News from WFAD

The biggest meeting to discuss the world drug problem in nearly 20 years will start next week, the United Nations General Assembly Special Session, UNGASS.  

The agenda for the meetings, as well as the proposed outcome document and the list of side events can be found here. The discussion will be broadcasted so it is possible to follow it live here.

The Civil Society Task Force, CSTF, will host a Civil Society Forum the day before the UGNASS begins, April 18 from 10am to 1 am. The aim of the Forum is to present the findings of the CSTF global consultations with civil society, to provide valuable input on priorities and recommendations from grass-root organizations. More information and the full agenda for the Forum can be found here.

At the UNGASS WFAD is co-hosting two side events; 
  • The Social and Economic Advantages of investing in Recovery. Organized by San Patrignano, WFAD, Eurad, Recovered Users Network and ECAD, April 20 at 2.30 in Conference room B
  • Alternative Legal Regimes for Cannabis: what are the Public Health and Society Impacts. Organized by Community Alliance for Drug Free Youth, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, WFAD and ECAD, April 21, 5.30 in Conference room B.

One of the most important issues that we have identified to be addressed at the UNGASS meeting is the need to put words into action, and we are not alone on this. The statement below that we will shared at UNGASS is supported by an alliance of networks covering more than 300 NGOs from all over the world.

Action. Now. That will make a difference. A position paper in support of a balanced and effective drug policy towards 2019

59th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

Joint NGO Statement by:
Active - Sobriety, Friendship and Peace, World Federation Against Drugs, IOGT International, Ungdomens Nykterhetsförbund (UNF), San Patrignano, Proslavi Oporavak - Celebrate Recovery, Stijena, EURAD, Swedish National Association for a Drug-Free Society, Preporod, Restart, Turkish Green Crescent, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, Uganda Youth Development Link , Forut, ECAD Soberlife Mentorship Society, People Against Drug Dependence and Ignorance

Together, we are representing more than 300 NGOs working on grass-roots, national, regional and global level in various activities, projects and advocacy initiatives connected to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. 

We would like to use this opportunity to deliver feedback and recommendations for the final outcome document and specifically address youth and prevention.

We welcome that the Member States put focus on prevention and reaffirm the dedication to prevent the abuse of drugs. We strongly support the vision of a society free of drug abuse as the desired outcome for drug policies and interventions. We need to have high ambitions, as with the recently adopted Agenda 2030, uniting member states with a vision of a better world and aim at ending poverty in all its forms, everywhere. Similar ambitions can be found in areas such as traffic deaths, HIV/AIDS, and over the past years also around tobacco.

The Conventions should be the cornerstones of the international drug control system, in full conformity with human rights. We want to stress that neither the legalization of cannabis nor the militarization of law enforcement as well as policies that disregard human rights and disproportional use of punishment, or other inhumane approaches in treatment are in line with the Conventions. All these matters should be addressed by UNGASS.

In this regard, one of our concerns in the current debate are the developments with regards to the legalization of cannabis. This is done in opposition to the conventions and we see this as threatening the international cooperation.

We call on Member States to make sure that the use of cannabis for medical use is done according to national regulatory framework on approval of new medicines, based on scientific review. We also request Member States to reiterate their commitment to the conventions, also in connection with the debate about the legal status of cannabis.

We would also like to remind the state parties about the consequences that this current trend of legalizing drugs will have on less developed countries. Rich countries are failing to find resources to address their drug problem and care for their children and their poor - we cannot expect that less developed countries will find the resources. The world’s poorest communities are the most vulnerable to the harms of drug use and trade, they will not be able to regulate the marketing or collect taxes from drug sales, simply because there are no taxes to collect.

We want to emphasize prevention, early intervention, treatment, and recovery as the way forward. To deny the addictive potential of cannabis or negative mental health effects is to deny the overwhelming scientific evidence available today. Our experience tells us that we should not welcome with open arms a new industry – like Big Tobacco – which will focus on commercializing and increasing the use of a drug far more potent today than it has ever been.

We need to prevent drug use, not promote it.

We would also like to share some of the best practices, challenges and recommendations identified by some of our members, in their capacity as members of the Civil Society Task Force, in the spheres of prevention and youth. We hope they can serve as an input for the Member States' important deliberations towards the UNGASS preparations.

With regards to the youth consultation in the CSTF, coordinated by Active, we would like to emphasize that young people call for policies with public health and youth and children’s rights at its core.

The online youth survey reached 71 organizations and 269 individuals from all over the world. As one of the outcomes, youth organizations’ preferred policy approach in these consultations was supporting civil society in creating free, safe and inclusive environments for young people, facilitating mobility, well-being and non-formal learning.

In the experience of the grass-root organization Ungdomens Nykterhetsförbund from Sweden,prevention work through offering quality leisure time activities that are free of charge and conducted in safe and drug-free environments,  have proven to result in fewer young people trying drugs, using drugs and getting addicted. These activities help children and young people in developing life skills, gaining motivation and empower them to active participation in society. Such protective social factors, as well as the social and economic empowerment, have proven to prevent initiation of drug use among children and young people.
 
With regards to the consultation on prevention, after a challenging and extensive process of obtaining the views of different actors from the civil society, the final outcome showed that prevention is identified as one of the most important aspects to prioritize in order to solve the world drug problem. There is a strong opinion that prevention needs to be discussed more. More importantly, we also need to move beyond words and implement the best practices we are praising at the local level. The use of illicit drugs is a health problem that can and should be prevented, for many reasons; one being that it is cost effective.

The most common best practices, that would allow for easier implementation of prevention policies are:

ĂĽ  Knowing the local conditions: “doing good” is simply not enough, we need to know the local preconditions and do activities that are relevant and based on evidence or best practices.

ĂĽ  Importance of family and community: We need to work with both the community and the family in prevention work. Many organizations are working with strengthening the capacity of parents, both in the west and in the global south.

ĂĽ  Involving youth: The need to involve youth both in the planning and implementation of the prevention activities is stressed. They are the experts in the area and have important information and input on how we can better reach them and adapt our message, both where they want to be reached and how the message could be formulated.

ĂĽ  Cooperation:  There was a stressed need for, and the possibility of, increased cooperation and coordination between actors and sectors. This would enable better use of existing resources and could be part of the solution of the scarce resources that are seen as a challenge. 

Some of the main challenges in the implementation of prevention policies :

ĂĽ  Lack of data: Best practices should include knowing the local conditions when planning a prevention activity. However, in many areas of the world data is lacking, which is a challenge for organizations planning prevention activities. There is a need for quantitative and qualitative data on the use of drugs and the dynamics behind initiation of drug use. This is especially stressed from responses from the global south.

ĂĽ  Negative influence of media and culture: The influence of media and culture with a more positive attitude towards drugs is mentioned as a way of normalizing drugs and a challenge.

ĂĽ  Prevention activities towards marginalized groups: One issue of concern is the special needs of children growing up in marginalized areas, such as the slum areas or other areas affected by poverty and social exclusion. The need to connect the World Drug Problem to poverty is being raised. There is also a sense of neglect in this area of the world. Organizations are asking for answers on how we can better support children growing up in slums, with high rate of addiction among the adults, to break the vicious circle and its future consequences.

ĂĽ  Availability of treatment: Another important challenge is to close the gap between the need and the availability of treatment, especially in poor areas.

ĂĽ  Selected interventions: It was highlighted that we need to develop our capability to identify risks and our answers to intervene early to interrupt drug use. Civil Society has different ways of reaching young people of risk, some use the Criminal Justice System and others see it as a hinder. 

We will conclude with the most important point, raised from people working at the grass-root level. The Global Drug Policy needs to be implemented, a policy will not make any difference without a plan for implementation and resources. The importance is not the outcome paper as such, but what happens afterwards. The question is if this will be an academic and diplomatic exercise, or lead to real improvements for people.

We therefore urge you to take the necessary steps,  in Vienna and in your home country, and to write the outcome document specific enough so that we from the civil society can demand and push you to take action. I ensure you that we are willing and ready to do so.

We look forward to working with civil society partners and governments in improving the realities in drug policies on all levels. 

 

 

Opening statement, Sven-Olov Carlsson, International President, WFAD

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
 
Welcome to the 5th World Forum Against Drugs – this time to be held in Vienna.
 
Alcohol is the world’s third leading cause of ill health and premature death, with an impact greater than tobacco. Alcohol is well accepted as a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs); there is a strong link between alcohol and several non-communicable diseases, particularly cancer, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, pancreatitis and diabetes. Alcohol is also associated with several infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and pneumonia.
 
Resolutions from the UN General Assembly as well as WHO World Health Assembly support the notion of the importance of the general level of alcohol consumption for the health problems caused by alcohol. That there is a relationship between adult per capita consumption and excessive or heavy consumption of alcohol is well established by several, independent scientific evaluations.
 
In a review of the evidence for the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of policies to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, published in The Lancet 2009, the authors (Anderson et al) state, “Ecologically there is a very close link between a country’s total alcohol per head consumption and its prevalence of alcohol-related harm and alcohol dependence, implying that when alcohol consumption increases, so does alcohol-related harm and the proportion of people with alcohol dependence and vice versa.

