On May 16, 2018 Esbjörn Hörnberg was elected International President of World Federation Against Drugs 
From 2003 Mr Hörnberg serves as the Executive Director of IOGT International, an umbrella organization with 160 members in 60 Countries.DSC 0114

Mr Hörnberg was up till March 2018 the Chairperson of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs and was also the Chair of the Civil Society Task Force on Drugs, set up as the key entity to secure Civil Societies engagement and coordination in order to effectively include Civil Society Organisations voices in the UNGASS on Drugs 2016.

From 1994 to 2012 he was Secretary General of International Institute of the IOGT-NTO-movement, a foundation working with development in Africa, South- and Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Now he serves as the Senior Advisor to the management and board.

Mr Hörnberg was secretary in the civil society group working with WHO and UNODC on the project “Global Initiative” 1991 – 1996.

Before working with international issues, Mr Hörnberg was working 17 years as a civil servant, in the sectors of education, social welfare and community administration.

At the Congress of WFAD Esbjörn delivered the following statement to the members present at the congress. Continue to read the full speech.

Where can Civil Society make an impact on the Drugs issue?
Dear colleagues and friends,
Being part of civil society work concerning alcohol- and other drugs from the mid 1960-ies, I have some reflections to share with you.  But also the important question  “Where can Civil Society make an impact on the Drugs issue?”
I have been active on all levels, from the local level to the UN General Assembly.

On the local level, in my late teens, trying to prevent my peers from glue sniffing and binge drinking to giving old alcohol dependent men the possibility to celebrate Christmas in dignity.

Travelling thousands of miles informing teachers, school children and their parents, of the effects of various substances, of the need for prevention. Using sports, dance, theatre and other tools to develop their own skills with self-confidence.
Attending demonstrations organised by youngsters for Life Set Free against Big Alcohol.

On the National level, applying for grants to have camps and workshops for children from broken families. To influence the curriculum for schools.

On the International level supporting local organisations delivering condoms and antiviral drugs in the slums in East Africa, empowering women from Hill Tribe Communities in the Golden Triangle where the trafficking of Drugs ruins their lives
in many ways and giving them the possibility to rehabilitate and reintegrate sons/husbands in the village setting.

Discussing the magnitude and implementation of sustainable programs for Street Children with relevant authorities and First Ladies in a joint project with UNODC and WHO in Sub-Saharan Africa, South- and South East Asia and Latin-America.

In numerous seminars discussing alcohol- and drug policies with Members of Parliaments from Mongolia to South Africa.

Together with many committed people giving Civil Society a prominent role in the UNGASS process.

Listening to UN Member States in New York, Genava and Vienna telling about the importance of the Civil Society.

But where do we really have impact? Of course on all levels. 

Those of you working with affected population, be children, youth, users, family or even societies have ideas how you can develop your work. The challenges are immense. We, who are committed to work for people’s health, human rights and dignity have to struggle with an alcohol/ pharmaceutical industry, supported by the media and “Wall Street-Investors, who promotes substances, legal and illegal, to be used for us to live up to the image of a modern civilised citizen.  How many of us know that the majority of people around the globe are not drinking alcohol. When looking into papers and magazines, we are fooled.

Sometimes the local community need to be convinced. Especially when working with harm reduction, rehabilitation and recovery. But if we have a program with good results, we can succeed. Local initiatives should involve local authorities and public services, schools, police, parent groups, and other community-based organisations. Identifying and helping youth who struggle with childhood trauma, family problems, abuse, school attendance, and other problems is important. At such an early stage, even simple interventions by teachers, health or social workers, and family and neighbours can make a great difference.  One of the best examples we have seen from the Civil Society is the Icelandic program
Sometimes, well many times, we have to struggle with authorities as well. Then we need a network, likeminded people and a policy.

When Ambassadors in the Commission on Narcotics Drugs in Vienna, in their statements gives Civil Society credit, we should still push for the possibility to meet and discuss on the National level. How can we, from Civil Society, contribute to the developments of a policy, the legislation and its implementation? This is where I see one of the biggest challenges. But here we are today – in the City of Goteborg in Sweden. Let´s give it a chance. Leave no one behind – repeat and repeat.

Some of our partners in the WFAD are also working with development. Both the Outcome document and Agenda 2030 highlight that. A development approach aimed at improving people’s quality of life is needed to mobilize local communities where illicit drugs are produced. Governments in these countries should fund alternative development programmes in drug-producing areas.
The most conflict-ridden countries in Latin America and Asia need support from the international community. Good governance is also a critical part of alternative development; if corruption is not controlled, drug-related crime cannot be controlled. It is obvious where we as Civil Society can be part of the solution.
And to conclude with some of the Human Rights issues. Sanctions for drug-related offences must be proportional to the crime committed. The international drug conventions do not demand incarceration for drug users. Rather, they encourage prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation as alternatives.

These approaches focus on treating the substance abuse disorder underlying criminal activity. Additionally, militarization of law enforcement, capital punishment and other inhumane and disproportionate methods should be abolished, as they are not in accordance with the spirit of UN conventions.