NGO Marketplace and civil society engagement at the CND

The Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC) together with the UNODC Civil Society Team are inviting you to a joint webinar presenting the NGO Marketplace and giving guidance on how to engage effectively at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND).

The webinar will include a tour through the new features of the NGO Marketplace, information on this years CND intersessional meetings and guidance on how to best apply for speaking opportunities.

To ensure a broad engagement, the webinar will be held twice:

  • Monday, 21 July 2020, 4 pm CEST, Vienna (2 pm UTC)
  • Tuesday, 22 July 2020, 10 am CEST, Vienna (8 am UTC)

To register, follow this link>>>.

 

New ties, new opportunities

DPNSEE hosted the Donor conference for vulnerable populations in South East Europe on Thursday 6 August 2020. The aim of the Conference was to present the needs and potential projects of vulnerable populations in South East Europe and establish better communication, coordination and cooperation between service providers and public and private funding programmes.

The Conference included plenary presentations from the region and donors and work in two separate discussion rooms: Sustainability of services for vulnerable populations and Emerging needs of key populations.

47 representatives of civil society organisations, international organisations and donor community participated.

We hope to produce and distribute the report from the Conference in the next few days.

The presentations from the Conference are ready to download:

  • Monica Ciupagea, Expert – Drug use and HIV, HIV/AIDS section, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: HIV prevention, treatment and care among people who use drugs following this link>>>.
  • Jan Zlatan Kulenović, Director of Programs, Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO): Supporting Regional Youth Cooperation following this link>>>.
  • Sergii Filippovych, Project Director, Alliance for Public Health, Ukraine, coordinator of the regional #SOS_project supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Sustainability of services for key populations in EECA & SEE Region following this link>>>.
  • Ganna Dovbakh, Executive Director, Eurasian Harm Reduction Association: Key challenges of harm reduction in COVID era following this link>>>.
  • Yuri de Boer, Senior Program Manager, AFEW International: Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in EECA following this link>>>.

 

 

World Drug Report 2020

Around 269 million people used drugs worldwide in 2018, which is 30 per cent more than in 2009, while over 35 million people suffer from drug use disorders, according to the latest World Drug Report, released today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The Report also analyses the impact of COVID-19 on the drug markets, and while its effects are not yet fully known, border and other restrictions linked to the pandemic have already caused shortages of drugs on the street, leading to increased prices and reduced purity.

The Report provides a wealth of information and analysis to support the international community in implementing operational recommendations on a number of commitments made by Member States, including the recommendations contained in the outcome document of the special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem, held in 2016.

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

COVID-19 and drug markets

UNODC press release

Measures implemented by governments to curb the COVID-19 pandemic have led to drug trafficking routes by air being disrupted, along with drastic reduction or increased interdiction in trafficking routes over land. Some drug supply chains have been interrupted and traffickers are looking for alternative routes, including maritime routes, depending on the types of drugs smuggled. These are some of the findings from a report on drug market trends during COVID-19, launched on 7 May by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Synthetic drugs, such as methamphetamine tend to be trafficked across continents by air more than other types of drugs. Restrictions on air travel are, therefore, likely to have a particularly drastic effect on this illegal cargo. The bulk of cocaine is trafficked by sea and large cargos have continued to be detected in European ports during the pandemic.

So far, heroin has mostly been trafficked by land. But due to the pandemic, maritime routes seem to be increasingly used now to traffic heroin as shown by seizures of opiates in the Indian Ocean.

Trafficking in cannabis, however, may not be affected in the same way as that of heroin or cocaine, given that its production often takes place near consumer markets and traffickers are thus less reliant on long, transregional shipments of large quantities of the drug.

 

Drug consumption trends

Several countries have reported drug shortages at the retail level. This can lead to an overall decrease in consumption, but mainly of drugs mostly consumed in recreational settings.

In the case of heroin, however, a shortage in supply can lead to the consumption of harmful, domestically produced substances – heroin shortages have been reported by countries in Europe, South West Asia and North America and some countries in Europe have warned that heroin users may even switch to fentanyl and its derivatives.

An increase in the use of pharmaceutical products such as benzodiazepines has also been reported, already doubling their price in certain areas. Another harmful pattern resulting from drug shortages is the increase in injecting drug use and the sharing of injecting equipment. All of which carry the risk of spreading diseases like HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and COVID-19 itself. The risk of drug overdose may also increase among those injecting drugs and who are infected with COVID-19.

 

Trends in drug production

Restrictions resulting from lockdown could hinder the production of opiates with the key months of harvest in Afghanistan being March to June. Due to COVID-19 labour force might not be able or willing to travel to areas where opium poppy is grown in the country, which could affect this year’s harvest.

