COVID-19 and HIV

Decades of investment in the HIV response have created platforms that are proving useful in battling COVID-19 – just as they were in responding to the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in western and central Africa.

The new report by UNAIDS examines how the experience of tackling HIV can help inform and guide effective, efficient, people-centred and sustainable COVID-19 responses.

This report focuses on three key issues: (1) how key lessons learned from the HIV response should inform COVID-19 responses; (2) how the HIV infrastructure is already driving COVID-19 responses and has the potential to catalyse accelerated progress through strategic action; and (3) how the COVID-19 response, informed by the history of responding to HIV, offers a historic opportunity to build a bridge to adaptable results-driven systems for health that work for people.

Key recommendations for the COVID-19 response include:

  • COVID-19 responses should benefit from learning from the HIV experience
  • Communities must be at the centre of COVID-19 responses
  • COVID-19 responses should be guided by human rights principles and practices
  • COVID-19 responses should be gender-sensitive and transformative
  • COVID-19 demands a multi-sectorial, all-of-government, all-of-society response
  • COVID-19 responses should leverage the HIV infrastructure
  • COVID-19 strategic information data must be used to guide action, increase accountability and improve programme performance
  • COVID-19 responses will require strong political leadership
  • We must use COVID-19 to reimagine systems for health

To read and download the report, follow this link>>>.

 

COVID-19 Law Lab

The COVID-19 Law Lab initiative is a joint project of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. It gathers and shares legal documents from over 190 countries across the world to help states establish and implement strong legal frameworks to manage the pandemic.

The goal is to ensure that laws protect the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities and that they adhere to international human rights standards. Well-designed laws can help build strong health systems; evaluate and approve safe and effective drugs and vaccines; and enforce actions to create healthier and safer public spaces and workplaces.

The COVID-19 Law Lab is a database of laws that countries have implemented in response to the pandemic. It includes state of emergency declarations, quarantine measures, disease surveillance, legal measures relating to mask-wearing, social distancing, and access to medication and vaccines. It will also feature research on different legal frameworks for COVID-19. These analyses will focus on the human rights impacts of public health laws and help countries identify best practices to guide their immediate responses to COVID-19 and socioeconomic recovery efforts once the pandemic is under control

The COVID-19 Law Lab is accessible following this link>>>.

Seizing the moment

Excerpts from the UNAIDS Media release

A new report by UNAIDS shows remarkable, but highly unequal, progress, notably in expanding access to antiretroviral therapy. Because the achievements have not been shared equally within and between countries, the global HIV targets set for 2020 will not be reached. The report, Seizing the moment, warns that even the gains made could be lost and progress further stalled if we fail to act. It highlights just how urgent it is for countries to double down and act with greater urgency to reach the millions still left behind.

Fourteen countries have achieved the 90–90–90 HIV treatment targets (90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, of whom 90% are on antiretroviral treatment and of whom 90% are virally supressed.

Millions of lives and new infections have been saved by the scale-up of antiretroviral therapy. However, 690 000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses last year and 12.6 million of the 38 million people living with HIV were not accessing the life-saving treatment.

The world is far behind in preventing new HIV infections. Some 1.7 million people were newly infected with the virus, more than three times the global target. Around 62% of new HIV infections occurred among key populations and their sexual partners, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs and people in prison, despite them constituting a very small proportion of the general population.

Stigma and discrimination, together with other social inequalities and exclusion, are proving to be key barriers. Marginalized populations who fear judgement, violence or arrest struggle to access sexual and reproductive health services, especially those related to contraception and HIV prevention. Stigma against people living with HIV is still commonplace. At least 82 countries criminalize some form of HIV transmission, exposure or non-disclosure, sex work is criminalized in at least 103 countries and at least 108 countries criminalize the consumption or possession of drugs for personal use.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously impacted the AIDS response and could disrupt it more. A six-month complete disruption in HIV treatment could cause more than 500 000 additional deaths in sub-Saharan Africa over the next year (2020–2021), bringing the region back to 2008 AIDS mortality levels. Even a 20% disruption could cause an additional 110 000 deaths.

