Antwerpen, 28 November 2014
To Esbjörn Hoernberg
Chairperson Vienna Non-Governmental Organisations Committee (VNGOC), Vienna
Dear Esbjörn Hoernberg,
On 18 November, we received a message from you asking us to react on a reviewed version of a proposal to create a Civil Society Task Force in order to represent civil society at the upcoming preparations and organisation of the UNGASS on Drugs in 2016.
The deadline for giving our feedback to this proposal was Friday 21 November (3 days later), and the deadline for proposing candidates for this CSTF is Friday 28 November (and has today been postponed with one week).
We have to inform you that we do not accept this proposal and the related decision-making procedure.
Encod represents the European section of an International Coalition of NGO’s (ICN) consisting of almost 400 organisations who since 1998 demand just and effective drug policies.
As we are a genuine coalition of citizens affected and concerned by drug policies we believe in equality of opportunities, transparency and participative approach.
Poorly conceived and counterproductive drug policies have been allowed to continue for so long precisely because in the decision-making process on these policies the three elements mentioned above have always been completely absent.
Unfortunately, the same can be said about the way of operating of the VNGOC in Vienna and the NYNGOC in New York.
There is no other conclusion possible when, after numerous calls to civil society organisations to become a member of the VNGOC and the NYNGOC and thus ‘contribute to the development of global drug policies’, it is suddenly decided (and communicated 3 days before the members of the VNGOC have to re-act on this decision) that the new ‘Civil Society Task Force’, that will be put in place to carry this out in practice, will count no more than 26 members. The rest of the organisations will have to stand at the sideline and watch.
Of these 26 members, who will be appointed by the president of the General Assembly, 22 people will represent ‘ngo’s’ and the 4 others will be recruited from “affected populations”. Thus the proportion of citizens who are daily confronted with the consequences of drug policies – being consumers, producers, populations who have to suffer the daily violence of the war on drugs – in the total group is 4 out of 26 (the rest being ‘professional experts’).
It is a public secret that the vast majority of VNGOC members are organisations that act as if they were civil society, but in fact are financed by either governmental agencies or private funders.
We believe this proposal cannot be taken serious, and is a poorly disguised effort to legitimise the selection of certain ‘citizen voices’ over others.
Encod and ICN choose therefore to prepare our own strategy for true civil society involvement in the preparation and organisation of UNGASS 2016, apart from the Civil Society Task Force. Next week, our delegate will attend the CND session in Vienna and present the statement with some concrete suggestions on this involvement.
Encod Steering Committee
Enrico Fletzer, chair