European civil society consultations

To facilitate meaningful civil society contributions to the 2024 high-level segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the Vienna & New York NGO Committees on Drugs (VNGOC & NYNGOC) in cooperation with the UNODC Civil Society Unit organised a series of regional civil society consultations in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Americas. In addition, a global online survey was launched in November 2023 to further solicit broad input. The outcomes of the regional consultations in preparation of the 2024 mid-term review will feed into the global civil society contributions towards the 2024 mid-term review and will be presented to Member States in February 2024.

The European Civil Society consultations were conducted in partnership with the Civil Society Forum on Drugs in the EU (CSFD). They consisted of a series of online consultations as well as a hybrid consultation held on 16 January in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

DPNSEE Executive Director Milutin Milošević participated and contributed to this event in person.

A webinar on the World Drug Report 2023 for civil society

From the UNODC website

UNDOC’s World Drug Report is a crucial annual publication that provides member states and civil society with up-to-date and comprehensive information on global drug trends, patterns of drug use, and emerging substances. The knowledge equips civil society organizations worldwide with a solid understanding of the current landscape, empowering them to effectively educate their communities, advocate for evidence-based policies, and implement effective interventions, working towards a healthier and safer society.

The UNODC Civil Society Unit (CSU) and the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC) jointly organized a webinar for civil society on 20 July 2023, presenting the key findings of this year’s World Drug Report. The webinar provided a spotlight on the latest global and regional trends. Simultaneous interpretation in English, Russian, Spanish and French allowed participants to discuss the latest data with the authors of the 2023 World Drug Report.

Ms. Chloe Carpentier, Chief of UNODC Drugs Research Section, and Mr. Thomas Pietschmann, Research Officer, provided an overview of the latest developments in the World Drug Report 2023, published on 26 June. They also introduced the new interactive online segment which enables easy access to the available data and allows users to extract graphs and maps as required.

This year’s report emphasizes, among other, that a growing number of people worldwide suffer from drug use disorders, 296 million in 2021. This is often exacerbated by the increasing proliferation of cheap synthetic drugs and illicit drug economies that flourish in situation of conflicts. Partnerships are key to reduce the adverse health and social consequences of drug abuse and civil society has an open role to play, often having better access to key populations on the ground.

During the Webinar, two civil society experts also shared their insights and experiences on some of the issues highlighted in the World Drug Report. Professor John Toumbourou from the Dalgarno Institute in Australia discussed prevention and treatment of drug use disorders. He highlighted the success of abstinence-based programs and policies in reducing school-age alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use. Australia’s approach focused on prevention may serve as a positive example in addressing drug-related issues among youth. Focusing on the Amazon region in South America, Rebeca Marques Rocha, representing Youth RISE, stressed the importance of investing in health and education, and offering employment opportunities for young people and indigenous groups in order to more effectively tackle organized crime, including drug trafficking, in the region.

With more than 350 attendees from over 80 countries engaging in a lively questions and answers section, the webinar reflected the enormous interest in up-to-date, reliable data on drug related matters among civil society organizations.

 

Further Information:

World Drug Report 2023

NGO Marketplace

Recording of the Webinar

 

Call for experts on treatment and care as an alternative to conviction or punishment

The Vienna and New York NGO Committees on Drugs (VNGOC & NYNGOC) are looking for four civil society Experts on treatment and care as an alternative to conviction or punishment. The experts with substantive experience on the topic, who can make a meaningful contribution to the identification of key aspects of diversion to healthcare at the various stages of the criminal justice continuum. They are expected to contribute to the production of guidance by UNODC on ‘drug use disorder treatment and care as an alternative to conviction or punishment for people with drug use disorders in contact with the criminal justice system’.

The UNODC-WHO initiative on Treatment and Care for People with Drug Use Disorders in Contact with the Criminal Justice System: Alternatives to Conviction or Punishment was launched in line with the Commission on Narcotic Drug’s (CND) resolution 58/5 on “supporting the collaboration of public health and justice authorities in pursuing alternative measures to conviction or punishment for appropriate drug related offences of a minor nature”. The aim is to promote the collaboration of justice and health authorities on alternative measures to conviction punishment for appropriate drug-related offences of a minor nature, especially with a view to people with drug use disorders in contact with the criminal justice system. In this context a handbook has been published in 2019 which has been jointly developed by UNODC PTRS, UNODC’s Justice Section and WHO.

