Center of Excellence for Reducing the Supply of Illicit Drugs - CdE

Centers of Excellence on Illicit Drug Supply Reduction and related topics

Published in October 2022

Contextualization of the theme

This chapter is intended to present promising practices related to Centers of Excellence (CdE) or Centers of Evidence in the area of ​​illicit drug supply and related topics. Specifically, according to some studies, the term “Center of Excellence” can be characterized as a strategy that seeks to integrate specialized technical skills, develop high quality research and/or services, bring innovative mechanisms and technology (MANYAZEWAL, 2021).

Historically, CoEs have been established by various institutions and fields of knowledge, they aim to create networks for sharing knowledge and improving skills and the search for “Excellence” is a practice to be incorporated into all work processes. In a bibliographic research on the implementation and characterization of CoEs globally, the emphasis of CoEs in the health area was identified and one of the main characteristics observed, regardless of the theme addressed, is that all CoEs have in common the notion of excellence and value for related requirements, such as high research quality and productivity, fundraising, international visibility, and organizational attractiveness and soundness.

On the other hand, with the growing recognition of scientific knowledge and the use of different methodologies for the planning, execution, monitoring and evaluation of actions within the scope of public management, in the mid-1970s, the so-called “revolution of evidences” spread. ”, which gained emphasis in the 1990s, by the Evidence-Based Public Policy (PPBE) movement (WHITE, 2019). This movement has been influencing the public management scenario globally, and proposes that the best available scientific evidence be used to support the formulation, execution and evaluation of public policies, aiming at the production of knowledge and their continuous improvement (KOPTTIKE, 2019).

Therefore, the PPBE movement seeks dialogue between three different areas: scientific, political and public policies (people who carry out public policies at the cutting edge), aiming at the complementarity of visions and knowledge, to qualify the development and use of evidence, in four steps:

1. Production of evidence: promotion for the production of primary program evaluations;

2. Systematization of evidence: support for the systematization of available evidence, with the aim of producing evidence syntheses;

3. Evidence translation: construction of systematized evidence translation tools that are easy to access and understand for the general public, such as the construction of portals and visual tools;

4. Institutionalization: formal incorporation of the use of evidence in the cycle of public policies and creation of internal bodies in the different areas focused on the production, systematization and dissemination of evidence, ensuring that this process is professionalized and enters the management routine, with support for long-term and strong investments in the training of prepared personnel, production of quality data and in large-scale research, independent of changes in government (KOPITTKE, 2019, p. 48).

According to White (2019), it is possible to observe the emergence of Evidence Base Centers, with emphasis in the last two decades, as a result of the aforementioned movement, which foster and strengthen the growth of the use of evidence to indicate “what works” (White, 2019). and what doesn't work” in the various areas of public management. Such Evidence Centers “are governmental bodies with scientific autonomy and (…) they seek to qualify the model of public policies” (KOPITTKE, 53, p.1997), and were implemented, for example, in England, from 1990; in the United States, since the late 2009s; and in China in XNUMX.

The movement extended to several other areas, such as public safety, due to the demand for the production of reliable evidence applicable to everyday practice, in order to support decision-making (LUM; KOPER; TELEP, 2010). The production of evidence-based knowledge aims to break with the ideals of implementing public policies based on beliefs, traditions, personal and/or economic interests and help their improvement based on the conclusions of studies and research, which indicate the possible positive and negative impacts. of certain actions. In this sense, as the production of knowledge increases, important advances are made. The following will present some experiences of Centers of Excellence, or similar initiatives on the subject of reducing the supply of illicit drugs, fighting drug trafficking and crime by organizing transnational corporations and public security.

Methodology and description of experiences

UNODC Centers of Excellence

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is the UN's specialized body in drug control and crime prevention, having extensive international experience in the production, analysis and dissemination of statistics on drugs and crime, as well as in promoting regional and international cooperation. . It is the guardian of the three international drug control conventions and the UN conventions against corruption and transnational organized crime. UNODC's leading role in the field of information management and applied knowledge is evidenced by the different actions carried out by the institution. For example, publications such as the preparation of technical studies on new psychoactive substances — Global SMART Program — and the World Drug Report — World Drug Report — stand out, among others.

Statistical information is an important part of the decision-making process for the government. The dynamic reality of crime and its impact on society and public policies highlight the need to generate quality data in order to understand trends and patterns in relation to crime and violence, illicit trafficking, access to justice, rule of law and corruption. .

The establishment of “Centers of Excellence” or “Centers for International Cooperation” is a UNODC strategy to provide technical assistance to Member States; produce accessible, transparent and methodologically sound statistical information and data that can be shared at the national level and compared across different countries and regions; and also to monitor relevant targets of the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030.

In general, the CdE is a regional innovation centre for the exchange of knowledge, experiences and information between the various stakeholders involved, such as: national criminal statistics systems, bodies and institutions in the area of ​​public security, criminal justice, and others. relevant entities from universities, NGOs and civil society, in order to foster a collaborative network in this field.

The CdE provides technical assistance, training activities and capacity building to support Member States in improving methodologies, statistics, technical capacities with respect to the production, collection, analysis and dissemination of data on crime and criminal justice for policy making. evidence-based.

Among the activities carried out by the CoEs, special focus is given to the promotion and implementation of the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (ICCS), crime victimization surveys, corruption surveys, increasing the availability and quality of data, support for the production of methodologies and data indicators needed to monitor relevant Sustainable Development Goals in the areas of crime, violence, trafficking, access to justice and the rule of law (SDGs 3, 5, 11, 15 and 16).

Center of Excellence in Statistical Information on Government, Public Security, Victimization and Justice in Mexico (CdE Mexico)

The Center of Excellence in Statistical Information on Government, Public Security, Victimization and Justice in Mexico (CdE UNODC-INEGI, which in this document will be called by the acronym CdE Mexico), was established in 2011, by a collaboration agreement between UNODC and the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico (INEGI). It is important to note that the initiative unfolded from previous activities developed in partnership, based on INEGI's interest in receiving technical assistance from UNODC to carry out its first National Victimization Survey in 2009.

INEGI is an autonomous public body in Mexico that regulates and coordinates the National System of Statistical and Geographical Information. It is responsible for producing and disseminating statistical information on demographic, social, economic, governmental, public security, victimization and justice phenomena, which allows for greater knowledge of the different characteristics of the country and guides decision-making.

With the implementation of the partnership, CdE Mexico began its activities with headquarters in Mexico City. The breadth of its activities is global; however, the focus is mainly on working with countries and institutions in Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. Therefore, the main partners and beneficiaries are organizations dedicated to the production of statistical analyses, such as universities, non-governmental organizations, national statistical institutes and other actors linked to the criminal justice system and related topics.

Governance Structure of CdE Mexico


The Management, Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, established by INEGI and UNODC, meets twice a year on an ordinary basis, and on an extraordinary basis when necessary. Decisions are made by consensus and some of their main objectives are:

  • Review progress in implementing the CdE Mexico work plan.

  • Give direction to the implementation of the activities established in the work plan
    of CdE Mexico.

  • Approve the work plan, as well as the annual budget and other project documents/reviews.

  • Discuss and approve the main international initiatives of the CoE that were not included in the approved work plan, taking into account the substantive and financial implications for the CoE.


The Advisory Committee guides the activities of the Center of Excellence, with the function of:

  • Ensure the relevance and quality of products.

  • Propose new relevant activities, areas of opportunity and lines of research.

CdE Mexico's main objective is to strengthen statistical, analytical and monitoring capacities in the areas of government, victimization, public security and criminal justice at the local, national and regional levels. In 2011, CdE Mexico had only two (2) employees, a team that expanded based on its growth and demands. The current team is made up of more than 15 professionals, including researchers, data analysts, statisticians, specialists in work topics, among others, aiming at multidisciplinarity.

