23 March 2011Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play a key role in assisting the United Nations in tackling the global drug scourge, especially in ensuring that people affected by drugs receive the help they need, a top official said today. “We must continue to expand efforts to prevent drug dependence and strive to provide all drug users with the treatment, care and support they need. As we move to achieve this, we regard the NGO community as a key partner and a powerful voice in reaching the people whom UNODC ultimately work to serve,” said Yury Fedotov, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Mr. Fedotov met with close to 100 NGOs on the sidelines of the current session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the UN’s policy-making body for drug-related matters that is meeting this week in Vienna. He lauded the work done by the Vienna Non-Governmental Organization Committee on Drugs (VNGOC), an umbrella organization representing around 70 civil society groups covering diverse ideologies regarding global drug policy. The Executive Director also called for increased integration and building new partnerships among all actors. “The importance of NGOs in responding to drug use in the last 50 years is one which must be highlighted,” he stated. “The active work by civil society on the ground helps populations affected by drugs and helps us to be more informed about the grass-roots realities. “UNODC is relying particularly on cooperation with NGOs in the areas of drug prevention and treatment and through a more active dialogue we look forward to promoting the balance between demand and supply reduction.” The Vienna-based agency says that engagement with the NGO community has been bolstered in recent years following the ‘Beyond 2008’ initiative, which works to improve interaction between civil society, UNODC and Member States in programming responses to the global drug problem.