Mr Esbjörn Hörnberg, Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs Chair/ Civil Society Task Force Chair: Through our work, we have managed to achieve meaningful, balanced contributions by civil society. Our work involves many NGOs. We have chosen this opportunity to include the voices of grassroots CSOs. I wish to thank the government of Switzerland and Colombia for supporting this event and CS speakers. This is not the end, or the end of the beginning but maybe the beginning of the end.
UNGA President: Express sincere condolences to Ecuador and Japan for those who lost loved ones in the earthquake and those working to help recovery efforts. Over coming days, CSOs will participate actively in roundtables and side events. We have worked closely with the CSTF to select speakers representing geographical and issue diversity. The world drug problem is the epitome of the 21st century. Issues of criminal justice, international law and diplomacy, sustainable development demand an integrated response. At the IISC, there were contributions made by many CSOs, many highlighting the need for greater access to essential medicines and palliative care, much concern was expressed for ongoing use of death penalty for drug offenses, and need for adequate harm reduction services.
CSOs can play important role in implementing health services. They are a key resource in designing and implementing effective interventions. Women and girls, especially those who come from marginalized communities, suffer most from drug networks that lure them to become involved. We must work hard to bring back families affected by drug use together again, on HIV-related measures for people who inject drugs, and address stigma and discrimination of PUD. Prevention and treatment of drug dependence and availability of controlled medicines must be acknowledged, as well as the harm for PUD who also deserved to be treated with due respect and care. As we gear up for tomorrow, we must remember that our need to address this problem has evolved over the years. We look to 2019 and member states and CSOs will have the opportunity to input on how we have evolved in our responses.
UNGASS Board Chair, Ambassador Shamaa: Since Dec 2014, the UNGASS Board had the honour to assist MS on preparations and with many of you along with wide range of stakeholders to make UNGASS a successful event. I wish to thank you, especially Mr Hörnberg who has worked hard to make CSOs heard. Now the session opens tomorrow. Since the preparations opened, I have repeatedly said how important it is to hear different views and experiences, especially of those working on the ground. The IISC organized in February was the last of a series of events to hear from experts working on the ground. We have worked hard to collate experiences, including through the UNGASS website which collects inputs from many CSOs and stakeholders and member states. MS have reached agreement last month on the outcome document and recommend their adoption at the UN GA. The outcome document provides operational recommendations including on new and emerging threats. The world drug problem is a complex, multi-facted issue that we need to address through multiple ways including human rights and development. CSOs have made many contributions, showing that they play a successful role in implementation of evidence-based policies. We see that the world drug problem causes negative impacts to health. What is needed is comprehensive solutions to ensure health and well being of people. There are no uniform responses, but different approaches may be required from region to region, country to country. You mention the end of the beginning, I suggest instead the beginning of an even more intensive cooperation phase.
Mr Hörnberg: We have been challenged to bring experts from the ground to this forum, because they know that the experts are those working on the ground.
Mr Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director: I thank Mr Hörnberg for invitation to address you and also especially for your efforts to make CS participation in UNGASS visible and effective. CS is vital partner in addressing challenges posed by world drug problem and it is very good to meet here one day ahead of UNGASS. CSOs will speak at roundtables and side events. Your inputs including those of CSTF have helped to enrich UNGASS debate. To enhance responses to illicit drugs, the online marketplace has helped to shed light on work of CSOs and help with exchange of experiences of drug-related issues. UNGASS is not ends in itself but means to tackle problems more effectively. UNODC stands ready to assist in the implementation of responses, to translate MS commitments into practice on the ground. UNODC works with intergovernmental and CS organization on prevention, treatment and alternative development. Working with you, we have helped to enhance treatment and care in over 40 countries. Through grants and fund, we have helped CSOs to provide services including HIV prevention treatment and care amongst PWID. We rely on your continued cooperation.
Mr Hörnberg: It is not only in Vienna we are working with UNODC, they have been very good help to us in regional consultations in Central Asia and Africa and so on. Your staff in the CS team has also helped us during this process.
