Side Event: Next steps for data collection on drugs: Experiences from UN agencies

Organized by Mexico and Switzerland, and Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, European Union, Global Drug Policy Observatory (Swansea University, United Kingdom), International Drug Policy Consortium, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Development Programme and World Health Organization

The revised version of the Annual Report Questionnaire is set to be proposed, and likely approved, by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2020. The latest draft made available in August 2019 shows significant improvements in incorporating many aspects of the operational recommendations included within the UNGASS Outcome Document. However, gaps remain in collecting data on drugs and issues related to health, human rights, criminal justice and development, covered in the Outcome Document and the Sustainable Development Goals. This side event aims to highlight ways to complement the Annual Report Questionnaire (ARQ) with additional datasets from other stakeholders, and to reflect on the diverse ways in which these additional data could be submitted to feed into future World Drug Reports and upcoming biennial reports of the UNODC Executive Director, using experiences from other UN agencies.

Moderator: Sandro Gennari, Federal Office of Police, Switzerland

H.E. Ambassador Alicia Buenrostro Massieu, Permanent Mission of Mexico to the International Organisations in Vienna

Welcome – here to listen about experience of all UN agencies. Objective of event is to be able to listen to next steps for data collection on drugs.

Dave Bewley-Taylor, Global Drug Policy Observatory

Analysis of revised ARQ from CS perspective

Last year provided opportunity to recalibrate revised approach to international review system in terms of 2016 outcome doc. Opportunity to recalibrate is accompanied by challenges. Largely seen as technical exercise. Highly political process. Norway’s Ambassador – speaking at reconvened CND in 2017: “if you have a problem that you don’t want to do anything about, then don’t measure it”.

So, what is it that we want to know, why do we want to know it?

Should underestimate questionnaires ability to alter data capture in country. Must seriously commend UNODC on how they’ve managed consultation process. Most member states can add data at high level and add more information if necessary. Health, prisons, access to meds, Alternative development (AD) specific modules. Explicitly asks on eradication as precondition for AD. Would it be useful to collect data on market violence and interventions into the market? Registries of drug users – avoids facts that data should be stored in legal manner and not shared between agencies – threat to lives of PWUD. Inherent tension in streamlining and strengthening data. Key comment relates to what’s still missing from ARQ – largely sidesteps intersections between human rights and achieving SDGs. I’d like to reference this book: Thomas F. Babor, et al, Drug Policy and The Public Good (OUP 2010 & 2018) – drug policies should be judged on intended and unintended consequences. Direct impact of drug policies on human rights and development. Data from civil society is necessary. But how to operationalise this. Most coordinated approach would be through task team. Mindful of the fact that improvement of data should be process. “Encouraging process towards still distant goals”.

Ambassador Massieu: I think we have made progress, but cannot be complacent. Talking about human rights: Zaved.

Zaved Mahmood, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Next steps for data collection on drugs: experiences from UN agencies – what could the UN Human Rights Mechanism Offer?

I’m not an expert on data or indicators – offering view on human rights. We engage in ARQ revision processes. Have seen progress, challenges and limitations. How can we fill these gaps and add discussion in Geneva?

UN High Commission for Human Rights: assessing progress on human rights  – these are important indicators that something is going wrong – extrajudicial killings – now 30-35000 people have died recently – this is very concerning.

UN System Common Position – great achievement for us to work together. How to use data and evidence together. “Compile, analyses and produce data reflecting UN system-wide practice and lessons-learned in drug-related matters, and produce system-wide data and analysis…and achievement of 2030 Agenda”

Not only OHCHR – UN system human rights mechanism. We have 8 key bodies. If we look carefully – how do deliberations work – receive info from member states, civil society and UN agencies – very systematic way of collecting the data. Special procedure mechanism. Would like to mention special procedures in country visits to address drug related issues? There are 20. They’ve addressed drug policy related issues. Human Rights Council expresses concern of forced treatment in certain countries. Often in consultation with member states, civil society and others. Special Rapporteur Right to Health – how we can use information properly? UNODC special booklet on women and drugs. UNODC uses drug report.

