Myanmar and UNODC sign landmark agreement to strengthen the rule of law and counter crime and drug threats
Yangon/Naypyitaw (Myanmar), 18 August 2014 - Following a year of negotiations the Government of Myanmar and UNODC today signed a landmark integrated Country Programme for 2014-2017, agreeing to collaborate together to strengthen the rule law and address significant crime and drug issues. President Thein Sein and the Cabinet reviewed and approved the Country Programme which was signed by the Ministry of Planning and UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast and the Pacific, Mr. Jeremy Douglas.
The Country Programme comes at a critical time as Myanmar is the largest producer of synthetic drugs in Southeast Asia, and the world's second largest opium producer. Drug trafficking routes which cross isolated border areas to move drugs to markets outside the country are used in reverse to smuggle precursor chemicals in. Porous borders are also vulnerable to migrant smuggling and human, wildlife and timber trafficking. The significant financial proceeds generated by different forms of trafficking in Myanmar are laundered and distort the legitimate economy, corrupt public officials, and undermine stability.
"Criminal activity in Myanmar is undermining development efforts, increasing human insecurity and threatening the peace process. By working together to improve law enforcement and criminal justice capacity, increase the availability of quality health services for drug users, and offering sustainable economic alternatives for opium farmers and their families, we will be contributing to the economic and social development of the country", stressed UNODC Regional Representative Jeremy Douglas at the signing ceremony. Mr. Douglas added, "Joined up with the Regional Programme for Southeast Asia we will also be assisting Myanmar to engage more fully with neighbouring countries. Many criminal activities that impact Myanmar are transnational in nature and require multi state solutions."
The Country Programme builds on a strong and long-standing partnership between UNODC and the Government of Myanmar, consolidating UNODC assistance into five sub-programmes: transnational organized crime; anti-corruption; criminal justice; drugs and health; and alternative development for opium poppy farmers.
The process of developing the Country Programme - which began in late 2013 - included research and development of several first ever baseline assessments, and extensive consultations with the Government of Myanmar and international partners. A joint UNODC-Government of Myanmar Programme Governance Committee is being established to ensure that the Country Programme is a dynamic framework that will be responsive to the evolving needs of the country.
Mr. Douglas further emphasized the significance of the agreement, "We believe that the new relationship we have set in motion will contribute towards a safer and more stable community, and increase the confidence of the citizens of Myanmar to look to the criminal justice system to provide stability and access to justice."