Mr Yesid Reyes Alvarado, Minister for Justice and Law in Colombia: Back in 2012, the government of Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala called for a special session at the UN to promote a debate, a sincere and evidence-based debate including the necessity to address all voices. IN this sense the role of CSOs has been impressive, including in preparing food for thought and elaborating proposals. No doubt the role you play has been important in recognizing the impact of drug policy towards the most vulnerable members of society, reflecting on the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens. UNGASS is not the end of a process but the beginning of a new drug policy. This is the end of the drug war, this is the starting point of a new consensus based on human rights, public health, security and development. We should not underestimate the consensus on this, but also not underestimate the challenges ahead. An internal war is ending in Colombia, we are convinced this transformation needs to be focused in the local fields. We are also working on the message that we want to leave behind a model that has not been successful and created hundreds of victims with disproportionate strategies and affected the most vulnerable populations. The agreement to sign the outcome document puts a focus on health and well-being of people has been the best one so far. We understand it is impossible to reach a drug-free world and we should focus on minimizing the harms of pursuing this idea, including protection of human rights, which is connected to SDG agenda. It recognizes flexibilities which allow member states to pursue responses best suited for them. The world has changed during the last 40 years, also the connection between the producer and consumer countries is more complicated. For this reason, we need a more comprehensive agenda that recognizes the causes of the problem and we need each member state to focus more on vulnerable members of communities and their relationship with illegal drug economies. We should also find a way to make that work and debate should not close after this Assembly but it is important UN continues promoting discussion and having role in implementing policies within their competencies. It is important that CS follow this debate and reformative process in their countries and taking responsibility of getting necessary measures to acknowledge the agreement. We should also be more consistent, and put old vision of old drug problem behind us and work to get comprehensive vision of diverse facets of drug problems. We should close this chapter, end the drug war, not be satisfied with partial victories and follow evidence-based policies.
Mr Anders W. Johnsson, Sweden: Sweden believes a balanced approach, with supply and demand reduction, is required. Demand reduction is one of the pillars of the international approach, and I will speak on this. But firstly, I wish to thank CSOs and CSTF for high quality delivery of funding by Sweden. On a national basis, my delegation has had structured dialogue with CS to formulate positions and provide input. In the Swedish delegation there are two CS representatives, with whom we don’t always necessarily agree while acknowledging the need to involve people with substance use disorders. We need to strengthen the prevention and treatment of people for narcotic but also alcohol abuse. I would have welcomed a stronger focus on the goal on prevention and treatment in the outcome doc. The priority to protect children from drugs is also emphasized, and to prevent use of children in illicit production, consistent with article in treaty. We can explore more what this article entails.
Prevention of drug use and drug use disorder means so much more than information, it is about listening and strengthening young children to be resilient and to choose healthier lives. Governments should pursue evidence-based interventions, which will be presented by the Queen tomorrow. We should promote information on prevention, especially in early phases of life. More knowledge is needed to get this message across therefore we welcome the report on the harms of medical use of cannabis (check). Increased knowledge on what is necessary and effective in scaling up prevention is needed. It should accord with experience and what is efficient.
Gilberto Gerra, Chief of Drug Prevention and Health Branch, UNODC: This morning entering the room I had a pleasant experience of being familiar with many of you. It means our cooperation is very close. I wish to thank WHO with whom we collaborate continuously. And to Esbjörn, we are thankful for collaboration on HIV prevention, strengthening communities etc. We also have special relationship with people who use drug and living with HIV, and people advocating on access to controlled medicines. Our collaboration has been fruitful and full of achievements. The world approach is changing, no longer a moral issues, this is a social and health problem and we have to respond to suffering of people, not aggravate it. Ignorance is affecting this area and science was ignored. More and more, member states are asking us for scientific evidence. We started to speak intensively about people who use drugs not being stigmatised and need for alternatives to incarceration and not additional punishment. People being blamed for substance use is over. We need to talk about what is making people vulnerable in relation to their use. At the last CND, the international standards for treatment were supported by member states for use. Ethical interventions, voluntary-based and respect is required in treatment. We should not leave UNGASS without recognizing that at all levels, there should be a table with common language and training, to created integrated system of networks that completely engages CS in systematic way.
