Highlights of CND67

This session will hopefully mark a turning point, with drug policies opening up to social changes and emerging needs

Screenshot human rights here and now

The limits imposed by consensus-based drug policy making have made it difficult to develop a human rights-based agenda at the CND, however things are changing thanks to the pressure from civil society and the increased presence of human rights mechanisms in Vienna – Image: screenshot of the UN in Vienna website, all rights reserved

By Gisela Hansen – The 67th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) took place from 14 to 22 March in a hybrid format. The programme included a series of current issues, including the mid-term review of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration. The Commission was structured around a high-level segment (14-15 March) and the ordinary session (18-22 March) with five days of meetings focusing on the implementation of the international drug policy treaties.

The Chairman of the Session, Philbert Johnson from Ghana, thanked all the delegations for contributing to the largest ever meeting of the Commission, with 140 Member States represented, as well as representatives from 18 intergovernmental organizations, 141 non-governmental organizations and 9 United Nations bodies. In total, the session broke all attendance records, with more than 2,500 people in attendance.

During the regular segment of the 67th session, Member States exchanged views on the implementation of the international drug control treaties and drug policy commitments; inter-institutional cooperation and coordination efforts to address the global drug issue; recommendations of the Commission’s subsidiary bodies; and the Commission’s contributions to the review and implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Mid-term review

This stage, which was planned as early as the 2019 Ministerial Declaration, involved the organization of a session dedicated to assessing the progress made in implementing international commitments on drugs, prior to the meeting scheduled for 2029. The aim was to adopt a consensus document – presented at the start of the session – with high-level representation from national authorities and international organizations.

International drug policy commitments timeline

Timeline of the implementation of international drug policy commitments between the adoption of the 2019 ministerial declaration and the review progress to be held in 2029 – Image: screenshot UNODC/CND website, all rights reserved

Of particular note was the intervention in person of Mr. Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), followed by other progressive statements from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation and the Executive Director of UNAIDS.

A central element in the development of this document has been the analysis of progress on 11 specific challenges already identified in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration. One of the 11 challenges identified is the increase in drug-related deaths due to lack of treatment and health services.

As this is an issue of direct relevance to Dianova’s work, our organization participated in the consultations prior to the Ministerial Review through a written contribution, included in the session documentation, and, jointly, through our participation in the general online consultation organized by the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC), complemented by the European regional consultation which resulted in the Global Civil Society Report.

The high-level declaration resulting from the 2024 mid-term review is now available in six languages on the UNODC website. This final document takes stock of achievements while highlighting the challenges that remain.

Extract from the document (art. 17): We underscore the continued relevance of the challenges identified in the Ministerial Declaration of 2019, and we recognize that, despite significant efforts undertaken by the international community, and while progress has been made, considerable gaps remain in the implementation of many of our international drug policy commitments.

Formal segment – resolutions

During CND67, four resolutions were also adopted on topics such as: alternative development; rehabilitation and recovery programmes; improving access to, and availability of, controlled substances for medical purposes; and preventing and responding to overdoses.

Of the four resolutions presented, we would like to highlight the one on overdose prevention – implications and recognition of the harm reduction model. The CND adopted a historic resolution that identifies harm reduction as an effective response to the increasing number of overdoses. For this, it was necessary to break the “Vienna consensus”, something that had not happened for over 50 years. By breaking the consensus, the international community can finally take the debate on drug policies out of Vienna and integrate it – as is the case for other issues – into discussions at other United Nations levels. At Geneva, for example, with a view to promoting approaches based on human rights, harm reduction and intersectionality; or at New York, because of its close links with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 16, Peace, justice and strong institutions.

Parallel events and statement

This year, Dianova wanted to give greater visibility to the relationship between mental health problems and problematic drug use.

To this end, Dianova presented a written statement (view statement on the UNODC website) highlighting a number of crucial factors: prevention, attention to young people, diagnostic problems, investment in biopsychosocial programmes, lack of specific programmes for co-morbidities, lack of training and the need to invest in rehabilitation programmes.

