Home » Informal NGO Dialogue with CND Chair and Post-UNGASS Facilitator

Informal NGO Dialogue with CND Chair and Post-UNGASS Facilitator

Esbjorn Hornberg, VNGOC. We look forward to good conversations.

CND Chair. I am very pleased to be here. I want to say that when I came here 2-3 years ago, there were quite a lot of challenges. I was told that a few years ago NGOs used to sit in the interpreters rooms. We have come a long way. I am still working on the L9 text. We must keep with the UNGASS way of working with inclusivity from civil society, and the way the UN system works together. For the first time in the history of CND, we brought doctor Chan here. We see the resource constraints here and it won’t get better – we have to deliver better for less. We cannot afford not to operationalise fully the SDG on partnerships. We had many examples of that here with alternative development (partnerships with business for example). I hope that you will help us with this resource mobilisation and with your contacts in the larger NGO community and with member states, to help us have sufficient resources from New York. There is a big distance from Vienna to New York. I saw a couple of your questions being related to resources, and the battle for resources is tough. We have had to reduce our financial commitments to UNODC for humanitarian reasons. When we work on systemwide, we have to work within our mandates to avoid duplications.

Post-UNGASS facilitator. I was with the OSCE before, so not paying much attention to the UN issues. But now I am committing myself with the UN work and CND and UNGASS processes. My experience shows that there was access given to NGOs, even though it is not always perfect. In the implementation,entation of commitments of UNGASS we have tried to improve on that. You are here to tell us that and you want more, we are in favour of even more participation of the NGO community but it is also important to recall that this is a governmental institution. We see that every day in the plenary not all member states have the same position so it’s difficult. But the commitment to your participation is strong. We see your work on the ground and we salute and recognise it. But again, we cannot forget the limits of the environment in which we are working.

Katherine Pettus, VNGOC. I wanted to pay tribute to how much we’ve appreciated your support especially at the CND intersessionals to bring our people from the ground. This is why VNGOC and the NYNGOC put out a call globally and then we selected the candidates, coaching them on contents and time. But it’s an unprecedented opportunity and I want to thank you for that.

IDPC. Following on from the UNGASS, there is a clear call for greater coordination among UN entities on the issue of drug control policies and how they intersect with the four pillars of the UN – human rights, peace and security, rule of law and development. In what ways do you think the UN Secretary General can help to encourage and facilitate this coordination and coherence?

CND Chair. The Secretary General is at the top of the UN system and we would have liked him to come. We had a nice greeting from him. There are processes of how the CND works with ECOSOC and how we are trying to bring more cohesion between the subsidiary bodies from ECOSOC. It’s important, in the context of the SDGs that we can deliver together. We saw that with the CSW with the December session. When we are looking at the implementation of UNAGSS, we have to do that in cooperation with other UN entities. If you take alternative development, we need UNDP to engage with us and FAO to galvanise the different resources. The timelines in the SDGs and how this is followed up with the 4-year meetings of the UNGA at ECOSOC level, I am convinced that he is following the progress carefully because this is about the credibility of the system. When I mention financing, it is very much on the top of his agenda. I also want to underline that system wide cohesion has to be done in the different mandates – we won’t duplicate the work but we are bringing other international multilateral organisations here. We now have WHO, OHCHR, UNAIDS. They are helping us on the key issues of implementation for the UNGASS recommendations, and there is a lot of work to do on that. On the gender part we are in touch with UN women. His guidance and the way he comes out to lead the different debates in New York is very important here. I had the privilege to meet him while he was Prime Minister in Portugal and he is dedicated to the drugs issues. I am sure he will galvanise this work in a coherent manner. When the world is moving forward, this is how we can be the most successful. On implementing,entation, your experience and valuable work on the ground is helping us improve on implementation. This is also how we were working at the Human Rights Council. The more inputs you can give to New York and the Secretary General is how we can continue progressing.

