Remarks of the Executive Director at the 21st Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum in Vladivostok
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me to the 21 st Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum in Vladivostok.
I am glad to have the opportunity to discuss the challenges of drugs, crime and terrorism in the Asia-Pacific region within the framework of peace and security.
Parliamentarians have a vital role to play in helping to build peace and security in the region, as well as formulating the legislation necessary to support these processes.
Your work is particularly valuable in the area of drugs and crime, which is constantly evolving.
Today, illicit drugs and crime have grown in size and scope. They represent considerable threats to states and to entire regions.
Where once these problems required local strategies, they now require a global and cross-disciplinary response that recognizes the multifaceted nature of crime.
The Asia and Pacific region is not an exception. Throughout this vast area, countries continue to face corruption, criminal violence, and drug addiction.
Our discussion also arrives at an important moment for the region.
Myanmar is offering fresh engagement with the international community on a range of important issues.
The willingness to engage extends to confronting the issues of illicit drugs, as well as organized crime.
One of the central problems is illicit drugs. Myanmar remains Southeast Asia's largest illicit poppy-growing country and the world's second largest, after Afghanistan.
The country accounts for 21 per cent of global poppy cultivation and 14 per cent of global opium production.
According to UNODC's South-East Asia opium survey, Myanmar's opium poppy cultivation rose by 17 per cent in 2012.
Use of amphetamine-type stimulants is also on the rise across the region. In 2011, nearly 123 million methamphetamine pills were seized in a total of nine countries in East and South-East Asia.
Injecting drug use is also an increasing concern in East and South-East Asia, with an estimated 3.9 million drug users injecting mostly opioids and methamphetamine.
Of these injecting drug users many are HIV positive and there are high prevalence rates among some countries.
We must stem the flow of illicit drugs to aid drug users, but a balanced approach also needs to be taken.
This means focusing on evidence-based treatment, including for HIV/AIDS, and care for people suffering from drug dependence.
It is essential to move from compulsory to voluntary-based treatment and to offer specific support for those using stimulants.
Prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and reintegration must all be offered to drug users in line with international standards and human rights.
Alternative livelihoods must also be offered to those cultivating poppies. If farmers are to change their lives, they must be given the long term assistance of the international community.
Corruption is another issue faced in the Asia and Pacific region. These activities undermine social and economic development, and weaken institutions.
Environmental crime is also linked to corruption in the region.
Illicit logging and timber trafficked from South East Asia into Europe, and other destinations, is estimated to be worth around US$3.5 billion a year.
UNODC is working hard to support countries in their fight against this damaging crime.
Human trafficking and child sex tourism in the Mekong region are also a major concern. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked each year in this region.
Aside from drugs and crime, terrorism also poses a serious threat to the international community and has claimed the lives of many innocent people around the world.
Given the complexity and transnational nature of the threat, it is particularly appropriate to offer a coordinated international response.
Every nation needs to establish an effective criminal justice system to detect, investigate and prosecute terrorist activities in order to deny terrorists safe havens.
While many states in the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum have already taken steps to become a party to the universal legal instruments against terrorism and modify national legislation, more remains to be done.
UNODC, with its regional counter-terrorism experts operating in field offices in Southeast and Central Asia and Latin America, is ready to assist.
UNODC's overall strategic response to drugs, crime and terrorism has been threefold:
- Promote greater integration among our regional and thematic programmes;
- Create strong inter-agency partnerships to help the UN system deliver as One; and
- Generate the necessary political commitment at the local, regional and international levels to ensure that our activities are delivered effectively and efficiently on the ground.
Key to helping us achieve these aims is the UN Task Force on Transnational organized Crime created by the UN Secretary-General last year and which UNODC co-chairs.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
If we are to succeed against drugs, crime and terrorism, we need to go still further.
I encourage you to take the necessary measures at all levels to advance international security as a prerequisite tool for the development and promotion of peace and stability.
The international and regional must be closely connected to the local and national.
We must work harder to understand the nature of the threats ranged against us.
True success will only come with improvements in the quality of the information available to us, as well as firm commitments from all involved to share this information.
This means delivering in the areas of training, networking, and joint operations, among many others.
Every one of these activities is essential, if we are to prevent gaps appearing between our agreed strategic aims and the tactics that deliver those goals in the field.