Highlights of the CND66

The return to “face-to-face” meetings brings a degree of normality to an institutional work that remains affected by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict


This year’s session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs brought together more than 2,000 people, including member states representatives and officials, and many representatives of civil society organizations working in the fields of drug policies and addiction treatment and prevention – photos: Dianova and other organizations

By Lucía Goberna – The 66th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND66) brought together more than 2,000 representatives from 120 States, international organizations, academics and civil society representatives from 13 to 17 March 2023 in Vienna, Austria – a session that was also available in a hybrid format. The official meeting was accompanied by some 155 side events and 27 exhibitions.

Dianova participated for the 12th consecutive year in the CND, with the participation of Montse Rafel, Director General of Dianova International, and Lucía Goberna, Head of Institutional Relations. Gisela Hansen, Director of Dianova Spain, was also present on behalf of RIOD, as a member of the organization’s Board of Directors.

Formal Segment

During the five-day meeting, a formal segment was held to review and discuss the implementation of international drug policy treaties and agreements, as well as to discuss and approve new resolutions and other issues related to substance control in international conventions.

Due to the Russian aggression in Ukraine (an aggression that Dianova condemns in the strongest possible terms), the CND, which operates largely on the basis of consensus, has since refrained from discussing the most controversial proposals. Therefore, this year too, it has not been able to make any significant progress in terms of proposals and content. Only five resolutions with a rather technical content were dealt with, including issues related to alternative development, treatment and safe disposal of synthetic drugs, as well as information exchange systems for drug control. One of the most eagerly awaited resolutions was the one that set in motion the process of reviewing the international commitments to be achieved by 2024.


Another theme that also resonated during the opening session was the many references to the need for policies and services that take into account half of the world’s population, namely women and non-binary people. It was good to hear the consensus and urgency to work on this issue.

Record number of side events

More than 155 side events were held in conjunction with CND66, reflecting a variety of topics and debates that were more “political” than in the formal sessions.

This year, Dianova participated in the following events

What is a gender-sensitive drug policy?

Main event organized by Dianova on behalf of the Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) and co-sponsored by the European Union, Sweden and the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe. More info and event’s recording here.

The event, moderated by Dianova, was opened by the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations in Vienna, Ms. Annika Markovic.

The importance of gender mainstreaming in drug policies was presented, as well as the work of organizations providing recovery, reintegration and harm reduction services. The closing presentation was made by the European Commission, which highlighted the actions carried out to accelerate the implementation of the gender perspective.

Data-driven prevention programmes for youth, sport, family and community organizations

Organized by the Rotary Action Group on Addiction Prevention (RAG AP), with the support of Dianova, the Prevention and Treatment Unit of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) Read more.

The event highlighted the importance of evaluation and continuous improvement of prevention programmes. An example of the collaboration between the RAG AP and Dianova was presented, as well as the universal prevention project implemented by Dianova, “Together We Grow. Families as Health Agents” and evaluation of the project by the Complutense University of Madrid.

Everything begins with health. Using a Health Perspective on Substance Use to Improve Government Drug Policies

Event organized by the Canadian Centre on Addiction and Substance Use (CCSA) with the support of Dianova, the Community Addiction Peer Support Association (CAPSA), RIO and the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC). More info

The concept of health associated with substance use developed by CAPSA was presented along with concrete recommendations on its implementation. Dianova presented a number of recommendations for its implementation in treatment programmes.

The Impact of Drugs on Children and Youth: Effective Responses

Event organized by the Asociación Proyecto Hombre with the support of Spain, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Prevention and Treatment Unit, VNGOC, Dianova and the World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) More information and recording of the event here.

The event showcased effective initiatives in working with children and young people and addictions by national, international and civil society representatives. A group of young people read a manifesto.

Between human rights and drug control: opportunities and obstacles to ending the stigmatization of drug users

Event organized by RIO with the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Norway, the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe, Dianova, the Association for Humane Drug Policies and CAPSA. More info and recording of the event.

Interventions addressed key measures to end stigma, including the decriminalisation of drug use.

Opportunities and challenges of therapeutic communities serving vulnerable populations. From the Majorca Declaration to the World Social Report

Event organized by the World Federation of Therapeutic Communities (WFTC) with the support of Treatment Communities of America, the Australian Association of Therapeutic Communities, the Latin American Federation of Therapeutic Communities, the European Federation of Therapeutic Communities, Dianova and the Asociación Proyecto Hombre More information and a recording of the event (code: z5yC8i!M).

The event presented the variety and relevance of the work carried out by WFTC member organizations and other federations, as well as the main achievements of the therapeutic community movement, including its principles and action in the field of treatment, recovery and social reintegration.

In addition, Gisela Hansen, Director of Dianova Spain, participated, on behalf of the RIOD Board of Directors, in two other side events, one on the COPOLAD III cooperation program, as well as on the theme “Drugs and Criminal Justice. Situation in Latin America and Spain” (access recording).

Opportunity for further meetings and gatherings

As the CND is an international meeting point, Dianova representatives took the opportunity to participate in a series of associated meetings.

As is the tradition, informal civil society dialogues were held with high-level representatives of UNODC, the CND Secretariat, INCB, as well as other UN agencies such as WHO, OHCHR, UNAIDS and UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). Dianova’s representative asked UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly about the inter-agency technical working group between UNODC and WHO, which focuses on the prevention and treatment of problematic drug use.

In addition, the annual meeting of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC) was organized. This very active committee articulates the relationship between civil society organizations and the main UN organizations involved in drug policy. The VNGOC has over 350 member organizations. The annual meeting was an opportunity to present the work carried out during the year and a vote was held to renew half of the Board of Directors. Dianova would like to acknowledge the work and leadership of Jamie Bridge of IDPC, who has served as President of the association for the past four years and whose term of office ended at this meeting. The new committee consists of Matej Kosir, Augusto Nogueira, Beatrix Vas, Asia Ashraf and Penny Hill. Congratulations to the new members and good work!

This year, VNGOC celebrated its 40th anniversary. The Vienna City Hall hosted an official reception attended by high-level personalities from UNODC, CND and VNGOC, and most of the former VNGOC Presidents were also present! Over these 40 years, the role of civil society in drug policy organizations has been strengthened and today civil society is a key player in policy making. This would not have been possible without the leadership and initiative of VNGOC. For this, thank you very much and happy anniversary!

As a member of the Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD), Dianova also met with a delegation from the European Union to discuss the development of formal sessions and resolution negotiations, as well as other issues relevant to civil society organizations.

Dianova representatives were also able to attend a meeting organized by the Spanish Embassy in Vienna. It was a pleasure to share time and conversations with everyone!

Finally, the CND was an opportunity to meet again with representatives of Dianova’s associate member organizations, such as CAPSA, RIO or KKAWF.

The return to face-to-face meetings gave CND66 a normal face and a space to meet, discuss current issues and plan work for the coming years. The drug phenomenon is constantly evolving, which is why it is imperative to have spaces like this to analyze global trends in detail, raise the alarm on situations of concern and, where possible, develop a common response.

Hope to see you there next year!