Ms Heather Haase, Chair, New York NGO Committee on Drugs/Vice-Chair, Civil Society Task Force: All of you from activists, to members of affected populations, policymakers will not know what is really happening so your role is very important. To see CS members from each part of the world, it makes me very grateful for the work we do. The CSTF was specifically formed for this process, to bring in voices who would not otherwise be heard to bring in their experiences. These truths are not always easy to hear, they are sometimes constructive, sometimes critical but they are always mean to help. We are all here for one purpose, to improve our drug policies. We want to do the best we can with this very difficult and complex issue. We cannot improve our policies unless we work together. This UNGASS is an opportunity for the international community to enter an informed and wide-ranging discussion of drug policy in all of its aspects. Let’s do this in spirit of cooperation and mutual respect.
Ms Maria Idomir, Project Officer VNGOC: I will give summary of contributions by CSOs in preparations for UNGASS. Through joint efforts of VNGOC and NYNGOC, the voices of many CS working on the ground around the world were brought together. Our efforts have been successful, through the use of mechanisms such as an online survey. CS representatives agree that the death penalty should be abolished, and access to morphine for terminally ill patients. Specific recommendations were made on issues including new challenges, and also on harm reduction and recovery. There is a need for appropriate funding to support continuum of care in particular harm reduction etc. for people regardless of nationality. There should be informed consent for treatment services, and need for renewed commitment to the provision of services particularly in prisons and measures to prevent overdose. Information should be made available, especially evidence-based prevention and for young users. Young users should not be criminalized for the use of drugs, and should be involved in the development of policy responses. Where crime issues are concerned, proportionality of sentencing, abolition of the death penalty, alternatives to incarceration to reduce prison overcrowding, and training of law enforcement personnel is needed. Promote rule of law and government for sustainable development. Correction facilities should be sufficiently funded to provide drug treatment related services, and follow up upon release.
Use of drugs cause harms to users and their community and responses should be comprehensive. Rights of PUD must be acknowledged, their bodily integrity must be respected and people must be not subject to forced treatment and detention, forced testing and measures such as forced sterilization for women who use drugs. Acknowledge rights of children to be free of drugs and ensure child rights as stipulated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
On issue of alternative development. Alcohol is an obstacle to responses by governments. Where crop eradication is desirable and feasible, it should be agreed to by communities at each step. Communities should be involved in the design, implementation and monitoring.
A couple of new challenges have been identified. Research for NPS, to feed into an early warning system. Review legality of such substances, and there is a need for harm reduction for such substances. There is a need for evidence-based data to inform drug policy. M & E frameworks are needed to evaluate drug policies. Sharing of best practice is part of collective responsibility to address drug issues. Involvement of stakeholders especially those most vulnerable such as ethnic minorities, women and children. There are also issues on which diverse opinions have been expressed, including on use of flexibilities in conventions, review of need to amend the conventions. Various views and concerns have been expressed regarding legalization and decriminalization in some parts of the world. It is our hope that our work will continue to support the efforts of CS.
Sheila Vakharia, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Long Island University: On the Global Civil Society Survey Report., this was distributed to CSOs around world between April and July 2015. I included survey responses that were at least 40% completed. There were 6 open and qualitative questions on inclusiveness of CS thus far and priorities of UNGASS, how they would measure success of UNGASS. I categorised the responses in the 5 thematic areas. There were 1,274 responses completed and included in various languages, mostly in English and Spanish. We tried to get regional representation of responses. A third of respondents were local level NGOs and about half were national NGOs. Something special of our report was that it targeted people working in local communities. Many respondents worked on drugs and health, drug and human rights and with young people.
On the qualititative results, about half were content with CS inclusiveness thus far. Those who gave a low rating said they felt there was limited regional representation to date, and that people usually involved at global level were most involved. Some felt there was inadequate involvement of affected groups. There was also skepticism about likelihood for change.