Asia Pacific Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics Center of Excellence (CoE Korea)

Based on the CdE Mexico model, which has shown effective results, in February 2019 the Center of Excellence in Statistics on Crime and Criminal Justice in Asia and the Pacific (CdE UNODC-KOSTAT, which in this document will be called by the acronym CdE Korea) was established. through the partnership between UNODC and Korea Statistics (KOSTAT), which is based in Daejeon, Republic of Korea.

The initiative emerged after a meeting of the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC), which established and updated a Work Plan to support countries in their production of data needed to monitor the SDGs. The Work Plan reflects a broad approach to improving crime and criminal justice statistics at a global level, based on four main pillars: 1. Development of methodological tools; 2. Capacity building; 3. Collection and analysis of international data and 4. Strengthening of the institutional structure of the Asian and Pacific countries to implement the above-mentioned Work Plan.

Therefore, the CoE Korea was created with the objective of supporting the countries of Asia and the Pacific region in the improvement of data and statistics on crime and criminal justice, for the monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 16 – Peace , justice and effective institutions. The region has more than 60% of the global population, and faces significant challenges against organized crime, corruption, access to justice and the rule of law. Admittedly, these problems compromise sustainable development, at the same time that this is an enabling factor for States to advance in preventing and confronting these issues. Thus, sustainable development and the rule of law are intertwined.

CdE Korea Governance Structure


The Project Steering Committee is made up of representatives of partner institutions, and has as some of its main objectives:

  • Develop the CoE Korea Strategy and Work Plan and monitor progress
    from the project.

  • Ensure the relevance and quality of CdE Korea activities.

  • Establish links regionally and internationally, enabling strategic partnerships between CdE Korea and international organizations.



The Regional Advisory Group is composed of experts in statistics on crime and criminal justice, users of such data and information with knowledge on the subject, and representatives of regional/international institutions active in the areas of statistics and/or crime. The Group provides technical advice on the CoE Korea Strategy and Work Plan, and regularly reviews the progress of its activities as necessary. The group also analyzes the achievements of CdE Korea in order to ensure the relevance and quality of its products, suggesting innovations, areas of opportunity for possible partnerships and research activities. Its main functions are:

  • Ensure the relevance and quality of CdE Korea products.

  • Advise on relevant activities, raising issues and areas of opportunity.

  • Provide guidance on short- and medium-term program priorities.

  • Promote CdE Korea and its activities at regional and international level.

  • Facilitate the construction of synergies with relevant actors.

Main activities of the CdEs Mexico and Korea

  • Providing technical assistance to countries in the region to improve the quality and availability of criminal statistics on public security, corruption, government, and justice;
  • Organization of training and qualification activities, as well as the development of research projects;
  • Contribution to the development and implementation of international standards for the improvement and strengthening of systems and statistical information on security and criminal justice — for example, the International Classification of Crime for statistical purposes;
  • Development of new methodologies, indicators and tools to analyze and measure phenomena related to conventional crime and emerging practices, public safety, victimization, justice and government;
  • Active promotion of the development and improvement of institutional capacities in relation to victimization research in Latin America;
  • Assistance in measuring SDG indicators, specifically Goal 16.

Pilot Project of the Center of Excellence on Reducing the Supply of Illicit Drugs in Brazil (CdE Brazil)

The CdE Brasil Pilot Project is the result of a partnership between the National Secretariat for Drug Policies and Asset Management (SENAD), UNODC and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), within the scope of the Project BRA/15/009 , through the Contribution Agreement signed on 28 May 2020 between UNDP and UNODC. Its creation proposal was based on the previous promising experiences of the Centers of Excellence within the UNODC. CdE Brasil's objective is to promote, systematize and disseminate evidence-based knowledge, as well as to strengthen technical and institutional capacities for the improvement and monitoring of public policies that contribute to the reduction of drug supply, highlighting the need for a qualified approach to fighting transnational organized crime.

SENAD plays a central role in the national and international scenario of acting to reduce the supply of drugs, and of advising and monitoring drug policies - especially those aimed at repressing illicit production and trafficking from an integrated approach to other related crimes, such as organized crime, money laundering, corruption, in addition to the administration of assets seized in the context of repression of drug trafficking.

