setting exercise.The  Forum will focus on three topics:

1.     Highlighting tangible NGO achievements in the field of drug control, with particular emphasis on contributions to the 1998 UNGASS Action Plan such as achievement in policy, community engagement, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and social-reintegration

2.     Reviewing best practices related to collaboration mechanisms among NGOs, governments and UN agencies in various fields of endeavour and proposing new and/or improved ways of working with the UNODC and CND.

3.     Adopting a series of high-order principles, drawn from the Conventions and their commentaries, that would be tabled with the UNODC and CND for their consideration and serve as a guide for future deliberations on drug policy matters.

In the run-up to the Forum, NGOs involved in drug control around the world are invited to complete a questionnaire as a means of collecting information towards the goals identified in the 1998 UNGASS Action Plan.  A series of semi-structured interviews is also being conducted with key NGO informants to obtain more detailed insights on gaps and ideas for future direction.  The Conventions, their commentaries and other relevant documents will be reviewed to identify a series of guiding principles for consideration and discussion by Forum participants.  In addition, there will be a review of other NGO/UN consultation mechanisms with a view to recommending a new more systematic and substantive process for NGO contributions to CND and UNODC. Finally, a complete report will be prepared for tabling with CND, UNODC and other appropriate actors.

1. The official documents produced for the CND 50th Session are available on the CND page of the UNODC website at www.unodc.org

2. For an account of the CND 50th Session from an NGO perspective, see International Drug Policy Consortium (2007) The 2007 Commission on Narcotic Drugs. IDPC Briefing Paper 5. Available at http://idpc.net/ 

3. UNODC (2007) United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Annual Report 2006. Available at www.unodc.org  

4. INCB (2007) Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2006. Available at   www.incb.org 

5.  E/CN.7/2007/L.14/Rev.1, Measures to meet the goal of establishing by 2009 the progress achieved in implementing the declarations and measures adopted by the General Assembly at its twentieth special session. Vienna, 15 March 2007.

6. Established in 1983, the objective of the Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs (VNGOC) is to support the work of the UNODC, provide information on NGO activities and involve a wide sector of civil society in raising awareness of global drug policies.  Further information on the Forum, and the NGO questionnaire on UNGASS 2008 goals, may be found on the website of the VNGOC atwww.vngoc.org


Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 22, Summer 2007
April 2007
Page Range
p. 3
Health Research Board
Issue 22, Summer 2007
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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