In 2019, funding for HIV fell by 7% from 2017, to US$ 18.6 billion. This setback means that funding is 30% short of the US$ 26.2 billion needed to effectively respond to HIV in 2020.

To read the Report, follow this link>>>.

UNAIDS Strategy Beyond 2021 Development Process

Text from the NGO Delegation to the UNAIDS PCB

UNAIDS is now in the process of developing its next Strategy for 2021 and beyond. The timeline for developing the Strategy was supposed to have started early this year, but it was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has now been extended to accommodate a longer consultation period to ensure a full and more meaningful engagement of all stakeholders in the process. These details are reflected in the PCB Paper “UNAIDS Strategy Beyond 2021” which is posted to the UNAIDS website.

In order to determine the new goalposts and targets, it is important to take stock and review the existing strategy, UNAIDS 2016-2021 Strategy. This consultation process will involve interviews, focus group discussions and an online survey that will culminate in a multi-stakeholder consultation no later than September 2020.

As a first step in engaging communities and civil society more widely, we invite you to respond to the Online Survey. This 15-20 minute survey is an opportunity to obtain perspectives on how UNAIDS is reaching its goal to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Is the current strategy successful or not? Did it effect change? What should have been done better? Where should the next Strategy be headed? Your perspectives on these themes will help inform and shape the content of the next Strategy, so that it is more responsive, inclusive, progressive and bold in the goals and targets it will set for the global HIV response beyond 2021.

Survey Links:

English: https://bit.ly/3gND9nQ

Español: http://bit.ly/2MmkhhN

Français: http://bit.ly/2Mk2Hv1

Português: http://bit.ly/3gOPWq2

Русский: http://bit.ly/3dxIduQ

中文: http://bit.ly/36SR7jT

العربية: http://bit.ly/3cqwUmA

Full speed CND

Side events

The media, a key actor in the field of drugs

Organized by Canada, and Association Proyecto Hombre, Canadian Centre on Substance use and Addiction, Dianova International, The Interest Organisation for Substance Misusers and Turkish Green Crescent Society.

Role of social networks to take action is to:

  • Reach bigger audiences
  • Promote initiatives
  • Mobilize support
  • Organize campaigns to end stigma
  • Fund more research
  • Authorities should monitor for dangerous content
  • Encourage influencers to promote a healthy life style

An interesting source is Addictionary, produced by The Recovery Research Institute.

Kristina Stankova presented “The role of social networks and alternative media in the field of drugs”. The threats identified include misleading information and fake news, peer pressure, the influence of advertisement in social networks, famous people and influencers promoting unhealthy lifestyle as fun and cool, etc. Tips on how to use social networks and alternative media in a positive way include use of social networks as a tool to access information for research, use them as a tool to raise awareness and promote a healthy lifestyle, reach hidden populations, to end stigma, to spread accurate and understandable information, etc. Studies have found that as many as 75% of teens felt pressured to drink alcohol and use drugs after seeing their friends post these activities online.

Communities at the centre: Barriers and opportunities for community led interventions

Organized by International Drug Policy Consortium, International Network of People who use Drugs, Joint United Nations Programme in HIV/ AIDS, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNODC HIV/AIDS Section.

Since 2018, only one new country started needle exchange programme, while no new country started OST – despite all evidence base that these are important services for people who use drugs.

Mick Matthews from INPUD: We are not the enemy, work with us.

11 million people in the world inject drugs. Every eight has HIV, every second Hep C. 84% of those who have HIV also have Hep C. UNAIDS is clearly ready to work with and for people who use drugs (and they introduced this denomination to UN documents).

Harm reduction and rehabilitation program for inmates in prisons with mental and behavioral disorders due to use of psychoactive substances
Organized by Spain and Ukraine and European Union

Spain and Ukraine presented a cooperation project implemented in the context of EU cooperation program. Both countries used it to implement measures planned by their drug strategies.