On the thematic area for drugs and health, many NGOs called for evidence-based or evidence-informed drug prevention, more widespread adoption and availability of harm reduction and want government to fund it and for it to be accessible to people at any time. There were concerns about inadequate availability and funding for drug treatment that was evidence-based and culturally-appropriate. They didn’t want another response imposed on them, and saw need for responses specific to their area and culture. Also highlighted was need to end moralism and for evidence-based approaches, to address stigma and discrimination and access to controlled medicines.
On the thematic area of drugs and crime, many called for the elimination of the death penalty for drug offences, concerns about the unequal enforcement of policies and sentencing, harms of drug trafficking and its associated violence and exploitation, need for an objective evaluation of the current system, and divided views on policy experimentation by member states.
On the thematic area of human rights, women, children and communities, many NGOs highlighted human rights violations in the name of the current regime, drug-related issues affecting youth, drug-related issues affecting women, and drug-related issues which affect other marginalized populations, especially LGBT community, older adults, people with chronic conditions without access to controlled medications.
On the thematic area of new challenges, many respondents highlighted new or novel psychoactive substances (NPS), had diverse views on the conventions including to strengthen them to address concerns about violations or to scrap them altogether, and had diverse views on recent decriminalization and regulation trends.
On the thematic area of drugs and development, many respondents highlighted the need to address the human rights of farmers engaged in illicit cultivation.
On the concrete outcomes and success envisaged for UNGASS, many said they wanted to see the words ‘harm reduction’ included in the document, and use of data in decision-making rather than moralism, re-evaluating indicators of policy success (health rather than seizures), the increased use of a health-based approach rather than criminal, greater CS involvement in all discussions and decisions, and open discussions and dialogue about areas of disagreement.
Lastly, we would wish to acknowledge support of the International Centre for Science and Drug Policy in running the survey.
Next panel is Voices of Civil Society: Priorities and Recommendations for the UNGASS 2016, chaired by Mr Diederik Lohman, Human Rights Watch.
Diederik Lohman: We are going to hear about the views of some CS participants on their views on what they would like to see on the UNGASS.
Farmers’ representatives: Mr Sai Lone, Myanamar Farmers Forum: I came here as a representative of the Global Forum of Producers of Prohibited Plants, to raise concerns and the voice of the grower in UNGASS. When we look at the growing and cultivation of prohibited plants, the push factors are high elevation, poverty and unfavorable climate for other crops, civil war, armed struggle. The pull factors are high value, ready market, traditional and medicinal use, corruption at all levels in the national, international fields. Drug policy is mostly targeted at small farmers and drug users. Eradication creates humanitarian crises such as human rights abuses and forced migration, and economic losses for farmers. Forced eradication has already proved that it doesn’t work with negative impacts such as forcing production of chemical drugs, and drug addicts towards more dangerous drugs. It should not be the only solution. And we have to fight this as the solution to the drug problem. I would like to recommend to stop criminalizing the grower and stop any type of forced eradication by any parties by any means. We also would like to recommend the traditional use and medical use and recreational use of prohibited plants should be recognized. Forced eradication should not be precondition to receiving development assistance. Farmers should have meaningful participation in whole development process including design, monitoring and evaluation of alternative development projects. Farmers should also be involved in the drug policy development process. Thank you.
Youth: Mutawe Rogers, Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL): When I worked with young people, most of them were on streets in slum areas. Most of our prevention efforts have been focused on them. I wish to acknowledge support of government partners and IOGT. We engage with young people, including skills training, rehabilitation, reproductive health services and policy advocacy. Our target groups are vulnerable groups where drug use is concentrated. Our prevention interventions focus on reducing the harm that drug misuse can cause, addressing causes and not just substances.
Our interventions include peer education, life skills training, prevention science, school education programs, vocational skills training and rehabilitation, brief interventions (AUDIT, CAGE) and HEADSS, and have trained over 200 NGOS and stakeholders about evidence based prevention interventions. We use a variety of avenues to pass on prevention information. Some of the outcomes are increased health seeking behavior of youth (40% to 70%) seeking psycho-social support, counseling and rehabilitation services, increased capacity of over 150 partner NGOs. Some of the training that we do is on vocational skills. Our recommendations include that programme design should incorporate community and target beneficiaries for ownership and programme implementation, and capacity building.
