The UNGASS Evaluation Evaluated

Dave Bewley-Taylor Tom Blickman
International Drug Policy Consortium Briefing Nr. 1
May 2006

At the 49th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), held in Vienna in March 2006, a draft resolution was tabled by the European Union (EU) to guide the process of evaluation of the implementation of political declaration and action plans of the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in 2008. This briefing describes the fortunes of the resolution and its proposals to strengthen the upcoming UNGASS evaluation process. It explores how the resolution’s aims for more objective and transparent assessment were ultimately watered down. This was a result not only of opposition from states wary of transparency, objectivity and a possible re-evaluation of some current UN policies, but also the EU’s own approach to operating at the CND.

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The authors identify several possible openings for future progress in this area and recommend that:

(1) Member States should acknowledge the value of an objective and transparent assessment of the current drug control mechanisms. They should decide if they want to work for a genuine assessment or continue with an unquestioning adherence to the current process that has hampered genuine progress over the past decades.

(2) Member States should ask for an evaluation of the UNGASS evaluation process. In order to ensure an evaluation process that is transparent, objective and based on the appropriate methodology and data collection, they should request that further critical attention be given to the reporting system based on the Biennial Reports Questionnaires (BRQs).

(3) The EU should review its way of operating at the CND. A review should aim to improve the coherence and eff ectiveness of the EU message at the UN. This could be achieved through better management of its statements and improved coordination of actual and potential support for resolutions among both EU member states and non-EU member states.

(4) The EU should invest money, in addition to energy in negotiations at the CND, to support the realization of the core sections of its resolution. The EU should provide funding for the inclusion of independent experts and better methodology and data in the UNGASS evaluation process. It should also give very clear guidelines on the use of those funds. If the process with the UN proves to be unsatisfactory, the EU should explore the possibility of supporting independent experts to provide a transparent and objective evaluation of UNGASS.