As a follow up, now in 2021, UNODC/PTRS is aiming to develop additional guidance on drug use disorder treatment and care as an alternative to conviction or punishment for people with drug use disorders in contact with the criminal justice system, from the pre-arrest stage to the post-sentencing stage. UNODC/PTRS, with the support of experts (e.g. professionals, scientific experts, civil society, etc.) from all regions, aims to identify principles to support the effective implementation of treatment as an alternative at the various stages of the criminal justice system. Different professional groups/settings at each stage of the criminal justice continuum to be considered will include:

  1. Measures at pre-arrest stage (e.g., the role of law enforcement etc in deflection, diversion, administrative sanctions etc.)
  2. Measures at pre-trial stage (e.g., caution, conditional bail, conditional dismissal with referral to education or treatment etc.)
  3. Measures at trial/sentencing stage (e.g., postponement of sentence, deferring the execution of the sentence, diversion using specialized courts, probation/judicial supervision through probation officers etc.)
  4. Measures at post-sentencing stage (e.g., early release, parole, pardon with an element of treatment through parole officers etc.)

Expert consultations will continue throughout 2021 in different formats. Consultations will be conducted in English and interpretation will not be provided. More information on how and when input can be best provided will be shared with the selected experts.

If you wish to be considered for nomination please fill out the online application form and submit it no later than 6 June 2021, 11.55 p.m. CEST.

 

Jamie Bridge re-elected as the VNGOC Chairperson

Jamie Bridge from the IDPC was re-elected as the Chairperson of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC) through the electronic voting held 12 – 13 April 2021. Jamie has been on the VNGOC Board since March 2017, and the Chair since March 2018.

Out of 174 members in good standing 150 registered to vote and in the end 147 voters cast their ballots electronically. Jamie won 88 votes.

In his candidature, Jamie said that:

I started my career working in further education and drugs services in the UK, having graduated in psychology in 2002. I went on to gain a Masters in drug policy, and have also worked with Harm Reduction International (HRI) and the Global Fund in Geneva, before returning to the UK to join the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC). In addition to my roles at VNGOC, I have previously served on the Boards of Harm Reduction International and the UK National Needle Exchange Forum (NNEF). Throughout my career, I have gained invaluable experience at the UN level as well as in networking and diplomacy.

Despite the breadth of views that are represented within the VNGOC membership, we have worked hard to emphasise our commonalities and work together. The Board has demonstrated its commitment to balance and transparency, and I would like to thank all VNGOC members for their support and engagement over the past few years. I hope that I can continue to deliver all of these things as your Chair for the next two years as well.

Congratulations to our colleague Jamie!

 

Protect civil society participation at the 64th CND

The Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC) – the global network of nearly 300 NGOs with the purpose of coordinating and supporting meaningful participation at the CND and other fora – published an urgent position statement. Ahead of the 64th CND in April, with its new hybrid format, the statement outlines our recommendations and expectations for the effective, meaningful participation of civil society online.

The statement can be found at: https://bit.ly/3ecBGc8

VNGOC urge all UN member states to ensure that the modalities for the hybrid 64th session do not inadvertently close the space for civil society to play its important role in these deliberations.

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>>>.

 

Webinars on the World Drug Report 2020

The Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC) together with the UNODC Civil Society Team are holding a series of webinars to present and discuss the World Drug Report 2020. The series includes webinars in English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Each webinar includes a formal presentation of the World Drug Report 2020 by UNODC, a civil society presentation about how they work with the data of the World Drug Report, and an open question and answer session.

The webinars will be held in English on Monday, 27 July 2020, at 15:00 CET.

To register for the webinar follow this link>>>.

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.

CND – half way through

The 62nd CND is running full steam on the third day. Besides plenary work with national delegations discussing and voting on formal decision, a variety of side events present interesting experiences, projects, results and challenges from around the globe.