Diederik Lohman: Thank you for your comments on empowering youth.
Faith based organizations: Ms Iva Carruthers, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference Inc.: I apologise for asking for change of order, but I need to facilitate a church service. I represent the global inter-faith community, and am of American of African descent. We support the call for making harm reduction strategies the centre of the global drug policy approach. Often the voices of faith community is missing but they are important for informing spiritual response. For too long, states have been directed by policies that are punitive and result in over-criminalisation. Drug policies have resulted in a range of damaging consequences with negative impacts for families and communities. The US approach has inflicted disproportionate punishment, resulting in massive over-incarceration. The current trend towards privatization of prisons only exacerbates the problem. Interfaith leaders around the world are present at UNGASS to declare collective support for drug policy reform that prioritise human dignity, equality and social justice. The cycle of injustice and violations must end. We must stay the course beyond UNGASS, we are not involved in event planning. Evidence-based research is necessary. Addiction is often relating to inter-generational poverty, and marginalization. What is needed is opportunities for rehabilitation, interruptions in drug trafficking that has inflicted violence on large scale. A war on drugs is a war on people. There are now 50,000 non-violent drug offenders in prison. We need to embrace a new way forward that values agenda to reduce supply and lower demand, that links to trade agreements, law enforcement, public health practices and above all human rights. We call on member states to pursue policies that further harm reduction including decriminalization. To these ends, we call on member states to engage interfaith communities, leaders and networks in development and implementation of drug policy measures.
Representative of people who use drugs, Ms. Efstratia Kokkini, Greek Drug Users Union, Greece: If the UNGASS is to assess the policies in place today, it will need to assess the huge challenges and gaps and the consequences for people who use drugs. In some places the response for drugs is death, and in some measures are implemented which deny health care and impose punishment. Harm reduction can be evaluated as the only real effective measure that drug policy can demonstrate and it must be expanded. Drug use must be approached with a health rationale, they are not criminal. I will express in simple terms the thoughts of all drug users, as I am one of them and I am proud of that, for people who have a rightful place and those will come after them. We cannot accept that people who use drugs do not have a rightful place in society, including to the extent of being labeled as ‘the planet’s waste’. We do not live in a drug-free world, there never has been and there never will be. You have to respect drug users and their choices. The harms and dangers they deal with are the result of a global drug war that policymakers permit to persist. They enhance poverty and vulnerability to health risks. There should be regulated markets that address severe harms relating to drug use. Hepatitis C and drug treatment should be made available when asked for. We demand to be recognized as people who are absolutely functional, people with skills who are able to take care of themselves and others. Drug use networks are not a bunch of maniacs who play the role of experts. Drug users are veterans of the drug war, ready to offer help to future generations. For so many years we are putting up with deeply inhuman practices, with a war that has no excuse or logic. Now is the time to join us in a global drug peace to find a sustainable solution. We have a feeling we know the way. Let’s make this world a better place, a place for drug users too.
Treatment: Dr. Antonio Boschini, San Patrignano, Italy: Good morning. I am a medical doctor in a rehabilitation community in Italy. Like many others, I was a drug user since then 1980s. Italy like many other countries experienced an increase in drug consumption in the past few years. The increase has been underestimated by public institutions which are not well equipped to deal with this issue. Medically prescribed drugs increase the addiction and do not help the situation for the user. Addiction is not treated as a chronic disease in our centres. We need to implement the ethics of responsibility in the treatment of users. San Patrignano is a big family and is based on humanist ideals. Everyone has the right to receive appropriate treatment. Treatment must include a wide-range of evidence-based services. In our opinion people should be given to opportunity to reduce the risk of consumption and to mend the relationships with their families. Only few people can access safe treatment and it is often expensive.
