VNGOC. Presenting the CSTF. Together we represent hundreds of organisations seeking to implement the ambitions contained in international instruments, humane interventions for prevention, harm reduction and treatment. The world drug problem is a complex challenge that member states cannot tackle alone. There is room for improvements. The upcoming 2016 UNGASS has instilled a sense of urgency to deal with the problem from all angles. We stress the importance of involving civil society and academia. We should base our policies on experience from the ground.
The CSTF is a joint initiative between VNGOC and NYNGOC. It has 31 members representing the wide array of CSOs working on drugs. It held its first meeting earlier this week. It will gather inputs from all arrays of CSOs: producers, consumers, community groups, NGOs working on prevention, harm reduction, treatment, recovery, access to essential medicines. Our inputs will be presented at the UNGASS. The fourth CS hearing was held on Monday. We need to place health at the centre of international drug control, and we need a common understanding of what health means. There is an urgent need to shift towards evidence based policies. We know what works. We must ensure that the focus is on balance.
The Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child are important commitments. The full range of prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery should be accessible to all, addressing range of health problems (mental health, HIV, HCV, etc.). The CND has not found a common ground on harm reduction, and we urge you to do so. Another area needing action is the use of the death penalty, which has been denounced by many here including the INCB. We urge the CND to find a way to tackle this issue. We also ask you to address the barriers that hinder access to essential medicines.
Alternative development should have a much higher focus. Finally, when we look at the regions and countries in the world, there is a need to address each country’s problems. While there are challenges, we can focus on the tremendous opportunities before us. The UNGASS is an opportunity.
The interactive discussions have shown that open dialogue is possible. We must continue dialogue in the coming months. Ensure that you give a strong role to civil society in the coming days and tat the UNGASS. We are committed to ensure a balance and inclusive input in the UNGASS process. We require the financial support of member states. Civil society is willing to work with you.
Summary of the interactive discussion (d) on cross-cutting issues (presented by Egypt). Speakers called for a humane approach to the drug problem within the drug conventions. New legislation should be adopted that differ between region, including decriminalisation of drug users and other efforts to reduce unintended consequences. Others committed to the 2009 plan of action and UN drug control conventions, which remain the cornerstone. Different countries and regions have adopted new approaches that should be considered. The importance of taking into account specificities. The importance of placing the human being at the centre was emphasized. Need to focus on alternative development (including preventive). Importance to address poverty and unemployment as they are conducive to marginalisation. Reported on pharmacological treatments for cannabis, hep C. Researchers called for more funding in research. We must improve sharing of information in money laundering. Reference was made to the use of modern equipment and increased cooperation against trafficking and combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Need to schedule precursor chemicals. Strengthen regimes to control NPS and increase cooperation across regions. Importance of partnerships with the private sector and civil society.