In Alcohol: No Ordinary Commodity (second edition 2010), the authors, Babor et. al, state that “there is a strong relationship between the total consumption of alcohol in a population and the prevalence of people who are heavy drinkers. However, when total consumption increases, it is not only the consumption of heavy drinkers that increase, the consumption tends to increase in all consumer groups.” Further, drawing on decades of research, the authors state:
 
The research establishes beyond doubt that public health measures of proven effectiveness are available to serve the public good by reducing the widespread costs and pain related to alcohol use.
 
To that end, it is appropriate to deploy responses that influence both the total amount of alcohol consumed by a population and the high-risk contexts and drinking behaviors that are so often associated with alcohol-related problems. To conceive of these intrinsically complementary approaches as contradictory alternatives would be a mistake.

It is clear, in my view, that in order for an alcohol policy to be effective, it must aim for reductions in per capita alcohol consumption. I believe that the same is true for an effective drug policy; it too must aim to reduce drug use.
 
Reducing consumption of alcohol is seen by the most enlightened leaders of the field of substance abuse to be smart and in the public interest whereas in drug policy, many of these same leaders view the goal of reducing illegal drug use to be unwise, reactionary, and moralistic.
 
The World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) is not ambivalent on the goal of reducing drug use as the first priority of drug policy.
 
WFAD focuses on reducing both use of drugs and use of alcohol.
 
Unlike WFAD, many substance abuse policy experts do not view reducing nonmedical and illegal drug use as a primary goal of drug policy. That viewpoint is a huge problem.
 
Why does this double standard exist on the primary goal of drug policy compared to alcohol policy?
 
In both alcohol policy and drug policy, many experts view coercion to stop use as troubling. I am less troubled by using reasonable coercion in the interest of public health.
 
For example, we ask why substance abuse programs should not insist that alcoholics stop drinking and drug addicts stop drug use, in both treatment and in the criminal justice system?
 
Why shouldn’t this no-use standard be enforced for children for whom the use of both alcohol and drugs is illegal? Why not have parents and schools insist that children be drug-free?

reject the view that the crucial drug policy choice in the world today is between effective policies to reduce drug use and effective policies that reduce drug-related “harm.”
 
I support both goals. I see them working together and not in conflict.
 
However, our support of many of the harm reduction ideas in drug policy is tempered by the fact that many of these policies encourage drug use, such as tolerating continued drug use while patients are in drug abuse treatment.
 
Under the label of “harm reduction,” some countries in Europe now permit “drug consumption rooms” where the use of illicit drugs by addicts is sanctioned.
 
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) have estimated that 60 drug consumption rooms exist in 36 cities across Europe, though that number has increased since. Drug consumption rooms are not exclusive to specific drugs.

A report promoting drug consumption rooms in Germany explained that the 12 drug consumption rooms in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia included 97 spaces for individuals to use drugs with 31 dedicated to inhalation consumption.
 
I ask, “Would anyone refer family members or friends to a drug consumption room whether for injection or inhalation of drugs?”
 
To me, the answer is clearly “No.”
 
The goal in helping a loved one with a substance use problem is not to reduce their use. It is to stop drug use.
 
This is a goal for which some harm reduction strategies do not strive.
 
Recently, a similar harm reduction strategy has been applied to alcoholics, providing them with “wet houses” so they can drink all they want without going out into the community where they could cause or experience “harm.”
 
I reject harm reduction policies and programs that encourage continued use of alcohol and other drugs for people with substance use disorders.
 
A false choice being widely trumpeted today in drug policy is between treatment and jail.
 
In my view, there is no conflict in drug policy between supporting substance abuse treatment and supporting the role of the criminal justice system in both supply reduction and demand reduction.
 
Rather, I encourage better linkage between health and criminal justice.
 
I encourage making full use of the potentials of both treatment and the criminal justice system to achieve ambitious public health goals together that neither can achieve alone.
 
These shared goals for offender populations include reducing alcohol and drug use, reducing criminal recidivism, and reducing incarceration.
 
There is a new paradigm of programs that deliver on these goals. This new paradigm is based on the zero tolerance standard that is enforced by random monitoring for any use of alcohol or other drugs linked to swift, certain, but not draconian, consequences.
 
This new paradigm that does not tolerate continued substance use has shown dramatic benefits to both public health and public safety.
 
So, to summarize World Federation Against Drugs supports the following principles to serve as a platform for the drug policy debate:
  • Drug policies should prevent initiation of drug use.
  • Drug policies must respect human rights (for users and non-users alike) as well as the principle of proportionality.
  • Drug policies should strike a balance of efforts to reduce the use of drugs and the supply of drugs.
  • Drug policies should protect children from drug use.
  • Drug policies should ensure access to medical help, treatment and recovery services.
  • Drug policies should ensure access to controlled drugs for legitimate scientific and medical purposes.
  • Drug policies should ensure that medical and judicial responses are coordinated with the goal of reducing drug use and drug-related consequences.
The best strategy for the future of drug policy is to find improved, cost-effective policies that are compatible with modern values that reduce drug use and also reduce the harms produced by this use – policies that link treatment to the criminal justice system and policies that discourage both alcohol and drug use.
 
