South Asia: Promoting the rule of law and countering drugs and crime
On 14 - 15 June 2012, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA) hosted an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) in New Delhi with the participation of the Governments of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka to discuss key challenges with regard to drugs and crime in the region. The meeting was also attended by UNWomen, the World Bank, the High Commission of Canada and the European Union.
The Experts discussed three thematic areas: (i) transnational organized crime, illicit trafficking, economic crimes and terrorism, (ii) criminal justice and crime prevention and (iii) drugs and HIV. During the discussions, the experts focussed in a first step on the issues that the region faces jointly and in a second, on those priority areas, for which they would require UNODC's assistance in its upcoming regional workprogramme (2013-2015).
Participants identified for all three working groups the following key needs: (i) more and better information and strategic analysis, (ii) strengthening the implementation of the normative and legal frameworks and (iii) concrete capacity-building measures. In addition, cross-cutting issues were identified, such as the need to (i) connect drug abuse and crime prevention strategies, (ii) promote cooperation and coordination among health and law enforcement practitioners as well as regulatory authorities and (iii) sensitize judiciary and law enforcement agencies on drugs and crime issues.
Most importantly, participants acknowledged the critical importance of reviewing regularly the drugs and crime situation and the national and regional policy responses through such a regional forum. In fact, it was the first time that UNODC Regional Office for South Asia brought together the six countries it covers to discuss the challenges of drugs and crime since the entry into force of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2003) and the United Nations Convention against Corruption (2005). Participants agreed that such comprehensive drug and crime policy meetings be held on an annual basis by UNODC.