The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is the main policy-making body of the United Nations on drug-related matters. It meets annually to review and adopt resolutions on various aspects of the world drug problem.

This year, in preparation of the 2024 Mid-Term Review, the CND will hold thematic discussions, that will serve as a comprehensive stock-taking of progress made in implementing all international drug policy commitments to address the challenges identified in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration. The thematic discussions will consist of two intersessional meetings – the first one will take place from 23 to 25 October 2023 and the second one from 4 to 6 December 2023. Each half-day will be devoted to one specific challenge, as per the below:

23 October: Morning: Expanding & diversifying range of drugs & drug markets Afternoon: Illicit abuse, cultivation, production, manufacture of & trafficking in illicit narcotic drugs & psychotropic substances4 December: Morning: Increased number of deaths related to drug use Afternoon: HIV, HCV & other blood-borne diseases associated with drug use
24 October: Morning: Links between drug trafficking, corruption & other forms of organized crime Afternoon: Low value of confiscated proceeds of crime related to money-laundering arising from drug trafficking5 December Morning: Adverse health consequences of & risks associated with new psychoactive substances Afternoon: Risks to public health & safety posed by synthetic opioids & the non-medical use of prescription drugs
25 October: Morning: Criminal misuse of information & communications technologies Afternoon: Non-compliance with international drug control conventions & international human rights law23 October: Morning: Availability of internationally controlled substances for medical & scientific purposes Afternoon: Way forward

The Vienna & New York NGO Committees on Drugs (VNGOC & NYNGOC) will coordinate civil society speakers for the thematic discussions in October and November. And NGOs interested in speaking in the October discussions are reminded to apply for speaking slot before 17 September:

The discussions are an opportunity for NGOs to share their perspectives and experiences with Member States and other stakeholders. Civil Society plays a vital role in addressing drug related issues at the local, national, regional, and global levels. They provide prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services, conduct research, advocate for policy reforms, raise awareness, and monitor human rights violations.

However, civil society engagement in the CND thematic discussions is not always easy or effective. There are challenges such as limited time and space for interventions, language barriers, lack of funding and capacity, and political sensitivities. Therefore, it is important for CSOs to prepare well and coordinate their efforts to make the most of the CND thematic discussions this October. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Before applying for a speaking slot, make sure that the topic suites your expertise and identify your objectives and messages. Is your planned intervention relevant to the theme? What are the main points you want to convey to the Member States? What do Member States stand to learn from your intervention? How can you support your messages with evidence and examples?
  • Collaborate with other NGOs. You are not alone in this endeavour. The Vienna & New York NGO Committees provide access to broad networks of NGOs and provide a bridge to relevant UN offices. You can also coordinate with CSOs from different regions or sectors. Consider registering on the NGO Marketplace to find like-minded organisations:
    By working together, you can amplify your voice, avoid duplication, and increase your credibility.
  • Engage with Member States, UNODC and other stakeholders. The CND thematic discussions are not a one-way communication. You need to listen to what others have to say, ask questions, provide feedback, and follow up. You can also reach out to Member States and other stakeholders before, during, or after the discussions. You can arrange bilateral meetings, send letters or emails, or invite them to your events.

The CND thematic discussions are a valuable opportunity for civil society engagement in the global drug policy debate. By following these tips, you can make your participation more meaningful and effective.

Good luck!

Don’t forget to apply to speak before 17 September:

Useful Resources:

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