GS2025 - initiation of a new project to pilot the Implementation Review Mechanism
At its eighth session, the COP adopted the “Global Strategy to Accelerate Tobacco Control: Advancing Sustainable Development through the Implementation of the WHO FCTC 2019–2025” (in short: GS2025) , which is intended to guide the implementation of the WHO FCTC in the near future, including the activities of the Parties, the Convention Secretariat and other stakeholders.
In line with specific objective 3.1.2 of the GS2025, the creation, by 2020, of a peer-led WHO FCTC Implementation Review Mechanism (IRM) will facilitate addressing gaps and challenges of individual Parties, share lessons learnt and contribute to the implementation of the Strategy and the Convention as a whole.
The IRM is an initiative that captures a Party’s state of implementation of the Convention and provide advice on how best to close the gaps and overcome difficulties through application of good practices and various forms of assistance.
Following a call for expression of interest sent out to all Parties to the Convention in May 2019, 25 countries volunteered to have their implementation reviewed as part of the pilot project. Of those that expressed interest, 12 Parties were carefully selected (two in each of the six WHO regions) by a panel of nine experts. The potential panelists were approached by the Convention Secretariat for their sound knowledge and experience in public health policy, epidemiology, surveillance, monitoring, health law, international treaties, health economics, taxation, tobacco interference, etc.
A vast number of documents and sources of tobacco control related information were gathered by the Convention Secretariat for each of the volunteered Parties, including implementation reports, legislative texts and research papers.
Each Party was allocated two expert reviewers, who will be in regular contact with Parties’ respective focal point in order to collect complementary data and further information.
Mr. Mathieu Capouet, Head of Unit Animal Food, GMO and Tobacco, explains: “Belgium had volunteered for this project in order to benefit from an independent external perspective on its implementation of the WHO FCTC. Through this exercise, we hope to clearly identify the shortcomings in our tobacco control policies in order to fulfill them and offer to our population the best possible protection against the harmful effects of tobacco.”
Professor Zarihah Zain, from the Lincoln University College in Malaysia and one of the nine expert reviewers invited by the Convention Secretariat for the IRM pilot project, explains: “Compared with other formal instruments that evaluate a Party’s progress in implementing provisions of the Convention, this (IRM) pilot project aims at offering the most accurate and balanced appraisal. Unlike the Global Progress Report that collects information received from the Governments, the review carried out by this exercise will be carried between peer parties and will explore information from numerous sources, including shadow reports by civil societies.”
As this exercise is a pilot, experts, representing Parties’ peers, will test out various options to conduct the reviews, including desk research, further contacts at national level and, if necessary, country visits.
Dr. Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, Head of the WHO FCTC Secretariat reminds that: “This activity is built on guiding principles, which include transparency, efficiency, inclusiveness and impartiality. This is a non-intrusive non-adversarial and non-punitive process. The feedback from reviewers will be an opportunity to share good practices, constructive collaboration and common challenges with volunteer Parties. The IRM complements all existing supporting tools available from the Convention Secretariat to Parties.”
Individual reports will be delivered to the twelve volunteer Parties, and the overall report on the process, including outcomes, terms of reference of a potential future permanent implementation review mechanism, costs and process-related recommendations will be submitted for consideration to the upcoming ninth session of the COP that will take place in November 2020 in the Netherlands.