Informal NGO dialogue with the CND Chair

Ambassador Vivian Okeke, Nigeria. We don’t all agree, but the voice of civil society is very important. Your role is important in reaching a balance to address the world drug problem. We are appreciative of your role.

Jamie Bridge, VNGOC. Not all of us are here, but the questions asked in advance will be read out and answered. The responses will be posted on the CND Blog.

International Drug Policy Consortium. In 2017, former INCB President Werner Sipp acknowledged the contradictions between the 1961 Convention, which impedes the traditional use of the coca leaf, and international instruments on the rights of indigenous peoples, which enshrine the rights of indigenous peoples to their traditional, cultural and religious practices. The OHCHR has also highlighted this friction repeatedly over the past four years. What steps has the CND taken in order to ensure that the UN drug control treaties comply with human rights legislation on the matter?

Amb. Mirghani Abbaker Altayev, Sudan, CND Chair. We protect the health and welfare of human kind. Human rights are at the core of the UN drug control efforts. The CND has taken multiple steps to safeguard human rights. I want to refer to the UNGASS outcome document, which foresees a while chapter on drugs and human rights, women, children and communities. It includes a recommendation to enhance the knowledge and capacity of policy makers for a balanced approach, which respects all fundamental rights and freedoms, health and the safety of all individuals. Communities and society as a whole ensure non-discriminatory access to healthcare and interventions and ensure that measures to prevent the illicit cultivation, eradication of substances respect fundamental human rights and take due account of traditional uses where there is evidence of such use, in accordance with the three international drug conventions. This also takes due account of national legislations and the convention on the human rights of indigenous people. The issue is of concern to the CND.

Asian Harm Reduction Network. Is the CND in the position to initiate a scientific working group to compare Member States national efforts to alter and develop national drug policy legislations and regulations, to enhance (sub) national and regional evidence-based drug treatment, rights based health promotion and harm reduction efforts to stem HIV/HCV/TB infection syndemics among people who use drugs, their partners, families and communities at large?

Nigerian Ambassador. The CND is concerned with the treatment of PWUD, but also the prevention, treatment and care of viral hepatitis. This includes a resolution this week. We have extensive thematic discussions in all areas of the world drug problem. On 25thSeptember, we focused on demand reduction measures with opportunities for member states to share experiences in this regard. This issue was also included in the Ministerial Declaration adopted last week. This is being addressed in this current CND process.

ICEERS. Our organisation has assisted several legal cases in Spain that involved members of migrant communities being prosecuted for traditional use of coca leaf. They come from countries where the coca leaf is legal and traditionally used. Which measures or strategies is CND considering, in the frame of the 2030 Agenda, in order to address these contradictions and to guarantee the right of these communities to enjoy their own culture?

CND Chair. The CND gives flexibility to member states on this issue. States can call upon the CND to submit recommendations on scheduling decisions. The CND takes scheduling decisions bearing in mind the economy, social, legal and other factors it considers relevant. CND waits for countries to recommend that these substances should be re-scheduled. This is not only limited to pharmaceutical uses, but also other aspects are considered.

FAAAT Think & Do Tank. Would again to call the attention to the video streaming situation of the CND. UNOV uses very old streaming system, there is a significant imbalance in what is available in Vienna and what is in New York. This creates disparity between Vienna and New York which is not normal. Also disparity because UN-NY has very useful live and archive system, UN web TV, which allow for multilingual functionality. Is there any movement on plugging in UNOV into UN web TV?

CND Chair. As the Chair of the CND I am not familiar with this process. This should be addressed or clarified with UNOV or UN in NY. Vienna would like to become part of UN Web TV, but apparently there are resources required that are not available. The meetings of the CND for example for the 2019 Ministerial Segment were webcast with resources available. We had a live meeting between Vienna, ECOSOC and many other stations of the UN. This could be part of what you are thinking about. There is no objection at all on what you are saying, but it depends on the availability of resources. This is a good thing.

VNGOC. The 2019 Ministerial Statement commits the CND to commit to a ‘broad, transparent and inclusive discussions within the CND involving… civil society’. Does this mean we can expect further thematic intersessionals over the coming years, repeating the positive experiences from 2018, and do you have any further details of these? Will they be based on the seven UNGASS thematic chapters, as before?