Given the complexity of these challenges, and understanding that the collection of data and the promotion of analyzes are fundamental to guide SENAD's performance, which is increasingly based on evidence, the proposal for the creation of the Center of Excellence for the Reduction of the Supply of Illicit Drugs (CdE Brazil). UNODC, which has been working since 1991 in partnership with the Brazilian government, according to national priorities, was appointed to support SENAD in the implementation of this project, considering its relevant role as a specialized UN entity in drug control and crime prevention.

Therefore, a partnership was established between the UN Agencies and SENAD for the implementation of the CdE, with the central objective of helping SENAD to devise strategies to combat the supply of illicit drugs — an essential element of the criminal dynamics in Brazil and in the United States. South America.

Summary table of the Centers of Excellence

Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI)

CBSI is a program that aims to reduce illicit trafficking, strengthen public security and promote social justice in the Caribbean region. The initiative was developed in dialogue between the United States and Caribbean countries in 2009, formally launched in 2010, and brings together members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Dominican Republic and the United States, represented mainly by the State Department's (State ) Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the Agency for International Development (USAID). Therefore, the CBSI is part of the security pillar of the US-Caribbean Strategy 2020, constituting a shared security partnership, through an assistance program from the United States, which allocated, from 2010 to 2021, the amount of $751 million to the CBSI.

Such actions resulted from growing concern about the possibility of an increase in drug trafficking in the Caribbean region — which, due to its geographical location, has become a relevant route for drug trafficking from South America and destined for drug markets in the United States and Europe, for example, across the Caribbean Sea. Many countries in the region have also suffered from a significant increase in violent crime, including homicides, largely related to drug trafficking activities.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank have identified drug trafficking as a major driver of homicide and other violent crime in the Caribbean region (UNITED NATIONS OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME, 2007; IDB, 2017). Such threats to security in the region pose several risks to its development and stability.

The CBSI member countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Some countries such as Haiti and Belize, and Caribbean islands, have benefited from the program's actions as well. Therefore, the CBSI seeks to strengthen the capacities of police forces in the countries in order to contribute to the increase of security in the region and the qualification of actions to prevent, investigate and prosecute crime. In this context, the INL supports security forces training and equipment procurement, and USAID works in the areas of increasing opportunities for at-risk youth and improving the skills of actors in the criminal justice system.

The United States and Caribbean countries have identified three key objectives for addressing the public security threats facing the Caribbean today:

  1. Substantially reduce illicit trafficking with actions to combat drug and illicit arms trafficking and other related illicit flows.
  2. Strengthen Public Security through professionalization programs for related institutions, the provision of technical assistance and training; and also to favor the improvement of the rule of law by supporting the development of the justice sector.
  3. Promote Social Justice with crime prevention activities in vulnerable communities, reforms in the police and criminal justice sectors, anti-corruption programs and increased educational, economic and social opportunities for at-risk youth.

Caribbean countries receiving CBSI assistance


CBSI's strategies are agreed annually at the Annual US-Caribbean Security Cooperation Dialogue, which brings together CARICOM members, the Dominican Republic and the United States. The Dialogue also reviews the progress of CBSI activities, and sets goals for the coming year, as well as working groups and technical assessments, which assist in evaluating and monitoring the program's impact on security in the region. In order to better understand the activities carried out, the description of actions in the member countries follows:

