For IOGT International the issues of preventing and reducing the harms caused by narcotic drugs will surely play a bigger role in the years to come.
Last month, UNODC arranged the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna, which is the annual meeting to discuss and decide upon the plan of action and focus areas for the global work with narcotic drugs led by UNODC. 53 elected countries are part of the CND, which reports to the United Nation’s Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC). All together, including representatives from civil society, there were approximately 1000 people gathered in the Vienna International Center.
During the week a number of parallel meetings, so called “Side Events” and round table conversations, were held aside from the regional and bilateral meetings.
Of those 33 Side Events, there were two with direct and indirect connection to IOGT International and the work we do. One was organized by myself together with Lao Women’s Union and UNODC – which was a great honour and pleasure. The event was called:
“PROMISING PRACTICES WHEN WORKING WITH YOUNG WOMEN IN VIENTIANE CITY”
The other event involved the IOGT International President Sven-Olov Carlsson, who is also the President of the World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD), that arranged the Side Event “HOW CANNABIS CAN NEGATIVELY EFFECT YOUNG PEOPLE: A DISCUSSION OF THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE” as co-organizer.
Cannabis and to a certain degree also Coca leaves were a hot topic during the week. The Bolivian President Evo Morales attended the CND for the third time. He described the traditional cultivation and usage of Coca leaves in a long speech. And he also outlined the actions taken by Bolivia in the frame of the United Nation’s Convention on Narcotic Drugs. But this time he didn’t actually bring and display Coca leaves.
It has been decided that the UN is going to hold a special session in New York in 2016 in order to discuss the Convention on Narcotic Drugs. To prepare this meeting a high-level meeting (ministerial meeting) will be held in Vienna in March 2014.
And that means for us, that we need to be prepare well ahead of time for how we want to act in terms of narcotic drug policy. It is absolutely necessary to sustain, develop and establish where necessary contacts with responsible ministers in respective countries. We also need to build and strengthen our alliances with like-minded partners. At the same time we need to be aware of and make efforts to continue to critically analyse and monitor today’s laws and policies and how reality looks like. Research and evidence should not be used for ideological purposes but for devising the best policy responses possible to prevent, control, reduce harm caused by narcotic drugs.