IDPC welcomes the call for contributions from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for the preparation of its upcoming report on ‘Civil society space in multilateral institutions’, as mandated in Human Rights Council Resolution 32/31: ‘Civil society space’. Ensuring meaningful civil society participation in drug policy debates is at the core of IDPC’s mandate, and the network has worked tirelessly to facilitate civil society participation at key UN forums on global drug control.

The latest UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs was held from 19th to 21st April 2016 in New York. This event was a key opportunity for civil society to influence international drug policy. A large group of professional NGOs with expertise on drugs, human rights, HIV/AIDS, palliative care, development, criminal justice reform, children, gender, etc. came together to offer inputs and recommendations at the occasion of the UNGASS. A Civil Society Task Force (CSTF) was also created as the official mechanism for NGO engagement in the UNGASS process.

Despite this vibrant, growing and organised NGO movement, civil society was confronted with a wide range of obstacles which prevented their meaningful engagement at the UNGASS. In this contribution, IDPC wishes to highlight some of these shortcomings and provide recommendations for the way forward.