Marco Teixeira – Senior Programme Officer, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Marco Teixeira – Senior Programme Officer, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

United Nations
Marco Teixeira

Portuguese national, Marco Teixeira, joined UNODC in 2011 and the Corruption and Economic Crime Branch, Division for Treaty Affairs, of UNODC in January 2019 as the Senior Programme Officer and Coordinator of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, aimed at helping countries achieve a positive and sustainable impact on criminal justice, corruption prevention and the rule of law. He leads a team of dedicated professionals, both in Vienna and in the field, responsible for providing technical assistance and the dissemination of materials and tools related to education, youth crime prevention through sports, judicial integrity and the rehabilitation of prisoners.

Passionate about his work, Mr. Teixeira champions a holistic managerial approach, based on knowledge sharing, productive team engagement and extensive coordination. Mr. Teixeira professes a keen personal interest in practical developments and scholarly achievements in the areas of crime prevention and, law enforcement cooperation, avidly incorporating best practices and the most recent advancements into work processes and conceptual designs of substantive components of the Programme. Prior to joining UNODC, Mr. Teixeira worked for the Portuguese Public Security Police in a variety of managerial roles with a focus on criminal investigation management from 2000 to 2011, including in a secondment to the UN Special Political Mission (UNIOGBIS).

Young people are the focus of two of the four principal components of the Doha Declaration Global Programme. In which ways do these two components work to achieve the Programme’s objectives?

The two components of the Global Programme dedicated to youth are the Education for Justice (E4J) initiative and the Youth Crime Prevention through Sport (YCP) initiative. These two components have impacted over one million young people and youth worldwide and developed over 150 educational tools and resources aimed at young people, including university modules, training guides, a Resource Guide on Model United Nations conferences, sport-based curriculums and youth activities, and a series of educational games.

The Education for Justice Initiative seeks to prevent crime and promote the rule of law through education activities and materials designed for primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Overall, E4J's objective is to empower youth to become socially responsible global citizens with a sound moral and ethical compass who are prepared to tackle the world’s challenges related to the rule of law. This is done through a variety of innovative activities and dialogues with youth from all over the world in areas related to SDG 16.

The Youth Crime Prevention through Sport initiative focuses on the power of sports as a tool for strengthening the resilience of at-risk youth. Sport is used in the YCP initiative for the development of life skills and learning and promoting pro-social attitudes and behaviours, addressing harmful stereotypes and normative believes linked to violence and crime, and creating safe spaces for youth to develop and interact. To this end, UNODC has developed tailored tools and materials including “Line Up Live Up”, a sport-based life skills training curriculum for young people. 

These two initiatives of the Global Programme empower young people as drivers of social progress and further increase the impact of our programme’s implementation strategy by building young people’s agency, advancing their rights around the world, and by ensuring their engagement and participation in their communities, as well as the development and implementation of our tools and activities. 

In this regard, how has the Programme encouraged young people’s active participation in the development of content and activities from the aforementioned components?

The Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, and namely its Education for Justice (E4J) and Youth Crime Prevention (YCP) initiatives, have always ensured the engagement and participation of youth in the development and implementation of the programme’s tools and activities. 

In the YCP initiative, youth engagement is at the core of the “Line Up Live Up” programme which uses a participatory approach and methodology where young people have the chance to share their views, perspectives, and life experiences. Furthermore, feedback from young participants was collected throughout the process of development, testing and piloting of “Line Up Live Up” through tailored self-reporting tools and focus group discussions and considered in the design and delivery of the programme, including in tailoring it at a national and local context to meet the needs and realities of young people. Youth were also empowered and engaged in awareness-raising activities addressing their peers, including through a series of testimonial videos on #choosesport, the development of video content using a participatory video approach, and several youth and sport events.

For their part, keeping in mind this very dynamic target group and the great effort and resources that would be needed in finding the concept that would be attractive to them, the E4J team decided to opt for an approach that allows for the involvement of the future users of these products from the start of this initiative. By involving youth in the development of its tools and activities, E4J is seeking to find out how students at this age understand the topics that are at the core of UNODCs mandates and what kind of approach they would take to teach justice values among their peers.

Within the specific field of juvenile justice, which actions would you highlight from among those which have been carried out in the Programme’s framework?

Under the Youth Crime Prevention through Sport initiative we promote and support holistic evidence-based crime prevention, addressing root causes and push and pull factors linked to youth victimisation and engagement to violence, crime and drug use. This includes social development approaches, using educational and sport-based interventions, and is not limited to law enforcement or criminal justice responses. It not only promotes the integration of sport and social development approaches in crime prevention frameworks, but also the integration of crime prevention objectives in education, youth and sport policies, applying a multiagency and coordinated approach, bringing together the law enforcement, justice, education, child protection, health, youth, and sports sectors.

Furthermore, the “Line Up Live Up” programme, built upon UN standards and norms on crime prevention and juvenile justice and the relevant research findings that underline the effectiveness of life skills programmes to youth violence and crime prevention, is using sport as a tool for delivering life skills training and learning. The objective is for young people to build their resilience to violence and crime and addressing harmful normative believes and stereotypes that are related to violence and crime, aiming to change young people’s perceptions and promote prosocial behaviour, wellbeing and positive development. The “Line Up Live Up” programme is tailored and delivered in different settings, including in juvenile facilities supporting social reintegration of young people in conflict with the law.

