REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED NATIONS OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME (UNODC)
AT THE MARITIME DRUG LAW ENFORCEMENT SEMINAR (MADLES) 2006
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, it is indeed an honour and pleasure for me to address the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Seminar (MADLES) 2006. I would, first of all, like to thank the Japan Coast Guard for hosting this event in collaboration with UNODC.
I would first like to reflect upon some salient developments and upon new challenges which law enforcement agencies now face.
I would like to speak briefly on what is expected internationally and regionally to enhance practical co-operation in combating drug trafficking by sea, and how that might be achieved, particularly in the light of the rapidly changing trafficking situation in Asia and the Pacific, by building common working mechanisms and standard operating procedures.
The single most important development that we note is that patterns of drug trafficking and abuse in this region are changing.
Among drugs of abuse, most recently substances referred to as amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) pose serious threats, particularly in this region. Synthetic drugs have become a major concern of drug law enforcement agencies both in the region and worldwide.
We all have also
observed recent changes in patterns of clandestine manufacture and trafficking
routes of drugs, particularly amphetamine-type
stimulants, and their precursors. How
did they happen? As a result of
tightened controls and law enforcement actions in, for instance,
Illicit drug manufacture requires precursors and other chemicals, which are diverted from licit international trade or domestic distribution channels. Traffickers always attempt to explore new routes and methods of diversion from licit channels into illicit traffic. In addition to drugs of abuse, therefore, international law enforcement cooperation must include precursor chemicals.
While the clandestine manufacture of methamphetamine may be regionalized, diversions and smuggling of the required precursors can take place world-wide and from, or through, any country.
Let us take a look at this development a
bit closely. In the last few years,
traffickers attempted to target the
Housed in a factory in an industrial zone, the spacious, well organized and equipped laboratory had, among others, many industrial-sized reactors of huge capacities, centralized cooling and heating equipment, analytical instruments, air filtration system, new and used tableting machines, etc, etc.
More than 20 tons of precursor chemicals were seized. Several of the chemicals were mislabelled. Initial investigations showed the methamphetamine had been synthesized from 1-phenyl-2-propanone (P2P), not the usual precursor used in this part of the world. In addition, the P2P may have been manufactured in the laboratory from a non-controlled chemical, which had been brought into the country through false declaration, leading to suspicions that there were plans to manufacture MDMA also.
An unusual feature of the laboratory was that th illicit manufacture of methamphetamine was conducted openly, in full view of staff of adjoining factories less than 10 metres away. There were no attempts to conceal the illicit activities. The suspects were also in possession of licences from various government authorities.
These newly uncovered lab cases suggest smuggling by sea routes and point to the increased need for greater networking of law enforcement agencies for real time information and intelligence exchange. and for maritime drug law enforcement cooperation, both for the final products and for precursor chemicals.
Having an international framework to enable expeditious exchange of necessary information, therefore, constitutes the foundation of effective and practical cooperation. Expeditious information and intelligence exchange is a pre-requisite for effective cooperation, which may lead to joint operations of different authorities from different countries.
Courses of action, framework and tools available:
All these above points to the need for appropriate information and intelligence exchange. Let me recapitulate some most salient features of such cooperation.
As, for instance, customs authorities will not be able to inspect every single cargo and should, therefore, conduct intelligence-driven investigations, the same applies to maritime law enforcement operations. Relevant drug law enforcement and, for that matter, also regulatory, authorities must be able to share relevant information and intelligence with maritime law enforcement agencies. Likewise, any findings of the maritime authorities should be fed back to the drug control agencies in order to track back the seizures, or otherwise interceptions, to the original sources to find the traffickers and to prevent them from using the same sources.
What has been essential is gnetworkingh for real time information exchange for both law enforcement and regulatory authorities within a Government, between Governments, and with competent international bodies.
At this juncture, it may be worthwhile to examine briefly the international regime applicable to maritime law enforcement cooperation.
Resolution: In April 2003, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations adopted a resolution gEnhancing international cooperation in combating drug trafficking by seah. The resolution encourages Member States to establish appropriate channels of communication for information exchange at the national level, as required by article 17 of the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
It also encourages each
Under article 17 of the 1988 United Nations Convention, parties are required to gcooperate to the fullest extent possible to suppress illicit traffic by sea, in conformity with the international law of the seah. This mandate is consistent with article 108 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, which requires States to gcooperate in the suppression of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances engaged in by ships on the high seas contrary to international conventions.h
Maritime trafficking involves two distinct modus operandi: traffic in containers and traffic inside vessels built and used to hide drugs. In the former case, the owner, captain and crew of the vessel are generally not aware of the trafficking, while in the latter case they actively participate in it.
Countermeasures to these types of trafficking differ. In the case of vessels carrying containers, most control measures must be taken in ports, since inspection of cargo and containers at sea is not generally feasible. In the second case, the traffickers may avoid established ports, requiring law enforcement measure to be carried out at sea. In that context, it might require counter-operations in maritime zones beyond the territorial sea. In certain circumstances, resort to alternative law enforcement strategies, such as controlled delivery, may be warranted.
To assist countries in taking necessary actions, UNODC developed a gPractical guide for competent national authorities under article 17 of the 1988 Conventionh. It also developed the gMaritime Drug Law Enforcement Training Guideh. The Guide is a reference manual for countries seeking to train officers for more effective maritime drug law enforcement. In particular, it provides them with a summary of the legal requirements for international cooperation concerning the boarding and searching of vessels, exercising freedom of navigation in accordance with international law.
At this juncture, I would
like to provide you with a
of what the UNODC Regional Centre has been doing in this region , East Asia
and the Pacific. For instance,
in response to the changing trafficking
situation, we assisted Governments in this region to launch a collective ATS
countries, those ASEAN members and
Another example is
, through our
project, a large number of Border Liaison Offices, or BLOs, have
been established, through our cross-border cooperation project, with Border
Liaison Officers working at high risk border zones in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. BLOs are about building trust on both
sides of the border, which did not readily exist before. The BLO mechanism now ensures real-time
information and intelligence exchange, and resulted in seizures of different
kinds of illicit drugs, arrests of traffickers and some top level criminals,
and the investigation of over 500 cases. That is impressive. BLOs have become a model to other
We are now considering to extend such a
mechanism in the development of seaports cooperation in
The question is how to secure, in this region, practical working mechanisms and standard operating procedures among different types of authorities, on the basis of actual trafficking situations uncovered. I, therefore, look forward to hearing from you on your findings from the investigations so far conducted. That will tell us more clearly what is still needed.
In closing, I would like to note that UNODC has been focusing, and will continue to focus, on further establishing necessary networks for information exchange. We believe that the key to success in each of the areas I covered today is the real time information sharing, by sending and responding to, for instance, inquiries and alerts.
UNODC is ready to offer assistance and facilitate recipient and donor country coordination to address drugs and crime issues. Given the extensive geographical and diverse political and cultural nature of the region, we will extend country and regional mechanisms and frameworks, such as the Plan of Action developed under ACCORD (ASEAN and China Cooperative Operations in Response to Dangerous Drug), the six Greater Mekong Sub-region countries Memorandum of Understanding, and the Border Liaison Offices mechanism. UNODC will use its comparative advantages of being able to reach out to different authorities of different countries in assisting you with necessary information exchange mechanisms.
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, I wish this meeting every success and look forward to the active deliberations and proposals for further action, collective or otherwise.
I thank you for your kind attention.