Decriminalizing drug use and possession: A cross-national perspective on lessons learned and best practices

Organized by the Czech Republic, the Drug Policy Alliance, Release and the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy. Niamh Eastwood from Release (UK) reminded that UN agencies estimate that 83% of all drug offenses globally are related to possession and use of drugs. Tough sanctions don’t deter people from using drugs. Decriminalisation is not a new option – some countries use it since seventies of the last century. No country that recently decriminalised experiences increase in drug use! It is time to start exploring new models of decriminalisation. An argument against is that “we need to protect kids”, but the majority of those who are under criminal justice systems are young people up to 24 years of age. For young people, we should work on preventing long-term problematic drug use. Caitlin Hughes from the National Drugs and Alcohol Research Centre (Australia) presented results of several studies on decriminalisation. Barbara Janikova and Viktor Mravčik from the Czech National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addictions presented successes their country achieved adopting decriminalisation. After they criminalised drug use and possession in 1999, use of cannabis was growing; on contrary, when they decriminalised it in 2010, the cannabis use dropped significantly. There is a national consensus that there is benefit of decriminalisation for public health and general wellbeing. Same way, Dagflin Hessen Paust from the Norwegian Association for Safer Drug Policies (Norway) presented their change of approach, which included a large national debate. Finally, there is the proposal for decriminalisation in process now, evidence based and proposed by the ruling conservative party. Supply issue is the elephant in the room when discussing decriminalisation. Theshia Naidoo from the Drug Policy Alliance (USA) had a large discussion where the three main issues were: How to define the conduct that is decriminalised? Who are the optimal decision makers? Appropriate response to drug use and possession? Decriminalisation should be followed by large investment in social services to people who use drugs.  Blog notes from this side event are available following this link>>>.

Aligning data collection with UNGASS implementation and the Sustainable Development Goals: Recommendations for a review of the Annual Report Questionnaire

Organized by Canada, Mexico and Switzerland, IDPC, the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation from Canada and the Global Drug Policy Observatory of Swansea University. Mexico prepared a matrix of 106 recommendations related to the UNGASS outcomes. EMCDDA representative claims that it is a very complex job to get data. On one side, they are specific and complex and on the other side there is a specific political aspect attached to them. Marie Nougier from IDPC presented the information on data collecting they included in the report “Taking stock: A decade of drug policy – A civil society shadow report” and expressed the willingness of IDPC and many civil society organisations to contribute to updating the Questionnaire.

Women, incarceration and drug policy: Special vulnerabilities that call for focused responses

This side event gathered various representatives that agreed that women that are drug users face various obstacles and are much more vulnerable in prison settings and their human rights. Ms Ivana Radačić from OHCHR pointed out the fact that in general more women than men are serving drug use related sentences and that there are significant obstacles for them to be provided with fair trial. Project officer in Eurasian Harm Reduction Association Ms Eliza Kurčević presented the results of the research conducted by EHRA and said that “33,6% out of total number of prisoners in Russia are women, while 19.628 of them are sentenced for drug related offences. They face many challenges relate to human rights violations, family rights and other justice related problems.” These challenges remain one of the key priorities that should be addressed through both drugs and justice policies.

Launch of UNODC-VNGOC civil society guide on UNGASS outcome document and SDGs

Organized by the Sweden, UNODC, Civil Society Team and the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs. Jamie Bridge, Chairman of VNGOC, emphasised that more than 85% of the civil society organisations replied that they contributed to at least one SGD, while a quarter of them said they contributed to all 17 SGDs. HE Mikaela Ruth, the Ambassador of Sweden, presented the key features of the guide for NGOsWorking together: Drugs and the Sustainable Development Goals“. The UNODC representative Billy Batware underlined how the UNGASS outcome document and SDGs are connected and presented the structure and content of the guide. Dayana Vincent from Fourth Wave Foundation working in India, Wangari Kimemia from Médecins du monde France in Kenya and Heloisa Broggiato Mater from International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care about their workshops on Availability and Access to Opioid Medications in Latin American Countries presented their experiences in working on programmes related to sustainability development goals.

Other events

The Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs held an Informal Dialogue with the UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov. NGOs had an opportunity to propose questions and 11 of them were selected for Mr Fedotov to reply to. Participants of the dialogue touch upon topics like prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, alternative development, healthcare, opioid crisis, prevalence of drug use, Listen first and Strong families programmes and research and analysing new trends. One of the questions was asked by Janko Belin, about if UNODC have programmes related to drugs and migrants.

Another Informal Dialogue was held with with the INCB President Viroj Sumyai. Blog notes from this dialogue are available following 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!