Matej Kosir, Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs
H.E. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair
Jo Dedeyne-Amann, Secretariat to the Governing Bodies of UNODC
1. NGOs Computer Literacy Shelter Welfare ,Pakistan, Masooma zahra
Invitations to CND meetings are not always sent early enough to allow for the time to process visa requests. In addition, it would greatly help NGOs to receive personalised invitations and/ or a note verbale from UNODC. Is there any possibility to facilitate this?
H.E. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair: We really appreciate the interest of all of you in our meetings and obviously we value the contributions of NGOs to the work of the commission. We understand that time limitations are important for NGOs to be able to participate. The secretariat will be presented here by Jo and they make out every effort to send invitations to every meetings to allow sufficient time for travel preparations. Invitations are sent to all NGOs that have participated in CND in the last 3 years. ECOSOC accredited NGOs can contact the secretariat. We all have to use that registration WhatsApp including ourselves as a governmental delegate. I was informed by the secretariat that the practice of previous years, they also organised a pre CND meeting for NGOs to provide necessary and useful info for the meaningful inclusion of NGOs, that was released in February.
Jo Dedeyne-Amann, Secretariat to the Governing Bodies of UNODC: it was not organised by us, it was arranged by VNGOC and we had opportunity to explain during the meeting. We have to wait until they reconvened to in a way have the latest details so that is the end of December, so we first have to have the invitations going out to member states. Unfortunately we cannot start the process any earlier.
2. Virginians Against Drug Violence, United States of America, Michael Krawitz
We have seen very little cooperation between Geneva and Vienna on drugs policy and it seems to us that between these silos, the illegal drug manufacturers have found many places to hide. How can the CND Chair create better systemic cohesion and cooperation on drug control, including to improve medicinal access to traditional medicine?
H.E. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair: There exists a strong and effective cooperation between Vienna and Geneva based commissions. You may not see it but there is and it works. This cooperation is crucial to ensuring a comprehensive and coordinated approach to address the world drug problem. The commission was partnered with Geneva organisations which have been present at the CND including at the highest level including at the opening of the 66th session – director general of WHO and high commissioner of human rights. The commission works very closely with WHO on his treaty mandated functions. WHO provides technical expertise on the scheduling of substances. In addition the commission has fostered transparent and inclusive discussions with Geneva organisations – follow up to 2019 ministerial declaration, the commission received valuable contributions from many organisations such as the international federation of red cross societies. With regard to ensuring access of availability of controlled substances, my predecessor of Belgium launched an initiative last year. Let me provide you with some examples of Geneva based organisations. March 2023 – joint ? held by the commission with UN entities e.g. WHO; June 2022 – side event on topic of availability and access featuring participation of WHO and UNAIDS; September 2022 – ambassador organised an event in Geneva for int drug policy commitments on improving availability and access for medical and scientific purposes with director general of WHO. I also wish to highlight that some Geneva based organisations also organise side events in this session e.g. red cross societies. Remember yesterday we took action on the info presented by WHO – 7 new substances. That is the work we carry out jointly, while cooperating with our own obligations from the treaties.
3. Movendi International, Sweden, Esbjörn Hörnberg
Much of the current discourse about drug policy ignores the strong and accelerating alignment between addiction-for-profit industries. What can the Commission do to better reflect the growing knowledge about the strong links between the addiction-for-profit industries, and how can a more nuanced and scientific understanding of the commercial determinants of health, drivers of availability and increasing normalization of addictive products be addressed by the Commission going forward?
H.E. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair: I do know an effective drug control framework needs to strike right balance between prevention on one hand, and on the other hand, availability and accessibility for medical purposes on the other hand. The commission is a platform for stakeholders to come together and share their perspectives, experiences and lessons learned. It is important to acknowledge there are diverse views on these issues – it is true constructive dialogue that effects solutions. Discussions on implementations on int drug policy commitments provide an excellent opportunity for member states and civil society to bring their knowledge on this matter to the attention of the commission and stakeholders at play. At the thematic discussions, scientific evidence based treatment had it shared and challenges, have also been discussed. The commission has emphasised the importance of scientific evidence in many of the resolutions. It has expressed the view that the world drug problem remains a common and shared responsibility that should be address in a multilateral setting to increase international cooperation and to mutually reinforce balanced and scientific evidence based and comprehensive approach.