Regina Rohrbach. There is a commitment to continue with thematic discussions beyond 2019, but this should be read in conjunction with the para on technical support. With resolution 60/1, we decided for CND to have a comprehensive follow up. In the Ministerial Declaration, the continuation of the thematic discussions will be happening subject to budgetary resources, we hope these will be made available to ensure the Secretary can continue to support this valuable process.

French NGO Platform. Certain community-based organisations had their visa refused to attend the CND this year. What can the UNODC do to ensure this will not happen again in future years? Moustapha Mbodj from Senegal was refused his visa despite letters from INPUD, MDM and UNODC.

Regina. This question was also asked to UNODC. The visa issues for Austria are something that the republic of Austria decides on. Ultimately, this is their responsibility and prerogative to decide on delivering visas. UNODC confirms that the participant is attending the conference, or is going to attend the conference. This issue should be discussed with Austrian authorities. But my recommendation is to apply for the visa as early as possible, not two weeks before, to make sure it goes through.

CND Chair. We have a problem of visa with many member states. The main reason is because they apply within a very short period of time. Member states should make available their applications to the Embassies as early as possible so that if there is a problem, the Secretary will help. We must give authorities ample time to consider applications.

Jamie. This is a common problem this year. One of the things we have found helpful was to have an invitation from your organisations, but also from one based in Vienna, and the VNGOC can provide such a letter. This might not resolve the situation but it might help. This is sometimes looked more favourably. We can offer this service to everyone.

EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs. Thank you for your time and flexibility. The CSFD is an EU consultative body composed of 45 NGOs. We are thankful that CND includes civil society speakers in the debates, and would like to know if there is a possibility to facilitate even more involvement of civil society participation. We would for instance recommend allowing the participation of CS representatives in regional meetings and the meetings of HONLEA, or by inviting more civil society organisations to provide inputs to open-ended working groups. Are these, in your view, realistic options for the future? Would you help promote these practices by implementing them?

CND Chair. In intersessionals and at the CND itself, so many NGOs have been given the floor for statements. These statements are much longer than those from member states, and we have let it go! Nobody from NGOs have applied to be given the floor and have not been given it. Whatever is brought from the NGOs, we give it. On your additional topics, we will look into it and see what we can do about it. And we are very happy about it.

Regina. The question was also related to expert groups and subsidiary bodies. The expert group in December included civil society, in the revision of the ARQ there was also scope to participate. It depends on the expertise and format of the expert group. The subsidiary meetings are more technical and more difficult to ensure civil society participation. I don’t know if there is scope to change that. We also need to look into the civil society expertise on border control. It is a matter of whether there are any topics discussed among civil society.

Nigerian Ambassador. The decision to have civil society in many proceedings is in agreement with member states. If we have no consensus among member states, this will not happen. Going forward, you need to do your own networking to ensure that for those sessions you’re interested in being part of, you can help achieve a consensus among member states. Some proceedings are very sensitive in terms of the information shared and some member states indicate that they would prefer not to have participation from civil society. But in this session, the Chair has been very open to ensure that participation was allowed and ensured. The idea is that the proceedings should be inclusive to find solutions for the problems we have at hand.

Jamie. In resolution 61/1, there is a specific request from the CSTF to select the speakers for the roundtable and to speak from the floor. This mechanism was built in the resolution. For HONLEA, civil society has never asked to participate. So the CSFD could start pushing for such participation.

Uganda NGO. Appreciate the CND for efforts being done, we had a lot of messages and discussions with the UNODC on how to protect and involve young people. Please continue allowing more discussion about children and young people.

Nigerian Ambassador. The particular paragraph that had to deal with youth and children. We also pushed for similar discussions on women. And everybody just clapped. We know that the future of the world if on youth and children. So it is important that policies are tailored to increasing their awareness on drugs.

French NGO Platform.The UNGASS Outcome Document and the Political Declaration mention the necessity to include the SDGs in their respective strategies. Experts from the field and grassroots organisations see every day the impact of poverty and lack of development on the drugs issue. What concrete work is the CND doing or planning to do to ensure that drug policies and the strategy assessment tools such as the Annual Report Questionnaire are aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?

CND Chair. Efforts to address the world drug problem and to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are complementary and mutually reinforcing. The 2019 Declaration calls on member states to accelerate the implementation of all commitments, and to ensure that nobody affected by the world drug problem is left behind.

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