Canada promotes a greater role for civil society in international drug policy



    OTTAWA, March 12 /CNW Telbec/ - A greater role for civil society in
global drug policy is the goal of a historic meeting hosted by the Vienna NGO
Committee on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna this week, says Michel Perron, Chief
Executive Officer of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. Mr. Perron is the
lead organizer on behalf of the Vienna NGO Committee of an international NGO
forum planned for next year to coincide with a review of 10 years of progress
by United Nations member states on controlling the production and use of
drugs.
    Representatives of 18 leading international NGOs are gathered in Vienna
as part of the 50th UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) to formally announce
plans for the "Beyond 2008" International NGO Forum, and a series of six
regional consultations scheduled for later this year. The Forum and the
consultations are expected to set the stage for greater involvement of civil
society and NGOs in international drug policy. The CND, the political
authority for the UN's drug control apparatus, last year formally endorsed a
Canadian resolution to that effect.
    The achievement of "significant and measurable results" in global drug
control by 2008 was a goal set at a special session of the UN General Assembly
in June 1998. Mr. Perron, Chair of the "Beyond 2008" Steering Committee, sees
the upcoming target date as a unique opportunity for NGOs to highlight the
valuable role of civil society in the drug field.
    "It is essential that civil society come together to reflect on our
experiences and to share the richness of our collective knowledge, practical
expertise and policy insight on the impact of substance abuse in the world,"
Mr. Perron said. "Civil society does not speak with one voice, but it surely
constitutes one of the most integral partners in improving the health and
well-being of individuals across the globe. There are many points of consensus
among us and it is our intention to mine those for the benefit of all."
    "Beyond 2008" will focus its deliberations on three key objectives. The
first is to highlight tangible NGO achievements in the field of drug control.
Part of this process will involve compiling data on NGOs and civil society
from a questionnaire that has now been posted online in all six official UN
languages at www.vngoc.org.
    The second objective is to review best practices related to collaborative
mechanisms among NGOs, governments and UN agencies in various fields. The
overall goal is to develop a model for ongoing collaboration that reaches
beyond the UN's constituency of central governments and enhances dialogue and
cooperation with civil society.
    The third objective is to review international drug Conventions, and to
identify key principles within those agreements and how those principles and
the language of the agreements affect the way drug policy is applied locally
around the world from day to day. Recommendations will be made through the
"Beyond 2008" forum that will serve as a guide for future deliberations on
drug policy.
    Leading up to the "Beyond 2008" Forum in spring 2008 will be a series of
six regional consultations conducted by three lead civil society organizations
in each region. The two-day consultation sessions will take place between
September 2007 and February 2008 in Latin-America and the Caribbean,
Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, South Asia, South East
Asia and the Pacific, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
    The collective input from the regional consultations and the online NGO
questionnaire will be compiled, analyzed and reviewed at the "Beyond 2008"
forum where 300 civil society representatives are expected to agree on key
recommendations it will make to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
(UNODC) and the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs. A Memorandum of Understanding
recently signed by UNODC and the Vienna NGO Committee acknowledges the key
role of NGOs in effective drug control.
    Beyond 2008 is made possible through the generous contributions of
several funders, in particular the European Commission and the Government of
the United Kingdom.

    About CCSA

    CCSA is Canada's national addictions organization and is supported by
Health Canada through Canada's Drug Strategy. CCSA has a legislated mandate to
provide national leadership and evidence-informed analysis and advice to
mobilize collaborative efforts to reduce alcohol and other drug related harms.




For further information:

For further information: Brooke Bryce, Canadian Centre on Substance
Abuse (CCSA), (613) 235-4048, ext. 243, bbryce@ccsa.ca

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Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

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