4. Students for Sensible Drug Policy, international, Iulia Cristiana Vatau
The Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs is in the process of establishing a NGO Youth Working Group which would be a good opportunity for engagement between the Commission, the Youth Forum and youth-led civil society more broadly. Has there been any progress on expanding youth involvement and the involvement of youth organisations in the Commission, and would it be possible to meet with you to discuss this further?
H.E. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair: The commission is well aware that civil society plays an important role including I the involvement of youth in drug related matters. It is crucial to make young voices heard by global policy makers. Youth forum allows young people to share ideas visions and perspectives and to provide them with an opportunity to engage with policy makers. Since 2012 the youth forum on UNDOC youth initiative is being held in the margins of the regular sessions of the commission. Ensuring a platform for youth to share their ideas. While the youth forum is not part of the formal CND procedures, youth have traditionally reported back to the formal plenary meeting. I understand the VGNOC supports youth organisations on matters relating to drugs and as an interlocutor for NGO at CND. Commission values the important role of the VNGOC in coordinating the cooperation of dialogues between NGO and the commission. Commission will continue to work on this in the future. Allow me to add something: yesterday we presented and had a report in the plenary. And it was a very touching moment to see how clear this group of youth representatives can present their ideas, their visions, their perspectives in a very, very well crafted way and also how they present with a very natural way what they think about. I said yesterday also that speech was the best possible defence that I heard in my whole life for one of the key elements of the fight against drugs – which is prevention. I think I am totally sure If we manage global effective policies for prevention we could really stop the spreading of drugs. We really will be closer to solve the issue of the fight against drugs. We have been for more than 50 years giving priority to key policies which is to stop supply and fight the supply, but we do not give during that time the same priority to the prevention side and that is why the war is the way it is. We see every year what the world drug report is saying that all the numbers are higher, higher consumption, higher this higher that, every indicator is higher. And that is why it is not because we are not fighting against the supply side, we invest billions and trillions in order to curb the supply side, but we neglected the demand side, the prevention side and that is really important. That is really the way to solve this problem.
5. International Drug Policy Consortium, international, Marie Nougier, Instituto RIA, Mexico, Zara Snapp, Fields of Green for ALL NPC, South Africa, Myrtle Clarke, FAAAT, FRANCE, FARID GHEHIOUECHE
Civil society participation in Vienna has greatly improved over the past decade and is now held up as a good example across the UN. We hope that it will remain the case in the future, especially for high-level political events on drugs. In this context, how will you ensure the active, engaged and meaningful engagement of civil society in the 2024 mid-term review of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration?
H.E. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair: Indeed the commission has made great efforts to become the inclusive platform that it is today. We appreciate the efforts of civil society on the work of the commission. Moving forward we will continue to apply this, civil society stakeholders with ECOSOC are expected to continue participating in the formal CND meetings. It is important to ensure transparency in the review process. We will ensure that all relevant stakeholders have in line with the perspectives access to information. We recognise civil society are essential for the review to be transparent and comprehensive. We look forward to working with you in the lead up to the mid term review. We just finished the negotiations of the modality resolutions of the mid term review. It was a good fight in order to keep what the NGOs and I expect really very much your total involvement with this thing. Someone said yesterday that drug policy is too important to leave it only to the government. It was the previous director Antonio. This continues to be exactly the same – this is why I said yesterday. You have a really important obligation as a representative of the civil society and it is to say thinks that governments do not want to hear. We are used in our meetings to be extremely polite because at the end we depend on them to have the decisions and you most probably heard me always referring to the other distinguished delegates and we maybe do not have the strength and vision that is needed. At the end we represent and defend our national interests and not every time do the national interests coincide with the global interests of humankind. It is up to you to help us and have a strong involvement and to present papers and ideas.
