Q: What is the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats?
A: The Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats is a diplomatic effort to bring global attention and action to address the public health and security threats posed by synthetic drugs. The initiative is designed to bring together a geographically, economically, and politically diverse group of countries to address the common threat of synthetic drugs, including fentanyl, methamphetamine, tramadol, synthetic cannabinoids, and other new and emerging substances. The rise in synthetic drugs around the world represents a major shift in drug trafficking, consumption, and health effects. It requires a new, global approach compared to traditional drug threats, wherein cooperation between governments will be essential. The Coalition will accelerate and strengthen international action to confront these new challenges.
Q: What is expected of coalition members?
A: The Coalition will be a time-bound 12-18-month effort to heighten attention and action to prepare the international community to confront the rapidly shifting threat posed by synthetic drugs. Following the Ministerial, Coalition members will be invited to participate in Working Groups and Sub Working Groups focused on key lines of effort. Coalition members may allocate their efforts to any or all of the working groups in accordance with national priorities and resources. Higher level working groups, which will have more of a steering function, will meet infrequently. Sub Working Groups, which are at the technical level, will meet more frequently, perhaps one-two times per quarter.
Q: What are countries committing to by joining the Coalition?
A: Countries participating in the Coalition may allocate their efforts to any or all of the working groups in accordance with national priorities and resources. We envision smaller groupings of countries carrying forward different lines of effort. Coalition membership represents a commitment to prioritize efforts to address synthetic drug threats both domestically and internationally. It also represents an opportunity to benefit from the experiences of other coalition members who can share best practices and lessons learned to assist each other in more effectively addressing synthetic drug threats. There is no “threshold” to entry relating to resource allocation or policy positions; all we ask is that Coalition members recognize the growing public health and security threats of synthetic drugs and support national and international actions to address them.
Q: Why is a global coalition needed?
A: Countries around the world are impacted by dangerous synthetic drugs, including methamphetamine, captagon, tramadol, ketamine, and other emerging substances. Wherever criminal organizations have a foothold, the illicit synthetic drug trade is already or will soon be present. These drugs are a shared threat that requires a coordinated international response. While fentanyl is the most prominent and dangerous synthetic drug in North America, it is also rapidly evolving, with new analogues emerging and dangerous cutting agents like xylazine being added to the drug supply. We believe it is a manifestation of a global shift in illicit markets toward more potent and dangerous synthetic drugs; this trend must be countered through a coordinated global response.
July Virtual Ministerial:
Q: What countries are invited to the Ministerial?
A: We aim to be as inclusive as possible within logistical and technical limitations. We’ve invited 90 geographically, economically, and politically diverse countries, from every region, to participate in the July Ministerial and hope to expand the coalition after its launch.
Q: Who will be attending?
A: In addition to invited countries, entities that have indicated that they will attend include the heads of UNODC, INCB, OAS, INTERPOL, WCO, and Colombo Plan, and the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.
Q: What level of participation are you seeking?
A: We are seeking participation at the Foreign Minister level. We are requesting Foreign Ministers since the issue is cross cutting across health and security responses. However, some countries may decide to transfer the invitation to other applicable Ministers. Please note that we are only able to guarantee speaking roles for Ministerial-level attendees. However, other government representatives are invited to attend both the plenary and panel discussions in observer roles.
Q: What is the agenda and the format of the event? Is it in-person or virtual? How long will it last?
A: The Ministerial will be 4 hours long and consist of an opening, 3 panel discussions, a plenary (happening concurrent to the panel discussions), and a closing session. The event will be entirely virtual and will take place from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Washington, D.C time.
Q: What is the Minister expected to do? Is it mandatory to deliver remarks?
A: Countries that participate at the Minister level will be invited to deliver national statements in the plenary. While we would welcome a national statement in the plenary and engagement with the panels through Q&A, remarks are not mandatory if a country would prefer to solely attend the event in “listening mode.”
Q: Will there be national statements in the plenary? Who will be able to provide national statements? How long should the national statements be? Can we request certain timeslots? Will there be a Q&A?
A: Yes, all countries participating at the Minister-level will be able to provide national statements in the plenary. National statements should be brief (2-3 minutes) to allow sufficient time for all participants to deliver their statements within the allotted time. We will do our best to accommodate preferred timeslots within the given ranges for the national statements, taking time zones into account as well as allowing some flexibility for technical problems or other unexpected issues. We do not envision a Q&A period associated with the plenary or national statements, but there will likely be opportunities for Q&A in the concurrent panel discussions.
Q: What will the panel discussions cover? How long will they last? Will there be a Q&A?
A: There will be three consecutive panel discussions, each lasting one hour, that run concurrently with the plenary. The panel discussions will cover three key thematic areas: (1) preventing the illicit manufacture and trafficking of synthetic drugs, (2) detecting emerging drug threats and use patterns, and (3) promoting public health interventions and services to prevent and reduce drug use, overdose, and other related harms. We expect 40 minutes of panel presentations, followed by 20 minutes of Q&A.
Q: How do we RSVP for the event? Can we also RSVP for additional members of the delegation below the Minister level?
A: We sent out formal invitations through Washington-based embassies on May 18, which contained instructions for registering for the event. The RSVP Form provided in the invitation includes a field for identifying working-level POCs for both policy and logistics. Responses on that form will be how we formally track RSVPs for the Ministerial, so we would ask that attendees confirm their intent to participate and provide information regarding preferred POCs through the RSVP form provided in the invitation.
Q: Will there be translation/interpretation? If so, what languages?
A: The meeting will be conducted in English. However, interpretation will be provided into the following languages: French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, and Russian.
Q: Will closed captioning be provided? If so, what languages?
A: Closed captioning will be provided in the following languages: English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
Q: When will we receive log-in instructions? Will there be a technical check before the event?
A: Virtual log-in instructions will be provided no later than the week of June 26th. There will be a technical check in advance of the Ministerial to confirm that all technical systems properly connect. In order to resolve any technical issues, we strongly advise you participate in this session and do so with the same equipment and in the same location that will be used for the ministerial. The date for the technical check will be shared with the log-in instructions email.
Q: Will we be able to expand the Coalition to include like-minded countries?
A: We intend to broaden the Coalition’s membership and efforts after its launch in July beyond the initial set of countries invited to the Ministerial.
Q: What will the outcome document entail and what will be the process for negotiations?
A: Countries participating in the Ministerial will adopt a concise joint statement underscoring the importance of this issue and committing to cooperate through the Coalition to effectively address it. The document will be negotiated virtually in advance of the Ministerial at the working level before being formally adopted during the event.
Q: Can non-Ministers join the event?
A: Ministers will be invited to deliver brief national statements in the plenary and will be provided a speaker link to join the event. Other delegation members without speaking roles will be able to join with an observer link.
Q: What will be some of the sub-working group topics?
A: We hope to seek coalition partner input on the sub-groups but we have some ideas. Possible sub-groups include:
- strengthening regulatory controls over precursor chemicals, including non-scheduled precursors;
- building capacity of law enforcement, postal, regulatory, judicial, and prosecutorial authorities;
- increasing use of information sharing platforms to identify and alert member states to emerging threats and support joint investigations;
- establishing early warning drug surveillance systems and share national data;
- improve and expand the accessibility and quality of drug treatment; and
- developing and supporting policy best practices that support ongoing recovery.
We welcome other sub-group suggestions as well.