Vienna (Austria), 31 October 2022 – How do traffickers manage to siphon the drugs and drug precursors that are being made for pharmaceutical and other licit uses? Amongst other reasons, drug trafficking capitalizes upon weak control structures to infiltrate drug production and supply chains, as well as related commercial links.
To strengthen these structures and reduce exposure to these criminal elements, national government and regulatory authorities need to work together with their partners in the private sector that work to control drug production and supply. But a public-private partnership (PPP) is only successful if it is strong and effective, with all sides understanding their roles and responsibilities. Moreover, not one partnership model fits all. Lessons must be learned, new procedures continuously embedded, and successes transferred into consecutive initiatives.
The 63rd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) adopted a resolution promoting effective partnerships with private sector entities. This resolution built upon various other documents in the international treaty framework that have encouraged cooperation between both public and private sectors in drug control.
Taking all of these into account, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) begun a project to provide Member States and private sector entities with access to better information on PPPs addressing the world drug problem, and tools with which to help establish new PPPs.
The first outcome of this project, which was supported by the United States government, was a compendium of PPPs in the drug control area followed by meetings of experts from across the public and private sector to develop a roadmap to chart how to develop and sustain effective PPPs.
UNODC collected the promising practices and lessons learned that were shared from experiences of practical PPP cooperation in drug control at these meetings into a digital roadmap. The roadmap recommends approaches and action points on how to establish or sustain PPPs to strengthen responses to three specific areas of drug control. Also, it discusses the merits and potential challenges of PPPs in each of the areas. Going forward, the idea is for the digital roadmap to expand by documenting new examples of good practice.
In the first area, which is concerned with drug supply and demand reduction, some of the recommendations concern keeping prevention, treatment and recovery on the agendas of decision makers and lawmakers. Others talk of developing mechanisms to ensure the integrity of evidence used in practices, taking into account its biases, before it becomes guidance.
The second area looks at combatting narcotics trafficking and drug-related financial crime. PPPs can make investigations against illicit financial flows much more targeted, improving efficiency at detecting suspicious activity, and yielding highly specific outcomes, the roadmap finds. Joint investigative task forces are outlined as potentially hyper-efficient models for fast-tracking investigations straight through to their prosecution/recovery/sanctions stage, provided they are supported by a strong legal framework.
The third area details tips for preventing diversion of illicit chemicals. It speaks of facilitating a rapid response to risks and threats as integral to this, and this rapid response needs timely and regular information sharing between the public and private sector partners to identify suspicious orders and transactions.
Stakeholders from all three areas consistently acknowledged that for effective partnerships, different actors should enjoy strong collaboration and recognize their individual roles and those of each other. Overall, effective solutions were deemed to involve a variety of public agencies having close and transparent working relationships with the private sector within the PPP framework.