Bangkok (Thailand), 22 October 2019 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today convened the 43rd meeting of the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies of Asia and the Pacific (HONLAP) in Bangkok, bringing together leaders and senior officials of national drug authorities to discuss trends in the manufacture, trafficking, and use of illicit drugs in the region, as well as integrated strategies to address the challenges. Delegations are also sharing information on their implementation of recommendations made at the 2017 HONLAP meeting.
Challenges associated with illicit drugs and precursor chemicals in the Asia Pacific region have developed dramatically over the past year, coinciding with a sustained surge in the manufacture of and trafficking of synthetic drugs, in particular methamphetamine from the Golden Triangle. The region is also home to the Golden Crescent, which remains the global centre for heroin production.
As the market for illicit drugs continues to expand, so do the profits of organized crime. The latest UNODC research shows that methamphetamine trafficking in East and Southeast Asia generates more than US$ 60 billion annually, representing a four-fold increase compared over six years ago. "The levels of synthetic drug production and trafficking in the Mekong, and of opiates in Afghanistan, are unprecedented" highlighted Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative. He added, "It is particularly concerning to see methamphetamine prices across Southeast Asia the Pacific region drop to new lows at the same time seizure records are again set. Organized crime are clearly not being deterred, and it is high time the region moves from being reactive to preventive and proactive, from a one-sided to a balanced approach."
Minister of Justice of Thailand Somsak Thepsuthin emphasized the need to enhance regional cooperation and addressing root causes of the drug problem during his opening speech, "Trafficking of illicit drugs and related precursor chemicals along and across borders is a significant challenge we must deal with together, and we are pleased UNODC is expanding its related assistance in the region." He remarked further, "We also need to address root causes. The rule of law is being challenged in parts of the region, and a law enforcement approach alone is not a solution - we need countries of the region to consider a comprehensive approach consistent with the UNGASS consensus."
On the margins of the HONLEA, UNODC is organizing a precursor control meeting with ASEAN countries and China to discuss the situation and plans for its new initiative to address precursor diversion and trafficking. "Everyone here appreciates that the increases we have seen in the manufacture of illicit drugs, including methamphetamine and synthetic opioids, has required an increase in precursors", commented Reiner Pungs, UNODC Regional Coordinator. "Our expertise, mechanisms like border liaison offices, and political agreements at the country and regional levels, will help curtail illicit flows of precursor chemicals trafficked within and from the region, and I am pleased to report we will be intensifying technical assistance in the coming year."
HONLAP is a subsidiary conference of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), which is the central policymaking body within the United Nations system dealing with drug-related matters. UNODC holds related meetings annually in different regions to take stock of the situation and help Member States prepare for the CND.
UNODC promotes the rule of law and helps countries to deal with challenges related to illicit drugs, organized crime, corruption and terrorism. The Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific works with partners throughout the region to provide and implement related research, advisory and assistance programmes.
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