See also:

Heads of Southeast Asian law enforcement gather in Bangkok to address regional drug challenges


Bangkok (Thailand), 27 November 2017 - The 41st meeting of the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA) for Asia and the Pacific has started in Bangkok to discuss issues of drug production, supply, and use. The four day conference brings together senior law enforcement, public security, United Nations and partner organization officials to assess the drug situation and discuss associated strategies and operational responses, and to consider progress implementing the recommendations of the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem or UNGASS.

There has been some progress disrupting the supply of, and demand for, illicit drugs in the region over recent years, but the regional drug market has also rapidly evolved and there is a need to consider progress and future direction. While Asia has a long history of opium cultivation and the production of heroin, expansion in the manufacture, trafficking and consumption of synthetic drugs requires a different type of cross-border cooperation and new solutions.

It is no coincidence that where instability and insecurity feature, so too does transnational organized crime. Organized crime groups benefit from instability and take advantage of vulnerabilities including along porous and poorly managed borders, and continue to generate and launder significant profit - estimated to be in the billions of dollars each year - from the illicit drug business.

Discussions during the conference focus on knowledge sharing, solutions and networking necessary to counter transnational organized crime and improve public security in the region, while considering how to address the expansion of market demand.

The Regional Representative of UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Jeremy Douglas, noted that "the leadership gathered for HONLEA Asia Pacific recognize that the safety and security of their countries are connected to the safety and security of other countries in the region, and that they cannot continue with business as usual given changes underway in the regional drug market, especially toward synthetic drugs. By improving information sharing, coordinating enforcement efforts across borders to counter serious organized crime, and focussing on the reduction of demand and associated health impacts, we are hopeful that countries of the region will be better positioned to disrupt the business model of transnational organized crime groups and ensure a better future for their citizens."

The Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA) Asia - Pacific is a subsidiary body of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which is the central policymaking body within the United Nations system dealing with drug-related matters. UNODC holds HONLEA meetings annually and in different regions around the world including in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia and the Pacific.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is a global leader in promoting the rule of law and helping 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 across the region to develop data and conduct research, provide policy advice and specialised expertise, and assist countries to develop law enforcement and health capacities that address the production, trafficking and use of illicit drugs.

Click here to learn more about the UNODC Regional Programme for Southeast Asia.

Click here to learn more about UNODC's work on drugs and precursors.

Click here to learn more about UNODC's work on Mekong MOU.