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Refocusing metrics: can the sustainable development goals help break the ‘metrics trap’ and modernise international drug control policy?
Drugs and Alcohol Today, Volume: 17, Issue: 2
Swansea University Author: David Bewley-Taylor
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DOI (Published version): 10.1108/DAT-12-2016-0033
Purpose – This article aims to examine the extent to which the dominant metrics currentlyused to measure the success of the UN based global drug prohibition regime are in manyways inadequate and consequently contribute to systemic inertia. Within this context, it seeksto explore the potential of exp...
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Purpose – This article aims to examine the extent to which the dominant metrics currentlyused to measure the success of the UN based global drug prohibition regime are in manyways inadequate and consequently contribute to systemic inertia. Within this context, it seeksto explore the potential of explicitly linking drug policy to the recently launched SustainableDevelopment Agenda and the associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to initiatea change in approach.Design/methodology/approach – Framing the topic in terms of International Relations (IR)and regime analysis, prominent examples of where current metrics are imprecise (therelationship between production and seizures), misconceived (drug use) and missing (arange of drug and drug policy related harms) are explored. Attention is then given to anexamination of international development as a model for measuring drug control outcomes,including a discussion of the SDGs in general and the intersection between drug policyinterventions and several Goals in particular.Findings - While aware of the complexity of the issue area, the article finds that there areconsiderable shortcomings in the way international drug policy outcomes are currentlyassessed. Although methodological problems are likely to persist, linking drug policy with theSDGs and their associated metrics offers the potential to help to shift the focus ofinternational policy in a manner that would benefit not only UN system-wide coherence onthe issue, but also assist in the achievement of the regime’s own overarching goal; tosafeguard the ‘health and welfare’ of humankind.Practical implications – With the next high-level review of international drug policy due to takeplace in 2019, the article offers policy makers with a way to begin to refocus drug policymetrics, and subsequently review outcomes, in line with the UN system-wide SustainableDevelopment Agenda.Originality – As an emerging domain of inquiry, the article not only explores a hitherto largelyunexplored – yet increasingly important – facet of UN level policy evaluation, formulation andimplementation, but also helps to fill a gap in the IR literature on regime dynamics.
UNGASS, international drug policy, drug policy harms, Sustainable Development Goals, regime analysis, Human Development
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences