From global policy to local implementation - UNODC Initiative on Treatment and Care for People with Drug Use Disorders in Contact with the Criminal Justice System

Implementing Organization
UNODC
Description

The Global initiative on Treatment and Care for People with Drug Use Disorders in Contact with the Criminal Justice System: Alternatives to Conviction or Punishment (ATI) was launched in 2016 by UNODC and WHO in response to Commission on Narcotic Drugs resolution 58/5 on “Supporting the collaboration of public health and justice authorities in pursuing alternative measures to conviction or punishment for appropriate drug-related offences of a minor nature”. 
 

The worldwide prison population stands at 11.2 million individuals, and continues to increase despite severe challenges associated with prison overcrowding. Many people who use drugs have been in contact with the criminal justice system at some point of their lives and many people in the criminal justice system have a history of substance use. UNODC estimates that at pre-trial and trial stage of the criminal justice continuum, more people are in contact with the criminal justice system for personal use related offences than for drug-trafficking offences . For personal use related offences and other offences of a minor nature, committed by persons with drug use disorders, measures such as treatment and rehabilitation can be offered as complete alternatives to conviction or punishment, in line with the International Drug Control Conventions . 
Such an approach aligns further with the UNODC-WHO International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders  and the International Drug Control Conventions, the UN Standards Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners , the UN Standard Minimum Rules for Non-Custodial Measures , as well as the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders, for which UNODC is the custodian. 
 
At national level, ATI implementation follows the ICATI (International Consortium on ATI) lines of action, from pre-assessment, forming of a leadership group, capacity building, technical assistance and demonstration of enhanced health and justice coordination at national or sub-national level.  

Background
  1. UNODC/WHO Handbook on treatment and care for people with drug use disorders in contact with the criminal justice system: Alternatives to conviction or punishment 
  2. Draft summary report on available measures based on an analysis of Note Verbale responses by UN Member States to UNODC: Alternatives to conviction or punishment available for people who use drugs and with drug use disorders in contact with the criminal justice system 
  3. Conference Room Paper: Review of interventions to treat drug use disorders among girls and women in the criminal justice system in low- and middle-income countries  
  4. UNODC Scientific poster on health and justice coordination for increased access to health and social services for people with drug use disorders in contact with the criminal justice system  
  5. Data Matters Snapshot: Global Prison Population and Trends Nelson Mandela International Day, 18 July 2023 
  6. 2017 UNODC-WHO Informal Scientific Network Statement on Drug use disorders: Impact of a public health rather than a criminal justice approach  
  7. 2018 UNODC-WHO Informal Scientific Network Statement  
  8. UNODC Handbook of basic principles and promising practices on alternatives to imprisonment 
  9. UNODC Handbook on strategies to reduce overcrowding in prisons 
  10. Toolkit on Gender-responsive non-custodial measure 
  11. UNODC handbook on restorative justice programmes 
  12. Commission on Narcotic Drugs Resolution 58/5: Supporting the collaboration of public health and justice authorities in pursuing alternative measures to conviction or punishment for appropriate drug-related offences of a minor nature 
  13. Resolutions and decisions of the Economic and Social Council 2017/19, informed by the 2017 Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice: Promoting and encouraging the implementation of alternatives to imprisonment as part of comprehensive crime preventions and criminal justice policies   
  14. Outcome Document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem 
  15. United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-custodial Measures (the Tokyo Rules)   
  16. United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders with their Commentary (The Bangkok Rules)   
  17. United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules)   
  18. Web story on 2016 Expert Group Meeting on Treatment and Care of People with Drug Use Disorders in Contact with the Criminal Justice System: Alternatives to Conviction or Punishment 
  19. Web story on UNODC promoting alternatives to imprisonment for people with drug use disorders through health and justice cooperation in Kenya in 2018 
  20. Web story on UNODC/WHO initiative on Treatment and Care for People with Drug Use Disorders in Contact with the Criminal Justice System commemorating Mandela Day in 2021  
Accomplishments to Date
  • Since the launch of the global initiative, UNODC has published a handbook on treatment as an UNODC/WHO Handbook on treatment and care for people with drug use disorders in contact with the criminal justice system: Alternatives to conviction or punishment (UNODC/WHO, 2019) and provided direct support to at least five countries at the national level with tangible results and the development of demonstration sites, while disseminating the handbook and global advocacy through various fora. 
  • In order to develop implementation principles to enhance the implementation of ATI, from 2020-2023, UNODC organized various consultations on Treatment and Care for People with Drug Use Disorders in Contact with the Criminal Justice System: Alternatives to Conviction or Punishment (ATI), including at each stage of the criminal justice continuum. A total of 161 experts from 76 countries participated in the consultations.  
  • Through its global projects on treatment of drug use disorders, UNODC is currently supporting at least five countries in their efforts to enhance treatment of drug use disorders as an alternative to conviction or punishment. Additional efforts are taking place in UNODC regional and national programmes. Some countries have already implemented key changes in legislation or practice that effectively allow for the diversion of people with drug use disorders in contact with the criminal justice system for minor offences to health and social services as an alternative to conviction or punishment. 
Project Activities

In line with its mandates, UNODC stands ready to support additional countries in their efforts to enhance health-justice collaboration for the increased application of treatment as an alternative to conviction or punishment. The overall objectives of the UNODC initiative include: 

  • Development of technical guidance on ATI for UN Member States and other stakeholders 
  • Development, field-testing and dissemination of ATI implementation principles 
  • Strengthen quality and accessibility of drug use disorder treatment services and care in the community to allow diverting more people with drug use disorders from the criminal justice system to the health and social system, 
  • Build the capacity and coordination among relevant health, social and judicial actors and institutions 
  • Development of ATI online course based on UNODC/WHO handbook  
  • Enhance collaboration between the justice system, the health system and the social system with a view to the provision of treatment of drug use disorders as an alternative to conviction or punishment  
  • Demonstrate good practices and their feasibility including in low-and-middle income countries and support the development of innovative new approaches that can be models for other countries 
  • Ensure wide dissemination of information and skills on alternatives to conviction or punishment for people with drug use disorders in contact with the criminal justice system, including through UNODC Policymaker trainings on the nature, prevention and treatment of drug use disorders and online training courses 
  • Continue global advocacy with UN Member States and civil society 
  • Build communities of practice and networks of countries and service providers across countries for mutual support and to share good practices and lessons learnt on treatment as an alternative 
Global Level Outcomes
  • Dissemination of international rules and policies agreed by UN Member States 
  • Implementation Principles for Treatment and Care for People with Drug Use Disorders in Contact with the Criminal Justice System as Alternatives to Conviction or Punishment launched, field-tested and widely disseminated  
  • Self-paced eLearning module on Treatment and Care for People with Drug Use Disorders in Contact with the Criminal Justice System as Alternatives to Conviction or Punishment launched and widely disseminated 
National Level Outcomes
  • Strengthened health, social and justice system collaboration to promote and implement ATI in participating countries and to ensure a health-centred approach to drug use disorders in a continuum of care 
  • Field-tested and nationally adapted ATI principles at country level 
  • Strengthened national institutions, mechanisms and pathways for the provision of treatment of drug use disorders as an alternative to conviction or punishment 
  • Ultimately improved public health and public safety 

Current State Participants

• Global fora for UN Member States 
• Cote d’Ivoire  
• Kenya 
• Nigeria  
• South Africa 
• Viet Nam 

Contact

Anja Busse UNODC PTRS anja [dot] busse [at] un [dot] org (anja[dot]busse[at]un[dot]org) https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treatment-and-care/