CND Chair, Ambassador Arthayudh Srisamoot
It is my pleasure as the chair of CND to see the participation in today’s meeting of the President of the General Assembly H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, and the cooperation and commitment of all stakeholders present in preparing the upcoming UNGASS.
The world drug problem is one that requires a novel response and requires us all to work together to find solutions. Since being requested by the UN General Assembly to lead the UNGASS preparatory process, the commission has embarked on an exciting journey.
As you may be aware, the 58th session of the CND took place in March this year. A core part of it involved holding five interactive thematic sessions. All participants exchanged ideas and shared practical experiences and lessons learnt from years of dealing with drug problems. Additionally, a record number of 50 side events were organised throughout the session, by various groups ranging from member states, UN entities, and civil society organisations. At next week’s reconvened session, a total of 15 side events will be taking place. This will provide another opportunity for all stakeholders to interact with each other and benefit from all perspectives.
Another event took place in Thailand last week – the 2nd International Conference on Alternative Development (ICAD 2), which I had the honour to chair. We will use next week’s CND reconvened session as a chance to measure where we stand in the preparations for the upcoming UNGASS.
Our journey towards a successful UNGASS 2016 continues. It is crucial to hear the different perspectives and realities of all partners and parties involved. With these words I would like to hand over to the Chair of the UNGASS Board.
Chair of the UNGASS Board, H.E. Khaled Shamaa
Thank you. The realities of the drug problem are different from country to country, and this presents us with different challenges everywhere. We here are all committed to an inclusive preparation for the UNGASS 2016, and we are trying to include all stakeholders in the process. Various issues have already been raised throughout the talks, including access to controlled substances, the importance of human rights and particularly those of women and children and other minority groups, development, etc. All these issues should be addressed in the draft prepared and during round-table discussions.
We want an evidence-based discussion on what works practically on the grounds. In terms of participation, we need to hear more than just representatives from New York, Geneva or Vienna. We need to take a practical approach and everyone’s side needs to have an impact in the lead up to 2019.
All our meetings are webcast on the UNGASS 2016 website and a twitter account has been established so that everyone who cannot be present here in Vienna can still get actively engaged.
I would also like to highlight the positive work of the civil societies groups. More than 30 have sent in their contributions on the UNGASS website. Each panel discussion benefits from the input of a contributor chosen by civil society groups. The particular work of youth representative groups and scientific committee groups is also appreciated.
Also, let me mention the contributions by UNODC. This body has a leading role in countering the world drug problem and supported us all in organising the preparations for events along the way in a comprehensive way.
We all have lots of work ahead of us and look forward to guidance by the UNGA.
We need to give special attention to the needs of the developing world and today’s youth, our most valuable groups, which require special care. Working towards achieving successes is all of our joint responsibility.
UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov
We appreciate the high level of interest of member states and the shared commitment towards this cause.
We would like to emphasize the importance of implementing well thought-out and effective drug control. The drug problem poses many challenges, including organised crime, etc. We reaffirm our support for the CND regarding their inclusive preparation. The UNGASS has the potential to serve as a catalyst to implement change and to prevent harm to the welfare of people everywhere across the globe. This goes alongside and with the 2030 development agenda, which focuses on values such as peace, equality, etc. The Sustainable Development Goal 3 which focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages is particularly relevant to our work regarding the drug problem. The 2030 development agenda is a useful paradigm in leading us in our efforts.
I would also like to thank Mr President for being here today.
President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft
It is a pleasure to meet all of you and to be here today. The world drug problem continues today and poses a serious threat to the health and safety of many across the glove, particularly to our youth. Therefore it is a strong point of interest from all sides to find solutions to these problems. The people should be at the centre of all our problem solutions.
We must seek greater effectiveness and true comprehensiveness in our efforts. We must aim to advance an open and inclusive discussion ahead of 2019, our target year in achieving progress related to the drug problem, which we set out in 2009. This is also an unparalleled opportunity to renew our commitments to these efforts. The preparations for the Special Session are well underway. I spoke to Ambassador Shamaa already earlier today about the potential outcomes of our meeting here in Vienna.
Many member states do not have a permanent seat here in Vienna. I look forward to further briefings to continue the discussions going on here, both in Vienna and NY. Close interaction between member states and civil society organisations is essential. The UN family has much to gain through valuable input from civil society groups. Bringing the voices of those affected by the world drug problem together ensures that governmental bodies take decisions grounded in reality and experience. I welcome the efforts by the CND which invites output from various groups to ensure inclusive outcomes.
In September more than 150 world leaders met in New York at the General Assembly to discuss current matters of global importance and progress towards a more equal world, and the UNGASS 2016 will be another chance to discuss these important matters with specific regards for the drug problem.
During the preparations for the special session it has become clear that all of you have recognized that not one country has all the answers or can find the best solution in isolation. The 17 SDGs decided upon in September reflect the importance of fighting problems related to the war on drugs – crime and violence, etc. These are solid and good goals. 2016 must mark the end of discussions on the subject and the beginning of action and reaction to these goals. We have to start the implementation of climate and sustainable development goals straight away. The UNGASS process is excellent opportunity to move towards some of these goals- e.g. to ensure those in need have access to controlled medicines, to preventing substance abuse and also to help people with a need for treatment, and to help people with HIV. It is important to address the harmful effects of the world drug problem, such as organised crime and trafficking, etc. I look forward to following your open debate on how to best address the issues of drug production and trafficking and I am positive you will do more than address the criminal aspects of drug issues but also tackle the health and welfare of human kind.
