Major UN conference gets underway in Bangkok to deal with dangerous chemical trade

Bangkok (Thailand), 21 April 2015 - The global trade in chemicals which can be used to produce illegal drugs and the threat of new emerging synthetic drugs are being discussed at a major international conference "Precursor Chemicals and New Psychoactive Substances", which opened in the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok today. Drug production, trafficking and use remain major challenges in many regions of the world including in East and Southeast Asia where the illegal trade is expanding and diversifying with the introduction of new synthetic drugs not under international control.

Professor Viroj Sumyai, Vice-president of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) delivered opening remarks to the conference alongside Mr. Jeremy Douglas, Regional Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for South East-Asia and the Pacific, and H.E. Mr. Paiboon Koomchaya, the Minister of Justice of Thailand.

"It is very important that the UNODC and INCB have brought together senior public security, drug control and justice officials from around the world to candidly discuss chemical trafficking," said Minster Koomchaya. "If we do not take action to stop chemicals that are used to make drugs from crossing our borders we will not stop the drug trade that is so destructive to this country, Southeast Asia and other neighbouring regions."

Mr. Douglas went on to note, "it is by no means an exaggeration that we have to urgently work together on practical solutions to control precursors from being trafficked, and deal with the trade in new psychoactive substances. It is important that integrated assistance is offered to the countries and regions where needs are greatest, with a strong focus on the needs of front-line law enforcement, border control and regulatory officials."

Discussions and outcomes of the conference will help to further advance coordinated multilateral approaches to address these challenges in time for the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem.

INCB Vice-president Dr. Sumyai announced a new INCB tool to help government authorities partner with industries to prevent the trafficking and misuse of dual-use chemicals. He further expressed his appreciation for the highest-level of attendance to a conference on chemical control to date and commented, "it is unprecedented that 200 senior government officials from 39 countries and international organisations have come together in a forum like this to share information and discuss solutions to the illicit chemical and NPS trade."

With increasing intra and inter-regional trade, countries need to significantly strengthen capacities to respond to chemical and drug trafficking. UNODC is working with Thailand and other countries across Southeast Asia to combat transnational organized crimes by improving training institutions and regimes, enhancing drug and precursor data and information, and strengthening cross border cooperation and border management.