Open Letter on Youth Engagement to Ms. Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime

Open Letter on Youth Engagement to Ms. Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime

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Students for Sensible Drug Policy Foundation and Students for Sensible Drug Policy International, alongside 64 NGOs, call on the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to provide transparency on youth involvement in decision making and ensure their meaningful participation in the development and implementation of drug policies and programs. Signatories include 19 youth organizations, 13 international organizations, and organizations from 23 countries. 

The international community has outlined in the UNGASS 2016 Outcome Document and in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration the need to ensure active and meaningful youth engagement in the drug policy space. While some significant progress has been made by UNODC with the Youth Forum and the Listen First program, there are some key concerns that young people and civil society would like to get addressed. 

This includes the lack of transparency surrounding the purpose, selection process and methods used by the Youth Forum, as well as reduced opportunities for youth-led organizations to engage with its delegates. 

In this context, we call on the UNODC to take action in this sense and provide clear guidelines for Member States that wish to engage with the Youth Forum. Alongside this, we emphasize the importance of having the Youth Forum as a youth-led space, run by youth for youth. In tandem, there is a need for country delegations to lead by example and actively include youth representatives in their work at national and international level.

The challenges we collectively face today in the drug policy realm cannot be addressed in an effective and sustainable way without bringing youth to the forefront of international and national policy making mechanisms. We cannot create a better, safer society for young people whilst leaving their voices behind. It is our hope that this letter can lead the international community in the right direction.

To read our recommendations in full, please access the letter here

For non-governmental organisations that want to add their signature, you can still do this by completing the following form.

We look forward to working closely with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and related bodies in order to advance youth representation at all levels of decision making.