6. Civil Society Forum on Drugs in the EU, European Union, Adria Cots Fernandez
Do you have any updated information on how civil society will be able to follow and participate in the mid-term review, particularly those who are not able to travel to Vienna, including organisations with and without ECOSOC accreditation?
H.E. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair: The commission values the importance of meaningful inclusion of civil society organisations in the 2024 mid term review. This foresees a similar engagement for NGOs for the high level segment of 2014 and 2019. The text will be considered in plenary tomorrow (item 11). Efforts have been made to facilitate video messages and even remote live participation in addition to the UN web tv. For 2024 mid term review, subject to availability of resources. This week has been organised on a conference platform in order to make it more remote in a meaningful way. I will answer the other two questions on participation. One is the RIA institute and Slum Child foundation. We will skip question number 7.
7. Instituto RIA, Mexico ,Zara Snapp
How will you ensure the active, engaged and meaningful engagement of civil society in the 2024 Mid Review process?
8. SLUM CHILD FOUNDATION, KENYA, GEORGE OCHIENG
What road map has been put in place in order to have good preparations towards the 2024 Mid-Term Review and beyond to 2029 – including measures to work with grassroots civil society organizations to ensure their voices are well captured?
George Ochieng [virtual]: Good morning everyone, I don’t think I have much as much has been raised but the most important thing is to echo the sentiment that he has raised. A close collaboration and a working relationship that has been put in place to ensure we participate fully in the mid term review. When there was an UNGASS review, we the civil society were not involved. I hope this time round, it will give us an opportunity to contribute to what they are putting together because we want to be an all inclusive civil society where we put all our heads together for the best interests of the people we are working with. As a chair I hope you are able to give directions so that at a country level civil society are involved. Thank you.
H.E. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair: Something to say – independence of the civil society organisations is something that s paramount so I will never to dare to say what to do to the NGOs. The only thing that I could do or piece of advice based on my experience and it is not up to any chair of the CND to say what to do. The secretariat wants to add in order to clarify. We know how valuable your participation is and I think that my role here is to provide the possibilities and you decide how best to do that within the framework.
Jo Dedeyne-Amann, Secretariat to the Governing Bodies of UNODC: what we see is that countries have NGO reps in their own delegations but that is of course the prerogative of every individual member state and I mean from a secretariat perspective, we will continue to work closely with the VNGOC and to explain that there are of course possibilities to provide written papers and we have a long list of NGO papers for the current session which is a very good way to bring the views of NGOs to the attention of member states. In every UN body the prerogative of member states to decide what they want to take on board when they start the own final preparations for the mid term review. As we will have another round of thematic discussion in autumn, here we see a very broad range of NGOs participating which was appreciated by member states. Now we can have NGOs on the ground working remotely it is even more possible.
Jamie Bridge, former chair of VNGOC: elsewhere in the united nations, particularly in Geneva, processes allow civil society to submit shadow reports. Maybe we could work with the UNODC in autumn to work on a similar processes, not for formal consideration in the report, but as an input to the deliberations.
H.E. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair: It is something to think about. Thank you very much.
9. Turkish Green Crescent Society, Türkiye , Ergin Beceren
How would you say the effect of the increasing in-person participation in the 66th CND has been for civil society engagement to help shape the global drug control regime?
H.E. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair: NGOs have long been providing valuable insights from their work on the ground. Since the event of the pandemic the commission has transitioned to hybrid meeting combined in person and online to facilitate and promote online participation. The secretariat has invested in a customised online platform which enables virtual networking and one stop shop for the commissions meeting. However remote can never replace in person – it is complementary and the commission recognises the importance of in person attendance in the 66th session. We have received a record number of 150 side events this year and 78 are arranged by NGOs – more than half. More side events are organised in a hybrid format. The in person component at side events allow NGOs to build relationships and foster cooperation. The online participation allows participants including from civil society who are not able to participate the opportunity to meaningfully engage in the work of the CND.
