Building on the success of the Beyond 2008 initiative and after reviewing best practices of civil society involvement in other recent high-level United Nations General Assembly meetings, the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC) and the New York NGO Committee on Drugs (NYNGOC) collaborated on setting up the Civil Society Task Force (CSTF) for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem 2016.
After a meeting with Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, on the margins of the 57th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs High-level Review in March 2014 and extensive consultations within the NGO community working on drug related issues, a proposal outlining the terms of the CSTF was drafted and then finalised in November 2014:
Mission: to serve as the official liaison between the United Nations and civil society in the preparatory process of and at UNGASS 2016.
Objective: to ensure a comprehensive, structured, meaningful and balanced participation of civil society during this process.
Structure: 27 members, 18 regional representative, i.e. 2 per region and 9 representatives of affected populations and global voices.
Regions represented: Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific; Eastern Europe and Central Asia; Latin America and the Caribbean; Northern Africa and the Middle East and Central Asia; North America; South Asia; South-East and East Asia; Sub-Saharan Africa and Western Europe. Affected populations represented: farmers, access to essential medicines and palliative care, recovered users, families, people who use drugs, youth. Global voices represented: prevention, harm reduction and criminal justice.
To allow for efficient steering of the CSTF and in order to undertake its task more effectively, the CSTF is chaired by a Steering Group, consisting of 1 Chair, 2 Vice-Chairs and 1 Secretary. The VNGOC nominated the Chair and one Vice-Chair, while one Vice-Chair and the Secretary were nominated by the NYNGOC. The Civil Society Team of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) holds an ex-officio position on the CSTF.