The night train from Munich to Brussels was unusually exciting due to the thousands of refugees arriving at the border in Freilassing, Germany. Dr. Maria Riehl and Ms. Elisabeth Riedl, the WFWPI Delegation for the UNGASS regional preparatory event at the European Parliament on September 23, finally managed to reach their destination in time by taxi.
Mr. Michal Boni MEP (European People's Party) opened the event on the United Nation's global review of drug policies. The conference aimed to involve Members of the European Parliament and European civil society organisations in preparations for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drug Policy in 2016, recognised as a pivotal review of global drug policy.
Tatiana Jehl, UNODC, Secretariat to the Governing Bodies, gave an overview of Phase 1 that spanned from 2009- 2015. She briefly described the 58th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2015, including the interactive discussions at the UNGASS special sessions. This included demand reductions, prevention and treatment, as well as health-related issues. Other topics were supply reduction, drug-related crime, money laundering and judicial cooperation. Some cross cutting issues were "Drugs and Human Rights," and "New challenges, threats and realities in preventing and addressing the world drug problem in compliance with International law." Jehl encouraged the participants to stay in touch and be a part of the solution.
Concerned about a broad and inclusive process, Resolution 58/8 was recommended for adoption. An excerpt of the Resolution reads as follows:
"Reiterates the importance of an inclusive preparatory process...and encourages organs, specialised agencies of the UN system, relevant international and regional organisations, civil society, academia, the scientific community and other relevant stakeholders to continue to fully contribute to the process by actively participating in the preparations by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs...".
Other speakers throughout the day included: Ms Floriana Sipala (Head of the Anti-Drugs Unit, European Commission), Fay Watson (Western European Representative, Civil Society Taskforce for UNGASS 2016/Secretary General, EURAD), Elena Goti (Head of International Relations, Dianova International) and Lawrence Watson (Member of the Advisory Board, Doi Tung Development Project / Thailand).
Among those who participated were Members of the European Parliament, Permanent Representatives, Members of the EU Horizontal Working Group on Drugs, Representatives of the European Commission, Representatives of the United Nations and relevant Civil Society Organisations, including WFWPI.
A special event was held on September 24, 2015 on "The global crisis of untreated pain: how to tackle it together" with a technical briefing on the work of the World Health Organization, hosted by the Permanent Missions of Norway and Australia.
The conclusions from the event are a component of the Regional Civil Society Consultation Process leading up to UNGASS to be held in 2016 in New York. As the most representative policy-making organ of the UN, the General Assembly's decision to call a special session to address the international drug control system is ground-breaking.