NGOs on the Road to UNGASS

NGOs across Europe take to the European Parliament to debate current UN Global Drug Policy Review

PRESS RELEASE – On Wednesday 23rd September 2015, over 100 Members of the European Parliament, researchers, NGO representatives and government observers met at the European Parliament in Brussels to discuss the United Nation’s forthcoming Global Drug Policy Review (UNGASS), which will take place in April 2016 in New York.

The event this week which included speakers from the United Nations, the European Commission and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) was co-organised by European drug policy network EURAD, NGO Dianova International, which is a global network of grass-roots NGOs implementing projects for vulnerable populations and Polish MEP Michal Boni of the European People’s Party, to bring what is currently a very polarised global drug debate into the public domain.

Opening the event, Polish MEP Michal Boni stated that “The drug and drug addiction problem remains a severe issue which is to be addressed and tackled not only from a public health perspective, but also from a security perspective, especially in the area of drug supply, including illicit trafficking and money laundry, the causes of a devastating corruption to societies and communities.”

Floriana Sipala, Head of the European Commission’s Anti-Drug Unit added: “UNGASS 2016 will review what went wrong and what needs to be done for the 2020 decade; it will be a kick-start for civil society to contribute more actively to policy making post 2016. It is important for the EU to speak with one voice and defend a comprehensive approach towards the United Nations and internationally.”

Throughout the event NGO representatives from across Europe appeared to come to a consensus on a number of issues, for example, urging the EU delegation to push for the removal of the death penalty at the global level and arguing that governments should take a more public health based approach to the drug problem, through addressing the causal factors of both drug use and production.

Participants to the Forum

During the event, Fay Watson (Secretary General of EURAD and Western European Representative on the Civil Society Task Force for the UNGASS 2016 process) stressed that “What we really want to see is a much stronger push on preventing drug use in the first place by addressing the underlying factors of use and production, whilst ensuring those who develop drug problems can access drug treatment and rehabilitation. We also think that it’s vitally important that the death penalty is abolished worldwide and that governments continue to work together on the international level to tackle drug issues”.

Elena Goti, rrepresentative of Dianova International explained the year-long process developed by the Dianova network member organizations to agree upon a common institutional stance on drug policies and the addiction problem, utilizing the forthcoming UNGASS as a frame of reference. In addition, Ms Goti presented the key elements of Dianova’s institutional stance

This event, which drew in representatives from over 29 countries in the EU and beyond is part of a Global Civil Society Consultation Process, into the UN’s largest drug policy review of the last 20 years. To find out more about the regional civil society consultation process and the UN drug policy review, find out more at

Photos: Photographs are attached and visual diagrams of the drug situation in your country or across Europe can be downloaded here:

More information:

Background:The UN General Assembly will hold a Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs in 2016. This Special Session will be an important milestone in achieving the goals set in the policy document of 2009 “Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem”, which defined action to be taken by Member States as well as goals to be achieved by 2019.

Timescale:The UNGASS event itself will take place at the UN General Assembly Head Quarters in New York in April 2016, however governments have been preparing for the last few years in a series of regional and international meetings.

How EU Countries will participate: EU countries are currently working towards a common EU position paper towards the UNGASS, agreed by all countries. This is expected to be completed towards the end of 2015. The EU position paper is likely to reflect the need to abolish the death penalty for drug related offences, call for a public health and human rights approach to drug issues and call for a clear roadmap for a further UN review, which will take place in 2019.

How Civil Society will participate: A Civil Society Task Force (CSTF) has been established by NGOs working in the field of drug policy. A global civil society survey was distributed widely throughout the summer of 2014 and a number of regional consultation events are taking place in Autumn 2015 to gather opinions on the future of global drug policy.

To find out more about the UNGASS:

To find out about the drug situation in your country and download visuals:

To find out more about the Civil Society Task Force for the UNGASS:

Contact Details:

Name Fay Watson
Title Secretary General of EURAD and Western European Representative, Civil Society Task Force, UNGASS 2016
Mobile +32484748842
Address EURAD, 17 Rue Archimede, Brussels, B1000, Belgium