Spain performs a survey on health services in prisons every 5 years. 75% inmates used illegal substances in their life. “Incarceration is an opportunity to improve health of inmates”.

Drugs are present in prisons in Spain and make serious problems resulting in fights between internal gangs.

Relapse after treatments in Spain is at 31,5%, while at those who go through treatments in prisons it is around 16%.

In Ukraine, with the support from the Global Fund, condoms are shared free of charge in prisons. There was a programme to evaluate syringe exchange programme. Results of the programme are discussed now, but the measures shall wait for the reform on the prison system. Civil society organisations are involved in the programme and discussion.

Unfortunately, a few Ukrainian CSOs were very critical and presented completely different view.

Shared responsibility in addressing the cocaine threat along the supply chain

Organized by European Union, UNODC CRIMJUST, UNODC Regional Office for West and Central Africa and UNODC Research and Trend Analysis Branch

Chloé Carpentier, Chief of the UNODC Drug Research Section in her presentation mentioned that the “new kids on the block” in the cocaine trade chain in Latin America are the Balkan cartel which holds 34% of the transfer of cocaine from Latin America to Europe and almost all street distribution! Production of cocaine is on the historical maximum, there are more organised criminal groups and purity is very high. More regional and international cooperation is needed to fight the problem.

UNODC-WHO Community Management of Opioid Overdose – initial results from the S.O.S. study
Organized by Australia, Kyrgyzstan and the United States of America, and UNODC Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section, Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs and World Health Organization

Representatives of UNDC and WHO expressed their dissatisfaction that we have to fight for Naloxone, as this is a medication that has no controlled substance. Stigma associated with opioid use disorders is so potent that it extends to naloxone itself. Every day, week, year of inaction means that persons are dying due to opioid overdose when there are medicines that could save their lives. Naloxone is officially registered as a medicine across 51% of all countries, but most countries don’t provide data on the availability of Naloxone.

The research they prepared and showcased by this event also serves as an assessment of the WHO’s own Guidelines on Community Management of Overdose Overdose.

The WHO-UNODC S.O.S. programme (S.O.S. for Stop Overdose Safely) is a peer-distribution programme in which we attempt to provide take home naloxone to likely witnesses of overdoses. The goal at the launch of the SOS Initiative in March 2017 was to have 90% of those likely to witness an overdose are trained to implement Naloxone; 90% of those trained to provide naloxone are provided with a supply; and having 90% of provided with Naloxone are actually carrying it with them.

Meetings

Ms Leigh Toomey, member of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention attends the 63rd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. For the occasion, she was willing to meet with selected IDPC members and partners to discuss the Working Group’s activities, including its upcoming report on the use of arbitrary detention in drug policy.

Cases presented to Ms Toomey mainly came from countries which have harsh approach to drugs. DPNSEE Executive Director added a couple of issues from the region.

We participated in the Vienna NGO Committee Annual General Meeting. Half of the Board have been elected, all from recovery organisations which have obviously well prepared for the elections.

Measuring HIV stigma and discrimination

To better understand the status of HIV-related stigma and discrimination and progress towards their elimination, support advocacy for addressing HIV-related stigma and discrimination and highlight data gaps, UNAIDS is coordinating the development of summary measures of HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

Starting on 19 August 2019 for a period of three weeks, various elements of the draft measures will be discussed. A few key questions will guide the moderated discussion each week. Inputs and recommendations from each week will be shared at the start of the following week and used to inform the next element of the measures to be discussed.

The virtual consultation is open to everyone. They aim to encourage broad participation, particularly of people living with and affected by HIV, gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, young people, sex workers, people who use drugs and women, from all regions. Contributions through this consultation will be used to inform the development of the measure(s) and ensure they are people-centred, reflecting the lived experiences and realities of people, and meaningful to inform programmatic action.