The great work done in the creation and validation of materials from the E4J and YCP initiatives has involved many experts from different countries. How would you assess the degree of acceptance that these materials have achieved amongst young people and educators?

I believe that the number of beneficiaries reached by the initiatives speak for themselves and are a true testimony to the high degree of acceptance of the tools, materials and activities implemented under the two initiatives. The development of the tools under both initiatives was supported by a wide range of experts from different academic and cultural backgrounds to ensure that the materials are not just widely inclusive, but also that they remain relevant in different cultural contexts. 

The E4J initiative has so far reached over 50,000 people from nearly 180 countries through over 320 activities, including 35,000 people that have received direct-capacity building support from 260 events. In addition, the E4J website reached roughly half a million users in 2019. As a result of this support, over 1,000,000 young people globally have been taught using E4J materials. 

E4J's efforts culminated in two high-level conferences held in Austria in October 2019 and virtually in 2020 to build on the results thus far achieved in using education as a tool to strengthen the rule of law worldwide, primarily through diversified and creative educational approaches and activities.

Regarding the YCP initiative, the data collected by young participants and the trainers, teachers and coaches working with youth on the “Line Up Live Up” programme, and the high participation rates in programme activities, clearly show a high level of acceptance and appreciation of the programme and the training materials. 

For example, data collected among 11,746 youth in the eleven pilot countries reveal high participation rates, with over 73% of young participants who responded to our survey attending 7-10 of the 10 sessions. Over 93% participants reported that they are highly or very satisfied with the overall programme, that its content and methodology is age-appropriate and relevant, and properly adapted to the local context and cultures.  97% of young people indicated that the programme met their expectations and would recommend it to their peers and friends. 

For their part, over 90% of the 836 trainers in these eleven countries declared that they were highly or very satisfied with the training approach and material pointing out in particular  its relevance and effectiveness in engaging young people in a meaningful way, especially those who are difficult to reach through more formal, class-based interventions, 

The Programme has had to confront new challenges derived from the worldwide situation brought about by the COVID pandemic in this last year. In which new ways has the Programme implemented its activities this year to face this situation and offer suitable responses in the areas that it covers?

The Global Programme has upscaled its efforts to ensure that its implementation rate is not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Programme focused on increasing international access to its more than 200 tools and materials through intensified multilingualism efforts such as the translation of its materials, as well as the implementation of activities in different languages. 

E4J also joined the COVID-19 Education Coalition under the leadership of UNESCO to ensure that learning and education for young people does not stop during the pandemic and upscaled its efforts to deliver capacity-building activities virtually. 

Among the activities implemented by the initiative during the COVID pandemic, I would like to highlight the "The Lockdown Learners" series of interactive online dialogues on promoting SDGs and youth action with students and educators, which was launched in Delhi and Mumbai, India, where educational materials were distributed to 598 schools, reaching 260,000 students. 

Another example would be the broadcasting of the Zorbs animation series on the national TV of the Republic of Kazakhstan and in Uzbekistan as part of the countries’ national efforts to ensuring that learning never stops, even during lockdown, reaching over 5 million students. 

The Crime Prevention through Sports initiative also continued engaging youth in the COVID era through sport-based interventions, both via face-to face and online activities, such as sport challenges, aimed to provide opportunities for youth participation and empowerment to address increased risks for youth victimisation and engagement to violence and crime as a result of the pandemic.

For example, in Central Asia online sport challenges were organised encouraging sport and physical activity as a way to cope with anxiety and stress linked to lockdown measures, promote mental health and wellbeing for families, children and youth and promote positive interaction engaging thousands of young people, including children with disabilities and those lacking parental care, ensuring that no-one is left behind. Online training activities for young people and trainers were also provided.

I would also like to stress a series of national and regional webinars organised by the Crime Prevention through Sport initiative on youth and COVID-19, raising awareness on the social impact of COVID-19 on children and youth, especially those that are already marginalised, and underlining the need to strengthen and expand support services during and after the pandemic, also through sport-based interventions.

In March, the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice took place in Kyoto (Japan), with the title of “Advancing crime prevention, criminal justice and the rule of law: towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda”. Within this framework, a new declaration was adopted, the Kyoto declaration. How are the actions derived from this new declaration expected to relate to those currently being carried out through the Doha Declaration Global Programme?

The 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice provided a unique opportunity for the international community to undertake a comprehensive stocktaking exercise in order to determine the role of criminal justice systems and their institutions in contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and particularly, Goal 16. 

The new Kyoto Declaration reiterates the importance of youth empowerment and participation in crime prevention efforts, and it refers in particular to the power of sport, alongside other educational measures as a tool of youth engagement. Furthermore, in the Congress’ discussions on “Comprehensive strategies for crime prevention towards social and economic development”, sport was included as one of the mechanisms to help young people and children to become more resilient to crime.

Similarly, the Congress’ workshop on "Education and youth engagement as key to making societies resilient to crime", which was focused on education and sports, underlined the importance of quality education and sport to build youth and community resilience, offering concrete recommendations to enhance the use of education and sport in crime prevention efforts targeting youth.  

In line with this, the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration will continue to work towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by mainstreaming topics such as sustainable development, the rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice, gender, and human rights in all of the programme’s activities.