Presentation by Mr. Gary Lewis
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East Asia and Pacific: UNODC presents regional update and announces threat assessment project

Vienna (Austria), 30 March 2011 - The UNODC regional office for East Asia and Pacific today in Vienna presented an implementation update of the region's programme for the period 2009 - 2012.

UNODC has made notable achievements in 2010, supporting the Member States of the region to tackle their crime, drugs, corruption and terrorism challenges. Some examples of outcomes contributed to that are profiled in the report include: Thailand has ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption; Nauru became one of only seven countries in the world to ratify all of the counter-terrorism instruments; Cambodia opened its first methadone clinic; and in Lao PDR, more than 50 villages benefited from alternative livelihood opportunities.

In 2010, UNODC's programme portfolio in the region grew by more than forty per cent compared with 2009, while the overall amount of pledged resources to the programme is now at $73.5 million, establishing UNODC as a credible and reliable partner to foster development and security in the region.

Speaking during the event which was attended by donors and representatives of Member States in the region, Francis Maertens, UNODC Director of Operations said, "I firmly believe that this Regional Programme has allowed UNODC to act more strategically, developing linkages and synergies on both a thematic and a geographic basis, while at the same time facilitating greater cooperation between States. For example, UNODC is now working in partnership with ASEAN countries to establish a regional network of prosecutors to strengthen responses to transnational organised crime; and the scope of the UNODC-supported Border Liaison Offices has broadened significantly beyond drug trafficking to also respond effectively to migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings, illicit products and environmental crime."

Gary Lewis, Regional Representative for East Asia and Pacific, said, "This being our second consolidated report on the achievements of the Regional Programme for East Asia and the Pacific, our focus remains squarely on articulating our contribution to development results, rather than simply providing an account of activities we carried out over the preceding 12 months. I hope that the reader can therefore quickly identify, in this report, the improvements in human development, justice and security which we are trying, along with our partners, to promote."

Transnational organized crime threat assessment

Mr. Lewis said that in addition to accounting for what the office achieved in 2010, the update also outlines new and emerging threats as a result of globalization: "East and South-East Asia is one of the most rapidly developing parts of the world. Global experience has shown us that positive and welcome developments also provide opportunities for transnational organized crime to expand, such as the increase in demand for and supply of illicit drugs, for forced labour, for sex workers, for counterfeit products and for limited or protected natural resources (like timber, fish and wildlife)."

In an effort to describe the nature and scale of transnational organized crime in this diverse region of thirty-four countries and territories, Mr. Lewis announced that the office is working on a Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment for East Asia and Pacific, which builds on the 2010 UNODC report, The Globalization of Crime. The report, slated for launch in the fourth quarter of 2011, will inform policy makers in the region and globally, as well as assist in planning responses.

In the upcoming year, the seven offices in East Asia and the Pacific will work jointly to start the work of reviewing and revising the Regional Programme for the next cycle (2013-2016). As part of this process, the current strong platform of work will be consolidated, and even greater efforts will be made to realise UNODC's commitment to affecting a real change in its operations, bringing the organisation together and re-orientating it towards a strategic, results-based and impact driven way of working.

Mr. Maertens thanked all partners, in particular the Governments in the region, for their ongoing support to the Programme, and expressed appreciation to managers, experts and support staff on the ground for their commitment to this regional undertaking.