UNGASS: interactive informal consultation at the United Nations (New York)
On February 10 the United Nations convened in the City of New York, an informal interactive consultation with stakeholders (Member States, civil society, academic and scientific community and youth groups) ahead of the 2016 UNGASS on drugs. This is the most relevant inquiry, of the highest level to take place before the historic Special Session on drugs of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS) in April 2016.
Dianova was selected from hundreds of candidates to represent the voice of grass roots organizations on the Drugs and Health panel. Maria de los Angeles Lobos, Director of the Vina del Mar treatment centre for women (Dianova Chile) represented the Dianova network at this significant event.
The event featured an opening panel at the highest level at the United Nations, among those attending were:
- Mr Mogens Lykketoft, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations
- Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations
- Mr. Khaled Shamaa, Chairman, Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
The Secretary General of the United Nations stressed the great opportunity at UNGASS for the international community to take part in a wide and informed debate on drug policy in all its aspects. Furthermore, the role of civil society in this process was stressed. In his own words, “We will not be able to achieve the objectives of sustainable development without the bold and courageous assistance of civil society. This applies equally to addressing the global drug problem.”
The consultation was structured as an opening panel and two thematic round tables. The selection of the representatives of the round tables was in the charge of Civil Society Task Force, who sought a balance between geographical representation, by subject and gender. The round table sessions were set in such a way that allowed the participation of attendees.
The first panel on “Drugs and Health: perspectives of experts from grass roots organizations” was made up of six representatives of civil society in Uganda, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Colombia and Chile.
Maria de los Angeles Lobos of Dianova Chile who has valuable experience in addiction treatment programs for women, introduced the psychosocial gender factors to consider for the treatment of addictions. Maria de los Angeles called for pragmatic approaches which are both comprehensive and effective. She finished by saying:
“Drug users should no longer be seen as children who have to be taken care of or beings lacking in will power who are enslaved by drugs On the contrary, they are people who can choose and, therefore, the health system should provide them with options.”
The second panel was on “Drugs, Human Rights and Community Development: creating synergies between Member States and civil society to empower communities.” The second panel featured voices from Kenya, Nepal, Lithuania, Jamaica and India.
The topics covered in the two round tables are key in the next UNGASS 2016. Hopefully, the Member States and other stakeholders have taken note of the experiences and views of the grass roots organizations to enable them to engage in discussions and negotiations which are based on the principles of human rights and concern for the health and welfare of people.
In addition to being selected to have actively participated in the consultation, Elena Goti of Dianova International attended the consultation. To participate in such a high level consultation supposes international recognition of the work in specialized treatments by the Dianova network which makes us feel very proud. Thanks to all members of the Dianova network!