I think the balanced approach in alcohol policy supported by many public health experts is a good model for the drug field – both reducing per capita consumption and promoting “harm reduction” when the “harm reduction” does not conflict with the goal of reducing consumption.
 
I encourage everyone interested in substance use policy to evaluate their approaches to both alcohol policy and drug policy and ensure that their goals support the public health, beginning with an overarching goal of reducing use both in individuals and in the society as a whole.
 
There are at least three false premises for legalization;

The first false premise is that The Criminalization of Drugs Does Fuel the HIV/AIDS Epidemic. It does not.
 
The prohibition of illegal drug use does not encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS. Rather it reduces illegal drug use among HIV/AIDS patients, as well as the non-infected population thereby reducing the population vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection by contaminated needles.
 
Illegal drug use exacerbates weaknesses of the immune system, making individuals with AIDS more susceptible to infection and death. Marijuana use causes impaired immunity and opens the door for the virus that causes Kaposi’s Sarcoma, life-threatening for individuals with HIV/AIDS. Marijuana also contains bacteria and fungi that put users at risk for infection.
 
Illegal drug use among AIDS patients is life threatening because these drugs lessen the effectiveness of anti-retroviral (ARV) medications.
 
Nonmedical drug use is associated with increased risky sexual behaviors, which promote transmission of HIV/AIDS in a way that needle exchange cannot prevent.
 
The second false premise is that the Criminal Justice System and the Public Health System are Conflicting Approaches to Drug Policy. They are not.
 
The Criminal Justice System and the Public Health System Are Complementary and Not Conflicting Approaches to Drug Policy.
 
Prevention and treatment are programs that promote public safety and public health. “Harm reduction” tolerates, and thus perpetuates, nonmedical drug use.
 
“Harm reduction” seeks to reduce the “harm” caused by nonmedical drug use without stopping the use itself.
 
Defining the roles of the criminal justice system in reducing illegal drug use as unreasonable or inhumane and defining illegal drug use as a “human right” are as sensible as defining drunk driving as a protected human right and its enforcement as an inhumane waste of resources.
 
Substance abuse prevention and treatment work to stop nonmedical drug use. Making nonmedical drug use as a crime is an important public health strategy that reduces many of the “harms” produced by illegal drug use.
 
To promote public health and public safety and to support a balanced restrictive drug policy that uses the criminal justice system, and the illegal status of nonmedical drug use, to reinforce both prevention and treatment. The current globally-endorsed balanced drug abuse prevention policy can be improved.
 
The challenge of future drug policy is to find ways to encourage the legal and justice systems to work better together with prevention and treatment to achieve goals that neither can do alone.
 
Treatment systems can work together with the criminal justice system by incorporating new, effective and evidence-based strategies to reduce illegal drug use among criminal offenders. These approaches also reduce the commission of new crimes and associated incarceration.
 
The third false premise is that Major Costs of illegal Drug Use are generated by the criminal justice system itself. It is not.
 
The greatest costs of illegal drug use are not generated by criminal justice system but by the nonmedical drug use itself.
 
The costs include not only sickness and death but also reduced productivity and the high healthcare costs generated by illegal drug use.
 
The future of an improved drug policy is not to legalize intoxicating, abusable drugs, including marijuana.
 
It is in the development of a balanced, restrictive drug policy that prevents drug use, and that intervenes with drug users to provide them with a path to life-long recovery.
 
Instead of legalizing drugs, an enlightened drug policy can harness the criminal justice system to thwart drug markets, facilitate entry into treatment and restrict incarceration to egregious offenders.
 
The criminal law against illegal drug use is a major public health strategy to reduce drug abuse and the many health, safety and productivity losses imposed by drug abuse.
 
These are the elements of a successful drug policy. This drug policy makes clear that drug use is unacceptable.
 
With this I declare the 5th World Forum Against Drugs for opened.
 
Thank you for your attention!
The Special Session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016) will be convened from 19 – 21 April 2016 at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The UNGASS will feature a general debate plenary and five interactive, multi-stakeholder round tables conducted in parallel with the plenary.
 
A selection process is now open to identify speakers from civil society, the scientific community, academia, youth groups and other relevant stakeholders that may participate in the special session. Eleven (11) speakers will be selected: six (6) for the plenary and five (5) - one for each of the interactive round tables.

