United Nations General Assembly Special Session the World Drug Problem 18 – 21 April 2016, New York

United Nations General Assembly Special Session the World Drug Problem  18 – 21 April 2016, New York
A/S-30/L.1 – Draft resolution containing outcome document entitled “Our joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem”

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Press Release
UNODC Chief: UNGASS momentum can drive progress in addressing world drug problem
New York / Vienna 21 April 2016 – The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, urged the international community to seize the opportunity provided by the UN General Assembly special session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem to address shared challenges…

“We must take advantage of the momentum provided by UNGASS to strengthen cooperation and advance comprehensive, balanced, integrated rights-based approaches that help to protect and promote the health, safety and security of people everywhere,” said Mr. Fedotov.

The landmark special session, only the third such meeting held by the UN General Assembly on global drug policy, concluded on Thursday.

At the opening of the plenary, Member States adopted the outcome document of the session, which reaffirms their commitment to undertake innovative approaches to drug control within the framework of the three international drug control conventions. It also recognizes that the conventions allow for sufficient flexibility for States parties to design effective national drug policies according to priorities and needs.

The outcome document recommends measures to address demand and supply reduction, and to improve access to controlled medicines while preventing diversion. The recommendations also cover the areas of human rights, youth, children, women and communities; emerging challenges, including new psychoactive substances; strengthening international cooperation; and alternative development.

The text puts new emphasis on proportionate national sentencing policies and practices for drug-related offences, and features a strong focus on prevention and treatment…

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19/04/2016 –
New campaign on science-based drug prevention launched at UN General Assembly Special Session
New York / Vienna 19 April 2016 – The global ‘Listen First’ campaign on science-based drug prevention was launched at a high-level event during the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem in New York today…

…’Listen First’ is promoted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), together with the World Health Organization (WHO), the French Interministerial Mission for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours (MILDECA) and the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of Sweden.

…Run under the theme ‘Listen First’, the campaign and a Public Service Announcement aim to raise awareness around listening to children and youth as the first step to help them grow healthy and safe. The campaign targets parents, teachers, policy makers, health workers and prevention workers and highlights how to recognize – and prevent – risky behaviours and drug use.

It is based on research that shows that through this kind of science-based approach, on average, 30 times the amount of funds invested in drug prevention can be saved in future health and social care costs. Content for and on individual target groups will be rolled out in the coming months, following today’s launch.

The campaign website can be found at http://www.unodc.org/listenfirst.

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Statement on the UN Special Session on World Drug Problem
in Voices on 21 April 2016
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria welcomes the UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem as an opportunity to bring public health and human rights concerns at the center of the current debate.

We welcome this meeting as an opportunity to shape drug policies that facilitate good health outcomes. Good drug policy can help in many ways: by ensuring adequate investment in essential, cost-effective health services for people who use drugs, including comprehensive HIV, TB, and Sexual and Reproductive Health services; by supporting the meaningful participation of people who use drugs in health programs; and by ensuring that resources are used for programs that minimize health harms and protect human rights, rather than incarceration of large numbers of people who use drugs.

People who inject drugs have consistently poor and inequitable access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. To compound the issue they often face discrimination, marginalization and abuse. As their behaviors are criminalized in the majority of countries, they often face incarceration (or, in some countries, extrajudicial detention) – settings in which access to comprehensive HIV services is even more limited. Worryingly, NSP provision in prison has significantly decreased, with only eight countries globally providing this harm reduction intervention in at least one of their prisons.

In too many countries, approaches to drug use still focus overwhelmingly on prohibition and criminalization, yet the limits and harms of this approach are becoming increasingly well documented and drug policies need urgent reform to remove barriers to effective HIV prevention, treatment and care. UNAIDS “estimates suggest that 56-90% of people who inject drugs will be incarcerated at some stage during their life”. Often, they will continue using (and injecting) drugs while in closed settings.

Until these maladaptive drug policies are reformed, particular efforts are needed to ensure continuity of ART, TB treatment, needle and syringe programs, and opioid substitution therapy at all stages – upon arrest, pre-trial detention, transfer to prison and within the prison system, and upon release. It is therefore essential to promote alternatives to detention and to provide harm reduction in these settings as well as in the community.

The Global Fund recognizes in its current strategy the importance of human rights-based approaches to addressing HIV, TB and malaria. This is especially true of most-at-risk populations such as people who inject drugs. The denial of essential, and potentially lifesaving, harm reduction interventions is a violation of the human right to the highest attainable standard of health – yet is the practice in too many countries. Discriminatory laws and policies can further stigmatize and marginalize this population – such as rules excluding current drug users from ART.