NGO Dialogue with UNODC Executive Director, Yuri Fedotov

Introduction
Mr. Fedotov thanks Michel Perron and the VNGOC for their work in organising this event. Mr. Fedotov admires the work done by NGOs in many countries to help UNODC implement their mandate. He thanks all NGOs for their support now and for the future. NGOs are welcome to come to UNODC.

World Federation Against Drugs – When UNODC performs its field work, they take into account human rights. Is there any cooperation with UNICEF in developing and implementing activities?

Mr. Fedotov: We do. The rights of the child play an important part in our work. We focus on the need to protect children from the impacts of international drugs and crime. We have some programmes and special discussions to protect children from the use of the internet in the field of drugs. There is a big interest from member states to get information and briefings on how best to protect children and young people at schools, universities, communities. We will keep working on this in the future. Our reading of the conventions and relevant resolutions is giving much attention to the protection of the child. We are looking forward to working with WFAD and other NGOs in this field.

Diogenis – There is a lot of discussions on the change of the drug control system. States seem to feel uncomfortable about some aspects of the conventions, and have conducted reforms such as criminalisation of drug users, supervised consumption rooms, calls for regulation of some drugs, etc. Is there not a coordinating role for UNODC to play in this, and how can CSOs support you in this role?
Mr. Fedotov: I do not see what it means that States are uncomfortable. It seems that article 36b is clear about the fact that drug abusers who committed offences must be provided, as alternative or in addition to punishment, measures of treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration. We follow the convention and in our practical activities we follow this. The point is not the drug control system but national legislations. We must look into what must be done in national frameworks to see what can be done to protect the health and rights of people, so that people are not treated as criminals, but as patients, in full respect of their human rights. The trend is more positive now. People also need social services.

International Drug Policy Consortium – In the context of reparations for the 2014 review and 2016 UNGASS, will UNODC work to promote the formal participation of civil society in the process? Can we work out a mechanism whereby NGOs can formally input in the process? Would we be able to make the informal civil society hearing as part of the proceedings?
Mr. Fedotov: I agree with the active and meaningful participation of NGOs. It is helpful for UNGASS and CND 2014 to get inputs from NGOs. But when we work with member states, we cannot promote equal footing between states and NGOs. Member states, as stakeholders, are guided by traditions guided by the UN. But the trend is that NGOs have taken an active part in the processes through events, etc. and it helps states to get inputs from NGOs. UNODC and the secretariat are in favour of more participation from NGOs in the preparation of 2014 and 2016, but how formal this will be will need to be decided by member states.
VNGOC: These proceedings would be part of the record and discussions that will take place if we make the informal hearing a more formal process. VNGOC will work with the secretariat on this to ensure that the role of civil society is fully used.

Transform – The UNGASS 2016 is an opportunity to review the system and consider alternatives. How will your office consider the cost-effectiveness of the current system and its alternatives?
Mr. Fedotov: We will launch the new World Drug Report in Vienna this year, and you are welcome to come. It is important to share with member states our views on trends on the implementation of the conventions and efforts undertaken by the international community to address illicit drugs. We will continue to provide information to member states on data collection and other items. We understand that in preparation with the 2014 and 2016 events we will need to provide more data collection information to member states. We will try to make an objective analysis of trends and developments and submit those to member states.
VNGOC: NGOs can also provide information to member states on an ongoing basis.

Transnational Institute – Regarding the guidelines on alternative development, these were officially endorced by the WFS, UN General Assembly and others. How does the Lima declaration relate to these guidelines? How can we ensure systemwide coherence?
Mr. Fedotov: The international guiding principles on alternative development are recommendations for governments on projects. We do this in collaboration with our partners in the UN family including FAO and others. UNODC has a responsibility on wildlife crime. We are working with other partners such as WHO, WB, Interpol and others. Alternative development aspects are important. When assisting member states, we take into account food security and development aspects as well, focusing on alternative livelihoods that are acceptable for farmers, taking into account national specificities. We have good examples at national level, such as in Colombia where we protect the environment and address the issue of climate change. Maybe we should do more still.

ENCOD – You spoke of making changes in the field. In many countries, cannabis problems are so urgent that regulatory systems are being put in place. Is it not time for UNODC to start a study on the regulation of cannabis?
Mr. Fedotov: I agree with you, it is a challenge to control production and consumption of cannabis in many countries. We need more research and studies on cannabis. We are looking region by region, such as cannabis in Afghanistan, but there are many other issues that deserve our attention. This is one of our priorities. 