Cocaine production also appears to be impeded in Colombia, as producers are suffering from a shortage of gasoline. While in Bolivia, COVID-19 is limiting the ability of state authorities to control coca bush cultivation, which could lead to an increase in coca production. In Peru, however, a drop in the price of cocaine suggests a reduction in trafficking opportunities. This may discourage coca bush cultivation in the short-term, although the looming economic crisis may lead more farmers to take up coca cultivation in all the major cocaine producing countries.

A decline in international trade in the current pandemic could also lead to shortages in the supply of precursors, vital for the manufacture of heroin as well as for synthetic drugs. A limited supply in Mexico, for example seems to have disrupted the manufacture of methamphetamine and fentanyl, while in Lebanon and Syria it is affecting the production of captagon. Czechia on the other hand expects a shortage of metamphetamine for the same reasons.

In the long-run, the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to lead to a lasting and profound transformation of the drug markets, which can be fully understood only after more research is done. The economic difficulties caused by COVID-19 may affect people who are already in position of socioeconomic disadvantage harder than others.

The COVID-19 and drug markets Report is available online here >>>

Conference on protection of vulnerable populations in South East Europe

Spread of the coronavirus and illness officially known as COVID-19 around the world, in Europe and in the region of South East Europe has a devastating effect on general population as well as on people who use drugs and other connected vulnerable populations (homeless people, sex workers, LGBTI, MSM, people living with HIV and many others).

DPNSEE reacted early on the information about possible outbreak of the coronavirus in Europe sending a Letter to member organisations inviting them to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak with brief instructions, publishing the Public appeal to protect vulnerable groups from coronavirus COVID-19, sharing and translating instructions and advice on coronavirus and keeping contacts with our member organisations and international partners. We regularly update news from South East Europe – they are available at the News section of our website.

We held conference calls with our member organisations by countries from South East Europe last weeks. We heard a lot of good stories about their work and ideas to share.

Analysing the situation and discussing potential developments during and after the outbreak, the DPNSEE Board decided to hold the on-line Conference on protection of vulnerable populations in South East Europe. The Conference will be held with support of the Service for Combatting Drug Abuse at the Croatian Institute for Public Health and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – UNODC Programme Office in Serbia.

The aim of the Conference is to contribute to ensuring the sustainability of services for key populations during and after the coronavirus epidemic. As stated in the UNODC document Suggestions about treatment, care and rehabilitation of people with drug use disorder in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic “it is important to ensure the continuity of adequate access to health and social services for people who use drugs and with drug use disorders and provide the continuum of care required as described in the International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders (UNODC/WHO, 2020) to the best extent possible also in times of crisis”.

Besides our members and other civil society organisations from the region and wider, we invite to the Conference national drug agencies and health institutions, international organisations partners and donors.

The Conference will be held via Zoom at the following link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86072202401 on Thursday 23 April 2020 starting at 14:00 CET (15:00 EEST). The conference would last for a maximum of two hours.

The Agenda will include two items:

  1. Overview of situation with coronavirus among vulnerable populations in South East Europe.
  2. Proposed actions to ensure sustainability of services for key populations during and after the coronavirus epidemic.

The background documents for the Conference we plan to prepare and post here in the next few days include:

  • Overview of the situation with coronavirus COVID-19 in SEE with two annexes (available here>>> with both annexes or here>>> as a separate document):
  • Annex 1 – Information received from countries of South East Europe during conference calls (available here>>>)
  • Annex 2 – DPNSEE activities during the coronavirus outbreak (available here>>>)
  • Draft list of actions and measures to ensure sustainability of services for key populations during and after the coronavirus epidemic (in progress).

In preparations for the Conference, we shall also use and refer to the documents which are also produced and promoted internationally, including those from UNODC, UNAIDS, EMCDDA and other national and international intergovernmental and civil society organisations.

We sincerely hope that you shall join us in this effort to make sure that a truly inclusive universal health coverage grounded on rights-based laws, policies and procedures is achieved by prioritizing and protecting vulnerable groups.

 

New COVID-19 documents translated into Serbian

Timok Youth Centre from Serbia and DPNSEE continue translating and publishing UNODC documents in Serbian. Now this includes three infographics on COVID-19 – HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for people who use drugs:

Rome Consensus for Humanitarian Drug Policy

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Partnership on Substance Abuse, co-sponsored by the Government of Italy, UNODC, WHO, in cooperation with the Levenson Foundation, the C4 Recovery Foundation, PTACC and the Villa Maraini Foundation, has launched the Manifesto “Rome Consensus 2.0 towards a humanitarian drug policy” at the 63a CND at UNODC in Vienna.