The following criteria will be used when selecting speakers:
• Must represent an organization actively working in the drug field and be authorized to speak on behalf of that organization;
• Gender balance;
• Geographical balance and in the case of equal qualification, representatives from the Global South will be prioritised;
• Thematic balance in terms of approaches to drug policies;
• The call is open to representatives of ECOSOC and non-ECOSOC accredited NGOs.

In addition, selected representatives must:
• be able to speak compellingly within the context of an intergovernmental plenary or the respective round table;
• be available to be in New York on 19 April;
• have a visa for travel to New York, if applicable, or be able to obtain one within 4 weeks for travel to New York. The selected speakers will be responsible for obtaining the visa for travel and for any costs associated with obtaining the visa.
The final selection of speakers will be made by the Office of the President of the General Assembly in collaboration with the Civil Society Task Force (CSTF) for UNGASS 2016.

Please note that travel funding is available for speakers chosen through this process.
 
To apply to speak at UNGASS 2016, please complete the form available here. The deadline to apply is 7 March 2016, Midnight, EST.
 
We encourage you to share this call for speakers widely in your networks!
 
For more information about the special session, side events and participants registration, please visit the website: http://www.ungass2016.org. To learn more about the CSTF, please see: www.cstfondrugs.org 
 
Contact the CSTF at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   with cc to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   should there be any questions!
The Informal Interactive Stakeholder Consultation for hte United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem was held on February 10 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Consultation was an opportunity for all relevant stakeholders to contribute to the ongoing process and to share their expertise and experience as an input for consideration for Member States in the negotiations of the outcome document.

Mr George Oching Odalo from Slum Child Foundation shared the following statement at round table two on Drugs Human Rights, Community and Development.

Dear Chairman and Consultation Participants:

I am George Ochieng Odalo from Slum Child Foundation in Kenya. It is my first time in New
York City and in the United Nations building here. Thank you for allowing me to speak.
Our NGO has many years of experience assessing and assisting some of the world’s poorest
children. We want everyone to hear our thoughts about drug policy, drug interventions and
human rights.

I, too, have been a street boy from the slums of Korogocho, Kenya — so I know well the
children and families on whose behalf I speak. These are people who have no voice — and
profoundly inadequate consideration in world affairs. They are often hopeless. They lack
food — so education, healthcare and jobs are even second thoughts.
Which brings me immediately to the issue of drugs. We know this to be true: drug use
during childhood and adolescence is especially dangerous. Let there be no debate that
youth are especially vulnerable to developing addiction and that substance abuse during
adolescence is strongly associated with many poor outcomes.
Let there also be no debate that adults who profit from drug sales are profiting from
youth. We all know it. Look no further than the American state of Colorado for evidence of
the marketing and advertising aimed at children. Once unleashed, this marketing and
advertising will never be regulated, and we all know it. We have ignored and excused
devious tactics employed by the alcohol and tobacco industries too long. Our world — and
especially my small corner of it — cannot afford more of this glorification of mind-altering
substances.

Unfortunately, it needs to be said — and repeated at every U.N. meeting: the world’s
poorest communities are the most vulnerable to the harms of drug use and trade.
Legalizing drugs in the United States and other wealthy countries does not help poor
countries like mine. It harms us. Cities like Nairobi simply do not have the resources to
provide the services needed to address the problems we have already. We certainly will
not be able to combat the even heavier burdens that would come from more drug
legalization and the relentless marketing and media aimed at us by far wealthier
countries. I know this because I already can see how the world’s richest countries fail to
find the resources to address their drug problems and care for their children and their
poor. They like to talk about the taxes they make from drug sales without acknowledging
these naked truths — and without considering populations so poor there are no taxes to
collect.

Substance abuse and addiction must be combatted by countries working together. I do not
see this happening with current drug policy. Unfortunately, I see people who want to use
and profit from recreational drugs without regard for how that will harm countries like
mine. I see people demanding legal reforms without also acknowledging that drug
legalization is not required to achieve them. I see people pushing for drug policies that are
not rooted in responsible science reported by the world’s most respected scientists and
medical associations.

The money pushing for more drug use and more drug legalization is flowing — just as it
always does when people want to buy their power, fame, politics and even more fortune.
It is up to this world body to put a stop to this corruption and this influence. We must
remain vigilant and rise above industry tactics. We must remain determined to reach for
the aspirational goal of promoting and building a world in which children have the right to
grow up in drug-free environments. At the very least, we must reject policies that teach
them recreational drug use is normal, acceptable — and even desirable.
We must certainly not become enablers in the same way people are worn down and
manipulated by those with substance addiction. We must set firm limits. We must guard
against statements crafted after meetings, such as the session on drugs and human rights
the Human Rights Council in Geneva held in September. A report issued from that meeting
lists nine items and starts with the “right to harm reduction” — which is defined as "illicit
drug use shall not be discouraged.” Let me repeat that: “illicit drug use shall not be
discouraged.”