To get more information and participate in the consultation follow this link>>>

UNAIDS calls for greater urgency as global gains slow and countries show mixed results towards 2020 HIV targets

Taken from a UNAIDS press release

The pace of progress in reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to treatment and ending AIDS-related deaths is slowing down according to a new report released on 16 July 2018 by UNAIDS. UNAIDS’ Global AIDS Update, Communities at the centre, shows a mixed picture, with some countries making impressive gains while others are experiencing rises in new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths

We urgently need increased political leadership to end AIDS,” said Gunilla Carlsson, UNAIDS Executive Director, a.i., “This starts with investing adequately and smartly and by looking at what’s making some countries so successful. Ending AIDS is possible if we focus on people, not diseases, create road maps for the people and locations being left behind, and take a human rights-based approach to reach people most affected by HIV.”

The report shows that key populations and their sexual partners now account for more than half (54%) of new HIV infections globally. In 2018, key populations – including people who inject drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers and prisoners – accounted for around 95% of new HIV infections in eastern Europe and central Asia and in the Middle East and North Africa.

However, the report also shows that less than 50% of key populations were reached with combination HIV prevention services in more than half of the countries that reported. This highlights that key populations are still being marginalized and being left behind in the response to HIV.

Globally, around 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2018, a 16% decline since 2010, driven mostly by steady progress across most of eastern and southern Africa. South Africa, for example, has made huge advances and has successfully reduced new HIV infections by more than 40% and AIDS-related deaths by around 40% since 2010.

However, there is still a long way to go in eastern and southern Africa, the region most affected by HIV, and there have been worrying increases in new HIV infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (29%), in the Middle East and North Africa (10%) and in Latin America (7%).

Disconcertingly, the report shows that the gap between resource needs and resource availability is widening. For the first time, the global resources available for the AIDS response declined significantly, by nearly US$ 1 billion, as donors disbursed less and domestic investments did not grow fast enough to compensate for inflation. In 2018, US$ 19 billion (in constant 2016 dollars) was available for the AIDS response, US$ 7.2 billion short of the estimated US$ 26.2 billion needed by 2020.

To continue progress towards ending AIDS, UNAIDS urges all partners to step up action and invest in the response, including by fully funding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria with at least US$ 14 billion at its replenishment in October and through increasing bilateral and domestic funding for HIV.

Progress is continuing towards the 90–90–90 targets. Some 79% of people living with HIV knew their HIV status in 2018, 78% who knew their HIV status were accessing treatment and 86% of people living with HIV who were accessing treatment were virally suppressed, keeping them alive and well and preventing transmission of the virus.

Communities at the centre shows however that progress towards the 90–90–90 targets varies greatly by region and by country. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia for example, 72% of people living with HIV knew their HIV status in 2018, but just 53% of the people who knew their HIV status had access to treatment.

AIDS-related deaths continue to decline as access to treatment continues to expand and more progress is made in improving the delivery of HIV/tuberculosis services. Since 2010, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 33%, to 770 000 in 2018.

Progress varies across regions. Global declines in AIDS-related deaths have largely been driven by progress in eastern and southern Africa. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia however, AIDS-related deaths have risen by 5% and in the Middle East and North Africa by 9% since 2010.

Communities at the centre shows that the full range of options available to prevent new HIV infections are not being used for optimal impact. For example, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), medicine to prevent HIV, was only being used by an estimated 300 000 people in 2018, 130 000 of whom were in the United States of America. In Kenya, one of the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to roll out PrEP as a national programme in the public sector, around 30 000 people accessed the preventative medicines in 2018.

The report shows that although harm reduction is a clear solution for people who inject drugs, change has been slow. People who inject drugs accounted for 41% of new HIV infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and 27% of new HIV infections in the Middle East and North Africa, both regions that are lacking adequate harm reduction programmes.

Gains have been made against HIV-related stigma and discrimination in many countries but discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV remain extremely high. There is an urgency to tackle the underlying structural drivers of inequalities and barriers to HIV prevention and treatment, especially with regard to harmful social norms and laws, stigma and discrimination and gender-based violence.

