South Asia: UNODC, Government partners push for collective responses to strengthen responses against drugs, crime, corruption, and terrorism

New Delhi, India/27 September 2023: World leaders adopted a landmark political declaration recently at the United Nations, reaffirming their commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The declaration emphasises the need for stronger cooperation among governments to accelerate efforts and implement solutions to strengthen peace, prosperity and progress under Agenda 2030.

As a global powerhouse in terms of population, economy and social dynamics, South Asia's progress is pivotal for the successful realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With a renewed commitment to inclusive and evidence-based approaches, the South Asian countries are poised to strengthen regional responses and work together towards a safer and more secure future.

In this direction, UNODC is currently developing a new Regional Programme for South Asia (2023-2027)--a strategic roadmap for enhanced technical assistance to Member States on promoting security, justice, health and the rule of law in the region. The Regional Programme will provide a unified approach to support Member States with comprehensive responses against drugs, crime, corruption and terrorism.

In this direction, government representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka gathered in New Delhi for the second Steering Committee Meeting of the UNODC Regional Programme for South Asia (2023-2027).

Participants engaged in substantive discussions on latest trends, emerging threats, new opportunities, and key priorities in the region. They also underscored the importance of people-centered approaches, such as gender mainstreaming and youth empowerment, the exchange of best practices, the expansion of partnerships to include more stakeholders and beneficiaries, and increased south-south cooperation.

Opening the dialogue, Mr. Shombi Sharp, the UN Resident Coordinator in India emphasised that challenges posed by drugs and crime are not confined by borders or boundaries.

“To confront these challenges successfully, we must adopt a strong collective response. The United Nations has always advocated for a One UN approach, where our agencies work together seamlessly, leveraging their unique strengths and expertise to address complex issues. I appreciate UNODC’s role in fostering international cooperation, strengthening legal frameworks, and building the capacity of national institutions to counter these threats effectively,” said Mr. Sharp.

Mr. Marco Teixeira, UNODC Regional Representative for South Asia, briefed participants on the Regional Programme, emphasising its linkages with the UNODC Global Strategy, UN Country Cooperation Frameworks and regional and national priorities.

“South Asia faces a range of complex and interconnected issues, and the threat of drugs and crime is one of the most pressing ones. This Regional Programme outlines UNODC’s collective determination to respond comprehensively to these challenges. The success of this regional programme depends on the commitment and ownership of the countries,” said Mr. Teixeira.

The Programme highlights a set of priorities and operational responses for the period of 2023-2027, while offering sufficient flexibility to adapt to evolving threats and Member States’ specific needs and constraints. 

This activity contributed to SDG 3, SDG 4, SDG 5, SDG 11, SDG 13, SDG 14, SDG 15, SDG 16 and SDG 17: