The Civil Society Task Force (CSTF) was introduced on the occasion of the fourth Civil Society Hearing on 9 March 2015. The CSTF was designed to ensure a balanced and inclusive civil society engagement and coordination in the preparatory process of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem in 2016.

The meeting, which took place on the margins of the 58 th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND, 9-17 March 2015), presented the membership of the CSTF. Its roadmap of activities leading up to the UNGASS in April 2016 was also discussed. Regional civil society consultations will be organised to ensure that grassroots organisations worldwide have a chance to make their voices heard.

In addition, a global survey will be launched at the end of March 2015 to measure the level of awareness, knowledge and interest of civil society to actively participate in the preparatory process of UNGASS 2016 at regional and global levels. The results of the survey will provide an overview of the work of NGOs active in the drug field, areas of expertise, key priorities and concerns to be addressed, as well as best practices. For further information related to the survey, please contact info@vngoc.org.

Furthermore, the Civil Society Hearing identified key areas, which civil society considers crucial in the preparatory process of UNGASS 2016. Among them are: a call for an open, inclusive and innovative debate; importance of the international drug control conventions; a public health approach to drug policies; global access to essential medicines; protection of the rights of the child; engagement of drug users, recovered drug users, families and communities; alternative development and proportionality for drug related offences, including the abolition of the death penalty.

The CSTF also nominated one civil society representative for each of the five interactive discussions held during the UNGASS Segment. These panelists were invited to facilitate a debate and an exchange of expertise focused on initiatives implemented and tools developed and to share practical experiences and lessons learned. NGO representatives in the audience also had the opportunity to make contributions.

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