Post-UNGASS Facilitator. He was Prime Minister of Portugal when the decriminalisation legislation was adopted, which was a success. There is now a consensus all over now that this policy has worked. Margaret Chan mentioned the situation of families who don’t know what to do because relatives are in jail or have a criminal record. This is a situation that our Prime Minister adopted and he is very proud of it. He cannot implement this at world level, but I am sure that he is very much committed to the CND work. I hope he can come soon and has the opportunity to address the CND.

Regarding my role for 2019, it is not an easy answer. I came to this position and Portugal is not a CND member. But this position allows for non-CND members to come to the Board. After UNGASS I was invited to fulfil this position, and it is until the end of the year. I am also leaving Vienna at the end of this month. I will see then what will happen after CND if I receive an invitation from the next CND Chair. I would really like to continue this work until 2019. My commitment is there. What will happen beyond 2019 is something that will be discussed today or tomorrow. From what we have heard so far, they want implementation of the UNAGSS outcome document and of the 2009 political declaration – it will be difficult to fulfil the commitments of 2009 by 2019. The recommendations of the UNGASS outcome document undoubtably are the best tool to try and reach these commitments. But I don’t know what will happen beyond 2019. There will be another date set in 2019, but let’s be realistic – we won’t be able to fulfil all the commitments made in 2009. Everything changed between 2009 and 2016, with the pressure you put on member states this impetus for change is here and I hope we will be able to do something important in the near future.

CND Chair. The UNGASS negotiations were a huge endeavour and it put a lot of pressure on the Board and the CND Secretariat. There was a sense of fatigue and achievements. Everything we do in the UN is a process. So having this commitment and the Portuguese commitment is very positive. Having continuity is the best platform to move forward.

Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access. Our NGO Committees are doing an increasingly good job at bringing NGOs from all over the world, but many have limited funding and abilities to participate. We do have live streaming video. We had no streaming in some of the meeting – and yet these meetings have to be seen by others – could we have live streaming and also have archives of these videos so that people at home can access them later?

CND Chair. I fully share your point to get civil society participate from all over the world as the CND is dealing with worldwide issues. Many countries would be at a disadvantage. We have spoken with the CND Secretariat to say that it is very tight on the resource side just to follow up towards 2019 with a substantive input. It is in this context that there simply haven’t been the financial resources to buy this more advanced technical equipment and have stable links and have these opportunities. But I am taking note of this. This is something that is decided at the 5th Committee in New York, so whatever push you can give on this there would be valuable. So from our part, it’s not that we don’t want to include you, it’s a practical and financial question.

Post-UNGASS Facilitator. I recall that in New York they have UN Web TV, there is no such thing in Vienna. There are technical considerations to do that. It’s a good idea but cannot be implemented immediately. We understand and agree that this is a good idea, and if funds are available we will work hard to implement.

Dianova. Regarding the Post-UNGASS process – how does this feed into the broader SDGs?

Post-UNGASS Facilitator. The UNGASS outcome document was approved right after the 2030 Agenda and it features in the document. This was always mentioned. The Chair mentioned the pairing of the recommendations with the 17 Goals and we will continue doing so. We have a set timeframe for these targets. We will have to do this towards 2019. The CND plays a role in that and we need a holistic approach to have a relationship between the recommendations and the SDGs. This is at the forefront of our approach and will feature more prominently in the negotiations in the future.

CND Chair. I will give you one example here on the health goals. We had a finance situation with UNAIDS and there is a big shortfall here. I do not see if there is any reluctance to pair those goals. Some of the goals need to be achieved before 2030, but we need resources. In Belarus, there was added value in targeting PWID with HIV money, it is saving lives and reducing the transmission. These are urgent issues where we also need civil society advocacy. I also come to the SDG on inclusiveness and ‘no one left behind’. This comes to integration, health and education. Partnering with you and working on these issues in Geneva, New York and Vienna and with the UN Secretary General is important to voice these issues. Take the UPR – it is not very often that these important issues are raised there in a mechanism that pertains to every single country. Moving this issue in this process will help address the SDGs.