Criminal laws, aggressive law enforcement, harassment and violence continue to push key populations to the margins of society and deny them access to basic health and social services. Discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV remain extremely high in far too many countries. Across 26 countries, more than half of respondents expressed discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV.

The report highlights how communities are central to ending AIDS. Across all sectors of the AIDS response, community empowerment and ownership has resulted in a greater uptake of HIV prevention and treatment services, a reduction in stigma and discrimination and the protection of human rights. However, insufficient funding for community-led responses and negative policy environments impede these successes reaching full scale and generating maximum impact.

UNAIDS urges countries to live up to the commitment made in the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS for community-led service delivery to be expanded to cover at least 30% of all service delivery by 2030. Adequate investments must be made in building the capacity of civil society organizations to deliver non-discriminatory, human rights-based, people-centred HIV prevention and treatment services in the communities most affected by HIV.

To read full report follow this link>>>

DPNSEE have made an excerpt with the country data for 10 countries of the region, which you can download following this link>>>

LGBT survey on happiness, sex and quality of life

The LGBT Foundation and the United Nations (UNAIDS) partnered with the Universities of Aix-Marseille and Minnesota for this quick survey on happiness, sex and quality of life. Aim of the survey is to better understand social and legal environments and amplify voices, concerns and needs of these communities.

The survey is available in 17 languages. It takes 12 minutes to complete it.

You must be at least 18-year-old to perform this survey. Your responses are completely anonymous. You can choose to skip any question you would prefer not to answer.

To contribute to the survey, please follow this link>>>>

International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy

Responding to the harms associated with drug use and the illicit drug trade is one of the greatest social policy challenges of our time. All aspects of this challenge have human rights implications.

Drug control intersects with much of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In line with the 2030 Agenda, the UNDP Strategic Plan 2018 – 2021 and the HIV, Health and Development Strategy 2016 – 2021: Connecting the Dots, the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy provide a comprehensive set of international legal standards for placing human dignity and sustainable development at the centre of UN member states responses to illicit drug economies. The guidelines cover a diverse set of substantive issues ranging from development to criminal justice to public health.

The guidelines were developed by a coalition of UN Member States, WHOUNAIDSUNDP and leading human rights and drug policy experts. The Guidelines are an example of the support provided to practically integrate international human rights commitments into national, regional and global policy and programmes.

The drugs issue cuts across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and multiple Sustainable Development Goals, including ending poverty, reducing inequalities and, of course, improving health, with its targets on drug use, HIV and other communicable diseases. Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions is particularly important, requiring attention to human rights across the Sustainable Development Goals. Since the late 1990s, UN General Assembly resolutions have acknowledged that ‘countering the world drug problem’ must be carried out ‘in full conformity’ with ‘all human rights and fundamental freedoms’. This has been reaffirmed in every major UN political declaration on drug control since, and in multiple resolutions adopted by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.The reality, however, has not always lived up to this important commitment.

The Guidelines are based on both ‘hard law’ and ‘soft law’ sources – those that are legally binding and those that are authoritative but not binding per se. With very few exceptions, the general descriptions of rights are drawn from binding treaty provisions.

However, since very few human rights treaty provisions address drug control directly and since the application of general rights to specific groups requires a more in-depth analysis, much of the guidance presented throughout the document is based on UN resolutions and declarations, the general comments and concluding observations of UN human rights treaty bodies and the work of UN human rights Special Procedures. Findings of regional human rights courts and national courts are also cited. Such jurisprudence, which is binding for the relevant countries, is cited in the Guidelines as being persuasive of a particular application of a right.

The Guidelines are not a ‘toolkit’ for a model drug policy. The Guidelines are a reference tool for those working to ensure human rights compliance at local, national, and international levels, be they parliamentarians, diplomats, judges, policy makers, civil society organisations or affected communities.

This longer version of the Guidelines will be available on an interactive website where readers may search by specific rights, drug control themes, and other key words, as well as follow links to source material.

To read and download Guidelines on human right and Drug policy follow this link>>>

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!