The Manifesto wants to promote universal access to treatment and care, as well as alternative measures to criminal justice for people who use drugs. The aim is to address the drug problems at all levels by giving emphasis to a humane attitude in support of people with drug disorders. The primary objective of humanitarian aid and approach is to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity.

The Rome Consensus 2.0 is available following this link>>>

To sign the Rome Consensus 2.0 please visit following link>>>

Your Input needed!

Displaced populations may be vulnerable to substance use disorders for a variety of reasons. These include pre- or post-migration stress and trauma, including loss of homes and livelihoods, violence, torture, mental health disorders and family separation.

The UNODC Prevention Treatment and Rehabilitation Section (PTRS) in coordination with WHO and UNHCR is planning a consultation process to develop a technical guidance tool to address substance use and substance use disorders, as well as associated health and social consequences in Relief and Humanitarian Settings and to increase access to substance use disorder treatment also in Humanitarian Settings. An expert group meeting is tentatively scheduled for the third quarter of 2020.

As part of the consultation process civil society organisations are invited to provide relevant information about treatment and care for displaced populations. In particular by:

  • Sharing national experiences, studies and good practices on addressing substance use disorders and providing treatment and care for people with substance use disorders in humanitarian settings and/or for displaced populations;
  • Informing about the current use of technical tools, guidelines, protocols or else to guide the work on treatment and care for people with substance use disorders in humanitarian settings and among displaced populations;
  • Indicating to UNODC which kind of technical guidance tool would be most relevant, needed and applicable in order to provide improved services for people with substance use disorders in humanitarian settings or for displaced populations with substance use disorders;
  • Describing existing mechanisms for interaction and coordination at the national/regional level, including joint- or inter-ministerial entities, civil society coordination mechanisms or else which bring together health, humanitarian and other sectors that could play a key role in a later implementation of the technical guidance tool to be developed by UNODC, in coordination with WHO and UNHCR, to address substance use disorders as well as associated health and social consequences in Relief and Humanitarian Settings;
  • Providing the full name and complete contact details of a focal point, to facilitate future communication and exchange about the information provided.

The information collected will be used to understand the use and barriers for application of currently available tools, identify needs, gather information on what kind of technical tool could be practically applicable and increase access to treatment and care of substance use disorders in humanitarian settings.

Relevant input should be sent as soon as possible but no later than 15 May 2020, by sending it to Ms. Anja Busse (anja.busse@un.org), Mr. Wataru Kashino (wataru.kashino@un.org) and info@vngoc.org.

To get more information, follow this link>>>.

 

CND Recap

The 63rd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was held from 2 to 6 March 2020 in Vienna, Austria. The CND is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and is the central drug policy-making body within the United Nations system. It monitors the world drug situation, develops strategies on international drug control and recommends measures to address the world drug problem.

Delegations from Member States, young people, scientists, civil society representatives (some 370 of us), and representatives from 17 international and regional organizations – nearly 1.500 people from more than 130 countries – met like every year in March to discuss the complexities and contexts of the world drug problem and to find joint solutions.

As expected, the meeting started with an information on the coronavirus outbreak. Austrian Health Authorities have mandatory reporting cases – no travel restrictions currently, 1.826 tests in Austria, 15 confirmed.

New UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly was presented and actively participated in the meeting.

Croatia spoke on behalf of EU as it holds EU presidency in the first half of the year. Our colleagues from their Office for combating drugs were very active in preparations and hold a lot of meetings and events during the event.

At plenary, country representatives spoke about issues of their interest and achievements they made while at the Committee of the Whole (comprised of representatives of CND member countries) texts of the resolutions were discussed and agreed.

The UNODC Executive Director, in her closing speech, presented the results of the meeting as:

  • Pledge to expand opportunities for the meaningful participation of youth in drug prevention
  • Call for increased support of comprehensive alternative development programmes
  • Recognition that education and training are required to ensure access to and the availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes
  • Emphasis on the importance of partnerships with the private sector to secure an affordable and safe supply of controlled substances for licit purposes
  • Adoption of the revised Annual Report Questionnaire to support the international community to improve the evidence base and ensure that World Drug Report can draw on the best available data possible

CND adopted 5 proposed resolutions:

  • Promoting efforts by member states to counter the world drug problem
  • Promoting efforts by Member States to address and counter the world drug problem, in particular supply reduction-related measures, through effective partnerships with private sector entities
  • Promoting awareness-raising, education and training as part of a comprehensive approach to ensuring access to and the availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes and improving their rational use
  • Promoting the involvement of youth in drug prevention efforts
  • Promoting alternative development as an inclusive and sustainable development-oriented drug control strategy

In the margins of the 63rd Session of the CND, UNODC convened 45 youths and 27 parents and guardians from 33 countries for the Youth Forum 2020 held from 2 to 4 March, to involve them in efforts to address the world drug problem and to strengthen their voices on the global level.