Summary of interactive discussion (b) on supply reduction (presented by Iran). No single approach can resolve the world drug problem. Supply reduction measures contained in the 2009 political declaration were mentioned. Need to strengthen law enforcement cooperation, including cross border and judicial cooperation and legal assistance. Alternative development efforts have yielded good results based on the principle of shared responsibility. The need to address the root causes of manufacture and trafficking was mentioned as was the need to strengthen development. The successful implementation in sentencing reform resulted in decrease in incarceration. Need for proportionality of punishment. Some reaffirmed the use of the death penalty for drug offences. Some noted that traditional law enforcement indicators did not completely address the complexity of the problem and mentioned others – tracing financial flows for example. Some highlighted the importance of tracing financial flows and emphasized the need for financial investigation and training to combat money laundering. Terrorism financing was also mentioned, while these are confined in some parts of the world. Internet was mentioned as being used by trafficking groups. Many recognised the growing threat of NPS and the need for international cooperation to address the challenges posed by NPS. They emphasized the importance of information sharing to identify NPS with the guidance of UNODC, and prioritise NPS based on their health harms
Summary of interactive discussion (a) on demand reduction (presented by Portugal). The importance of a comprehensive health centred approach to drugs was emphasized: early intervention, treatment, action must be taken at all levels to expand quality, reach of interventions. Target social and health vulnerabilities, including for those most at risk. Poverty, marginalisation, lack of prospects make people at risk of using drugs. Quality treatment based on evidence and science must be integrated in a health approach. Stigmatisation of drug users should be addressed focusing on youth and women. People who use drugs, instead of being punished, should be provided comprehensive health care, treatment and reintegration services. Need to train professionals. Gaps remain in science regarding treatment of non-opioid users. Cost, control, building awareness, building effective models of control. Demand reduction strategies should be adapted to NPS, cannabis addiction, multiple diagnosis. In order to reduce HIV and Hep C infection rates, harm reduction interventions, including NSPs, OST, HIV counselling and testing, ART should be implemented. Noted the need to develop and implement evidence based measures to address HIV and HCV among non-injecting users. Reference to the UN GA political declaration on HIV on the need to reduce by 50% HIV among PWUD by 2015, which is likely to be missed. Stressed we should address HIV in prison. Stressed the need to address lack of access to essential medicines for pain management. Need for a human rights approach as part of a balanced approach. Lack of availability of narcotics used for the treatment of serious diseases. Adequate vulnerability must be balanced with measures to avoid diversion of such substances.
Summary of interactive discussion (c) on human rights (presented by Hungary). Importance to the right to life and health. Comprehensive rights based approach focusing on the individual, focusing on vulnerable groups. Need to address obstacles for development, address poverty, violence and social exclusion providing employment and equal opportunities. Human rights issues should be given due consideration at the UNGASS, including the right to development. Drug use disorders require prevention, treatment, reintegration, healthcare, HIV prevention. Based on scientific evidence, and on the 3 UN drug control conventions, while also taking into account human rights instruments. Access to essential medicines while avoiding diversion. Address women drug users and offenders’ needs and the negative impacts on their families. Need for policies that are in the best interest of the child – child protection services, prevention interventions, rights of victims of drug trafficking and social media. Importance of proportionality and alternatives to sentencing for non-violent offences. Stigma and punishment of drug users have negative effects, should move to alternatives including recovery and treatment. Others noted that national sovereignty should be respected. Regions have adopted a wide range of services. Need for diversity of policies adopted. Need for partnerships with the private sector.
Summary of interactive discussion (e) on alternative development (presented by Colombia). Poverty, vulnerability, lack of government presence, lack of access to land are the key factors fostering crop production. Value of the UNGASS to stress the importance of tackling these factors and promoting alternative development. AD should be integrated in the post 2015 agenda and the SDGs. Importance of implementing guiding principles on AD. These have not been translated into work in the field. AD should be included in broader national development strategies. AD requires a long term sustainable, integrated, comprehensive approach, including improvement of infrastructure, health, education, access to markets, water, etc. Improve the capacity of states to improve international cooperation, including south-south cooperation, CSOs, local communities, private sectors, are critical to ensuring successful AD measures. Where sustainable AD was implemented, there has been a decrease in crop cultivation. Need to extend provisions of AD to other countries to address poverty and vulnerability, in particular in Africa where cannabis is cultivated. Importance of market access and establishing market links for competitive and quality products. Importance of preventative AD and need to share best practices and lessons learned. Need to assess the impact of AD in terms of crops eradicated but also human development indicators and improved livelihoods. Human centred approach including communities. Importance of ensuring proper sequencing in AD and law enforcement activities. Several speakers welcomed the upcoming 2015 World Drug Report section on AD in guiding member states for the preparations of the UNGASS in 2016.The important role of CND and UNODC was mentioned as well.
Chair. We have a number of pending matters in preparation for the UNGASS which need to be resolved before the CND concludes, which leads me to the conclusion of this afternoon’s session.