Dr. Emmanuel Luyirika, African Palliative Care Association: Narcotic pain medications are very difficult to access in many African states. Cancer and many other conditions however are considered to require specific narcotic pain medication. 18 million people die annually without access to adequate pain medication. In 2014, member states made a resolution focusing on access to pain relief. However, 6 countries in Africa so far have national palliative care policies with guidelines and laws. But some of the challenges include lack of balance between control and access, restrictive laws, fear of opiates by both patients and medical staff. We recommend the 5 Ps: policies and guidelines, sharing of best practices, partnerships between stakeholders, increased funding plans and increasing the number of prescriptions. We are hoping to host a conference in August to share more experience about palliative care in Africa. Thank you.
Families/Violence: Ms. Daniela Quintanilla, Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos y Justicia de Genero Corporacion Humanas, Chile: I want to speak to you about a specific type of violence against women. Women all over the world are being incarcerated for low-level drug offenses. Most of these women were involved in non-violent, small quantity drug crimes. This is responsible for poverty in affected families. In general, most women incarcerate for drug-related crimes are mothers and the head of their household. Most were unemployed or with an insufficient income. This indicates a direct link between poverty and drug related crimes. Some are also coerced into criminality by partners. Sometimes security forces are tipped off maybe as a distraction or so as to receive lower punishments. Most of these women have been victims of sexual or other violence. Putting these people into jail has not resulted in any reduction of consumption or trafficking. Instead, it is increasing a type of violence against vulnerable women by governments. This is especially the case in Latin America and the Caribbean. The new guide on women and drug policy is emphasizing this problem and the gender imbalance. Maintaining the status quo is unacceptable for women. Thank you.
Recovery: Mr. Zoran Jelic, Christian Help Center, Croatia: Being a former user I would like to share just a few points. The first one is foundation. All of us are driven by things in our lives. Too many times drug policy was defined by this definition of addiction being chronic, and this is a problem. What we need in the foundations is hope, that drug addiction is treatable, and that people can have a life. With new foundations we can find approaches that work for different types of people. We need to give help to those people that need guidance to find a way out. Countries have to be there for their people. We need to mind the gap; too many times, people struggled in the gaps, and we need to connect through networks to close those gaps. Researchers show that people who got through this process are more able to help others. To conclude, a lot of money has been invested into treatment, rehabilitation, harm reduction and so one. But too many times drug policy does not invest enough into reintegration, and this is what I would like to highlight. Recovery is possible, and it should be the aim of drug policies. We need to remember that people are the centre of this policy. Sustainable drug policies should range from different types of treatment, and should include government and civil society working together.
Human Rights/Criminal Justice system/legal aid: MrRicky Gunawan, Indonesia: Thank you. We are based in Jakarta and provide free legal services to people who use drugs and victims of human rights abuses. I would like to say a few words about the current drug policy and its consequences. Drug control efforts have resulted in serious human rights offenses; torture and mass incarceration, denial of necessary medicine. Criminalization has become a justification for law enforcement agencies to increase the budget in many countries. In some places, police specifically target users as they are an easy target and to fulfil a quota. Access to treatment is often denied. Combined with a lack of legal representation for users, this is a recipe for a human rights disaster. Compulsory treatment is not a solution and does not help people. Of course countries struggle with drug problems, but countries still carry out the death penalty even though it has been proven ineffective to make a change. To conclude, this massive unspeakable human rights problem must be changed. Even though the draft document is already almost written, we hope that the final outcome document will help implement serious change. Thank you.