DPNSEE was represented by Ivana Vujović from Juventas and Executive Director Milutin Milošević, In addition, Board member Marios Atzemis (representing EATG), Vlatko Dekov and Bogdan Kolev from HOPS and Ana Gavrilović from ReGeneracija (who participated in the Youth Forum 2020), were present at the CND 2020.

During the event, we had a lot of small informal and some formal meetings including those with Alexis Goodeel, Director of EMCDDA, Dr Christos Koumitsidis, Greek Drug Coordinator, State secretary in the Ministry of Health of Croatia Tomislav Dulibić and several members of their Office for combating drugs, national drug coordinators from Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, Katrin Prins-Schiffer, Coordinator of Correlation, representatives of the Trimbos Institute, representatives of IDPC, the European Citizens’ Initiative to change regulation on cannabis among others.

In a consultative meeting with Jamie Bridge from IDPC, we explained critical situation with harm reduction in South East Europe and expressed disappointment that none of the projects from the region was supported by the Radian Fund. Jamie informed us that there may be a kind of a donor meeting around the World AIDS Conference this July in San Francisco and Auckland where we may jointly bring the case to the agenda and ask for more attention to the problem.

IDPC invited organisations active in the “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign for a meeting to discuss developments and the upcoming 2020 Global Day of Action. The International day of action will be celebrated for the eight time. The call for expression of interest will be issued on 16 March and opened for a month. The process will be the same as recent year(s).

Some general observations

  • Every year presence of governments increases, especially those with restrictive approach to drugs. And, strange enough, they organise side events on critical issues, probably trying to present and protect their views.
  • Governments use CND to promote their successes. There is no confirmation that all of them they are real. On contrary, we observed cases of false achievements.
  • More presence from SEE
  • Less and less community members
  • A lot of attention was given to human rights, following publishing of the Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy by the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy, UNAIDS, WHO and UNDP in 2019.
  • Strong presence and a lot of activities of Croatia, which holds EU presidency in the first half of 2020.
  • Discussion and adoption of the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that would remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention while still keeping it in Schedule I should have been at the agenda (postponed from 2019), but this will not happen in 2020. This is the second time the CND has refused to vote on the recommendations, which the WHO first presented in January 2019.
  • Some countries have decided to not send their delegates to avoid contract coronavirus and many CSOs have either done the same.

Daily overviews from the CND are available at the DPNSEE webpage:

 

A day for side events

While plenary session was open for governmental speeches and the Committee of Whole worked on texts of resolutions, the second day of the CND 2020 was for civil society organisations mainly dedicated to side events.

Side events

Young people use drugs – Bridging the gap between Human Rights and Key Affected Populations

Organized by Students for Sensible Drug Policy

International guidelines on human rights and drug policy, produced by UNODC, have a just a few paragraphs on children who have right to protection from drugs and women who use drugs which human rights should be protected, but don’t have reference on young people who use drugs.

The Barcelona declaration (which “declares that the War On Drugs is a war on Womxn Who Use Drugs”), Par4digma coalition of youth lead organisations from across the world transforming drug policy and Youth and Incarceration/Forced Treatment (rehabilitation) in Nigeria, where this method is employed to patients that are treated as “harmful”, were presented. Presenters also called that the sanctions against drug use should be based on the economic situation of the user.

Improving outreach and multidisciplinary approach towards people who use drugs and people in recovery in Western Balkan countries

Organized by Serbia, and Association Izlazak, Preporod/Rebirth, Proslavi Oporavak/Celebrate Recovery and World Federation Against Drugs

Results of the regional project “Choose Recovery” which is a joint cooperation between World Federation Against Drugs and three civil society organisations in the Balkan region: Izlazak, Celebrate Recovery and Preporod, were presented. The three organisation are working within the recovery field and providing support services to active users, individuals in recovery and members of their families, and they are actively involved in shaping drug policies in their countries.

Also, The Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of the Republic of Serbia presented their work, emphasizing partnership with the civil society as one of the successes of their work.

Comprehensive and evidence-based approach in tackling the world drug problem

Organized by Croatia, and European Union and UNODC Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs

The slogan of the Croatian presidency “A strong Europe in a challenging world”

Croatian strongly recommends implementation of all universal conventions dealing with drugs.