What signals do statements such as this send? And are they in line with Commentary 14
from the Monitoring Body for the 1966 Covenant on Economic, Social, and Political Rights,
which makes clear that states shall prevent and discourage illicit drug use? And can we
honestly say that the Convention on the Rights of the Child — which makes clear that
children’s rights shall be a primary consideration for all policy making — is respected in
that report when children rank scant mention and last on a list of considerations?
I think not. We are letting rich countries — and the corrupt leaders of poor ones —
dominate these drug-policy debates for the least noble reasons. We know that adults
struggling with substance addiction overwhelmingly started their drug use when they were children. We know drug use weakens even the richest societies. So, again, thank you for
allowing me to be on record here for the world’s poorest, most vulnerable children. Count
me among those who are standing against the selfish desires and financial agendas that
are often cloaked by words and phrases like “justice,” “medicine” and “harm reduction.”
The Informal Interactive Stakeholder Consultation for hte United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem was held on February 10 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Consultation was an opportunity for all relevant stakeholders to contribute to the ongoing process and to share their expertise and experience as an input for consideration for Member States in the negotiations of the outcome document.

Ms Asia Ashraf, Director at the Psychology Department at Sunny Trust International Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre in Pakistan did the following statement at the opening segment:

Honorable Chair, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
 
May I speak this morning on a rather neglected area of drug abuse in many parts of the world including my own country Pakistan, the female drug abuse? Drug abuse in Pakistan is typically considered a male problem, although UNODC survey in 2013 found 1.5 million or 22% female drug users out of the total 6.7 million illicit drug users nationwide.
 
Female substance use is on the rise among the urban educated classes, in colleges, offices and homes with tranquilizers and painkillers more commonly used by middle class women and cannabis used by poorer women at shrines, tombs and slums. Their numbers may be under-reported with possible “hidden” population of female drug users, as noted by UNODC in 2010.
 
Female drug abuse in Pakistan remains under-studied, except for UNODC studies and briefs and some limited research. Overall drug treatment services are highly deficient, accessed by only 30,000 drug users, and do not address the needs of female drug users. Lack of female-friendly services and female drug users’ reluctance to seek professional/qualified help due to social stigma, family reputation, marital risks and cultural constraints makes them doubly suffer in silence or be exploited by quacks, dubious faith-healers, and untrained psychiatrists treating them as mental cases. There is dearth of expertise and understanding on female-specific drug abuse treatment & rehab. A female- focused response by the state and by NGOs have yet to address this critical need.
 
I personally got interested and involved in treatment of female drug users in Pakistan while actually serving a 50-bed male drug treatment & rehab facility, Sunny Trust International Addiction Treatment & Rehabilitation Centre in Islamabad.
 
In the course of my last 12 years of work at Sunny Trust, I often came across people initially making discreet enquires for treatment of a male family members, but later opening up and seeking help in confidence for a female drug users in the family. Our outdoor counseling and support was of some benefit, but not always enough, since they could not be admitted in a male facility and no female service around to refer them to.
 
It set us thinking on the need for separate female-friendly drug treatment service within our socio-cultural setting. We got more female staff and trained them to deal with both in-house male patients and outdoor male and female counseling.
 
One evening, an educated, professional lady barged into our office along with her 18 years old daughter, desperately insisting that we admit her for drug treatment. We regretted since this was a male facility. The standoff continued until she simply dumped her and left. 
She was a high school dropout, with history of sexual abuse, whose alcoholic father and drug abusing brother drove her mad. She also turned to poly-drug abuse, now in chronic condition.
 
We were forced out of compassion to quickly create a temporary, one-patient separate female ward, making her feel at home and starting her treatment involving our female staff. She passed through different stages of recovery and rehabilitation, regaining control of herself, drug-free and smoke-free, to the joy of her mother and her own satisfaction. Back home, she persuaded her father and brother to get treated, and got both admitted to our centre. Back to school, she resumed her studies, married and moved on happily in life. We all believe “One Can Change”, I believe if that “One” is woman, change is massive.
 
Later, she brought her former drug-buddy for treatment at our centre. She came from a broken home, totally lost to drugs. We happily re-created the separate female-friendly arrangement and admitted her. She soon rehabilitated, strong and healthy, completed her studies. She had to fight out the stigma of her drug-ridden past including her treatment. We continued to extent her follow-up support.
 
