Prevent drug problems, don’t promote them

Said FORUT representative Dag Endal at the UN Thursday: «Prevention is effective, humane, cost-effective and empowering. Therefore: Prevent. Don’t Promote.» Endal was speaking as a civil society representative at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem.

A special session of the United Nations General Assembly on the world drug problem was held at the UN in New York 19-21 April 2016

 «Reality is that we know a lot about what works. The problem is rather that too many countries have failed in using too many of the effective policy options.»

Dag Endal delivered the following statement in the plenary at the UN:

«Mr. President. Distinguished delegates.

I am speaking to you in the name of FORUT, an international development NGO based in Norway, but I know that our viewpoints are shared by very many NGOs across the world.

I have chosen four keywords for this brief statement, they are: Action. Development. Prevention. Mobilization.

Taking action is a challenge for us all; Member States, UN agencies and NGOs alike. All of us must use the years leading up to 2019 for national and local action and policy implementation. Simply, we don’t need more words, documents or commissions now.

The Outcome Document adopted Tuesday, offers an excellent strategy for a comprehensive, balanced and effective policy to reduce both drug use and its related harm. The document contains a long menu of effective interventions that will reduce drug-related harm – if the words are made into action.

Some claim that everything has been tried and that nothing works. One could not be more mistaken! Reality is that we know a lot about what works. The problem is rather that too many countries have failed in using too many of the effective policy options.

Using the next three years for a continued struggle over words will not make any difference. Three years of evidence-based interventions will make a big difference.

We therefore appeal to all national delegations to go home, to pick a few interventions that have the greatest potential for prevention and treatment – and then implement them forcefully.

We will in particular point at three areas where action is strongly needed.

Firstly, – prevention. The UNODC International Standards on Drug Use Prevention offers a wide range of evidence-based primary prevention interventions. It cannot be said too often: Prevention is effective, humane, cost-effective – and most of all – empowering.

Therefore: Prevent. Don’t Promote.

Secondly, – mobilization of citizens and communities. Even the most powerful governments or leaders cannot do this alone. We need citizens and local communities on board. Experience from all over the world show that prevention efforts really do work when they are implemented by local communities.

I think all in this room realize that UN language and UN documents are difficult to understand. Who will read the Outcome Document, after all? And who will cheer and scream and dance after having read?  We would need an extra take-home message – to ordinary people – from this meeting, a big and hairy ambition, something that can mobilize people and involve local communities. UNGASS should invite local communities all over the world to join in a global wave of local prevention. If we want, we could reach one million communities before 2019!

Thirdly: Development. Social and economic development must be at the core of any drug strategy. We now see that new alternative development programmes show promising results. These programmes need increased support from the international community. Donor countries should increase their funding and see this as a long-term commitment.

We hope that UNGASS2016 will prove to be a turning point, the point where we moved from discussing words and over to taking action. This is also the best way we can contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Thank you, Mr. President. And more importantly: Good luck to us all!

Latest news