A new VNGOC board elected at the Annual General Assembly on 15 March 2018 introduces itself:

Dear VNGOC members,

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Annual General Assembly and Board elections. As the incoming Chair, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the new Board members for 2018:

  • Chair: Myself, Jamie Bridge from the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC)
  • Deputy Chairperson: Lucia Goberna from Dianova International
  • Treasurer: Orsi Feher from Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  • Deputy Treasurer: Zoran Jelic from NGO Stijena Resoc
  • Secretary: Tania Ramirez from Mexico Unido Contra la Delincuencia (MUCD)
  • Deputy Secretary: Shaun Shelly from the TB/HIV Care Association in South Africa

On behalf of us all, I want to assure you of our absolute commitment to representing the full scope of civil society that makes the VNGOC what it is. As individuals, we come from a range of backgrounds – spanning youth representation, HIV prevention, advocacy, treatment and recovery and crime prevention – and we all applied for the respective positions on the Board fully aware of the need to put aside personal views and ensure that all civil society perspectives and voices can be heard here in Vienna. This is our mission.

I ask now for your solidarity, and to allow us – as the new Board – to demonstrate this commitment over the coming year. We plan to lead by example on this front and will, for example, be developing a robust Code of Conduct for Board Members (which will, of course, be circulated to all members for your review and feedback).

I also want to offer my reassurance to all members that the useful feedback and comments on the election processes yesterday will be taken on board, and that the necessary improvements will absolutely be made for the next elections in March 2019 – including for the position of Chair. As was mentioned at the meeting, this was everyone’s first election following the new VNGOC Statutes and Rules of Procedure, and I want to especially thank the elections committee for all of their hard work and for investing their time into this. The Board will meet in the coming weeks to discuss the processes, address the acknowledged shortcomings, and adopt the improvements needed for the future.

On a personal note, I want to reinforce the need for all civil society representatives, regardless of their perspectives or advocacy approaches, to be respectful of one another – here in CND but also in all fora and communications. As I mentioned yesterday, we do not always have to agree on everything – but we do need to work together in a constructive way to keep the civil society space at CND and other meetings open. This is the role that your new VNGOC Board will work hard to fulfill this year, and we look forward to working closely with you all to achieve these goals. We will also work with all of our members this year to develop a code of conduct for engagement at CND and other meetings to clarify the various rules and responsibilities.

Finally, I want to echo all of our thanks and appreciation to the outgoing Chair, Esbjörn Hörnberg, for the hard work and commitment that he has given to VNGOC over recent years. Esbjörn has been an incredible servant for the Committee, and fully deserved the standing ovation he received last night. It has been a real pleasure to work with him, and I look forward to continuing to do so. Thank you Esbjörn!

The Board will be in touch after CND to reflect on the next steps and processes for 2019, and to plan the next VNGOC meeting. But in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact any of your new Board if you have any questions or concerns, and we will all do our best to address these.

Yours faithfully,

Jamie Bridge
Chairperson, VNGOC

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