Both cases served as our instructive piloting of female treatment. We decided to establish a separate Sunny Trust female treatment & rehabilitation facility. We have acquired the land and physical planning is underway. I am here in the US on a year-long Hubert H. Humphrey fellowship at the Virginia Commonwealth University to gain knowledge and skills for treatment of female drug users. I am working on the plan to set up a separate female drug treatment facility in Pakistan. This will also serve as a resource and training centre for female-specific services in Pakistan and the region. But it will be just a small drop in ocean. I expect UNGASS 2016 will lead a female-focused and community-based global campaign to deal with the problems of this special group.
 
Beyond sharing this very modest personal story, let me remind this worthy gathering that saving millions of men and women already lost to drugs remains a global obligation. And preventing many more from falling prey to drugs is an even bigger global responsibility. The horrific drug situation confronting the world is a result of collective global failure. It’s so easy and effortless falling into the drug trap, so terribly devastating living under drugs and so difficult coming out of drugs. The enormity of the drug problem is already a global nightmare.
 
UNGASS 2016 must take on this challenge head on and show the way to ridding humanity of this global drug menace. We have only two options: a drug-free world or a drug-doomsday----which we cannot afford. Compromises and half-way measures cannot endure over time and are bound to eventually fall apart. I am not against any approach but, I really want to highlight the important role of prevention and stronger community coalition in this field. It’s either now or never, so we must act.  Let UNGASS define the vision, and set goal, priorities and benchmarks, for realizing a drug-free world within our lifetime."
 
Thank you.
 

 
Call for Nomination: Informal Interactive Stakeholder Consultation for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016) 10 February 2016 United Nations Headquarters, NY
 
Deadlines:            
31 December 2015:        Apply for Speaking Roles
31 December 2015:        Apply for Moderator Role
13 January 2016:  General registration of Participants 

Background 
The General Assembly, in its resolution 67/193 of 20 December 2012, has decided to convene, in early 2016, a special session to review the progress made in the implementation of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem, including an assessment of the achievements and challenges in countering the world drug problem, within the framework of the three international drug control conventions and other relevant United Nations instruments.
 
Furthermore, the General Assembly decided in resolution 69/200, that the special session shall have an inclusive preparatory process that includes extensive substantive consultations, allowing organs, entities and specialized agencies of the United Nations system, relevant international and regional organizations, civil society and other relevant stakeholders to fully contribute to the process, in accordance with relevant rules of procedure and established practice.
 
To that end, there will be an Informal Interactive Stakeholder Consultation for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS 2016) on 10 February 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Consultation is an opportunity for all relevant stakeholders to contribute further to the ongoing preparatory process for UNGASS 2016 by sharing practical expertise and experiences from their work on the ground as an input for consideration by Member States in the negotiations of the outcome document.  It presents also an opportunity for stakeholders to prepare for their contributions to the interactive multi-stakeholder round tables at UNGASS.
 
All organizations wishing to attend the one-day Consultation will need to register by applying here. Applications for general registration for the Consultation are being accepted from 17 December 2015 – 13 January 2016. 
 
The one-day Consultation features an Opening Segment, two interactive-round tables and a closing segment.
 
Stakeholders are invited to apply to speak at the Consultation, by completing the form available here.  Applications will be accepted from 17 – 31 December 2015. The following criteria will be used when selecting speakers: 
  • Must represent an organization actively working in the drug field and be authorized to speak on behalf of that organization.  Priority will be given to organizations working at the grassroots level;
  • Gender balance;
  • Geographical balance and in the case of equal qualification, representatives from the Global South will be prioritised;
  • Thematic balance in terms of approaches to drug policies to represent the broad spectrum and richness of NGO contributions;
  • The call is open to ECOSOC and non-ECOSOC accredited NGOs.
 
A Moderator will facilitate each of the two round tables that are a feature of the Consultation.  To be considered for the Moderator role, applicants should be knowledgeable about the subject matter, generally good at including as many voices as possible in the discussion and able to steer the discussion. Please use the form at this link to apply to be a Moderator.
 
A Selection Committee, comprised of members of the Steering Committee Group of the Civil Society Task Force for UNGASS on Drugs, has been established in order to ensure broad and inclusive participation of stakeholders in the Consultation. To learn more about the Civil Society Task Force, please visit www.cstfondrugs.org.
 
Moderators, speakers and other participants are strongly encouraged to take into consideration the following guiding questions for the discussion: 
  1. What are the main challenges that exist for implementing a health approach to drugs? 
  2. Given the recent call for a health approach in drug policy, how should a health focus address the need of the society as a whole, including the marginalized groups and communities, taking into account age and gender perspectives? 
  3. Acknowledging the links in illicit drug trade, crime, and development policy, what synergies could be created between relevant stakeholders and Member States addressing alternative development, including within the framework of the SDG’s? 
  4. How can Member States and other relevant stakeholders respond effectively to current and emerging threats to health, including hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, untreated pain, and new psychoactive substances (NPS)?
  5. How should relevant stakeholders best support Member States to envision and implement inclusive, people-centred and evidence based drug policies and equal access to justice?
We encourage you to participate in the call for nominations, as well as to share it widely in your networks!
 
