62nd CND Session – Day 2

The second day of the 62th CND was full of side events and sharing with participants.

An overviews of the side events we participated in today includes:

Psychoactive substances and the Sustainable Development Goals – Towards a comprehensive approach in the era of the 2030 Agenda

Organized by the Government of Slovenia, Utrip Institute for Research and Development, the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe and IOGT International. Jože Hren started his presentation reminding that for 20 years already the approach in Slovenia is that drug use is primarily a health problem and that possession of small quantities is a misdemeanour also since 1999. Those who are caught in possession of drugs get a fine of 40 Euro, but there is a process to change it to an oral warning or referral to treatment in more complex situations. Representative of the Pompidou Group spoke about the bi-annual prize the Group awards to innovative prevention programmes created by young people for young people. Another Slovenian representative presented their work emphasizing the need to invest in mental health programmes for adolescents. Cost of mental health disorders in Europe take 3 to 5 percent of GDP. There is a need for a reallocation of resources for more sustainable and impactful outcomes in tackling harmful substances and behaviours. Medical help is not enough – it has to be combined with comprehensive and long lasting prevention. They have a programme called “This is me”, which is in line with the Goal 3 of the SDGs. Kristina Sperkova, president of the IOGT International (international network of Templar organisations) works on prevention of alcohol and other drugs harm world-wide. Sanela from Utrip Institute advocated for a community approach to prevention. Notes from the side event are available at the CND Blog following this address>>>.

Leaving no one behind: People at the centre of a harm reduction, human rights and public health approach to drug use

Organized by the Netherlands and Norway, UNODC, UNDP, UNAIDS, WHO, IDPC, AFEW International, Harm Reduction International, INPUD, Open Society Foundations, Aidsfonds and Frontline AIDS. Ann Fordham from IDPC highlighted that the new UNADIS report indicates that 99% of people who use drugs doesn’t have a proper access to health services. WHO representative reminded that half a million people worldwide die of drug related deaths, mainly overdose and blood borne diseases HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. People also suffer because they can’t access the medicines they need. The Netherlands has “put people first” in their approach to harm reduction. The right to health is fundamental to all people irrespective of whether they are using drugs. Drug policies should seek to reduce violence, promote the rule of law, support the most marginalized and vulnerable, lift up human rights. Prohibition and criminalization means a continuation of armed conflict supported by disproportionate spending. Naomi Burke-Shyne from HRI reminded that funding for harm reduction has flat lined from 2007 to 2016, which stands in shocking contrast to the estimated funding need by UNAIDS: existing funding represents only 13% of this estimated need. Judy Chang from INPUD stated that “Existing drug policies threaten security, democracy and the well-being of all, especially those most marginalized and vulnerable. The war on drugs and drug-free agenda undermines the SDG agenda.” Zaved Mahmood from ‎UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that People who use drugs are not just left behind, they are kept out. The right to life includes the obligation to take measures where peoples’ lives might be threatened, including in relation to the use of drugs and HIV and hepatitis.

Drug prevention approaches that make a difference

Organized by the Governments of Iceland and Serbia, and the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe. Serbian representative to the OSC made an introduction speech. The same like the Minister of Health on Thursday 14 at the Ministerial Segment, he said that the Drug Strategy has 5 chapters instead of 7, avoiding to say that Harm Reduction is one of them. Jelena Janković from the Ministry of Health presented the latest developments, including information about overdose deaths in 2018 and creation of the Ministerial Commission (for fighting narcomania in schools). She also presented the project the Ministry did with experiences and support from Israel. Iceland presented their project with are seen as the flagship project on prevention. Almost 2% of the alcohol and tobacco taxes go to prevention programmes! They see as the main risks and protective factors family factors, peer group effect, general well-being and extra-curricular activities and sports. Their learning is that the multidisciplinary collaboration is the key to success. The change thy achieved is different attitude of parents and society – don’t buy alcohol for children. It is not OK for adolescents to be drunk in public. It is not the amount of time that parents spend with their children – it is the quality of time. There are no unsupervised parties. Pompidou Group emphasised the role of police in prevention. Interventions from the floor were on offering more than just sports and having campaigns that cover illicit but also legal substances.

