East Asia and Pacific: UNODC presents regional update and announces threat assessment project

Photo: UNODC Français / French

29 March 2011 - Today in Vienna, the UNODC Regional Centre for East Asia and the Pacific presented an update on implementation of the regional programme for the period 2009-2012.

UNODC achieved a number of key successes in 2010, supporting the Member States of the region in tackling the challenges they face in the areas of crime, drugs, corruption and terrorism. In particular, Thailand ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption; Nauru became one of only seven countries in the world to ratify all of the counter-terrorism instruments; Cambodia opened its first methadone clinic; and in the Lao People's Democratic Republic, more than 50 villages benefited from alternative livelihood opportunities.

In 2010, the UNODC programme portfolio in the region grew by more than forty per cent compared with 2009. The overall amount of resources pledged to the programme is now $73.5 million, establishing UNODC as a credible and reliable partner in fostering development and security in the region.

Speaking during the presentation event, which was attended by donors and representatives of Member States in the region, Francis Maertens, UNODC Director of Operations, said: "I firmly believe that this regional programme has allowed UNODC to act more strategically, developing linkages and synergies on both a thematic and a geographic basis while at the same time facilitating greater cooperation between States. For example, UNODC is now working in partnership with countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to establish a regional network of prosecutors to strengthen responses to transnational organized crime, and the scope of the UNODC-supported border liaison offices has broadened significantly beyond drug trafficking to also respond effectively to migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings and illicit products and environmental crime."

Gary Lewis, Regional Representative for East Asia and the Pacific, said: "This being our second consolidated report on the achievements of the regional programme for East Asia and the Pacific, our focus remains squarely on articulating our contribution to development results, rather than simply providing an account of activities we carried out over the preceding 12 months. I hope that the reader can therefore quickly identify, in this report, the improvements in human development, justice and security which we are trying, along with our partners, to promote."

Transnational organized crime threat assessment

Mr. Lewis said that, in addition to accounting for what the office had achieved in 2010, the update also outlined new and emerging threats as a result of globalization: "East and South-East Asia is one of the most rapidly developing parts of the world. Global experience has shown us that positive and welcome developments also provide opportunities for transnational organized crime to expand, such as the increase in demand for and supply of illicit drugs, for forced labour, for sex workers, for counterfeit products and for limited or protected natural resources (such as timber, fish and wildlife)."

In an effort to describe the nature and scale of transnational organized crime in this diverse region of thirty-four countries and territories, Mr. Lewis announced that the office is working on a transnational organized crime threat assessment for East Asia and the Pacific, which builds on the 2010 UNODC report, The Globalization of Crime. The report, to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2011, will inform policymakers in the region and at the global level and assist in planning responses.

In the coming year, the seven offices in East Asia and the Pacific will begin jointly to review and revise the regional programme for the next cycle (2013-2016). As part of that process, the current strong platform of work will be consolidated and even greater efforts will be made to fulfil the commitment of UNODC to bringing about a real change in its operations, bringing the organization together and reorienting it towards a strategic, results-based and impact-driven way of working.

Mr. Maertens thanked all partners, in particular the Governments in the region, for their ongoing support for the programme, and expressed appreciation to managers, experts and support staff on the ground for their commitment.

Related information:

UNODC Regional Centre for East Asia and the Pacific

Regional Programme for East Asia and the Pacific, 2009-2012: Challenges, Achievements and the Way Ahead (pdf)