Strengthen national early warning mechanisms on emerging synthetic drug-related threats

Implementing Organization

National early warning mechanisms allow countries to identify emerging synthetic drug-related threats and respond early on by taking appropriate action. This requires to set up a national coordination mechanism assessing a regular flow of reliable, scientific data e.g. from drug analysis and toxicology laboratories, law enforcement, and drug health services. The result will be alerts distributed to stakeholders which serve as the base for their responses to the identified threat.  
Examples are the emergence of drug-products laced with fentanyl, toxic adulterants, unusually high drug concentrations, new drug products, etc.  
UNODC provides tailored training for countries on how to set-up, operate and strengthen a national early warning mechanism building on reliable, high quality information from national institutions such as forensic laboratories. Key elements are the formation of a stakeholder group and a technical evaluation committee in charge of assessing information and communicating early warning messages to different audiences as well as capacity building for forensic laboratories to enhance the information they provide to the mechanism.  

Accomplishments to Date

Several countries have set up early warning mechanisms with UNODC support, including El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Indonesia. UNODC also operates a global early warning system based on drug analysis and toxicology data.  

Project Activities
  • National stakeholder assessment 
  • National training on setting up an early warning mechanism 
  • National training for drug analysis and toxicology laboratories on how to contribute to early warning 
  • National training on signal identification and alert communication 
Global Level Outcomes

Improved availability of up-to-date information on emerging synthetic drugs, including for international review of substances for international control. 

National Level Outcomes

Faster, more efficient drug policy, counter narcotics and health response to emerging synthetic drug threats.  


Martin Raithelhuber, UNODC martin [dot] raithelhuber [at] un [dot] org (martin[dot]raithelhuber[at]un[dot]org)

Current State Participants
Costa Rica
El Salvador
Dominican Republic