Other side events held today that may be of interest are:

Other events

The Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC) held regular Annual General Assembly. The Committee welcomed new members, reviewed and approved the VNGOC annual report and reflected on activities for 2018/19 including those of the Civil Society Task Force (CSTF), got information about the annual accounts for 2018, the latest financial status and audited accounts for 2018, Strategic Plan 2019-21 and Budget for 2019 and Voluntary Code of Conduct for NGOs at the CND and received an update on developments within UNODC. The Committee discussed the future organisation of the VNGOC, based on the background paper presented by the Board.

Following a governance review process undertaken in 2017, VNGOC agreed to stagger the elections for the VNGOC Board to ensure greater stability and continuity. In order to do this, three of the positions elected last year were given one-year terms, the other three positions were given the standard two-year terms. This year, the following three positions were up for re-election: Chairperson, Deputy Treasurer, Deputy Secretary. Our friend fro International Drug Policy Consortium Jamie Bridge was re-elected for the Chairperson. Congratulations!

EU Civil Society Forum on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis criticizes European Commission’s reflection paper

The EU Civil Society Forum on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis issued a statement in response to European Commission’s reflection paper Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030.

The Forum states that the paper is arguably far too little, too late to live up to the expectations on Sustainable Development Goal 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote the wellbeing for all at all ages. This is even more so when it comes to stigmatized and marginalized communities who continue to be disproportionally affected by HIV/AIDS, TB and viral hepatitis epidemics. By now we have the knowledge, the tools and the experience to make these epidemics history and to ensure that no-one is left behind. However, political leadership is lacking or waning.

To be a trailblazer and reap the significant medium to long-term human and financial gains that elimination of these epidemics entails, the EU Civil Society Forum on HIV/AIDS thinks that the EU needs to:

  • Increase its focus on social dimensions of sustainable development to ensure a reduction in social inequalities, sustainable and fairer health systems and improving health outcomes for all.
  • Adopt an ambitious agenda, implement a strong and budgeted action plan that is aligned with SDGs commitment and targets.
  • Develop a plan that is coordinated with member states and monitored via a sound indicator set aligned with the goal of elimination. This would allow a more accurate interpretation of the desired direction for EU action.
  • The EC could consider data collected by The European Union agency aimed at strengthening Europe’s defences against infectious diseases (ECDC) to provide a proper assessment of performance (e.g. infection rates, treatment coverage, prevention budget, regulatory frameworks). It could integrate ECDC and WHO reporting.
  • Improve coherence between EU policies and actions.
  • Collaborate with third countries to catch up.

To read full statement follow this link>>>>

Diogenis is candidate for the Bravo! Sustainable Awards

Diogenis – Drug Policy Dialogue has the honour of being a Bravo! Sustainable Awards 2018 candidate, in the category Bravo Society with the action “SDGs and Drugs: Policies for Development and Harm Reduction” that was implemented in the period 1/12/2016 – 31/5/2017, under the LADDER program.

For the 8th consecutive year, the Bravo Initiative opens up a large social dialogue on sustainable development with a wide range of social partners and active citizens. The initiative is a systematic social dialogue based on the sustainable development goals developed in Greece by businesses, local governments and civil society organizations. Initiatives and programs should promote the improvement of quality of life and the development of standards of responsible behaviour at a collective and individual level in Greece. In order to create a wider culture of Sustainable Development, Responsible Entrepreneurship and Social Responsibility issues, the Bravo Dialogue Institution is developing a platform for dialogue, information and open consultation with the participation of a large group of Social Partners.

You can see the action description, the 7 SDGs associated with it and post your vote following this link>>>

Governments – NGO dialogue

In scope of the project Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public health and human rights oriented drug policy in South Eastern Europe, Diogenis – Drug Policy Dialogue, in co-operation with the Drug policy Network in SEE (DPNSEE) and the Office for Combating Drugs of Serbia, organised a meeting between representatives from the countries in the region of South East Europe and representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The meeting was held on 10 May in Belgrade, at the representative governmental building Klub poslanika.

