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New national drug policy announced for Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw (Myanmar), 20 February 2018
- In an effort to rebalance the approach to drug challenges in Myanmar, the Government of Myanmar and UNODC today announced a new National Drug Control Policy. The overall aim is to contribute to safe, secure and and healthy communities through a policy that addresses all aspects of the drug problem, focusing on the unique needs of the country. A national expression of the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS) outcome, the policy signals a significant shift in approach towards an evidence-based and more people and health-focused approach, while advocating for practical strategies to reduce the negative effects of drug production, trafficking and use.

UNODC began the partnership with the Government of Myanmar to develop the new National Drug Control Policy after the UNGASS. Notably, Myanmar is the first country in Southeast Asia to adopt the UNGASS framework at a national level.

Jeremy Douglas United Nations UN UNODC Myanmar Drug Policy

On the International Day Against Drugs 26th June in 2016, the Government of Myanmar formally requested UNODC financial and technical support to design a new policy for Myanmar. Following initial discussions with parliamentarians, a comprehensive consultation process involving government, non-government, academic and civil society stakeholders was set-up and run with the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control. Reflecting the diversity of views taken on-board in the consultations, the new policy includes health and social policy responses, outlining a path to promoting sustainable alternative development for opium farmers, a refocus of law enforcement and justice efforts to address organized crime, and expanding regional and international cooperation. The process of consultation was inclusive, allowing for an open and frank exchange of views.

Given the effectiveness of the traditional approach has been called into question, UNODC experts have commended the Government of Myanmar for developing a national drug policy that moves from a punitive approach to a more health and human oriented approach to address illicit drug challenges. The new policy incorporates inputs from the consultation process into five policy areas, including: supply reduction and alternative development; demand and harm reduction; international cooperation; research and analysis; and compliance with human rights. Significantly, it is the first time the Government of Myanmar has formally adopted a harm reduction approach to drug use.

Lieutenant General Kyaw Swe, Minister for Home Affairs acknowledged that "our past approach was very focused on supply reduction and less on other issues, and as a result it did not achieve everything we had planned. By working with the UNODC and adopting UN best practice approach, we believe we will have much better results for the people and the country."

Jeremy Douglas United Nations UN UNODC Myanmar Drug Policy

The UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Jeremy Douglas commented "The policy we have announced with our government partners today is a significant departure from the past approach to managing the drug problem here in Myanmar. We hope it will contribute to a rebalancing and refocusing of national efforts to address drug challenges, contribute to better public security and safety, and importantly to improved public and community health." He added, "A policy framework like this is a first for the region and others are watching. We will be pointing to this policy as a good start, and look forward to supporting implementation."

UNODC Country Manager emphasized that "this is perfect timing. Last week the President signed off on the new drug law amendment, and this week we help announce a new drug policy. Myanmar has two new tools in the box to address the drug problems facing the country."

For Information on the Myanmar Country Programme click here

For Information on the Southeast Regional Programme click here