UNGASS: Civil Society Task Force Launched

Civil Society Task Force is launched to prepare for 2016 UNGASS on drugs

In 2016, a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) will be specifically dedicated to the global drug problem. The UNGASS is the highest policy-making organ of the United Nations; it holds infrequent sessions on pertinent topics at the request of UN member states. The rapidly approaching UNGASS on drugs will meet in New York and it already has the potential to be a ground-breaking, open debate about drug policies worldwide and the international drug control system’s strategies and objectives – still, much work needs to be done in order that it fulfils such potential.

From December 3 to 5 of 2014, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) held during its reconvened session a high level meeting dedicated to organizational and budgetary issues and as a preparatory meeting to the UNGASS. As the chairmanship of the CND was due to rotate to the Asia group, the new chair was handed over to the Thai delegation. It addition, a specific board dedicated to address UNGASS-related matters was created, which chairmanship was given to Ambassador Khaled Shamaa, permanent representative of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the UN office at Vienna, former CND president.

During CND meetings, various member states have voiced the need and benefit to include the participation of civil society representatives in current debates, and more particularly to be able to learn from their best and worst practices in tackling some specific aspects of the global drug problem. Individual members from Dianova International attended these meetings as civil society representatives.

The Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs and the New York NGO Committee on Drugs have launched jointly a Civil Society Task Force (CSTF) on December 3rd to prepare for 2016 UNGASS on drug. The CSTF will be dedicated to ensuring a comprehensive, structured, meaningful and balanced participation of civil society in order to ensure the successful outcome of the UN Special Session. The establishment of CSTF was requested by UN Deputy Secretary Jan Eliasson, while Ambassador Shamaa claimed to be strongly committed to have it established as a genuine participative process. 

The CSTF will comprise 26 members, all of whom reflecting the world’s geographical diversity, the various populations affected by drug-related problems, as well as their demonstrated expertise in relevant drug policy and/or service delivery.