The aim of the meeting was to bring together representatives responsible for the coordination of drug policy in the countries of South East Europe and representatives from NGOs working in the field of drugs to discuss about the cooperation between authorities and NGOs at the national level. The meeting was an opportunity to exchange information and experiences of good practices and to reflect on possibilities of future cooperation on the national and regional level. Exchange of information, experiences and good practices leads to ideas of setting up co-operation structures, which can be profitable for both national authorities and NGOs.

At the first part of the meeting, participants discussed the current situation of cooperation, existing models and conditions that need to be fulfilled for good cooperation. The second part of the programme focused on areas of cooperation between National Authorities and NGOs in the field of drugs related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the recommendations of the UNGASS 2016.

The meeting showed that the relation between governmental and civil society sectors in the area of drug policy is improving. Ideas produced can bring better cooperation for a mutual benefit and, first of all, for the benefit of key affected populations and the societies as whole.

Annual Drug Policy Conference

The Annual Regional Conference in South East Europe was organised in Thessaloniki from 8 to 10 June 2017. The conference aimed to bring together NGOs, policy makers and researchers active in the drugs field in the region of South East Europe, in order to discuss drug policy developments and trends, exchange experiences and best practices in the region, Europe and the United Nations.

The conference is part of the regional project “Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public health and human rights oriented drug policy in South East Europe”, supported financially by the European Commission and the Open Society Foundations. The organiser was Diogenis, Drug Policy Dialogue.

National drug coordinators from Romania and Croatia

The Conference agenda included a large number of interesting issues:

  • The Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and drug policy. Priority issues, the role of UN agencies, expected commitments from the member states and role of NGOs. Presenter was Jo Dedeyne-Amann, Chief Secretariat to the Governing Bodies, Division for Treaty Affairs, UNODC. Nikos Stergiou, Communication and public relations Officer, Diogenis, presented experience of two local meetings.
  • Initiatives undertaken in the countries of our region related to implementation of the outcomes of the UNGASS and the role of NGOs. National drug coordinators presented work in their countries: drug co-ordinators: Sorin Oprea (Romania), Milan Pekić (Serbia), Željko Petković (Croatia) and Manina Terzidou, head of the Greek Monitoring Centre for Drugs (EKTEPN) (Greece)
  • Women and Drugs. Facts and Special Characteristics for Girls and Women who use drugs was the presentation from Meni Malliori, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Athens, while Georgia Aslanidou, Psychologist, OKANA Thessaloniki presented about Addicted mothers and the journey of therapy
  • Drugs and internet: experiences, opportunities and concerns in the use of online counselling tools presented by Ilias Paraskevopoulos, Consultant for addictions at KETHEA ITHAKI
  • The Harm reduction project in South East Europe. Developments and next steps presented by Sofia Galinaki, Advocacy Officer, Diogenis and Peers’ involvement in harm reduction, with introduction from Christos Anastasiou, Peer Network of Users of Psychoactive Substances (PENUPS).
  • Irena Molnar and Bojan Arsenijević from the NGO Re Generation, Serbia provided valuable insight into Changing culture in drug use including new psychoactive substances
  • Developments in the discussion about cannabis policy in countries of SEE
Irena Molnar presenting about Changing culture in drug use including new psychoactive substances

Representatives from 14 DPNSEE member organisations, 3 Board members and all 5 Staff were at the Conference. We presented the Network, strategic priorities and plans for the future. Our two volunteers talked about their work on the Glossary and Resource Pool.

Marios Atzemis, DPNSEE Board member, making an intervention

The Conference was a very good opportunity to share and learn about interesting ideas and make plans for the future.

Where are young people in the Agenda 2030?

Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Serbia, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), organised the conference about the sustainable development goals on 21 February 2017. DPNSEE, Prevent and Re Generacija were among 200 participants of this widely promoted event. The aim of the conference was to introduce the 17 proposed UN sustainable development goals to the civil society organisations working with young people and international trends in their implementation. Most of the conference was spent on promotions of different international and national organisations. Nebojša Đurasović was one of the few people who got an opportunity to speak and he commented very openly the presentation and work of the Ministry of Health. The conference was also an opportunity to meet representatives from different institutions and other CSO organisations.