Development: Ms. Carmen Masias, Centro de Informacion y Educacion Para La Prevencion Del Abuso De Drogas (CEDRO), Peru: Thank you. We have a problem with drug production and trafficking in our region. Chile, Brazil and Argentina have a higher consumption than us but these problems affect everyone in our region. Millions of dollars are invested annually into control and yet few successes can be seen. 70% of the world’s cocaine comes from the region where coca leaves have never been eradicated. There is a low rule of law in the region and high level of corruption. On the 5th of June we will have a new President. We will focus on the role of civil society. Just to give you an idea of the price of cocaine at the global level, we have made a chart to show how the price varies from place to place and how it changes according to countries where its consumed. I agree with my Chilean colleague, the problem is not decriminalizing but providing alternatives. For these reasons civil society should be involved with the whole chain from production to consumption. We need to support the governments to find alternative markets, bringing people from illegality to legality, not just the traffickers but also organized crime and any other criminal agents involved in this. We shouldn’t just think about transiting the illegal production to e.g. coffee and cocoa production, but to bring this to markets successfully. We need to scale up evidence-based, technologically modern measures. We need to think of new ideas of working together with communities. In our region there are more than 4000 young people in prisons for small-scale drug dealing, and those people are vulnerable. We have more than 50, 000 people addicted to drugs but not enough places available for treatment, especially for specialized treatment such as for women. In conclusion, to fight against trafficking the role of community is very important. As NGOs we have created more than 40 centres to connect producers with actual markets so that they can gain real life knowledge. There are more than 70,000 towns where people have no access to information. We try to increase this gap. We think that drug problems are not isolated but connected with other factors such as development and environmental care. We are trying to work with our neighbours such as Ecuador and Colombia to monitor what happens behind the borders. We don’t deal just with consumption but try to integrate different approaches.
Diederik Lohman: We have a little bit of time for questions now.
Speaker: I am from South Africa and I was wondering about cases of cannabis when it can be used for things other than recreational use. People are encouraged to get out of poverty but cannabis could offer such opportunities but it is made impossible for people to grow it for these reasons. Thank you.
Speaker: I am from Morocco and a part of Morocco where cannabis has been grown for centuries. It used to be used for medicinal and industrial purposes. Our ancestors have created the first factory for papers. The situation changed with the colonialisation by France and Spain, especially when the Hippie movement moved into the zone. We think it’s important that everybody hears about what has happened in Morocco, as we usually do not have a platform to speak about this. As a result people in the region no longer believe in the laws implemented by the UN.
Diederik Lohman: We will not have time to have our speakers respond to these questions due to time restrictions, but we think this panel has highlighted the importance of civil society and coming up with ideas related to solving the drug problems.
Presentation of “Marketplace”
Mr. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, UNODC: NGO marketplace is a website that offers a global platform for NGOs to work on drug related issues free of charge. It allows you to partner up with other oranizations no matter how far away they are. We will now have its developer, Mr Peter Calvache, speak about this project and how you can use it.
Mr. Peter Calvache, CEO, Progressive Mindworks GmbH and “Marketplace” IT Developer: The NGO marketplace has been in the conceptual place for over a year and it is now in the final stage and ready to be used by NGOs. What is it exactly though? It’s an online platform for NGOs to connect and solve problems. It allows you to find NGOs working on drug relating issues. You have to go on the marketplace and select what services you require, and the website will match you with service providers in your region. Equally, you are welcome to sign up as a service provider. Finally, you can connect each project with certain UN declaration related to that service or issues. It helps show or UN resolutions are being realized on the grounds. I have to thank many NGOs who have already signed up around the world. Let me focus on one region in particular to show you how the system works exactly. If we select Africa, we can see all registered NGOs working in the region on a map. If we go on the service taxonomy, we can select what services specifically we require, from advocacy, prevention, health care, treatment, and so on. Each NGO can make a personal profile which specifies information such as mission statement, projects that they are involved in, information about the staff, services they provide, etc. This profile will make it easier to match with other projects requiring such services. The only ingredient that is still missing to make this a successful project is that we need more organizations to sign up and create profiles; so far we have had about 50 NGOs sign up. You are already able to use the search engine to view these organizations, and in about two or three weeks, the organization will be open to sign up for the public. If you sign up you will receive a notification when this occurs exactly. We hope this will make your work easier in the future. Our current domain is mg.vngoc.org and it is currently available on desktops but it will be available globally soon. I am happy to answer any questions. Thank you.
Speaker: We appreciate this initiative and we hope it will particularly successful in our region in Africa. My question is, how are you planning on letting people know about this platform apart from notifying those that have already signed up.
Mr Peter Calvache: We are counting on support from our partners who are spearheading this initiative and hopefully getting the message out. People have to realize that the initiative will be as successful as the amount of people who are using it. We are hoping for hundreds of NGOs to sign up to make people use it more. Thank you.