The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Improving how governments track progress on global tobacco control

At their last meeting on global tobacco control, the world’s governments recognised that more needs to be done to assess how well they are putting in place the measures they committed to as Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC): what progress has been achieved, where Parties lag behind and on which areas they need to focus.

Meeting in the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the FCTC, in 2014, the 180 Parties set up an expert group to review and improve existing FCTC reporting arrangements, and to propose to COP7 a permanent mechanism to help Parties evaluate implementation progress.

Among its tasks, the expert group was requested to:

  • Examine reporting mechanisms of other international treaties, and
  • Recommend ways to strengthen the FCTC’s reporting arrangements and to develop a reporting and implementation review mechanism for the treaty.

Stepping up countries’ action on tobacco control will be crucial if the treaty is to continue to spur success in reducing tobacco use globally. Given the challenges that many countries face in implementing the treaty, such as tobacco industry interference, unpredictable technical support and small budgets, a review mechanism that merely highlights gaps in individual countries is unlikely to improve the situation.

Need to focus

The new mechanism should rather focus on identifying where implementation is strong, where it lags and what support would be most helpful to improve it, and then report this information to Parties at each COP session.

Since the expert group is scheduled to meet only once before COP7, research on how implementation review mechanisms work under human rights or environmental treaties will need to take place before the group convenes. Having the research results in hand will allow the experts to properly consider what implementation review practices are most relevant for the FCTC, and which information will hence need to be collected.

In order to deliver lasting solutions at COP7, the expert group will need to refrain from piecemeal approaches and instead focus on establishing a permanent system to strengthen implementation that will engage and encourage all Parties.

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