  • Read Dianova’s statement to the CND67 in: EN ES FR
Dianova and associate members representatives

Each year, Dianova representatives take advantage of the CND to maintain ties with other civil society organizations, in particular the organization’s associate members – from left to right: Cristina von Sperling Afridi, Chairperson of the Karim Khan Afridi Welfare Foundation (Pakistan), Lucía Goberna and Gisela Hansen (in charge of international relations, Dianova) – photo: all rights reserved

As part of this session of the CND, Dianova took part in the following events:

“Mental health and people who use drugs”

This event was organized by Dianova in collaboration with Euro-TC on behalf of the European Union Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) with sponsorship from Spain and the European Union. The recent EU Council conclusions on mental health, promoted by the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council, were presented, as well as the report prepared by the CSFD on this issue.

Three interventions were made by representatives of civil society: Gisela Hansen (Dianova International) spoke about the importance of human rights-based, holistic and biopsychosocial approaches.

Ganna Dovbakh, (Eurasian Harm Reduction Association) discussed the importance of harm reduction services and emphasized the problem of human rights violations, particularly in conflict situations.

Lastly, Tracy Ford (Sheffield Recovery Forum) shared her experiences as a user of mental health services and stressed the importance of a holistic, community-based approach to care.

The event was moderated by Thomas Legl (Euro TC and Therapiesalon im Wald) and, in his closing remarks, Danilo Balotta (EMCDDA) emphasized the need to continue working in this area and highlighted the importance of the CSFD’s positioning, as well as the lines of work that need to be advanced further.

Flyer of the session, recording of the event

“Taking the Pledge4Action to Ensure Adequate Availability of Internationally Controlled Essential Medicines”

This event was organised by the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC), with the support of Belgium and Dianova International. Anthony Esposti, Director of CAPSA, a member of Dianova International, gave an inspiring speech on the need to overcome stigmatizing rhetoric towards people who use drugs and on the urgency to change a viewpoint that criminalizes without giving support. Around 45 people attended the event.

Flyer of the event, recording of the event

“Achieving Social and Work Integration for Justice-involved Individuals with Substance Use Disorders:  Good Practices and Key Principles” FOCTALI Project CICAD

Organised by the San Patrignano Foundation, the event benefited from the support of several member states and organisations, including Dianova and the CICAD Executive Secretariat. The FOCTALI programme guide was presented, as well as best practices in the field of reintegration, including Dianova Uruguay’s Aleros programme. Around twenty people attended the event.

Flyer of the event in Spanish and in English

“Declaration of Oviedo: World Initiative for Drug Prevention 2024”.

This event was organized by the association Proyecto Hombre with the support of Spain, the Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section of the UNODC, the Pompidou Group and Dianova International among other partners. The Oviedo Declaration initiative and the side event, attended by approximately 90 people, were a great success. Dianova has supported this initiative from the outset and is a member of its associated Task Force. Representatives of the Task Force also met with UNODC Director-General Ghada Waly to present the initiative.

Oviedo declaration group photo

Photo of the group associated with the Oviedo Declaration, ten proposals for incorporating prevention in drug policies – image: all rights reserved

“Advances and challenges towards 2029. A special focus on working with vulnerabilities”

Organised by RIOD with the co-sponsorship of Spain, the CICAD Executive Secretariat, the civil association Intercambios, Dianova International and UNAD, this event focussed on such essential issues as the role of civil society in international fora, and the integrated model for addressing the global drug issue.

Flyer of the event, recording of the event

Other meetings

The CND is an opportunity to organize meetings outside the formal sessions. Dianova participated in the VNGOC annual meeting, a CSFD meeting with representatives of the EU delegation, as well as meetings with some of the Dianova network partner organizations (in particular RIO, KKAWF and CAPSA) and collaborators.

This session will undoubtedly mark a turning point. The pre-eminence of human rights, the particular emphasis placed on prevention as an essential driver for change and the inclusion of the harm reduction model in an official resolution, all suggest that new conversations are opening up and that drug policies are beginning to adapt to the pace and urgent needs of social changes.

See you soon!

Dianova and CAPSA representatives

From left to right: Gisela Hansen, Lucía Gobarna (Dianova), Anthony Esposti and Lisha Di Gioachinno (CAPSA – Canada) – Photo: all rights reserved