"Beyond 2008" global NGO forum signals an enhanced role for civil society within the United Nations framework for international drug policy

    OTTAWA, July 7 /CNW Telbec/ - The results of a year-long worldwide
consultative process aimed at strengthening the voice of civil society in
global drug policy will be unveiled this week at the "Beyond 2008"
International NGO Forum in Vienna. Hosted by the Vienna Non-Governmental
Committee (VNGOC) on Narcotic Drugs, in partnership with the United Nations
Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the three-day meeting of 300
non-governmental organizations from around the world coincides with a review
of 10 years of progress on controlling the production and use of drugs since
the 1998 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on illicit drugs
    The "Beyond 2008" steering committee is chaired by Michel Perron, Chief
Executive Officer (CEO) of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, who
describes the gathering in Vienna as an unprecedented global effort to bring
the experience, collective knowledge, practical experience and policy insight
of NGOs to bear on the global drug problem. "Civil society constitutes an
integral partner in improving the health and well-being of individuals across
the globe," said Mr. Perron. "While it is true that NGOs do not always speak
with one voice, 'Beyond 2008' has highlighted the many points of consensus
that we all endorse as being essential to effective global drug policy and
improving the health and safety of the citizens of the world."
    Through online questionnaires and 13 face-to-face meetings in all nine
regions of the world during 2007 and 2008, the VNGOC was able to tap into the
experience and knowledge of more than 1,000 NGO representatives working in the
drug field in over 145 countries. In all, some nine million people from around
the world were represented in the consultative process.
    NGO representatives to "Beyond 2008" will come together to review,
finalize and adopt three resolutions based on the following objectives:

        1. To highlight tangible NGO achievements in the field of drug
           control, with particular emphasis on contributions to the 1998
           UNGASS Action Plan.
        2. To review best practices related to collaborative mechanisms among
           NGOs, governments and UN agencies and propose new and improved
           ways of working with the UNODC and the Commission on Narcotic
           Drugs (CND).
        3. To adopt a series of high-order principles, drawn from the
           International Drug Conventions and their commentaries, for
           consideration by the UNODC and CND as a guide for future
           deliberations on drug policy matters.

    The representatives will also adopt a "Beyond 2008" declaration that
underscores the opportunity for engagement that NGOs bring to the table.
    Canada, and CCSA specifically, was a logical choice to lead the "Beyond
2008" consultative process. As Canada's national addictions agency, CCSA
worked with Health Canada as the head of a broad consultative process that led
to the 2005 establishment, by consensus, of the National Framework for Action
to Reduce the Harms Associated with Alcohol and Other Drugs and Substances in
Canada. National Framework partners include more than 100 stakeholders from
across Canada representing all orders of government, non-governmental
organizations, Aboriginal service organizations, enforcement agencies and
private industry. Many of the Framework's 13 priorities were targeted for
immediate action by Framework partners, including a focus on children and
youth, reducing alcohol-related harm, improving addictions treatment in
Canada, and sustaining Canada's addictions workforce.
    "Beyond 2008" is made possible through the financial contributions of the
European Commission, the government of Canada, other governments and
non-governmental organizations listed at www.vngoc.org.
    For background information on "Beyond 2008", please click <a href="http://vngoc.org/details.php?id_cat=8&id_cnt=27">here</a>.

    About CCSA

    With a legislated mandate to reduce alcohol- and other drug-related
harms, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse provides leadership on national
priorities, fosters knowledge translation within the field, and creates
sustainable partnerships that maximize collective efforts. CCSA receives
funding support from Health Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Heather Wilcox, Communications Advisor,
Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, (613) 235-4048, ext. 243, Mobile: (613)
291-9165, hwilcox@ccsa.ca

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Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

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