This intervention was done at the fifth Intersessional meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, October 27-28. The meeting discussed the implementation of the UNGASS outcome document and the intervention was done under the chapter on Alternative Development; regional, interregional and international cooperation on development-oriented balanced drug control policy; addressing socioeconomic issues.
Thank you for giving me the floor.
When we started the process towards UNGASS in 2014 I did an intervention here in Vienna saying that too often the debate is dominated by organizations and representatives of the western world, although the majority of us are not men in dark suits. A lot of work still remains but important steps have been taken in the right direction. World Federation Against Drugs, and our 200 member organizations, are pleased with the inclusiveness of the civil society in the UNGASS process, and the many possibilities for civil society to express our view. The need to include civil society is mentioned in the outcome paper and I also welcome that we are well represented here to give our voice on the implementation of the outcome paper. I also think that we from the civil society learned a lot from this process on how to organize ourselves to ensure that people who are affected and are working with the problem from all over the world are able to give their input.
The outcome document has a lot of good elements and strategies, we have a roadmap, the big work now is to turn the words into action. We need to mobilize ordinary people and the local communities if we want result, the civil society is vital in this. This is also why our international network, Drug Policy Futures, has identified one big challenge both for governments and NGOs in the period towards 2019: To mobilize one million communities in a global wave of prevention.
WFAD welcomes the operational recommendation on alternative development and fully support the initiative to promote inclusive economic growth and initiatives that contribute to poverty eradication and the sustainability of social and economic development. It is evident that we need not only to remove the cultivation of illicit drugs, we also need alternatives that improve people’s possibility to have a good life.
We welcome the connection to the sustainable development goals, there is a specific goal around substance abuse; (3.5) To strengthen prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol. This is the essence of the issue, we need to connect the world drug problem to sustainable development BUT when doing this we need to also remember that we still need specific interventions to reduce the use of drugs. We know that the need for treatment is unmet in many countries and prevention, to support and protect the youth of the world is not universal.
Substance use is an obstacle to development and poverty and lack of possibilities to improve life can be an engine for both trade of illicit drugs and use of illicit drugs.
As I mentioned WFAD has around 200 member organizations around the world, the majority of them are located in the global south and are working with BOTH specific initiatives on illicit drugs and more general development issues. For example Livelihood and Vocational skills Training to enhance socio-economic transformation of disadvantaged young people through advocacy, psychosocial and skills development for self-reliance and reintegration with their families. They work with street children, slum youths, juveniles, out of school youths and other disadvantaged groups to increase their possibilities to break the vicious circle of poverty, lack of opportunities and substance use.The aim is to enable children to live a meaningful successful life, and to protect them from illicit drugs, all in line with the convention of the rights of the child.
WFAD is right now planning to start implementing cooperation project between our members that will contribute to regional cooperation and to address socioeconomic issues related to both production and consumption of illicit drugs on a local level. We know that many of our members are doing vital work and this work can be multiplied if they are connected to each other. We are therefore planning to gather our members and together do assessment to identify problem areas and use them to develop the work already being done. We are aware of some problems already, such as the lack of data in big areas of the world, access to resources and the problem of sustainability of many civil society organizations.
By capacity building and networking to shareexperiences, research, reports and emerging trends in the region we aim to increase our efforts to implement the many good strategies in the outcome document. And we of course need and wish for cooperation with member states. The outcome document also provided us with an important tool to demand action from you, to actively promote a society free from non-medical drug use and remind you about your determination to address public health safety and social problems resulting from drug abuse. I can promise you that we will continue to remind you about this.