International Youth Convening Commences in Bangkok

International Youth Convening Commences in Bangkok

Bangkok is about to get hit with a heavy dose of sensibility.

This week, 26 youth leaders from 21 different countries will be meeting in Bangkok, Thailand for the first ever International Youth Drug Strategies Convening. The goal of the convening is to bring together some of the sharpest young minds in drug policy reform & human rights advocacy from around the world for a week of networking, skills-building, and capacity building workshops. Organizations represented in the training include SSDP, CSSDP, SSDP UK, YODA, Youth Rise, INPUD, ReverdeSer, ACEID, Help Not Harm, NZ Drug Foundation, and others. The event is being sponsored by the Open Society Foundation.

The participants of the convening are all young people under the age of 30 who are community leaders and passionate advocates for drug policies based on harm reduction and human rights. Half of the participants are from countries in the global south most affected by the global drug war, giving them a chance to return home and teach the lessons they learn this week to other members of their communities. The broad array of cultures and experiences present at the convening will foster an environment where participants can learn from each other while simultaneously brainstorming objectives to work on together over the next several years as a global youth coalition. This will be especially important as civil society organizations start preparing for the next big UN meeting on drugs in 2019, where the goals of the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action will be evaluated.

At the end of every day this week, we will be sharing a blog post reviewing the day’s activities and discussing some of the highlights. A different participant will be writing each blog post, giving a perspective from a different country every day. By the end of the week, participants will have drafted the initial objectives of our global youth coalition and a final declaration will be published in the coming weeks that outlines our path forward. Keep checking back here every day to stay updated on the convening.

The War on Drugs affects millions of young people around the globe every day. As young people who come from communities that have been impacted by these disastrous policies, we believe our voices need to be heard by the rest of the global community if we are going to reverse this course. Last year at the 59th CND and UNGASS we started to work together to amplify the voices of young people by publishing an Alternative Global Youth Coalition Consultation. This convening is the next step towards creating a unified global coalition of young people who are working together to reform drug policies at every level, from campus all the way to the UN. We’re looking forward to a memorable week and hope that what we build here will help to further amplify the voices of marginalized youth all over the world.