“Beyond 2008” Forum, Vienna, July 2008

“Beyond 2008” International NGO Forum

The “Beyond 2008” NGO Forum was held in Vienna, Austria from the 7 – 9 July, 2008.  It was the final step in the global consultation of NGOs involved in responding to drug related problems.

The Forum built on the recommendations coming from the nine regional consultations which had been held earlier that year. The Vienna Forum discussed and debated the draft recommendations and declaration prepared and circulated in advance to all participants. A detailed description of the process can be found in the final evaluation report of “Beyond 2008”.

The Forum was addressed at its opening session by Dr Eva Tongue, Chair of the Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs, Mr Gerald Jeremiah on behalf of Msgr William O’Brien, Chair of the New York Committee on Narcotic Drugs and Sunstance Abuse, H.E. Monsieur François-Xavier Deniau, Ambassador of France on behalf of the European Union, H.E. Ms Selma Ashipala-Musavyi, Ambassador of Namibia and Chairperson of the 52nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and Mr Michel Perron, Chair of the Steering Committee for “Beyond 2008”.  Mr Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime was also due to speak at this session.  Due to a delayed flight, this was not possible but he adjusted his schedule to address the Forum immediately prior to the lunch break.  The speech of Mr Costa can be downloaded here.

The Forum was designed to debate and negotiate the final declaration and the resolutions.  To this end the agenda was organised to provide contextual and background information and then to examine the declaration and resolutions line by line.  The programme for the Forum can be downloaded here.

To provide an overall context for the work of the Forum, a Global Summary Report was prepared from the reports of the regional consultations and the data collected through the NGO Questionnaire.  The report was prepared by Toby James and Simon Parker of the University of York, United Kingdom.

Additionally, each of the regional consultations presented a summary of the key findings and recommendations from these consultations.

The Draft Declaration and Resolutions were prepared drawing on the recommendations and proposals developed at the regional consultations.  A first draft was reviewed by the Designated NGO Committee Representatives and the RLOs for all the nine regions.  The final draft was then prepared incorporating agreed changes.  Where there were conflicting suggestions these were left out so that they could be presented and discussed at the Vienna Forum.

Both the nature of the Forum and the space available restricted the number of people who could participate in the event.  300 places were available and the Programme Committee for “Beyond 2008” agreed criteria and procedures for nominating and selecting participants. In summary:

  • the Regional Lead Organisations, in consultation with the NGO Committee Representative for their consultation and the UNODC representative attending the consultation, nominated up to 21 organisations from their region to participate in the Forum.
  • the Programme Committee for “Beyond 2008” and the Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs nominated 45 international NGOs to participate in the Forum.  An additional 30 places were allocated to the NGO Committee on Drugs and the NGO Committee on Crime.
  • all nominations had to be received by 29 February, 2008
  • only one person per organisation could be accredited as a participant to the Forum.  Any additional attendees from the same organisation were registered as observers.  The one exception was that member organisations of the Vienna NGO Committee could nominate a representative from the HQ of the organisation in additoion to their permament representative in Vienna.
  • the Programme Committee of “Beyond 2008” made the selection of participants at its meeting in March 2008 and invitation letters were subsequently issued
  • where an organisation did not reply in time or declined the invitation, the next organisation on the reserve list for the relevant section (regional or international) was invited.  Where there was no reserve organisation, the Chair of the Programme Committee, in consultation with UNODC and the RLOs where relevant, identified and invited a replacement organisation.

At the Forum in Vienna the three draft resolutions and the draft declaration were subject to a line by line examination and intense debate.  Where it was proving difficult to achieve consensus on the text, those most interested were invited to form an informal working group to negotiate text which was acceptable to all interested parties.  As a result it proved possible to find wording on contentious topics which all could agree and adopt by consensus.  Revised text and additional wording was also negotiated so that by the end of the second day the three resolutions and draft declaration had been approved by consensus.

On the third day time was given over to considering new text which had been submitted by participants.  In the time available it was not possible to consider all the new proposals.

At the end of the Forum the Declaration and three Resolutions were adopted by consensus by all those participating in the Forum.  This was an historic achievement and reflected the maturity and commitment of the global NGO community.  The documents were translated into all six UN languages:

On Thursday, 10 July a press conference was held at the Vienna International Centre where Michel Perron and David Turner presented the outcomes of the Forum.