  • Increasing the capacity of military and police forces to safeguard the security of citizens and combat drug trafficking through training, technical assistance, professional development opportunities, and equipment procurement.
  • Training, technical assistance and acquisition of equipment to improve efforts to combat drug trafficking and maritime interdiction capacity; including interceptor boats, as well as logistical support and maintenance training.
  • Technical advice and training to strengthen investigative and litigation capacity for confiscation of civilian assets.
  • Training and advisory support to justice sector institutions to implement modern penal legislation and procedures to incorporate best practices in regional law, aimed at improving the efficiency of the criminal justice system.
  • Strengthening the juvenile justice system by supporting the reform of the legal framework, training the justice sector, promoting the use of penal alternatives, and modernizing detention processes to create a focus on the social reintegration of juveniles in conflict with the law.
  • Marine maintenance training and technical advice from the technical assistance field team to improve the operational readiness of your patrol boat fleet, to include equipment and technologies that ensure maintenance issues are tracked.
  • Ongoing training and maintenance of vessels in the USA.
  • Providing opportunities for the development of professional skills for young people, in order to favor their insertion in the labor market, thus reducing the risk of their involvement in criminal activities.
  • Encouraging the development of talents and skills among at-risk youth, enabling them to access educational and vocational programs for their positive contribution to society.
  • Technical assistance and training to security forces officials on police reform; more effective crime processing; reduction of corruption; increased transparency; increased knowledge about gender-based violence; combating money laundering and organized crime; and increased security at the countries' ports of entry.
  • Strengthening the criminal justice system, improving the timeliness and effectiveness of criminal proceedings and providing dispute resolution services and improving access to justice.
  • Assistance in the development and implementation of a national emergency response system.
    Providing subsidies and expertise to local efforts to combat human trafficking.


In 2012, the Caribbean Police Academy's Regional Training Initiative created CBSI-Connect — a technological mechanism with the objective of facilitating the availability of training, capacity building and working together among the different institutions that are part of the program.

Therefore, CBSI-Connect is a virtual training platform on topics of interest to police forces that includes courses and a learning management system and, in addition, offers mechanisms that enable videoconferences and events and information sharing. . The CBSI-Connect Learning Management system is made up of a series of subsites connected to the main site through account replication. To facilitate its implementation, multimedia equipment was installed in the spaces of 18 participating institutions, which connect with their own logins and credentials, but previously authorized — since the tool is for the exclusive use of specific people and institutions.

CBSI-Connect participating institutions

With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of CBSI-Connect has been reinforced, as virtual learning and remote meetings and training have become common and necessary, in addition to providing greater savings and agility in the development of some activities.

The tool is intended to help consolidate the CBSI as a Regional Center of Excellence aimed at strengthening and improving the capacities of public security institutions, by providing training to institutions in the region and increasing their ability to work in an integrated manner, since CBSI-Connect facilitates interactions and offers technical knowledge courses, to even contribute to the standardization of guidelines and guidelines in the area of ​​public security in the region.


Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Center for combating the illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors – CARICC

CARICC is a regional action centre with the objective of coordinating and facilitating, among the different participating countries and institutions, joint international operations and actions to combat illicit drug trafficking, as well as the collection, storage and sharing of relevant information. on cross-border crime associated with illicit trafficking.

It was established within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding on subregional cooperation on drug control of 4 May 1996 between the following countries: Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russian Federation, Republic of of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan and the UNODC. In addition to the agreement signed between these countries, CARICC has a well-defined operating structure, with more than 30 employees in different divisions of work, as well as a regulation that indicates its objectives, functions, organization of information flows between liaison and representatives of countries, institutions, among other additional points.

Among the main objectives and activities of CARICC are:

  • Coordination of efforts among member states to combat illicit drug trafficking at the regional level.
  • Facilitation of international cooperation and establishment of cooperation mechanisms among the competent authorities of the member states in the fight against cross-border crime associated with illicit drug trafficking.
  • Assistance in organizing and executing joint international operations and investigations, including controlled deliveries.
  • Collection, storage, protection, analysis and exchange of information in the field of combating illicit drug trafficking.
  • Technical assistance in the development and standardization of information systems, including the databases of the competent authorities of the Parties involved;
  • Formulation and implementation of flows and systems for the exchange of information, as well as the installation and operation of advanced software for information analysis;
  • Assistance to the competent authorities of the Parties, as well as to other States whose territory is used for the illicit production and trafficking of drugs, in the implementation of drug control programs, as requested;
  • Assistance in harmonizing the legal and regulatory framework of member states in the context of combating illicit drug trafficking;
  • Holding of conferences, training and seminars on improving methods of combating illicit drug trafficking and strengthening international cooperation.