For further information on the above, please contact the Civil Society Task Force on Drugs at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
WFAD invites, together with Drug Policy Futures, Recovered Users Union and UNODC, to a side event that will highlight the importance of recovery.

The side event will take place on December 9 at Vienna International Center, in connection with the reconvened CND at 13.00.

Recovery is a way to enable for individuals who have developed drug related problems to function effectively in society and to empower them to take control of their own lives. Community based recovery fellowship provide important opportunities for mutual help. Treatment systems must provide a wide range of effective services to assist people who use drugs in their efforts to recover. These services must be based on the same rigorous evidence and the same principle of non-discrimination that are expected in other sectors of the health system.

The aim of the event is to discuss recovery both in theory and in practice. Boro Goic, representative of recovered users in the Civil Society Task Force, will share the preliminary results from his consultation with recovery organizations around the world. We will also discuss the scientific basis for recovery and how UNODC works to promote recovery from drug addiction.

Speakers
Boro Goic Chairman, Recovered Users Network, representing recovered users in the Civil Society Task Force
David Best Professor of Criminology Development and Society, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Gilberto Gerra Chief, Drug Prevention and Health Branch, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 

Moderator
Linda Nilsson Secretary General, World Federation Against Drugs

Organized by:
World Federation Against Drugs
Recovered Users Network
Drug Policy Futures
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

5th World Forum Against Drugs

 

The 5th World Forum Against Drugs is planned to take plcae in Vienna, Austria on March 12-13, 2016! 

2016 is a special year in international drug policy. The UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem will be hosted on April 19-21. This is the biggest meeting on the world drug problem in almost 20 years. Member states and the civil society begun the preparation for the UNGASS meeting already in 2012.

WFAD plans to host the 5th World Forum Against Drugs before the start of the 59th CND meeting and we will invite all our members to the Forum, so please save the date for this important meeting!

The aim of the Forum will be two folded; to share the knowledge and experience of member organization together with new knowledge and experience in from researchers; and to gather the best practices to also be put forward to the member states at the CND meeting. The CND meeting will be one of the last opportunitites to influence member states before the UNGASS meeting.
 
More information will come about practical details around the Forum and also more detailed program.
 
If you have any questions or input for the Forum please contact Linda Nilsson

 MG 5122
The following resolution was adopted at the closing ceremony of the 17th Congress of Addiction, hosted by Centros de IntegraciĂłn de Juvenil and World Federation Against Drugs.  


1. Nowadays, the participation of the organized civil society is strategic to frame broad impact public policies that favor global wellbeing.

2. Our children and youth have the right to grow up in a drug-free environment, where they can achieve their full potential.

3. We defend the Article 33 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child to protect childhood from drug-abuse:

"States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances."


4. Drug-abuse is a global problem that harms millions and unbalance families, the foundation of sound communities and nations. Civil society has the right to rely on itself and its government work for a drug-free environment

5. The essence of drug policies should be health safeguarding and to contribute to the development of safe community environments, impervious to illegal drug supply.

6. Social development, democratic improvement, and equality should be the basis of far-reaching policies in terms of its effects and permanency.

On road to UNGASS 2016, we declare our commitment to:

Discuss the current drug-audit global system while affirming the key objectives of international conventions.

Drive scientific debates in relation to drugs, where the main objective is to preserve community health, and particularly that of children and youth, the most-at-risk population.

Foster in every country the respect for human rights for users and non-users alike, as well as the right to health and social insertion.

Avoid stigmatization of substance users. Instead, strengthen their way back to society.

Favor in each legislation laws made to ponder the proportionality in sentencing for drug possession.

Settle options of alternative justice to support the social reintegration of people that have committed drug crimes.

Have influence upon the governments so that they strengthen civil programs focused on prevention, treatment and social reintegration, as well as on the training of professionals that deal with its assistance and study. 3

Close the existent budget gaps between the programs oriented to fight drug supply and those directed to drug demand reduction.

Raise governments, civil society and community’s awareness of the fact that accessibility to work, education, culture, and amusement are the best basis against drug consumption and trafficking.

Inform governments, civil society, mass media, social media and community about the risks of legalizing drugs.

For all of the above reasons, it is thus essential to set up a new institutional network, where the same principles are shared, working to counter legalization of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, and whose main objective is to gain a greater impact, continental in scope, and favoring social welfare and that of childhood and youth particularly.

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