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Date: January 29, 2008

Solving The World's Drug Problems

For the first time ever, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from around the world have an opportunity to contribute to a United Nations review of the effectiveness of international drug control efforts and how they might be improved.

Researchers from the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research (CARBC) will join drug experts from across North America in Vancouver next week as part of the UN-endorsed international conference on drug use. “Beyond 2008 - A Global Forum on the 1998-2008 Review of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Illicit Drugs” will take place at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue at 580 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, on Monday, February 4 and Tuesday, February 5.

More than 70 representatives of NGOs whose work in health, education, community safety, and human rights is impacted by drug control policy will meet to review progress during the past decade and provide perspective on future development. Their advice will help inform the United Nations’ review of its 1998 commitment to work toward a “drug-free” world.

While similar conferences are being held in Wellington (New Zealand), Kiev, Lima, Budapest, St. Petersburg (Florida), Cairo, Dhaka, Macau and Nairobi, the Vancouver conference will be the only one in North America to include NGOs that support harm reduction or drug policy reform.

“We hope to identify some high order principles that can have real impact on shaping how international drug policy is developed and on creating a more balanced emphasis within the policy itself,” says Dan Reist, a director at CARBC and conference organizer. “The UN commitments to social justice and human rights, for example, need to influence drug policy more directly. Recently the UN admitted that harm reduction has been unnecessarily controversial and needs to be embraced within drug control strategies.”

The Vancouver conference is hosted by CARBC (www.carbc.ca) and Keeping the Door Open: Dialogues on Drug Use (http://kdo.carbc.net/). The conference is an initiative of the Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs, implemented in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. For more information about “Beyond 2008” visit http://www.vngoc.org/

Media advisory: Members of the media are invited to join the delegates at an “information and background session” from 9 to 9:45 a.m. on Monday, February 4 at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue at 580 West Hastings Street, Vancouver. An o-site summary of the event from 4 to 4:30 p.m. on February 5 may also be of interest to the media.
Media contacts:
Dan Reist (UVic Centre for Addictions Research) at 604-408-7753 or dreist@uvic.ca
Maria Lironi (UVic Communications) at 250-721-6139, cell 250-213-1705 or lironim@uvic.ca

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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