Insight crime

InSight Crime seeks to foster debate around the topic of organized crime in South America, Central America and the Caribbean, through the development of research, analysis and policy recommendations on how to face the multiple challenges it presents. In this regard, consultancies may also be provided upon request by governments. It is mainly characterized by the application of investigative journalism as a technique for the construction of its analyses, considering different perspectives in its research, from field interviews with different actors, legal and illegal.

In addition to regular publications and reports, Insight Crime has been developing innovative tools, such as interactive maps and databases and information through open sources, to inform about organized crime in the Americas.

University for Peace (UPEACE) – Chair on Illicit Trade and Transnational Organized Crime

The United Nations System UPEACE, located in Costa Rica, started in January 2021 the Chair on Illicit Trade and Transnational Organized Crime with the aim of contributing to the development of research and actions for the prevention of illicit trade and transnational organized crime in regional scope. Theoretical and conceptual approaches to the impact of organized crime on society and its relations with the States will underpin the activities developed, as well as studies on conflicts and aspects of structural violence.

Its structure consists of three pillars of action: 1) Teaching, where training will be promoted between students at the University of Peace and external participants, in order to promote international cooperation strategies to combat illicit trade and transnational organized crime; 2) Academic research on topics of interest, in order to support public and international policies and 3) Events to share experiences and promote the acquisition of knowledge, in articulation and cooperation with strategic partners.


The experiences described demonstrate that the Centers and initiatives have the common objective of generating subsidies for the development of public actions and policies guided by evidence and promising practices, the strengthening of data and statistics in the themes of work, international cooperation and qualified sharing , and sometimes protected, of information.

Within the scope of Centers similar to the CdE in Brazil, the establishment of “Centers of Excellence” or “Centers for International Cooperation” has been a UNODC strategy to generate and develop statistical information on drugs and crime. The Mexico Center, by way of example, was created in 2011 to contribute to the development of good practices that provide tools for the improvement of public policies, development of methodologies with proven effectiveness, facilitation of cooperation between countries and technical training. The aforementioned Center has been considered a leader in the area of ​​statistics on crime and drugs at the international level, through the promotion of inter-institutional collaboration at national and regional levels, support to national institutions for the effective use of data in the formulation of policies, and the development of methodologies and studies — supported by UNODC's technical expertise.

In this sense, it has become a regional reference in conducting and training Victimization Surveys, and has also provided technical assistance and support to more than 10 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean for the adoption of the International Classification of Crime for statistical purposes. On the topic of Corruption, CdE Mexico has been working to establish strategies to measure corruption, has prepared a framework of indicators on corruption in cooperation with institutions in Mexico and Ecuador, a manual of research on corruption, in addition to carrying out specific research in Mexico on the theme. Additionally, several innovative and statistical methodologies have been implemented, such as for measuring organized crime, illicit financial flows and femicide.

Since the implementation of the CdE Mexico and Korea, several results have been observed through the promotion and construction of a community of knowledge and communication around the topics addressed, such as the promotion of seminars, inter-institutional meetings, training, courses and the facilitation of cooperation international between countries.

Some practices were identified, which can support the consolidation of the CdE in Brazil, such as the organizational structure of these Centers, which is based on objective models, aiming to ensure agility in decision-making processes, but also their transparency, the gradual expansion of the teams of work, according to the growth of research activities, technical assistance, development and application of indicators and methodologies, improvement of data and statistics. Additionally, these Centers have advisory groups made up of specialists who can advise on trends, windows of opportunity, and ensure the quality and relevance of the actions carried out and under planning. It is also important to point out that they are continuously guided and advised by UNODC specialists, through partnerships and joint work, which are the differential aspect to ensure their insertion in international debates on work themes, the technical relevance for the development of research and innovation aspects.

It can be seen that the trend towards the emergence and consolidation of Centers of Excellence and similar initiatives, such as Observatories and Research Centers around the world, on the subject of public security, which can be explained by the growing demand for qualified and reliable information, as well as the need to strengthen strategies and international cooperation to face the problem of drug trafficking and transnational organized crime.


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