“Beyond 2008” Global NGO Forum Signals an Enhanced Role for Civil Society within the United Nations Framework for International Drug Policy

July 7, 2008, Ottawa—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 (UNGASS).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 here.

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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, please contact
Heather Wilcox, Communications Advisor
Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse
Tel.: 613-235-4048, ext. 243
Mobile: 613-291-9165
Email: hwilcox@ccsa.ca

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