Informal civil society hearing – Panel 4 and conclusions

How can NGOs most effectively contribute to the high-level review of the Political Declaration and its Plan of Action at the 57th Session of the CND?

Kirsti Pojankukka, Finland
We are not yet started on negotiating wording of political declaration and that will affect how the review will take place. What do we think we need to do more to meet the goals set before us? There will be a preparatory process starting soon and we need to hear how CSOs can contribute to the HLS in 2014 which will impact how we will decide how review will take place. We need a lot of work from organisations to target national level to ensure that national policy feeds into international policy processes to ensure genuine productive discussions at international level.

Jindrich Voboril, National Drugs Coordinator, Czech Republic
NGOs have always a key role in the Czech Republic in setting up drug policy. How do we negotiate in a body like the UN? It feels like NGOs speak a totally different language than the government. Governments may talk about strategy, action plan, combatting crime and drugs. When we discuss as NGOs, we talk about saving lives, reducing harms. It is therefore very difficult to agree on something and implement it. If we look at today’s idea of drug policy, we think in terms of drug supply reduction and drug demand reduction. What do we believe that works on demand and supply reduction?

NGOs should be more vocal, state clearly what we want. Do we believe that the 1961 Convention is what works? Or should we change something? Governments will never be able to raise this questions, it is too difficult, too political. NGOs are able to do that. If anything happens in the world, it is usually mainly due to NGOs’ work. Within the EU, I am ready to bring forward ideas from NGOs to the Horizontal Drugs Group.

The practicality is very simple – NGOs have to speak with their governments, make them think about practical issues that have to be changed. NGOs need to do more in terms of advocacy to promote change. NGOs should come together to promote change. Change will only be possible through NGOs.

We need to define the role of NGOs not only as a stakeholder that gives ideas, but as a key partner in the decision making process.

Closing panel

Mark Rutgers van der Loeff, Permanent Mission of the Netherlands to the UN and rapporteur to the 56thSession of the CND
The issue of the CND is that there are so many sessions happening at the same time, but NGOs are very active in tweeting, which is very useful. The bad news is that there are a small number of governments that are pushing against NGO participation today. This is something we need to keep in mind for the 2014 and 2016 reviews. Not all governments are on the same page on this.

Two issues will be on the agenda at the CND – there will be a side event tomorrow on the death penalty. Capital punishment is unfortunately still carried out in a few countries; on Wednesday, there will be a vote at CND to schedule new drugs: GHB, but another one is tramadol which is very much used by AIDS patients and has a very low level of abuse. This is a very important element to follow. It is very important to build coalitions between NGOs and governments to advocate on this.

Michel Perron
Key points from the meeting:

  • Participation is not if”, but “where”
  • Participatory is not taking over
  • Timing is right, we need to be timely
  • We need to balance principle and practice
  • This hearing highlighted practical implementation of NGO involvement on the ground
  • Focus on relationship between NGOs and member states
  • Raise awareness, shape thinking and expand options.

Next steps: a report will be drafted and shared tomorrow. It will be put into a conference room paper. We will seek to incorporate the CS hearing in the formal agenda of the CND for 2014. We also need to play on our strengths, such as the consensus of Beyond 2008. The VNGOC will consider next steps and how to operationalise them.

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