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Informal civil society hearing – Panel 3

How can we create conditions to optimise effective implementation in cooperation with NGOs?

Carmen Masias, DEVIDA, Peru

NGO movements were born in the 1960s to respond to a number of issues, including human rights violations. I started to work for an NGO for years, and then since last year I have started working at the government. We work on family planning, reproductive health, democracy and the environment. This is one of the examples that I am going to highlight as I have worked 25 years in this. When CEDRO was born, there was a total vacuum on drug use and its prevention. CEDRO became the link between Peru and other states.

The role of NGOs in general has been that of opposition to the government. This is very different to what is going on today – there is now a better relationship between the government and NGOs. But we would like to have a closer relation with NGOs, and one of implementation from NGOs of government policies. This is because NGOs have been, and are, in their great majority, those that have a role of watchdogs, especially in terms of human rights. They are also involved in drug prevention.

Today, in Peru, the government uses a lot of resources to the fight against drugs. But we also require more efficiency for NGOs, grassroots and women groups to operate properly. When we talk about NGOs, we are not only talking about Peruvian NGOs, but also Latin American and American networks and NGOs that inter-change a lot of information.

There are cultural differences. There is a learning process around the world among NGOs and governments. In Peru, we have investigated a lot on drugs, but this does not appear in other studies taken into account in other countries. NGOs are still intermediaries for international cooperation.
What we are seeing on NGOs working on drugs, they are not only working on drug prevention, but also on prevention of youth crimes, on digital education, etc.

Stig Erik Sorheim, Actis (Norwegian Policy Network on Alcohol and Drugs)
NGOs play a vital role as international moderators, offering various views. There is also a problem of representativeness. We need to engage with people who are affected by drugs, users, and affected communities. It is important to recognise the practical barriers for people to be able to participate. This includes, for example, costs to attend meetings. In their capacity, NGOs can provide services that governments cannot provide – youth involvement, peer support, etc. NGOs are also a democratic factor, they can bring us the evidence base. They can provide a valuable tool for governments.

Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Thailand Institute of Justice
The idea to create a conducive environment for NGO participation is that we should create a partnership with NGOs. Member states should look at how NGOs can contribute positively. We should work on a constructive path. Looking at the Political Declaration, for government agencies pursuing a policy is just one track. Government agencies are not fully aware of the declaration and plan of action and how they can make use of the elements included in these documents. We must make sure that people are aware of these documents and get governments to support it. NGOs are also crucial partners to promote community involvement, and to provide services on the ground. We make a commitment to working with them. We should make more efforts for NGOs to participate at the national level as well. NGOs should also be involved in regional and international bodies, such as ASEAN.

Questions from the floor
Thanasis, Question: to follow model of Beyond 2008 for 2014 review, need support of CND, do you think that is possible?

Risa, Commitment Indonesia: from an NGO perspective very far away from Vienna, I have very little exposure to what happens beyond my national government. I got the sense something big will happen in 2014 but what I see as sad is that this information is not sent through to people who do the ground work. Regarding what happens in SEA, NGOs have been very active in Indonesia in harm reduction and responding to Hep C, TB etc. Government has power to do all things but at times they have limited knowledge and experience to work at low levels. Often they come to us on how to do it and there are boundaries but we can deliver what we think the government should be trying to implement. I’m just grateful to be here.

Question: how can we address international scene without being boring? I was trying to calculate this morning how much money is spent on this boring morning. Perhaps the meeting could be held every 2 or 3 years and in between hold technical meetings to hold genuine productive discussions.

Moderator/Michel P: how to ensure funding for CS engagement in 2014 to build on beyond 2008? We need 1.5million and need to regionalise our consultations more to build into 2014 and 2016 review.

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