10. Youth RISE International Ruby Lawlor
The World Drug Report 2022 collected data on links between the current international approach on drugs and environmental outcomes. From your national perspective, how do you feel this evidence is being used in the planning, implementation and, crucially, evaluation of drug policies and programmes, and what more could be done?
H.E. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair: I will respond to this not in my national capacity as a Colombian ambassador but as chair of the CND. The world drug report is a publication of the UNODC which provides the evidence for policy. It is not a publication of the CND but it helps stakeholders understand they dynamics and trends of the World Drug Report and statistics of the World Drug Report have ben frequently referred by delegations at the CND. On June 2022 the commission held a special event in the commemoration of UN international day against drug abuse and drug trafficking – the report presents an overview of current trends in global market and includes latest info on production and trafficking and includes for 1st time a section on drugs and the environment. The nexus between drugs and environment has been brought to attention of the commission and it has taken the environment int consideration – 2021 – CND thematic discussions of follow up of 2019 declaration looked at nexus of drug trafficking and crimes that effect the environment e.g. deforestation. In its resolution 65/1 entitled promoting alternative development as a development-oriented strategy taking into account measures to affect the environment, AD was considered and measures to protect the environment was considered. Germany, Peru and Thailand tabled a resolution this year concerning alternative development taking account measures that protect the environment and protect the right of indigenous people for consideration of commission. An exhibition organised by Thailand this year also focused on this. A side event is also organised by TNI with support of Brazil, Colombia and other stakeholders. Obviously it is a big impact of drug production on the environment and that impact – I don’t know how many times the world drug report has referred to that impact and all countries should work in order to solve that problem. Sometimes its much broader impact of the illicit drug cultivation and drug production on the environment that even the deforestation for other purposes. At the end, the ones behind the drug trafficking have much more money than simply want a little piece of land to cultivate but they do not have that amount of money that the others have. This is one of the reasons why the impact of illicit drug cultivation has on the environment of the countries affected.
11. Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs
For the first time in several years the CND plenary sessions are not being publicly webcast. Why? Several other recent meetings including the CCPCJ special events held in January 2023 were made available on UN Web TV, can we expect future CND meetings to also be available on that platform?
Jamie Bridge: Already fixed so I would like to ask – is your expectation that there will also be a CND work plan for inter-sessionals going from 2024 up until 2029? Because we have a workplan from 2019 to this year and civil society has been involved and a good opportunity, has there been any discussion yet about after 2024?
H.E. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair: Not yet, but if we are smart there will be.
Jamie Bridge: So you would like to see that?
H.E. Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco, CND Chair: Yes.
Jamie Bridge: One of the things we did miss this year is the opportunity to pick up passes over the weekend and its also less of an issue for next year because we have a Thursday/Friday high level segment. But going forward, the weekend passes are very important. Monday morning was intense and very unpleasant for the people in the pass office. If it is a resource issue, we can help. We can do some outreach and advocacy to make that happen in the future.
Jo Dedeyne-Amann, Secretariat to the Governing Bodies of UNODC: Thank you very much. This is a similar problem as the problem that we had with the webcast is that in a way, this goes beyond the secretariat to the governing bodies. The problem is not us wanting to be here on a Sunday, but the badges are in the hands of security and those offices fall outside the substantive secretariat and they are of the view that they do not have the resources to provide that service any longer. It was by the way the same for the webcasting and the web tv – this is not really something that we can make happen as such. I can tell you we are working around the clock and if we can, we really value civil society and if we can make your participation easier we will do it. But conference management security we do not have that budget. It is different if you compare it to the agency here in Vienna. I will raise that issue and we will see what can be done but it falls beyond our control.
Chair: Thank you for the modalities resolution and for mentioning civil society in the final draft. And first time in history the VNGOC is mentioned in such resolution. Thank you very much for your support and we look forward to collaborating with you in future.