Canada accepted a major role on the global drug strategy stage with the December 3, 2010, appointment of Michel Perron, CEO of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA), to chair the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC). Both internationally and at home, CCSA is considered a leading non-governmental organization in mobilizing collaborative efforts to reduce alcohol- and other drug-related harms.
In March 2012, members of the Vienna Non-Governmental Organization Committee on Drugs (VNGOC) gathered at the 55th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) to address the global challenge of drugs. Their contribution to the weeklong event included an informal Civil Society Hearing (iCSH) focusing on and showcasing how NGOs can best work with UN member states and international organizations. VNGOC also hosted informal dialogues between NGOs and the Chair of the CND, the Executive Director of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
Created in 1983, the objective of VNGOC is to support the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), provide information on NGO activities, and involve a wide sector of civil society in raising awareness of global drug policies.
VNGOC is a vital link between NGOs and the key intergovernmental and international agencies involved in drug policy, strategy and control: UNODC, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and the International Narcotics Control Board. VNGOC represents some 10 million affiliated individuals working on drug related issues.
VNGOC entered a new phase in 2010–11 with the retirement of Chair David Turner. VNGOC has worked hard to create consensus amongst diverse approaches and philosophies from the NGO community, and it continues to build on this momentum to provide a voice for civil society on international drug policy and strategy and control.
Background – VNGOC and Beyond 2008
During his previous tenure as vice-chair of VNGOC, Mr. Perron proposed the creation of Beyond 2008—an international forum bringing together NGOs from around the world under one umbrella for the purpose of collecting and mining global NGO knowledge as the CND prepared its review of the United Nations General Assembly Special Sessions on Drugs.
Reinforcing the overall objective of Beyond 2008, the CND, at its annual meeting in March 2006, formally endorsed a Canadian resolution drafted by CCSA that called for greater involvement of NGOs by member states on matters dealing with international drug policy. With Mr. Perron as chair of the Beyond 2008 Steering Committee, CCSA took the lead on organizing a global NGO consultation process in 2007–2008—a process that eventually grew to involve 13 cities in all nine regions of the world, gathering input from hundreds of members of civil society representing millions of citizens. NGOs reacted with overwhelming support and enthusiasm for what they saw as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be heard. This positive feeling was reinforced when Beyond 2008 got underway in Vienna on July 7, 2008; 300 NGO delegates participated in three days of negotiation and concession, ultimately leading to the adoption by consensus of a set of recommendations to be brought to the United Nations. Evaluation results from Beyond 2008 have shown that it was a highly effective and efficient catalyst for building and mobilizing a strong, vibrant and professional global civil society. Based on these results, UNODC is extending this model of partnership engagement to other areas of their mandate and has begun second phase of Beyond 2008, entitled Looking Beyond: Towards a Stronger Partnership with Civil Society Organizations on Drugs and Crime.
Picking up the best practices on global partnerships and further reaching out to civil society organizations, Looking Beyond aims to increase the participation of such organizations in the international policy debate and tighten their involvement in UNODC's regional and thematic areas of work. To learn more about this exciting initiative, click here.