Post-UNGASS Facilitator. We must understand how the goals relate to the drugs issue to ensure coherence. The MoU with WHO is a first step to make good use of the scarce resources we have available.

Pakistan NGO. I am a victim of drugs, I lost my only child and started a foundation at grassroots and we work with a pilot project in Pakistan and implementing projects with UNODC in the field. What I could see since Monday is that 80% of all debates, side events, etc. are all turned towards harm reduction and rehabilitation. In my view, it is necessary but there is a discrepancy of addressing the issue between prevention/awareness and rehabilitation. I believe in awareness and prevention, this is the answer, and all the discussions are turning on how to solve the problem, not to avoid the problem. As a small foundation we are looking for drugs that don’t exist. All the focus is on harm reduction and rehab, why is prevention not available? It is difficult to implement what we have in mind. This is just a consideration.

CND Chair. It is very nice to see you here. Norway is now putting forward a resolution addressing financing of prevention and HIV/AIDS work. There have been a lot of side events of direct relevance to your question. And when we look at the main drivers, we need to look at UNODC’s work and go broader and look at support from UNDP, UNESCO to address exclusion, poverty, harassment, fragility of the human being as a driver in the prevention context. We must look at the main factors and core mandates to move this issue forward. There again, listening to an organisation like yours and others, we must look at what is working and not, and be open about this issue – it is very different from one country or another in terms of what works in a context or another. We see here that many countries address this from a boy’s or a girl’s perspective. We need to know more and work cohesively and we need the financing.

Post-UNGASS Facilitator. In the past, prevention perhaps had more prominence in side events. But we don’t decide on side events, NGOs and member states and UN agencies propose them. In some cases, we need to go back to basics and we can discuss that. NGOs have an important role in holding side events, and you can play a role in rebalancing this question.

Esbjorn, VNGOC. I would like to mention something here when discussing resources – we lack resources and the global south is not always here. We need to include them with video messaging. There was also a meeting two days ago where there was a question on the scheduling of the intersessionals so that we can plan ahead to organise travels, visa and activities. This is a big issue for us. 2 weeks before the meeting as a timeline is impossible for us to bring people from other countries.

Post-UNGASS Facilitator. I mentioned yesterday the fact that the CND Secretariat should plan a schedule to discuss each of the chapters of the UNGASS outcome document. It would be important to tell civil society about the schedule so that you can prepare and have even more participation on these discussions.

Esbjorn, VNGOC. In civil society, when we worked on the UNGASS, there was no consensus. One thing we all agreed on was something around the death penalty.

CND Chair. Let me say that some member states highlighted these divisions among civil society. So when you can unite, you are stronger. On the death penalty, the world is divided, and it’s impossible to negotiate and find consensus on that issue here. But some countries will continue to make strong statements in favour or against the death penalty. This divide will continue in the years ahead. We are in a situation today with a contraction on the human rights side – we are in a period where we have to protect what has been achieved. We have a lot of legally binding instruments. It is important to state that extrajudicial killings, wherever they might happen are a gross violation of international law. It is something that could be dealt with in a generic way. You have the Human Rights Council and UPR, the mandate on extrajudicial killings – these are Geneva based but I want to be clear – it is important to protect the international legal system and include the institutions in Geneva to maintain the legally based order that has been developed since World War II. There is a state obligation to protect, respect and fulfil human rights. This is an important area and we need to bring the world forward. There are different mandates here but the legally binding instruments apply here in Vienna too – every one has the legality to access due process.

Katherine Pettus, VNGOC. I want to reiterate the point of civil society being decided – we come from different facets and points of view but it’s a strength, not a weakness. We need to continue the dialogue and reflect the cultural and personal backgrounds, we have different priorities. But we all want the best for our world, families and communities.

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