After protocolled introductions from the Ambassador of Croatia and Executive Director of UNODC, State secretary in the Ministry of Health Tomislav Dulibić presented Croatian experiences in evidence-based approach to drug problem. He emphasized that Croatia introduced Minimum standards for prevention of addiction in the educational system, implemented a research project “Evaluation of drug treatment in the Republic of Croatia” and performed evaluation of treatment and distribution of substitution therapy.

Alexis Goosdeel underlined that EMCDDA cooperates with Croatia since 2002. They are an excellent experience of serious and comprehensive approach towards accession to EU in the area of drugs. EMCDDA collects data for a purpose, not for statistics.

Victor Sannes, deputy director in the Food, Health Protection and Prevention Directorate presented various projects from The Netherlands.

Gilberto Gerra, UNODC: 60% of countries of the World have health treatment of drug users under ministries of interior or justice!

Homelessness and substance use in city centres: Balanced and evidence-based policies

Organized by Greece, and Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, Pompidou Group/Council of Europe and Santé Mentale et Exclusion Sociale – Europe

Dr Christos Koumitsidis, National Drug Coordinator, Greece: Homelessness in downtown Athens is an important challenge, exacerbated by factors such mental health conditions, substance use problems, the financial crisis and the influx of refugees fleeing war. These issues do not exist in isolation, they intersect and potentiate vulnerability. Homelessness is a common ground.

Katrin Prins-Schiffer, Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network / De Regenboog Groep: We see the same in the harm reduction and addiction sectors; usually homelessness is left behind. Only Finland has decreased homelessness. They have invested a lot in Housing First. All other countries report increases in homelessness. Part of the problem is that the housing market is under a lot of pressure, mostly because of a lack of affordable housing. We have 150,000 rent-controlled dwellings in Amsterdam; but this is not a lot for a city of 1.2 million; and it’s really hard to access these dwellings. In terms of reasons for homelessness, the majority are about impending evictions or end of renting contract, and leaving home after. There is an ‘integrated care system’ whereby local governments are responsible for housing and homeless care. In terms of the system’s main principles, it’s about focusing on the overall needs; not just drug use, homelessness or mental health. It’s a kind of self-sufficiency matrix including finances, housing, relationships, legal problems, community participation. This system is based on the needs on the individual, not on the organisation and its specific focus.

Victor Soto, SMES Europe: Why are people homeless? Policies (housing policies, health policies) and individual situations (mental conditions, traumatic events, etc.). So we need to address both dimensions. Homelessness is not a fixed category, it should be approach through different lines of action.

Pompidou Group: As the operational context was been changing, stakeholders in this field need to be flexible, in line with operational realities. Common guiding principles need to be developed and revised as practice develops. To develop these principles, we need to learn from each other: what works and what doesn’t, find common ground for cooperation and support.

Homelessness and substance use in city centres: Balanced and evidence-based policies

Organized by Greece, and Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, Pompidou Group/Council of Europe and Santé Mentale et Exclusion Sociale – Europe

Dr Christos Koumitsidis, National Drug Coordinator, Greece: Homelessness in downtown Athens is an important challenge, exacerbated by factors such mental health conditions, substance use problems, the financial crisis and the influx of refugees fleeing war. These issues do not exist in isolation, they intersect and potentiate vulnerability. Homelessness is a common ground.

Katrin Prins-Schiffer, Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network / De Regenboog Groep: We see the same in the harm reduction and addiction sectors; usually homelessness is left behind. Only Finland has decreased homelessness. They have invested a lot in Housing First. All other countries report increases in homelessness. Part of the problem is that the housing market is under a lot of pressure, mostly because of a lack of affordable housing. We have 150,000 rent-controlled dwellings in Amsterdam; but this is not a lot for a city of 1.2 million; and it’s really hard to access these dwellings. In terms of reasons for homelessness, the majority are about impending evictions or end of renting contract, and leaving home after. There is an ‘integrated care system’ whereby local governments are responsible for housing and homeless care. In terms of the system’s main principles, it’s about focusing on the overall needs; not just drug use, homelessness or mental health. It’s a kind of self-sufficiency matrix including finances, housing, relationships, legal problems, community participation. This system is based on the needs on the individual, not on the organisation and its specific focus.

Victor Soto, SMES Europe: Why are people homeless? Policies (housing policies, health policies) and individual situations (mental conditions, traumatic events, etc.). So we need to address both dimensions. Homelessness is not a fixed category, it should be approach through different lines of action.

Pompidou Group: As the operational context was been changing, stakeholders in this field need to be flexible, in line with operational realities. Common guiding principles need to be developed and revised as practice develops. To develop these principles, we need to learn from each other: what works and what doesn’t, find common ground for cooperation and support.