Thank you for the opportunity to meet with all of you as we work together to a successful outcome.
Thank you. The floor is now open to interventions.
Luxembourg, on behalf of the European Union
We would like to thank the President of the GA for participating here today and for his statements. We support the development a short, concise outcome document with specific recommendations on how to move towards the 2019 target and beyond. Thank you Mr Chairman.
We thank you for convening this meeting, most importantly with the GA President here today. Mr Chairman, we welcome you to the UN here in Vienna. We were pleased to read your remarks and concur with you that there are big challenges facing us and that all actors should act effectively upon recommendations. We are confident you will represent and face every member state in an open manner. The world drug problem is affecting everyone and every member state in some way, directly or indirectly, and the challenges are different from country to country but similar in some regions. No matter how different or distant some countries might seem, we must identify areas of cooperation between countries. Guatemala is not imposing specific definitions of what the approaches should be, but we maintain the point that past approaches have not worked. This is not simply in our opinion but reports and statistics by the UNODC over the years show this. This is why we require a reform of the current drug policies and welcome input by governments, NGOs, academia and the private sector alike. Above all we must respect and value human rights and the principle of public health. Our task is to do these things in the coming months through a short concise document. Guatemala hopes the meeting in April will be remembered in a positive reflection of the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations.
We are very pleased to welcome president of the GA today to Vienna today. We welcome your call for action and inclusion of all groups involved. This message has been reflected in recent statements of president of the INCB. A general understanding can be seen already between member states, especially regarding the importance of the matters of health, culture, and development. We need greater system-wide coherence. Thank you for being here today, your message, the work that has been done and for future work.
Thank you for your work in preparing this meeting. We value the presence of the President of the GA and his commitment to the preparatory process. Colombia welcomes debate on what has worked in the past and what needs to be improved. This is an opportunity to place the human being and his rights at the centre of the discussion. My delegation would like to reiterate that UNGASS is an opportunity to listen to all stakeholders and to find a new global consensus on how to approach the problem. It is important that the debates held at roundtables be of a high level and interactive in their approach, allowing all groups of UN member states and civil society participants to have a say. We need to address the issue of demand reduction and consequences of the world drug problem, taking into account social, economic, justice, developmental and security perspective. The main conclusions of these debates must be part of the UN document. Let me reiterate the willingness of Colombia to listen to other voices and move the debate forward.
I don’t want to repeat what has been said but underline how important it is for us that the President of the GA is here today. We have seen other UN organisations represented here in the past, and we need them all to stay engaged. It is equally a challenge for national governments to bring different ministries together on the same matter. I would like to echo the importance of bringing human beings into the middle of the discussion. We need to strengthen our actions to better tackle the main actors in the global drug market, and those that protect them. It has already been raised but it is essential to have access to essential substances, such as for people suffering from cancer, who are terminally ill or who need medication. This is an important part of the agenda. Thank you to everyone on the panel for the very good speeches and for organizing this meeting.
At this stage we feel the time has come that recommendations need to be faced and mechanisms need to be put in place to implement some of these recommendations in outcome document for UNGASS. I would like to urge the board to consider how we could
Civil Society Task Force, Esbjorn Hornberg
I address you in my capacity of Chair of the Civil Society Task Force for UNGASS 2016, and Chair of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs. As the UNGASS Special Session draws closer, I commend you all for convening this special event. It allows us to gain greater insight into the preparatory work done by the General Assembly.
I am delighted to being able to inform you that his Excellency, the President of the General Assembly has agreed to convene a one-day “informal interactive Civil Society Dialogue” in New York on 10 February 2016 with the support of the CND and the CND UNGASS Board.
This Dialogue will be a chance for member states and CS to exchange views and engage in meaningful and constructive discourse about the priorities of CS for UNGASS – as well as what works and what does not, best practices learned on the ground and special challenges faced by CS organizations and other stakeholders working in the field. It will result in a summary that will be circulated to MS in support of the UNGASS outcome document prior to UNGASS.
We are currently working with your office on the details of the meeting, and expect to be able to share further information in due course. The event is another valuable example of the open and meaningful involvement of civil society in the preparations for UNGASS, as well as a most important milestone in the CSTF preparations for the special session.
Excellences, your outstanding support and involvement of civil society in the past years as well as the months to come has been invaluable, and I thank you for that. It has allowed us to provide you with a number of input and recommendations gathered from civil society colleagues from around the globe, and we will continue to do so in the coming months. In the global civil society survey, conducted by the CSTF, members of civil society have articulated their expectations for concrete outcomes from UNGASS 2016 around several noteworthy themes including: the use of evidence based in decision-making, re-evaluating indicators of policy success, increased use of a public health-based approach, improved access to controlled medicines, harm reduction and greater civil society involvement.
On the last item, allow me to highlight some specific recommendations: to reduce barriers and increase civil society access to events, to meaningfully include other UN agencies in the UNGASA, and to support inclusion and communication amongst NGOs and member states. The preliminary results of the survey have been shared with you in the last months, and are available on the websites of VNGOC, NYNGOC and UNGASS 2016. A final report will be made available in the coming weeks.
In closing, I would also like to take this opportunity to inform you, that the Civil Society Task Force will hold a briefing on 8 December. It will present the latest activities of the Task Force, and will take place during the lunch-hours of the CND Intersessional meeting on 8 December. We are looking forward to your participation in the event.
UNGASS Board Chair
Thank you, thank you to the GA President and I will now hand over to hand over to the CND Chair.
I am happy to say that we are able to finish exactly at 1 pm. Thank you for being present here today and would like to invite all participants for refreshments outside.