Getting closer to UNGASS

The Intersessional and reconvened sessions of the CND discuss the UNGASS preparation in Vienna

An intense week of preparatory work for the United Nations Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS 2016) on Drugs has just concluded in Vienna. Starting on Monday 7 December the Scientific Committee from UNODC had initiated their work in collecting best practices from all relevant stakeholders for the UNGASS. On Tuesday 8 December the all day was dedicated to the inter-sessional meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in preparation of the UNGASS, discussing the format of the event, highlighting the timelines for the preparation of the session as well as the one for the outcome document that it is expected.

The Reconvened Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs followed up from 9 to 11 December. Member States participation was really high, as well as civil society contributions. Several side events had been organized by NGOs in cooperation with UNODC and Member states on key policy priority areas such as recovery, alternative to imprisonment for minor drug related offences, public health approaches in drug policy just to mention a few. A full list of the events is available at www.ungass2016.org


Parallel to the official session, negotiations has been going on among Member States regarding the format of the UNGASS tree day event itself and a consensus was reached on the arrangements for the 5 interactive roundtables to be held in New York from 19 to 21 April 2016. All member states of the United Nations as well as representatives from civil society organization, scientific community and relevant stakeholders are expected to participate in the multi-stakeholder roundtables.


Civil society actively contributed to the reconvened CND. The Civil Society Task Force (CSTF) on UNGASS organized an event to brief the member states on the work in progress concerning the regional consultations with grass root civil society representatives that has been on going around the world. Furthermore the CSTF informed on the results of the Global Civil Society Survey on UNGASS which has been made available in 11 languages and the final report with all contributions received, including the latest one to be incorporated from French, Russian and Spanish NGOs. Furthermore the thematic and regional coordinators from the CSTF presented the findings of their consultations with civil society grass root representative in their respective areas of work and expertise.

Furthermore the Steering Committee of the CSTF briefed on the on-going preparation for the up-coming Interactive Dialogue with Civil Society for the UNGASS to be held on February 10 in New York under the auspices of the President of the General Assembly PGA. Although several high level civil society meetings have been organized before UNGASS meeting, this is the first of the kind in the drug field. This event it is expected to be the mayor NGO global high-level event before and in preparation of the UNGASS and will gather experts from grass root NGOs, voices from the communities and experiences from around the world, including the Global South.

The format of the event will be articulated in an opening segment followed by two round tables on the mayor topic of Drugs and Public Health, and Drugs and Human Rights, complemented by a closing session. The call for speakers and the open and virtual nominations will be launched soon. Representatives from civil society working in the field of drug will be able to nominate themselves or suggest relevant panelists for consideration. The selection process and the criteria will be elaborated in close cooperation with UN DESA and according to the UN criteria for such High –Level event and made public along with the call. The short-list of the selected speaker will be compiled by the CSTF and submitted for approval to the Office of the PGA. The results of the Interactive Dialogue will be summarized in a document from the PGA and circulated to the Member States for further consideration in their preparatory work for the UNGASS.

The CSTF and its committed members stand ready to facilitate a meaningful civil society participation to the 10 of February event, to the CND in 2016 and to the UNGASS in New York to make sure all the voices and richness of civil society contribution will be reflected in the UNGASS preparation and the event itself.