Vienna Beyond 2008


The Chairman of Shekinah, Mike Harty attended and participated in a regional Sub-Saharan substance abuse NGO and Government departments Forum, over a long weekend in September 2007, held in Johannesburg, and hosted by the United Nations.
This led to an invitation to participate in the “Beyond 2008″ NGO Forum in Austria in July 2008. Hosted by the Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs, a workshop was held for some 320 delegates representing different NGO’s from 9 regions around the world. Five Resolutions and three objectives were agreed upon by consensus for presentation to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, as well as to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. These two organizations would then ratify these proclamations and items for attention, and present them to a general sitting of the United Nations in March of 2009. This they did, and all member states and governments were encouraged to put into practice, and abide by the declarations resolved at this Vienna “Beyond 2008″ NGO forum.
The reaching of agreement by consensus at this forum in Vienna was in itself a miracle. The Word of God was not compromised, and certainly a strong Christian emphasis was maintained. This was remarkable considering that many different cultures, faiths, and organizations were represented. Christian, other religious, and secular bodies gave input, each seeing the global situation and solutions to the problem, through individual, and personal viewpoints. Having various ideas on reducing and eradicating the problem of substance abuse, to reach acceptable agreement in four long days, and in some often heated and hard talking workshops, can only bring glory to our Lord, and strengthen common cause and concern.

Certainly my eyes were opened to the extent of the problem in many regions, especially those where one would imagine through the rigours of strong religious government, drug abuse would not exist. Some of the comment as how to deal with the problems of substance abuse, as well as to the steps taken by some organizations in their endeavour to eradicate the problem, raised many eyebrows, including my own. There were delegates representing groups who advocated the decriminalisation of certain aspects of drug abuse and use. One group believed their mission of dispensing syringes and needles to addicts would lower the likelihood of HIV and ultimately AIDS being spread. There was even a delegation representing pheasant farmers in the Middle East who were involved in heroin and cocaine production; stating that under the Human Rights Charter of the UN, this was their right to a livelihood. Until such time as the UN, or their own government subsidises other crops that would be as profitable as their drug production, they believed in entitlement to their income from such production.

But even with such diverse representation by so many people from all around the world, the majority of delegates declared the forum a success, a time of learning, and of enlightenment. The manner in which it was generally conducted (from some strong Chairmanship) impressed the observers from the UN office on Drugs and Crime, as well as the Narcotic Drugs Commission. This augurs well for future global interventions in combating the problems of substance abuse. All praise to our Might Lord!