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A milestone in drug control efforts in the Greater Mekong Subregion

Da Nang City (Viet Nam), 21 May 2010
- A Senior Officials Committee meeting of the signatories to the 1993 memorandum of understanding on drug control was hosted by the Government of Viet Nam from 11 to 14 May 2010 in Da Nang City, Viet Nam. The objective of the meeting was to review and assess the implementation status of the memorandum's Subregional Action Plan programme and projects. Over 40 delegates from the six signatory countries to the memorandum (Cambodia, China, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam), as well as UNODC staff attended the meeting.

For the first time in the history of the memorandum, the Senior Officials Committee meeting was preceded by a day of informal thematic working group discussions. Each working group focused on each of the following areas: drug demand reduction; drugs and HIV/AIDS; sustainable alternative development; law enforcement; international cooperation on judicial matters; and resource mobilization and partnership building.

Each working group was led by a country thematic focal point and facilitated by relevant UNODC thematic experts. During the course of the day, each working group conducted an overall assessment of the Subregional Action Plan and identified key constraints to its successful implementation. Future activities, including their required budget and implementation timelines, were also agreed upon.

The Senior Officials Committee meeting was opened on 12 May by H.E. Police Senior Lt. General Le The Tiem, the Deputy Minister for Public Security of Viet Nam, who said that "in order to enhance the effectiveness of the Subregional Action Plan, excellent cooperation among signatory countries is essential". He also reaffirmed that "Viet Nam is strongly committed to working with other signatory countries in the fight against drugs".

Addressing the audience in his dual role as co-Chair and UNODC Regional Representative, Gary Lewis stated that "UNODC's role is to support and serve signatory countries". Mr. Lewis pointed out that "a renewed effort has to be made in order to rededicate ourselves to the goal of drug control in the region."

The meeting enabled all participants to openly exchange views on how to successfully implement key aspects of the Subregional Action Plan. The discussions were based on presentations made by a representative of each of the working groups. Given the fact that all externally funded projects had come to an end in 2009, due to the lack of external donor funding Participants welcomed the modality of implementing small-scale, needs-based operations with the funds already contributed by signatories to the memorandum. In addition, they recognized the need to draft project proposals as part of the Subregional Action Plan to secure funds from other donors for the long term.

The memorandum mechanism reached a milestone in 2010. Signatory countries are now taking more responsibility for finding their own resources for the successful implementation of planned activities. Greater solidarity and determination among the six countries to resolve common drug-related problems in the Greater Mekong Subregion have been achieved.

In other words, these governments are taking full ownership of the memorandum of understanding, as stipulated in the 2001 addendum on partnership to the memorandum.

The meeting was closed by the Chair, Police Major General Vu Hung, Deputy Director General of the Police's General Department on Crime Prevention and Suppression, acknowledged the necessity of abiding by the terms of the memorandum and pointed out that "the meeting has reaffirmed all of the signatory countries' determination to work towards a drug-free subregion".

He concluded that "during the time spent together, all matters relating to drug control have been discussed in the most serious manner and a sense of ownership of the memorandum of understanding has been successfully enhanced."