This Special Session, which is the year’s most important drug-focused event, will take place in New York. But, what is it intended for? The United Nations Special Assembly can call Special Sessions (UNGASS) on particular issues when requested to by member states. In 1998, a UNGASS was held during which member states have agreed on a Policy Statement on the global control of drugs.
Ten years later, member states met in Vienna to discuss progress and to agree on a new Policy Statement and Action Plan for international cooperation towards an integrated and balanced strategy for overcoming the global drugs issue. The next session of the UN General Assembly will take place in April, 2016.
Many events have been organised and consultation processes carried out to prepare UNGASS. As an example, the Dianova network has taken part in the Informal Interactive Stakeholder Consultation ahead of the UNGASS session.
Civil Society Participation
There are many ways for NGOs to be involved in preparations for the UNGASS. They can:
- Support and work together with international organisations to strengthen their influence on the international community and on the UN, and also to learn about the process.
- Join the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC) and/or the New York NGO Committee on Drugs (NYNGOC), as these committees will likely provide the formal mechanism through which civil society can participate in the UNGASS.
- Inform public opinion on the framework of international drugs policy and the decision making process.
- Encourage their governments to pursue more progressive drugs policies during the international debates.
- Send a presentation to the UNODC, for publication on the civil society page of their official UNGASS web page.