Vladimir Poznyak, World Health Organization

Data collection on drugs and health: experiences from the WHO and next steps.

WHO Global Health Observatory – what we do in terms of data. What Dave said – our purpose is to monitor trends. Linked to policy development and evaluation. Global Health Observatory – Universal Health Coverage, Health and Wellbeing, Health Emergencies.

Other important info we have that’s related to drugs: HIV/AIDS, mental health, tuberculosis. Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) are high for PWUD. Special advisory bodies – defining scope, data from MS, compliance with GATHER guidelines, country consultations and validation with MS and finalisation. Our estimates add to UNODC ARQ estimates – different data from different data collection. UN Global Monitoring Frameworks – WHO health statistics (100 indicators and GPW13 monitoring. Collaborate with UNAIDS – needle syringe program (NSP) coverage data etc. Policies, laws and enabling environment – UNAIDS and WHO. Main framework for reporting is SDGs – several key indicators – 3.5 but also others – access to control meds etc.

Progress on SDG 3.5.1: coverage, also collaboration with UNODC on drug epidemiology data – not only for data collection but supporting programs. Next steps: focus on SDG health indicators – estimates on deaths and disability. Development of WHO Global info system on Drugs and Health? But this is a far reaching goal.

Respondent: Angela Me, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Missing elements of ARQ – my 25th year here – been involved in MDGs and SDGs – women conferences, population conference, defining key indicators. Looking through these exercises to find what is missing – there is never a perfect results. Confidentially of registries is very important issue and has not been addressed in docs. ARQ is not perfect – not meant to solve all the problems and unintended consequences. Difference between data and analysis. ARQ needs to address certain issues. Need to look at basic data to address. SDGs is a huge exercise by UN.

Unnecessary to incorporate SDGs in ARQ as someone else is addressing them anyway. PWUD and unemployment, prison – drug questions could be asked in other data collection. Working group has trillions of things to disaggregate – need to push back to existing data – not the other way around. UNODC cannot to big development data collection – we’re not going to collect data on unemployment – we need to mainstream data. Whether certain pop groups are treated. Not enough data on prison populations. Trying to disaggregate data as much as we can. Categories on human rights are selective – criminal justice is really thought about – there is a lot there that can help us. How many countries do you think would reply if we asked them questions about human rights violations in relation to drugs? We don’t have to cover everything. We should only cover details that other agencies don’t cover. This is only the beginning – I know you are passionate to use evidence-based data – we need you to help us. Capacity – improving political will. Analysis – bias to the West – there’s a lot of data in the West – big gaps in other regions. Open data standards – everybody can do analysis. Innovation – help us help the countries to innovate. We don’t live in a world where we miss information – the challenge is screening for the ‘good’ information.

Q: Ann Fordham: to Zaved: how do you ensure strong human rights oversights of drug control measures – how do human rights mechanisms add to data collected through ARQ?

Zaved: UNODC can’t address everything and is not the human rights expert. Human Rights Council members could request responses to Chapter 4 of the UNGASS doc. Info could be supplemented in annual reporting from OCHHR – UNODC every 5 years produces report on capital punishment. Examples of how to supplement our work. World drug report is not only based on ARQ – look at the footnotes. Acknowledge other data sources – we hope to receive invitation to add to WDR.

Comment: Steve Allsop: Effort put into harmonising data collection for services – requests overwhelm services that are measuring the same thing – effort needs to be made to harmonise data collection when services should be helping people and conducting services.

Q: Need to conduct training for MS or have helplines available to help the questionnaire.

Angela: Training for ARQ and regional networks – yes, I take your point.

Ambassador Massieu: This is a pertinent side event – we will have to do more of these – this feedback is very important. ARQ is continuously evolving and adapting. Helping us with political will.

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