Malaysian AIDS Council – UNODC has had very little presence in Indonesia. What are UNODC’s plans for promoting harm reduction in Malaysia?
Mr. Fedotov: We do work in Malaysia, but we need to work more closely there. Malaysia has many issues which include financial resources, and if they need assistance from UNODC we can share best practice, including from this region. We need to pay more attention and are prepared to work closely with Malaysia. Our office in Bangkok will be involved in promoting our programmes in South East Asia. This cold open opportunities to start a new page with work on important countries such as Malaysia.
VNGOC: There are opportunities for NGOs to engage with their national and regional UNODC offices.

Tanzania NGO – There is great fear that drug use as a problem might spill. What are the plans that UNODC has to protect those who do not engage in drug use, and how much support are people expected to receive if they engage in use?
Mr. Fedotov: I encourage you to read our reports on prevention.  Prevention is very effective. There are best practices and experiences in many countries in the world, such as in Italy, in the Balkans, etc. But the major concern is that UNODC is underfunded to conduct this work. We are highlighting the importance of more funding at CND this week.

Kevin Sabett – We are now seeing NGOs trying to protect the health of people. It is difficult to work with individual countries to bring these programmes to scale. How can we work closely with UNODC to bring this to scale to ensure countries scale up interventions such as HIV prevention, overdose prevention, etc.
Mr. Fedotov: Whether heroin is legal or illegal, people will die. Our system is not a prohibitive one. It underlines the importance of the use of drugs and narcotics for medical purposes. The illicit trafficking of drugs is prohibited. Every year, 100,000 people die from heroin in the world. This is stable. We realise that the implementation of the drug conventions has reached a ceiling. We must have a fresh look at how the conventions can be implemented. But if we legalise drugs, it does not mean that it would be better. Also, not a single member state is promoting legalisation. In any case, this would not have an impact on criminal organisations. Legalisation would lead to two markets, prices would go down, we would have more use, we could have millions of deaths.

SSDP and LEAPThe purity of heroin is improved and availability is better than before in Chicago. Is there some way at the UN to hear discussions about whether the prohibition policy of the conventions are creating more harms than good?
Mr. Fedotov: We are doing a lot on prevention.

INPUD – We’ve heard a lot about prevention and treatment, but not from NSPs which is highly effective. We hear also a lot about sick people – many users are not sick. What do you propose to do about us?
Mr. Fedotov: Harm reduction is an important part of UNODC activities, in close collaboration with NGOs. 

IDPC – We welcome the recent progress being made by officials at UNODC on HIV, there are very important discussions now going on. We also welcome your statements on the cannabis issue – when there are wide views between member states, UNODC should provide coordination. Regarding HIV in Russia, we have 200 new HIV cases every day, 60% of new infections are due to drug injection. What does UNODC plan to do to help the Russian government to address this issue? 
Mr. Fedotov: UNODC has no project on HIV in Russia, but we can provide advice and share practices. We are working with Russia and discussing plans to strengthen a partnership office. I am closely coordinating with Michel Sidibe and other partners to address HIV in Russia.

NGO Prevent – Can we expect mroe support from UNODC for civils coety in the Balkans, if not possible can we make UNODC more visible in the region?
Mr. Fedotov: Last year, we launched our programme in the region. I have been in many countries in the region. We will work closely with NGOs on drugs, human trafficking, HIV, etc. And we are doing this in many countries. In Serbia, we have many projects that we are developing, especially in schools. In Albania, we also have HIV prevention programmes. We have one serious concern – it is underfunded.

NY Bar Association – Are the treaties are causing a problem and whether the language is sufficient to avoid harms? Member states have had 50 years to implement the treaties the way they wanted to. Even in the USA, drug courts are not implemented in a human rights way. Is UNODC going to provide more guidelines on this?
UNODC is fully attached to human rights standards and we are trying to translate this position into practical interventions. We are developing a guidance note to UNODC field offices on human rights. I also established an advisory group on human rights. We are working with UN partners to promote human rights in our practice and in supporting member states to implement their own programmes.

Concluding remark from Mr. Fedotov: I am always open to meeting and debate with NGOs on drugs issues.

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